In order to keep the exam relevant with the profession, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has proposed changes to the exam. The changes would not take place until 2017, but the AICPA is currently seeking comments on the newest draft of the exam. All comments on the exam are due November 30th 2015 and final decisions are expected to be made in spring 2016.
The exam will retain its four pre-existing sections: Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Regulation. The changes to the exam will include more critical thinking skills, an outline for each section on what will be tested, a plan that involves more task-based stimulation, an increased testing time (from 14 to 16 hours), and the weight of scores will be equal across the four sections.
The AICPA conducts comprehensive analyses to assure that the exam continues to assess skills and technical knowledge needed for initial licensure. These analyses were conducted in 2001 and again in 2008, which resulted in changes made to the exam, with the newest version last launched in 2011.
During these analyses, input was gathered from accounting boards, accounting firms, academic boards, standard setters, regulators, business and industry boards, and others with a shared interest in making sure the strength of the mission is preserved.
The changes being proposed are aimed at giving the exam a greater focus on the skills on the same level that the profession demands for newly licensed CPAs. Specifically, these changes are needed to make sure that those taking it are even more well prepared to be a CPA than with previous versions of the exam.