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ICPAU: Accountancy Exams Failure Rates Shocking!

ICPAU Boss Ossiya. PHOTO/FILE

Kampala, Uganda | THE BLACK EXAMINER | The pass rate for accountancy students remains a cause for concern, as only 32.9 percent of the 3,919 candidates passed the August exams conducted by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU). However, this marks a slight improvement of 0.3 percent compared to the June 2023 exams.

Results released on Monday revealed that failure rates increased as students advanced through the levels. At Level 3, the best-performed paper was Advanced Taxation, with only 33.9 percent of candidates passing. Integration of Knowledge, the sole paper at Level 4 and computer-based, saw a pass rate of 38.9 percent. These August exams were the first since 2019, following disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Laura Aseru Orobia, the chairperson of the Public Accountants Examinations Board (PAEB), explained that one major factor contributing to the high failure rates is “targeted preparation,” where candidates focus on specific areas when preparing for the exams. She noted that the August exams were intended to give a chance to those who had previously failed to catch up, but candidates may not have had enough time to adequately prepare.

The most challenging papers, according to the results released on Monday, were Financial Management 8, Advanced Financial Reporting 12, Public Financial Management 13, and Advanced Financial Management 15. Pass rates for these papers ranged from 12.3 to 18.5 percent of the candidates who attempted them. Ms. Orobia expressed concern that these papers are core to the Certified Public Accountancy course and assess the technical competence of accountants.

Regarding concerns that the failure rates may be attributed to issues with the syllabus or other technical aspects of the examination system, ICPAU President Josephine Ossiya Okui dismissed this as unlikely. She stated that their analysis of both failures and successful candidates showed no problem with the syllabus but rather insufficient preparation on the part of some candidates. She also highlighted that some students have completed the course in just one and a half years, indicating that the syllabus is well-designed and aligned with international standards.

Out of the 3,919 candidates who sat for the August exams, the majority (54.7 percent) were female, and they performed better overall than their male counterparts. Among the top 18 candidates, 13 were female, while males excelled in the other six papers. Of the 64 candidates who completed the CPA course, 35 were female.

At the final stage (Level 4), which features only one paper, Integration of Knowledge, the top candidate was Irene Ndagire, followed by Sharifah Babirye and Denish Okello Onenecan. Although males still make up more than 61 percent of the 4,958 students who have completed the CPA course, Ossiya expressed confidence that this gender gap will narrow, achieving greater balance within the profession.

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