Uniform CPA Exam Will Be Changed to Focus on Higher-Order Skills

In order to better protect the public, the AICPA is considering updating its Uniform CPA Examination. The Board of Examiners sought feedback from accountants and key stakeholders on changes that they thought would improve the relevance of the exam to today’s world.

After getting feedback from 310 respondents, the Board is supporting having increased testing of higher-order skills on the exam. These include such skills as critical thinking, analytical ability, problem-solving, and professional skepticism.

The AICPA exams stuff is currently developing a draft that will be released in September to serve as the final proposal for the next version of the exam. The revamped CPA exam is expected to launch in 2017.

Most of the respondents supported keeping the current structure of the exam:

  • AUD (Auditing and Attestation)
  • FAR (Financial Accounting and Reporting)
  • REG (Regulation)
  • BEC (Business Environment and Concepts)

There is some debate about whether to include the testing of these high-order skills in the BEC section or to integrate them throughout the exam.

Other changes that are being developed include:

  • Replacing the generic spreadsheet with Microsoft Excel
  • Reducing or eliminating the blackout time
    • The exam is not administered in March, June, September, and December
  • Extending the period to complete the exam after passing the initial section from 18 to 24 months
  • Allowing people to retake a failed section within the same testing window

The Board of Examiners also considered including more testing of writing ability, but that is time-consuming and costly to score. Current plans include continuing to evaluate written communications in a single section of the exam.

The AICPA is making these revisions to ensure that the CPA exam maintains its relevance in today’s market.