Which Is Harder: The CPA Or The BAR Exam?

If you’re taking a look at the requirements and outline for the certified public accounting exam, then you may find yourself a tad overwhelmed by it all. As far as tests go, this is one of the hardest you can take and pass on the first try. The pass rate for the CPA is only about 40% overall, meaning that less than half of the participants will pass the test on their first try.

So it got us thinking about other hard certification tests, and we were interested to know where the CPA ranks in terms of difficulty. Another well-known test that is notoriously difficult is the Bar exam, so we decided to compare the two and see which one is tougher.

Disclaimer: If you are trying to become a CPA, don’t let this article faze you. With the CPA exam preparation, you can easily become one of the 40%, provided that you commit yourself to passing it. We recommend looking into all that ways to study for the exam. From flash cards to audio lectures there is away for everyone to study.


When comparing the two, we first have to look at what all is included to be able to measure if one is more difficult. Technically speaking, the Bar exam has more sections, but the CPA has more subsections. The Bar has thirteen different topics of study, but only ten are tested on. Comparatively speaking, the CPA only has four sections, but each one has about five subsections.

Winner: CPA




For the Bar, you get one day to answer multiple-choice questions, and then you have two days to answer writing prompts. Overall, it has six different versions you can take. For the CPA, you get three test booklets (multiple-choice) and one written section. That means you have sixteen items overall. The CPA exam can be spread out over time. Many experts recommend testing in one subject and then taking your next test a few weeks later. This give you more time to study and prepare. Be sure to use materials like Becker or Wiley CPA reviews.  

Winner: CPA


The Bar exam is only offered twice a year, meaning that if you miss a test time, you have to wait until the next one. For the CPA, you can take it almost whenever you want, although there are some blackout dates. For both test there are specific location where you have to take the test. Which means most test taker will have to travel depending on where you like.

Winner: Bar

Overall, it seems that the CPA has a lot more content, and the Bar exam appears to have a higher pass rate, which hovers around 70%. Thus, we have to say that the CPA is objectively harder. If you are looking to take the CPA be sure toy check out CPA Exam Guy for study material and other resource for the CPA exam. You can never be to prepared  to take the CPA.