Beginning March 11, 2018, the CPA Exam will undergo a User Experience (UX) makeover designed to improve the exam-taking experience. On December 15, 2017, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) went live with a sample CPA Exam to show candidates what these (UX) changes would entail.
The AICPA also released a video and help document that pinpoints exactly what these UX changes are and how candidates can expect to utilize and interact with them on Exam Day.
To help navigate these changes more easily, we have compiled a list below to show you what you can expect to see on April 1, 2018, all at a comprehensive glance.
1. Larger, High Definition Monitors at Prometric Test Centers
The larger screens will enable you to work with the provided tools more easily. For example, the interface for the task-based simulations (TBS) takes advantage of this increased space, with a response area on the left and a workspace area on the right. The workspace is where you will examine exhibits and use other tools.
2. Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Excel will replace the previous spreadsheet application that was included on the CPA Exam. You will have access to this tool in every testlet except the written communication testlet in BEC. To open Excel, click on the Excel icon in the toolbar. You can remove and resize Excel and use its full formula, sort, and filter capabilities. Certain Excel functions will be unavailable for security purposes.
If you navigate to a new question, Excel will close, but your work will automatically be saved. You can also save your work by clicking the save button. Work in Excel will only be saved in the testlet you’re operating it on. Once you navigate to a new testlet, you will start with a new Excel workbook.
3. Authoritative literature
Use the authoritative literature tool for research task questions. Access the tool by clicking on the book icon in the main toolbar. The authoritative literature opens in a separate window that you can reposition and resize to help you move between the literature and the task. It will be available for every TBS.
You can search across all the literature or restrict your search to specific documents or folders. You can also search within a document or folder by checking the “Search within” box located next to the main search bar.
The new UX will also now allow you to work with realistic exhibits, such as emails, and general ledger detail needed to complete TBSs. To open an exhibit, click on a link at the top of the question area. You can open and review up to 8 exhibits at the same time.
Exhibits automatically appear in the workspace in cascade mode. Or, you can choose to view them in tile mode. Switch between the two viewing options by clicking on the corresponding buttons. You can also move and resize the exhibits as needed.
5. Cut, copy, and paste
While the ability to cut, copy, and paste in the exam is not new, the capacity in which you can utilize these functions is. Standard keystroke shortcuts can be used, as well as Cut, Copy, and Paste buttons when available (such as in Excel and the Written Communication section in BEC).
You can also copy from a question or exhibit and paste it into Excel, the calculator, or your response area. However, you will not be able to copy from exhibits presented as images (signaled by the “Read Only” notation).
A new feature that will be available in the exhibits is the ability to highlight. You can select text in an exhibit and the highlight tool will appear. Again, this function does not apply to exhibits presented as images (signaled by the “Read Only” notation).
For more information and resources about the 2018 CPA Exam, visit the AICPA website.