(False) Hope in the professional licensure examinations

False hope or “paasa”—that’s how prospective examinees feel about the ever changing schedules for professional licensure examinations being administered by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

In a press statement issued on September 21, 2021, Sen. Joel Villanueva reacted vigorously to the recurring tendency of the PRC to postpone the various licensure examinations. Senator Villanueva cited that out of the 101 board examinations scheduled in 2021, only 24 have pushed through as of September 2021. He further observed the dire situation of the board examinees undergoing sessions in review centers after their graduation from their courses and belatedly being informed that their licensure examinations will be postponed. The unfortunate situations of these examinees are further complicated by their increasing costs in preparing for the examinations, which include board and lodging for out-of-town examinees, and the requirements of the PRC of a non-refundable P900 application fee, a 14-day quarantine certificate, medical certificate, and a negative RT-PCR test result. Thus, they encounter difficulty in applying for work or pursuing their career without their professional license. Quite as severe is the mental stress on these examinees waiting for the final go-signal if their examinations will proceed as scheduled or will be postponed.

In the case of the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) Licensure examinations, the tests scheduled on October 10 to 12, 2021 in the National Capital Region (NCR) were rescheduled to December 16 to 18, 2021. However, the examinations in 14 testing sites, including Davao and Cebu, proceeded as scheduled. My sources disclosed that there were over 5,000 examinees who took the licensure tests. It is to be noted that the CPA board examinations have been postponed four times since May 2020. I am certain that a far greater number registered to take their tests in the NCR were disappointed with the postponement. Annually, about 25,000 examinees take the three CPA examinations. Since there has not been any examinations for practically the past two years, I estimate that over 45,000 examinees will again have to wait for December to take their examinations.


To those who took their examinations last week, the time for waiting to get the test results will soon come to an end. In a few days, the CPA licensure examination results will be released by the PRC and the Board of Accountancy. The big questions that the various interest groups are asking include: What will be the passing percentage for the new CPAs? Who will be the topnotchers in the examinations? What will be the performance of the graduates of the various accounting schools? The examinees, their parents and guardians, the accounting schools and review centers, and even the prospective employers of the new CPAs are all waiting for the answers to these questions. To recall, the results of the very last CPA examinations held in October 2019 showed a dismally low 14 percent  passing percentage. If this situation is not reversed, there will be a lot of tears for those who will not make the grade.

For those who will be successful in getting their CPA license, they, together with their loved ones, will soon be celebrating to high heavens their much-deserved accomplishments. At least for these successful examinees, the season of “false hopes” is over. After their prayers of thanks and celebration, the new CPAs can now  definitely plan and hope for their bright future.

Joel L. Tan-Torres is the Dean of the University of the Philippines Virata School of Business. Previously, he was the  Commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the chairman of the Professional Regulatory Board of Accountancy and partner of Reyes Tacandong & Co. and the SyCip Gorres and Velayo & Co. He is a Certified Public Accountant who garnered No. 1 in the CPA Board Examination of May 1979.

This column accepts articles for publication from the business and academic community. Articles not exceeding 600 words can be e-mailed to jltantorres@up.edu.ph

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