Fitness Instructors and Exam Scores

“The passing score is 75 on a 0-99 scale.  The scale of 0-99 does not represent ‘percent correct.’ A score of 75 indicates Examination performance reflecting a level of knowledge and skills that is sufficient for the protection of the public.”

That’s from the AICPA website in answer to the question, “What is the passing score?” And it relates, of course, to the Uniform CPA Examination. We’ll come back to this momentarily.

Have you ever been to one of those group fitness classes where the instructor is like, “Okay guys, just 10 more squats! 10! 9! 8! 7! 6! 5! 4! 3! NOW JUST 8 MORE SQUATS!” It is the actual worst. A) It’s lying. B) It’s demoralizing. C) It’s always the instructors who aren’t even doing the workout with you.

Well, it appears that these rogue fitness instructors have taken their talents to the world of accounting recruiters.

I had lunch recently with another young CPA who told me a friend of his (a CPA practicing in another state) had been told by a recruiter to—get this—include his CPA exam scores at the top of his resume. I almost spit my food out when I heard this. This guy had taken the exam six years ago! What in the world could possibly be relevant about those scores? Well, according to the recruiter, with so many similarly qualified candidates, employers are just looking for any differentiator they can when they’re making hiring decisions.

I have some things to say about this.

Look back to how the profession looks upon the CPA exam: “A score of 75 indicates Examination performance reflecting a level of knowledge and skills that is sufficient for the protection of the public.” The exam is not—nor was it intended to be—a differentiator. It doesn’t measure talent. It doesn’t measure personality or work habits. It doesn’t do anything except serve as a gate to the profession. The gate is incredibly necessary, but it’s not the profession. Some people maybe swing the gate open faster and with more force than others, but I’m not sure there’s much value in that. Everyone has to work hard to open the gate, but once you get in, the gate has no purpose (except to kick you out if you need kicking out).

So, if you’re ever in the position that you’re using a recruiter to help you make a career change, and that recruiter tells you to put your exam scores on your resume, my suggestion is to stop wasting your time with that person. If you need differentiation, go spend time doing the things that will differentiate you. Work on a nonprofit board. Be great at your job. Be passionate about a hobby. Write a blog. The possibilities are endless, but don’t settle for gimmicks. The profession is too good for that.


Jared Korver, CPA, works at Beacon Wealthcare, where he helps CPAs and attorneys spend more time doing the things they care about by providing ongoing advice and insight into their financial decisions. A product of Carthage, North Carolina, Jared and his wife Amy live in Raleigh with their son. Jared holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting from Appalachian State University and NC State University, respectively. He can be reached at jkorver@beaconwc.com.