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The Bachelors of Science in Accountancy Course and the CPA Board Exams

Updated on October 14, 2014

How difficult is the study of Accounting?

The Bachelors of Science in Accountancy (BSA) is a rigid and difficult course. It is not unusual to see many students, who have entered the program, and shift to other courses since they cannot withstand the rigors and demands of the study. What makes it difficult are the combination of mathematical operations, logical thinking and processes, the tough review period of six months, and the rigorous board exam that follows ---`where you need to pass seven major accounting subjects in two weekends.

How long is the BSA program?

The BSA program takes about 5 years to complete. The course includes classroom discussions, case and project studies, and on the job training that ranges from 150 to 200 hours, depending on the school.

The review classes in preparation for the CPA Board Exam normally take around five months to complete. There may be need to do another round of review, in case you do not make it on your first try.

Accountancy Graduates, 2013

Personal photo of Mark Ferdinand G., (middle), group valedictorian
Personal photo of Mark Ferdinand G., (middle), group valedictorian

The Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA)

Do you know?

PICPA is the professional organization (APO) of CPAs that is accredited by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC). It was founded in 1929 with the following objectives:

  • To promote and maintain the professionalism and ethical standards among accountants;
  • To advance the study and science of Accounting;
  • To promote and improve accountancy education;
  • To enhance cordial interactions among accountants, and
  • To protect the CPA accreditation granted by the Republic of the Philippines.

Is the CPA Board Exam Hard?

The accountancy graduate needs to hurdle the CPA Board Exam before he/she can go into public practice. The bi-annual exams are given every May and October, and are conducted by the Board of Accountancy through the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC), the government agency that is tasked to give licenses for professionals to practice.

There are seven board exam subjects that covers--- Theory of Accounts (3 units), Practical Accounting Problems 1 and 2 (6 units), Auditing Theory and Problems (6 units), Management Services (3 units), and Business Law and Taxation (3 units)--- for a total of 21 units that are taken in two weekends. A candidate must obtain a general weighted average of 75 percent with no grade lower than 60 percent in all seven subjects.

The national passing average of the CPA Licensure Exam averages to around 34.35 percent in the last three years (2011 to 2013), including those who took the exams abroad. Hence, most accountancy students have insurmountable fears of taking the board exam for as long as I can remember, due to its high mortality rate.

Professional Regulations Commission, Manila:
Manila 1008, Philippines

get directions

My Story....

I am a CPA and my fears were horrible when I took the course decades ago. My late dad, who came from the old school, would only accept the study of Accountancy in the Business Program and nothing else. I need to take Accountancy lest he will stop financing my college studies, and I will have to do it on my own. Since he was my sole financier, I took the course with much depredation and deep anguish.

My story follows……

The Saga Continues

The basics of accounting were relatively easy. It was a breeze, and I got good grades to make me eligible for college scholarship. The major subjects were a different story though. The nuns at school would always find me sick in the clinic whenever we have Cost Accounting; and would see me stuck in the restroom for the rest of the day whenever we have Auditing Problems.

The Advance Accounting subject was so out-of-this-world that it left me with fainting spells and severe head pains. The nuns were in disbelief! How can I have these fainting attacks near smack the goodies of the school canteen? My love-hate relationships with Accounting during college days were epic. Until now, I am still in a quandary on how I managed to graduate, with Accountancy as my major course.

After graduation, I worked in a manufacturing and auditing firm. I savored all that the world has to offer. I found out that the real world was totally different from the Academe. How you were judged by peers and bosses was an altogether different experience. I found out that what counted in the real world were as follows:

  • In Accounting, you should not only be able to think accurately, but quickly as well. There is no use of having a perfect report when it is no longer needed by management. Survival techniques in the corporate arena, would include having to balance out accuracy with timeliness
  • It is not always the brightest nor the most awarded students who get ahead fast. In the corporate world, it is those who can present themselves best and who are adept in the use of social skills that usually gets promoted.
  • The tough subjects in college, suddenly becomes easy when applied at work. You often wonder why this was a hard thing to understand in school, but easier to apply in the workplace.

The 66th Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) Annual Convention

BSA Graduates of 2013, DFCAMCLP
BSA Graduates of 2013, DFCAMCLP | Source

The Review for the CPA Board Exams

After working for one year, I suddenly realized that there was a need for me to take the board exam soon, lest I forget all about it. Besides, there was nothing like having a CPA tag attached to one's name. I dreamt of it in earnest and relentlessly pursued it, once my decision on becoming a CPA was made.

I reviewed in one of the top CPA review (CPAR) centers in the city, and studied mightily like I have never done before. I realized while taking the review, that I did not know anything! I was starting from scratch with barely a few things that I remembered from college. This was not entirely the fault of the school, but mine since I did not take my studies seriously.

To the review school's credit, they have top-notched reviewers, which enlightened me more on the intricacies of the accounting subjects. I appreciated the study of accounting in the review center, than in the Academe. The reviewers were not only intelligent, but witty as well. It made studying fun and less of a burden. My dad, who did not really believe that I can tackle the board, told me to take it easy. He said in jest, that I need not be ashamed if I fail; and that he will understand! That challenged me more, since no one really believed me, except myself!

Six months later (that is how long it took to release the results, then), my dad came home early and said that he was congratulated by everybody since I passed the board. He simply cannot believe it and bought several newspapers, to check if my name was really there! Adding to that, having my name in the newspapers was not enough, because the following morning, he drove straight to the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) to verify. He was so happy with this turn of events, that he bought me a brand new car as a gift!


The study of Accounting is not easy. It takes patience and perseverance to be able to do it. As I have imparted to my students, Accounting is not an enemy that has to be vanquished, but a lover that has to be wooed and aspire for. The road may be tough, but the path is not littered with bricks and mortars. It is strewn with flowers and lovely scenery.

Batch 2013 BSA of DFCAMCLP
Batch 2013 BSA of DFCAMCLP | Source

An Update as of October 14, 2014

The CPA Board Examination for October (4-5 and 11-12) have just been concluded, and everybody is waiting for the release of the results, within three days after the last board exam.

Basing on last years outcome, the results are expected to be released by the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC), late Wednesday this week, or by October 15.

There were changes in the Board of Accountancy this year, which lead to the delay in the last CPA Board Exams from May to July. The offshoot was that the rate of passers, declined to 19.98 percent from the previous national average of 45 percent.

The examination takers are waiting for the result, to see if the national average would improved to at least the previous year's level of 45 percent.Expectations are high, praying that the numbers will increase this time, after the dust in BOA changes have settled down.

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