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For colleges and universities eager to find out how their students fared on the Uniform CPA Examination, NASBA’s Candidate Performance Book has been a must-have annual purchase for more than two decades.

The Candidate Performance Book‘s usefulness is hardly limited to the world of academia, however. With almost 200 pages of statistical reports and commentary on exam trends, NASBA’s member state boards of accountancy, providers of exam-review courses, as well as candidates and their families, also eagerly await the newest volume each year.

“The information in the book comes directly from the source — the candidates themselves,” says Alfonzo Alexander, NASBA’s Chief Relationship Officer. “When registering for the CPA exam, candidates voluntarily provide some data to the state boards of accountancy, who then send the information to us to be archived in our National Candidate Database. The rest of the relevant data is pulled from the candidates’ applications, which are also entered into the National Candidate Database. In that aspect, NASBA has become a data warehouse for CPA exam information, and this book is just a snapshot of the data that we maintain.”

In addition to ranking colleges and universities by passing percentages of candidates, the book also highlights schools with the highest percentage of candidates passing all four sections. For current and future CPA exam candidates, the book lists candidate performance with and without advanced degrees; performance by highest level of education achieved; and performance by total semester hours.

“The universities use the Candidate Performance Book to benchmark their programs against their competitors,” Alexander explains. “Exam-prep providers do the same thing, and use it to target areas where they believe they can find additional clientele. People and organizations from the learning-provider communities use data from this book extensively in their strategic planning.”

Compiled by NASBA, the Candidate Performance Book is currently available in soft back, CD form or PDF download. This book is not available anywhere else.

“A student looking to make a decision on a particular school can find its performance in this book,” Alexander says. “And once they are in the exam process, they can evaluate the trend information to see what might be the best time to take a particular section of the exam. On the state-board side, they can evaluate that same trending data for their specific state and see if their particular qualifications and benchmarks need to be tightened, or loosened. It’s a very powerful resource.”

Needless to say, the Candidate Performance Book has always been popular. Soon, it will be even more so with multiple enhancements coming, including a more rapid release schedule currently being implemented for the 2011 edition and beyond.

“We usually have published eight to 10 months after the end of the previous exam year,” says James Suh, Director of Training, Analytics and Quality. “Starting this year, we’re going to publish data at the end of each quarter, just a few weeks after the testing window closes, and then we’ll publish the entire data set about six weeks after year’s end. That will make the data much more relevant and timely.”

The book is usually released in September or October. Going forward, it will be available through NASBA via a print-on-demand service and eBook form.

“We are completely changing our delivery model and the timeliness of our product because we want to be proactive with this information,” Suh says. “We want it available quickly, so that even more people are able to access and use it to develop their businesses and programs.”

For more information on the Candidate Performance Book, click here.