Bridging The CPA Exam Gap: Do Internships Matter?

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Stephanie Hairston
Charles Harter
Britton McKay


CPA Exam, CPA Exam Pass Rate, Internship


In this paper we consider whether experience gained on the job through an internship results in knowledge that can help with passing the CPA exam. It would seem that a candidate for the CPA exam would be better prepared if they had the combination of education and practical experience. We examine the CPA exam performance of 72 graduate students that completed a public accounting internship prior to sitting for the CPA exam compared to 98 graduate students that did not complete an internship in public accounting. Our analysis indicates that on average students completing internships score higher on all parts of the CPA exam. In addition, on average, students completing internships had a higher overall pass rate for each section of the exam, with the pass rate for the Regulation (REG) section being significantly higher for students that have completed internships; we also find that on average students with internships pass 2 sections of the exam prior to graduation as compared to 1.69 for students that have not completed internships.


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