The AICPA recently hosted “Lunch and Learn - The Next CPA Exam” Web event where participants learned more about 2017 CPA Exam content and blueprints, item types, testlet structure and scoring, as well as scheduling and other test administration topics. During the Web Event,  participants were polled on various topics - one of which was how well candidates understand and are aware of the CPA Exam Blueprints.

The results? 64% of the participants had not heard of the Blueprints until the Web Event.

Screenshot from the AICPA Lunch & Learn Web Event


What are the CPA Exam Blueprints and why are they are important to understand for the next version of the CPA Exam?

The 2017 CPA Exam Blueprints replace the Content Specific Outlines (CSOs) on the next version of the CPA Exam. The Blueprints not only demonstrate what is tested on each section of the exam, but According to the AICPA, the purpose of the blueprints is to:

  • Document the minimum level of knowledge and skills necessary for initial licensure.
  • Assist candidates in preparing for the Exam by outlining the knowledge and skills that may be tested.
  • Apprise educators about the knowledge and skills candidates will need to function as newly licensed CPAs.
  • Guide the development of Exam questions.


How do the Blueprints differ from the CSO?

According to the AICPA

Approximately 600 representative tasks that are critical to a newly licensed CPA’s role in protecting the public interest have been identified. The representative tasks combine both the applicable content knowledge and skills required in the context of the work of a newly licensed CPA.

Each Exam section has a summary blueprint and skill allocation. Skill Allocation is a new component that wasn't broken out in the previous CSO. Below is a snapshot of the skill allocation chart that explains what each skill entails. 

Chart from the AICPA Blueprints

Something to note: Auditing & Attestation is the only section that has an evaluation skill, which is considered the highest skill level on the next version of the CPA Exam. 


Summary Blueprint Snapshot, Scoring Weight, and Skill Allocation for Each Section of the New CPA Exam


→Auditing & Attestation (AUD)←

Chart from the AICPA Blueprints


Business Environment & Concepts←

Chart from the AICPA Blueprints


Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR)←

Chart from the AICPA Blueprints


→Regulation (REG)←

Chart from the AICPA Blueprints


In addition, each section is broken down further by Content Topic, Skill, and Representative Task.

This is especially useful since candidates will be able to see what topics and subtopics are being tested in each section and which skill they will be required to use as they answer questions regarding those topics. Lastly, the representative task gives detailed, specific information on what they will be expected to perform on the exam related to the those topics. 


Many candidates might not realize that the Blueprints are a great study resource that provides useful information as they prepare to sit for the next version of the CPA Exam. The Blueprints can be used in practice tests and when reviewing sample questions online, so be sure to review them carefully before taking the exam.