Submitting Tasks After Reaching 75% for Exam Eligibility

By Samantha Taylor, PME, CPA, CA
Aug 13, 2021
In CPA, PEP candidates must attain a 75 percent overall grade to write each module final exam. Action on the discussion boards and in my inbox around weeks 6/7 (when candidates tend to achieve this score) focuses on whether candidates have to keep completing module activities.  

To the competitors (athletes, gamers, musicians), I ask you this: Do you wish to participate, or would you like to "win" the module? 
  • If you want to participate: Focusing on the 75 percent exam eligibility score is a solid strategy. 
  • If you want to "win" the module: Develop your technical and enabling skills for the entirety of the module. Do not pause your efforts once your participation is confirmed.  

Exam eligibility is the by-product of natural module progression

There is no need to "game" the system to maximize points (e.g., spending more time on practice cases). It is essential to write in exam-like conditions as there is no extra time on exam day. Objection 4 noted in a previous post about practice exams provides comfort if candidates remain skeptical: the math is in your favour when incurring a series of NAs, NCs, RCs on your practice cases. 

Earning your 75 percent is a by-product of preparing for the exam; it need not be the goal.

But I want to focus on STUDYING!  

Some candidates will continue to push, saying they wish to qualify for the module exam so they can stop submitting assignments sets (PCs, IPs, and MCQs) to "focus on studying for the final exam." 
What exactly does that mean? The technical in the module are parts of the exam material; by completing assignment sets 1 through 8, you are studying for the final exam.

Active learning is (effective) studying

Perhaps the issue is "doing" (completing activities) is not perceived as studying. Module activities are precisely the type of active learning that combats mind-wandering leading to effective knowledge retention. 

Does reading or watching webinars equal active learning? It depends. Are you passively watching, or even writing notes that repeat, not interpret the messaging? Then no. Active learning requires the application of knowledge. What is unique about CPA PEP assignment sets is they include at least three active-learning opportunities: IP, PCs, and MCQs. Further, candidates receive tailored feedback (auto-graded MCQs and facilitator feedback on IPs and PCs) to ensure the "doing" is guided with accuracy. 

What are the alternative actions?

To all the candidates who inquire whether they have to complete the assignment sets after achieving an overall course grade of 75 percent, my cheeky response that will never leave my inbox is "No, just like you do not have to pass the final exam."

What I really want to convey is this: If you are not completing active-learning activities tailored to your exam success, what are you doing? 

If you are doing something else that will better serve you on exam day, I say go for it. You do not need my, or anyone else's, permission to take ownership in your education; This is a graduate-level program where the onus is on you to take the steps necessary to achieve your goals. 

Final thoughts

This process is exhausting with heaps of opportunity costs. But it's worth it. Society does not pass out six-figure paychecks and international job opportunities to just anyone, so CPA will not pass just anyone. 
Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.
-  Jerzy Gregorek, 
as tweeted by Tim Ferris November 4, 2020

Do you have feedback on this post or a question you’d like answered by an experienced CPAWSB educator? Please contact your facilitator or send a question to the General Topic in the Candidate Discussion forum. 

Samantha Taylor, PME, CPA, CA, is an educator and lead policy advisor for CPAWSB and a senior instructor of accounting at Dalhousie University. She is on a mission to understand and enable learner efficacy while eliminating doldrums occasionally associated with accounting education. Read more of Sam’s posts at the CPAWSB blog.