The Elijah Watt Sells Award Program

How to join the CPA Hall of Fame

Elijah Watt Sells is a name that makes recruiters drool and other CPAs’ jaws drop. Although there’s only one Elijah, the AICPA crowns a few new Elijah Watt Sells Scholars every year that get to name drop at their leisure in conversation and on their resumes.

The Elijah Watt Sells Award program was created in 1923 to honor an extraordinary CPA, Mr. Sells himself. He was a founding partner of Haskins & Sells (a predecessor to Deloitte, a firm you may have heard of) and one of the first practicing CPAs in New York State. He also helped shape the AICPA into what it is today as he served as a member of its governing council.

Fittingly, the Sells Award honors today’s CPA Exam all-stars (aka super geniuses). All candidates who have completed testing in the previous calendar year and have passed all four exam sections on their first attempt are eligible. Each winner receives an award plaque to commemorate their achievement and gets to brag about their brilliance to their friends, family, and future employers.

The Elijah Watt Sells Award has grown and changed along with the CPA Exam. Between 1923 and 1935, following each CPA Exam period (when candidates had to take all 4 sections at once - YIKES), only one Sells Award was given to the candidate who received the highest combined scores. Between 1935 and 1977, gold and silver medals were awarded to the two highest scorers. And, in May 1978, the Elijah Watt Sells Award became the CPA Exam Olympiad when they started awarding a bronze medal to the third highest scorer.

Those lucky enough to achieve this celebrity CPA status receive plaques versus medals (so we’re sorry to say you can’t wear it everywhere you go… rats!).

Not going to make it into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame any time soon? Never fear. Join the CPA Exam “hall of famers” as a Sells Award recipient. Go ahead and say it with us:

[YOUR NAME], CPA Exam rock star and friend of Elijah.

Taste the glory and prepare yourself with some tips from our Exam Diaries – especially our past Sells Award winners (Steve Alden, Gabriel Vaughn, Leslie Rezgui, Bryan Dean, and Jen Clifton). Then get started by learning about the exam and tapping into the free stuff we’ve provided you.

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