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Baylor Grads Score in Top 10 of Texas CPA Exam

Nov. 1, 2002

For the second time this year, Baylor graduates earned two of the top ten scores in the Texas CPA examinations, according to the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy.

Michelle Walton Downs, a native of Penelope, TX, graduated from Baylor with a BBA/MAcc in 2001.  She is now a consultant in the Small Business Services Practice of Patillo Brown & Hill in Waco.  

Scott Schieffer, a native of Carthage, TX, graduated from Baylor with a BBA/MAcc in 2001.  He is now a Personal Financial Planning tax associate at KPMG LLP in Dallas. 

Downs and Schieffer both earned the honor of speaking at CPA swearing-in ceremonies in Texas on November 2.  Downs will speak in Austin, Schieffer in Arlington.  They will join 832 peers in receiving their certification from the state of Texas that day.

"I remember hearing some students during a break in the exam saying, 'I've never seen that type of question before,'" said Schieffer.  "Fortunately, as a Baylor student, I had seen every topical area covered.  The undergraduate accounting core curriculum, combined with the graduate degree, gave my education a breadth of coverage that definitely contributed to my success.  In virtually every accounting class I took, professors provided us CPA-type questions in the form of actual test questions or supplementary materials."

Downs agreed.  "I didn't realize how much my education at Baylor really prepared me," she said.  "All the accounting professors at Baylor work so closely together.  The curriculum is very coordinated and flows well.  I just didn't know how well until I got my results back!"

Results came long after completion of the rigorous test - about a year later, in fact.

"Passing the exam is only one part of what it takes to become a Certified Public Accountant," explained Dr. Charles Davis, chair of the Accounting & Business Law department and Ernst & Young Teaching Fellow in Accounting at Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business.  "Candidates must also complete a minimum of one year in practice and pass an additional ethics examination.  While CPA exam scores are received before meeting all the requirements for certification, it is only when candidates apply for certification that they are notified of their 'top-ten status' on the Texas exam."

Although their employers didn't know for sure, there was speculation about how high their new-hires ranked.  "My boss already suspected," said Downs.  "They weren't as surprised as I was," she admitted.

What will they say to the other newly-certified accountants?  "With all the recent tumult in our industry, many potential topics seem appropriate," said Schieffer.  "I plan to put the recent events in perspective by discussing the long and proud tradition of our profession and by emphasizing the difference each of us can make in the future."

"Results like this from our Baylor graduates attest to two things," said Davis.  "First, that Baylor has superb accounting programs - both undergraduate and graduate level - and second, that we at Baylor are blessed to serve gifted, industrious students such as these."

The national average first-time pass rate for the CPA examination in 2001 was 17.8%.

At the May 2002 swearing-in ceremonies, Baylor graduates Anna Springs Sosolik and Josh Comer were recognized for being two of the top ten scorers on the Texas CPA exam.

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