Aicpa grading and adjustments/curving

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From Gleim’s CPA Review Promotion Booklet, April 2000

As the CPA exam answer booklets are received by the AICPA in New York, the objective answer sheets are optically scanned and scored, first on a sample/test basis and subsequently on a final basis. The objective of the sample grading is to ensure that if there are defective questions or errors in the answer key, answer keys can be modified or credit can be given for multiple answers.
The objective question grading process generates a grade analysis sheet or computer record that is similar to the Hypothetical Grading Guide which appears on page 33. The Hypothetical Grading Guide permits AICPA graders of essay/computational questions to record the results of their grading. Note the working space provided on this sheet (or computer record) for graders to keep track of gradable concepts on essay and computational questions.
We refer to computer record because graders enter all the grading information directly into a computer. An optional scanner reads each candidate’s number on each exam booklet. On page 33, we present a Hypothetical Grading Guide to help you visualize the grading process.
Grading concepts are the individual items in the grading guide for each essay and computational question. Grading guidance is developed by AICPA staff as questions are developed. The grading guides are refined with a sample grading of actual exam papers before the grading guides are finalized for production grading.
The AICPA grades each question on a linear basis (i.e., individual questions are not curved). The grades will be totaled and two adjustments (not necessarily whole numbers) will be made.

  1. Angoff adjustment. Points are added to each candidate’s scores based on study of the May 1996 CPA exam, which established the following minimum unadjusted scores rather than a target pass rate as used in the past:

    Business Law 65.4 TAX-MAN-GOV 54.8

    Auditing 65.4 Financial 61.5

    Thus, “adjustments” of 9.6, 9.6, 21.2, and 13.5 points, respectively, were established for each of the four exam sections to adjust to a passing score of 75.

  2. Equating adjustment. An “equating” process that statistically equates each exam’s difficulty with that of the May 1996 exam will determine the “adjustment” for each subsequent exam.

The scores of individual questions often are not whole numbers; e.g., if 60 multiple-choice questions were allocated 50 points, each correct answer would be worth .83333 point (50/60), and if a 10-point essay question had 13 possible grading concepts, each grading concept would be worth 0.7692 point (10/13). Accordingly, your score is rounded after “equated Angoff” points.

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