This paper explores factors that have affected the success of candidates in the professional entry exam conducted by Brazil’s Federal Council of Accounting. We analyse results of 18,948 candidates who sat for the exam in 2012, using a logistic regression model and the key indicators used by government to monitor the performance of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and the characteristics of candidates. We find that success is related positively to the quality of the HEIs from which candidates graduated and to a measure of student ability that is used widely in Brazil. We find also that males perform better than females and that younger candidates perform better than older candidates. The geographical region of Brazil within which candidates completed the exam was also significant. The insights provided will help public policy makers in Brazil, and the Brazilian accounting profession, to understand key factors associated with current low pass rates.