What is PACE?
(updated 29 July 2014)
PACE is the Principles of Accounting Competency Examination which all students enrolling in Intermediate Accounting I (ACC 325) must pass with a score of 75 percent or greater. PACE is designed to allow students to understand their level of preparedness for upper-level accounting work. The exam is graded on a pass/fail basis only. Therefore, a student will not receive an actual score for their grade. The student may obtain their outcome by clicking on the "Competency Exam Scores" on PACE’s BLACKBOARD homepage. Outcomes (pass/fail) are automatically posted after the exams are graded. Every attempt will be made to get PACE results posted as soon as possible after each exam and in most cases results will be posted within 3 business days. If an outcome is not posted within a week of taking the exam, the student should contact the School of Accountancy’s academic advisor, J. Christian Sweatt.
Students may take the PACE up to three times in a single semester. The minimum score to receive a "pass" on the PACE is 75% on the entire exam. Students enrolled in ACC 325 but failing to take or to pass the PACE will be disenrolled. The window for enrolling in ACC 325 Intermediate Accounting I after passing the PACE is two (2) semesters (the current semester and the next semester). After that time, students must retake the exam.
The PACE covers the most basic principles of accounting and involves both multiple-choice questions and problems covering all aspects of the accounting cycle. Typically, the following topics are tested on the PACE:
- Accounting equation
- Elements of the financial statements (Income Statement, Balance Sheet, Retained Earnings Statement)
- Recording business transactions in general journal form
- Understanding of the posting process and preparation of a trial balance
- Preparation of adjusting entries
- deferrals (prepayments)
- estimated items – depreciation and bad debt expense
- Understanding the closing process and making closing entries
Why the PACE?
It is important for students to understand the motivation for the PACE. The School of Accountancy’s faculty members are dedicated to the individual success of our students. We want to maximize their probability of successfully completing our program in accounting and having a successful career upon leaving The University of Southern Mississippi.
Students repeating the same class multiple times face costly penalties added to their tuition. Retention (the ability to complete a program of study) and matriculation (the ability to complete a program in a timely manner) have become major issues. Further, as the level of rigor continues to grow in ACC 325 Intermediate Accounting I, more students are finding themselves unprepared. While the reasons are many and varied, the outcome for many students is the same, paying tuition for a course where the student missed the opportunity for a tuition refund and enrollment in an alternate course.
PACE is about retention and student success. If students can be directed into academic areas in which they can do well at USM, then they probably will stay at USM. If students who are ill-prepared or not suited for the accounting major are permitted to languish in accounting’s demanding upper level courses, they will eventually become discouraged at their lack of academic progress and probably leave USM. PACE is a form of “tough love” that accounting faculty can appreciate from their own upbringing. Also, PACE allows the accounting faculty to increase the academic rigor in the BSBA program and better prepare our BSBA graduates for future employment or graduate school. Again, this outcome is focused on student success.
Preparing for the PACE
Students enrolling in ACC 325 will automatically be granted access to the PACE site in BLACKBOARD. This site provides information about the PACE and all currently scheduled exams. The BLACKBOARD site includes podcasts on the accounting cycle and other material designed to prepare students to sit for the PACE. In addition, pre-semester prep classes (“boot camps”) are provided for a small fee. The PACE and the prep classes are given on both the Hattiesburg and the Gulf Park campuses. Students desiring to sign-up for a PACE prep class (approximately 4 hours/day over a two day period), or for the PACE should contact their academic advisor: