Written by 8:57 am Opinion

How Hard is CPALE

The fact that graduating from the BS Accountancy course is a battle enough to tear accounting majors down, pre-board only proves that accountancy students are not in any way weak… We eat “padayon” for breakfast, and we go to sleep with existential crisis.

BAR Exams are as heavy as it is hard to survive, but, defying the difficulties and winning through it lays a higher probability than passing the board exam for Certified Public Accountants (CPA). The result of the recently concluded October 2021 CPA Licensure Examination produced more dread and sorrow in the accountancy community than it has produced newly licensed accountants. With neither topnotchers nor top performing schools, only 361 out of 2,367 brave souls have hurdled through the struggle.

Despite the postponement of the 2020 and May 2021 exams, this year’s number of passers are at an all-time low, like it has been since 3 years ago. With a 15.25% passing rate, seeing the digits at its bottom pit is not new to the eyes of the accountancy community. What may be new is to see more than half of the examinees pass it –a thing that has never happened. The highest passing rate recorded in the Accountancy history of the Philippines is 48.36% and it was more than a decade ago. Since 2016, we have witnessed a smooth-flowing steady decline in the numbers. The October 2019 exam is a graveyard of broken hearts with the lowest of low rates at 14.32%.

To be an accountant is a choice not made for the weak, but neither is choosing to give up. “To those who didn’t make it, know that you are built to fight well; but this battle wasn’t just designed to be well-fought” distinguished CPA Lawyer Kenneth Manuel said in his tweet, “Not to discredit those who have passed the battle, but, perhaps we have to objectively evaluate the incongruences of this exam in odds with its backlogs, outdated questions, stacked old and new accounting amendments, hoarded archaic methods among many other factors.” Atty. Manuel further added addressing the Professional Regulation Commission, “[We in the academe are very willing to help you fix the exam.]”

University of Cebu alumnus Jerome Cuyos, CPA, posted, “this is more so a concern of how we frame and design this licensure examination. One that is representative of what we really need to be licensed accountants, not to be elite accountants.”

The fact that graduating from the BS Accountancy course is a battle enough to tear accounting majors down, pre-board only proves that accountancy students are not in any way weak. From hundreds of dream-filled freshmen to single-digit exhausted seniors, the screen is tight enough to go through. We eat “padayon” for breakfast, and we go to sleep with existential crisis. 

Another distinguished CPA, Nico Valderrama posted in his social media account, “The conduct and management of the CPA Licensure Examinations seriously need reforms. CPA Examinees are not weak. A consistently low national passing rate is not something to be proud of. It is something that calls for immediate and bold action.”

The Board of Accountancy (BOA) is said to be looking for the causes of the low-passing rates. But, how long must the investigation be that we have been witnessing a fluctuating output for decades. Former Chairman of the Professional Regulatory Board of Accountancy Joel Tan-Torres talked about instituting improvements in the low performing schools. However, given the situation where even the top-performing schools have seen its lowest, shouldn’t we also consider the fact that the standards of the said licensure exam need a check-up?

The country is actually in dire need of licensed accountants, and the present situation is not addressing the growing demands for CPAs. More than the supply and demand issue, why are we making it extra hard for aspiring CPAs to achieve their dreams in this third-world country?

Ateneo de Zamboanga University has been in the glory of high institutional passing rate, making it one of the 12 top performing Accountancy schools in the country. This year though, only 20% out of 15 examinees have made it to the line already. But the university is trying its best in preparing the students, especially this year’s senior batch, for the CPALE 2022. Professor AJ Cresmundo said in his tweet in response to an anonymous question asking about his thoughts on the said coming exam, “You [the future takers] are in good hands with AdZU because we are flexible enough to adjust to changes in the syllabi.”

Preparing oneself in the battle of a lifetime with this online setup of class is a stack of times harder than the regular face-to-face. But surely enough, “CPA shouldn’t be the make or break of our endgame,” as Ms. Jihanna Mae Tuttuh, a senior accounting student said.

Still, congratulations are due to everybody, the passers, the repeaters, the graduates, the students. Let’s keep eating padayon for breakfast and toasting to that CPA dream.

Fatima Marwa A. Fadzlulkarim is a BS Accountancy student and the news editor of The BEACON.

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