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The Public Accountants Examinations Board (PAEB) on 12 January 2021 announced the results for the December 2020 examinations. There were improvements in the pass rates for the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) and the Accounting Technicians Diploma (ATD) courses. There was a 32.2% pass rate for CPA compared to 31.2% in November 2019, while for ATD, there was a 45.5% pass rate compared to 43.3% in November 2019. There was a decline in the pass rate for the Certified Tax Advisor (CTA) course from 43.3% in November 2019, to 45.5% in December 2020.

The 2020 examinations were conducted amid challenging times owing to COVID-19 related disruptions. Notably, classroom study was interrupted for the greater part of the year. Nonetheless, students exhibited high commitment to their studies, devising alternative means to acquire knowledge and excel in their examinations.

In an interview with Joy Rachael Kinaawa who was the top student in 2 subjects, Quantitative Techniques (Paper 2) and Cost & Management Accounting (Paper 7), she attributed her excellent performance to hard work, confidence, revision of past papers, use of discussion groups and continuous practice. She also noted that the ICPAU students’ engagement seminars were very helpful as she received valuable subject-specific guidance.

“Hard work is very important. I dedicated one hour every day for revision and practice,” Ms. Kinaawa said. “It doesn’t matter your background, it is important for students to be humble and not assume that they know,” she added.

Regarding study, Ms. Kinaawa says her lecturers at Multitech Business School had proactively provided reading material before the lockdown and then in October 2020, classes had been conducted for one month.

Christine Nansamba the top student in Auditing & Professional Ethics & Values (Paper 12) attributed her performance to commitment. “I spared one hour every day to read. I wasn’t able to attend classes but I used the ICPAU study material and the revision papers,” Ms. Nansamba said.

Maurice Opar Manano, the top student in Integration of Knowledge (Paper 18) shared tips for passing the Paper.

A candidate of Integration of Knowledge should be able to summarise the Paper (Integration of Knowledge) in one sentence. During the exam, as you read the content, you should be able to link it to the gist. Utilise the break to go over the case scenarios. During this time, you should be able to tell the story - Maurice Opar Manano.


A close analysis of the CPA performance per subject reveals a decline in the performance of arithmetic subjects like Quantitative Techniques. The worst performed subjects were Advanced Financial Reporting (Paper 13), Auditing & Other Assurance Services (Paper 17) Auditing & Professional Ethics & Values (Paper 12), and Quantitative Techniques (Paper 2), while the best performed papers were Business Management & Information Systems (Paper 5) Business Policy & Strategy (Paper 15).   

While speaking at the function, CPA Assoc. Prof. Twaha Kaawaase, the Acting Chairperson of the Public Accountants Examinations Board (PAEB), cautioned the students against neglecting the arithmetic subjects.

“The numbers will always be important, said CPA Assoc. Kaawaase. “You are a better accountant if you understand the numbers. You must understand the value chain, i.e how transactions are posted until they go into the financials, then the soft skills can help accountants to be able to perform their advisory role in the boardroom,” he added.

The December 2020 examinations were conducted from 18-22 December 2020 at the 7 examinations centres (Arua, Fort Portal, Gulu, Kampala, Mbale, Mbarara and Nkozi). There were 4,453 candidates (ATD 151, CTA 58, CPA 4,244) compared to 6,516 in November 2020.

To facilitate students’ progression due to the lost diets, PAEB announced four examinations diets in 2021: March, June, September and December.