How the CPA Exam Is Changing

In 2017, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) will introduce changes to the CPA Exam. The exam is changing to continually assure state boards of the standards that new CPAs will be meeting as the CPA environment changes. Surveys conducted by the AICPA showed that advances in technology require a growing level of cognitive skills and professional skepticism. This includes analytical skills applied to financial and tax documents.

In the CPA Exam, there are four sections, Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Regulation.

  • In Auditing and Attestation, there will be one more task-based simulation for a total of nine. This section will be evenly split between multiple choice questions and task-based simulations.
  • In Business Environment and Concepts, a task-based section will be added, which will account for 35% of the section. Half will be multiple choice, and the remaining 15% will be written. This section of the test will be given an extra hour for completion to account for the new task-based section.
  • In Financial Account and Reporting, there will be one more task-based simulation for a total of nine. This section will be evenly split between multiple choice questions and task-based simulations.
  • In Regulation, there will be one more task-based simulation for a total of nine. This section of the test will be given an extra hour for completion to account for the additional task-based simulation. Multiple choice questions and task-based simulations will take up equal parts of the test.

All told, the AICPA is adding an extra two hours to the test, with about 50% of the test being multiple choice, rather than the typical 60%. There will also be new blueprints available for study. They are study materials that reflect the changes being made to the exam and are designed to be clear for the student. They will hold approximately 600 representative tasks that will highlight the skills of a successful CPA.


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