Accounting Alumnus Earns Top Score on CPA Exam

Matthew Bradford, who earned two degrees in accounting at UConn, earned one of the best CPA exam scores in the nation, and the top one in Connecticut, in 2017. (Nathan Oldham/UConn Photo)
Matthew Bradford, who earned two degrees in accounting at UConn, earned one of the best CPA exam scores in the nation, and the top one in Connecticut, in 2017. (Nathan Oldham/UConn Photo)

Two-time UConn accounting alumnus Matthew Bradford ’16 (BUS), MSA ’17, earned one of the best CPA exam scores in the nation, and the top one in Connecticut, during 2017, according to the American Institute of CPAs, which just released the results.”

Bradford is one of only 58 CPA candidates, out of 95,800 test takers, who obtained a cumulative score above 95.5 across all four sections of the CPA exam in the national test.

He also earned the top score among the 1,200 CPA candidates in Connecticut, and received the Institute’s Elijah Watt Sells Award for outstanding performance.

Bradford, currently an assurance associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Hartford, says that when he started to study for the CPA exam, he realized how well UConn had prepared him.

“The accounting faculty is great. I couldn’t have done it without them,” says Bradford, a native of Tolland, Connecticut who had a perfect GPA during both his undergraduate and graduate years. “Every class offered something that was on the CPA exam.”

George Plesko, professor and head of the accounting department, says Bradford’s test scores are “an exceptional achievement for Matt. It also makes me proud of our accounting programs and the faculty here at UConn, who are able to provide a strong educational foundation for our students.”

Ricki Livingston, director of online programs in accounting in the School of Business, who taught Bradford in two of her classes, says he was clearly an achiever.

“From the initial review of Matt’s application to the MSA, it was clear that we had an exceptional student interested in our program,” she says. “Throughout the program, Matt not only exceled academically, but more importantly, he demonstrated upstanding character.” In his application essay, he expressed the importance of people helping one another, Livingston notes, and in his courses, he put this into practice in supporting his fellow classmates.

Bradford has accepted an invitation from his former professors to return to campus in the fall as a guest speaker. He says he will advise students that the CPA distinction is within reach.

“Take your classes seriously, and put effort into everything you’re doing,” he says. “Many people find the CPA exams intimidating and have a hard time imagining passing them, but they are based on the material you’ve been learning for years. If you work and study hard, you’re almost always going to pass.”

Bradford says one of the misperceptions people have is that accounting is all about numbers, but it is also about understanding how a business works: “I spend more time writing than I do anything else.”

As an assurance associate, he audits companies, looking for evidence that their financial statements are accurate.

“I try to be friendly and open with everyone I talk to,” he says. “Not everyone is excited to answer questions from auditors, but hopefully it doesn’t ruin their day either.”