Each year, thousands of people take the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Uniform CPA Examination. Just under half pass the exam and earn certification as CPAs. About one in 2,500 is honored with the Elijah Watt Sells Award, one of the most prestigious prizes in the field of accounting.

Created in 1923 in honor of educator and accountant Elijah Watt Sells, one of the first CPAs in New York State, the Sells Award recognizes those test takers who earn the highest scores on the Uniform CPA Examination. In 2011, award winners were required to earn an average score of 95.50 across the exam’s four sections. Of the more than 90,000 prospective CPAs who completed the exam that year, only 35 achieved this distinction.

Owing to its competitiveness and the sheer volume of contenders, the Sells Award is regarded as one of the highest honors a new CPA can receive. Motivating test takers to achieve their best, the prize has become an important accounting recognition.

About the author:
An accomplished entrepreneur, attorney, and CPA, Mitchell Saranow received the Elijah Watt Sells Award in 1981.

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