If you aren't already aware, the CPA Exam underwent some changes on January 1, 2018. The most noticeable change to occur is on Revenue Recognition in the Financial Auditing and Reporting (FAR) section of the exam--also known to candidates to be the most dense, and therefore daunting, section. But that's not all. With the tax bill just being passed by congress, that means the CPA Exam is going to undergo even more change beginning on January 1, 2019 in the Regulation (REG) section to reflect the new bill.
While many of us who are currently taking the exam may feel that it does not apply to us, think again.
It is not unusual for the CPA process to take some candidates over 18 months. So anyone who has just began to study or is trying to make the decision on whether to begin studying, we highly recommend that you START NOW and try to pass as soon as possible. Changes will always be taking place on the exam to adapt to new professional and industry standards; so make sure you're not continuously affected by how the exam content and structure are altered. Here's how the CPA Exam changes can be a motivator rather than an obstacle.
Use these changes to push yourself further than you've pushed yourself before.
The CPA Exam is already not the easiest exam to face and conquer; so passing another "version" of the exam is not the most ideal thought for any candidate. And while you can do your best to study and prepare, life can get in the way at any time unannounced, forcing you to rethink your study strategy and plan. For example, let's say you already passed REG, BEC, and AUD recently. Great! But it turns out that FAR is giving you a lot of trouble. And by the time you pass FAR, your credit for REG has expired and you need to re-take it in the beginning of 2019. By now, the REG section will have changed to incorporate the new tax bill, and you'll not only have to re-study the section, but also study new material that just got added. And at this time, you'll be more than halfway through your 18 month rolling window and the credits for the other sections you passed are also coming up on their expiration date. Not to mention the fact that between now and next year, anything else on the exam can be altered to meet industry/profession demands.
We think you get the point here.
No matter where you are in the CPA Exam process, remember that you're at the mercy of the exam always. So might as well try to pass as quickly and as soon as possible so that all your efforts pay off in a timely manner without being affected by exam changes or updates!
In addition to content changes, structural changes can also affect your CPA Exam game plan.
In its most recent structural alteration, the CPA Exam bumped up the REG and BEC sections from 3 to 4 hours back in April 2017, along with a whole host of other things such as changing the way the exam was scored, adding a standardized break, and changing the amount of multiple-choice questions and TBSs per section, to name a few. Candidates had to take into consideration how all of these things would affect their test-taking strategy.
This year, the biggest structural change to the CPA Exam that candidates will see is a new UX (User Experience) launching on April 1, 2018. Larger monitors, the inclusion of Microsoft Excel, and an overall updated interface will definitely change the way candidates take the exam at all Prometric Testing Centers. Candidates are encouraged to familiarize themselves with Microsoft Excel and the new UX to perform successfully on the exam. The AICPA has provided a sample for candidates to look at in order to prepare themselves adequately for exam day.
Suffice to say, the exam continuously undergoes structural alterations to ensure that it remains updated, relevant, and intuitive for candidates as the workplace and industry changes and adapts to new technology and processes. So it's better to familiarize yourself with one structure of the exam rather than spend time adjusting to another--just one more reason to take and complete the exam sooner than later!
With these changes in mind, make it an even higher priority to obtain your CPA accreditation as soon as possible.
The CPA Exam requires a ton of effort, time, and commitment. It's hard enough to go through it the first time, let alone adjusting your study plan to accommodate the content and structural changes it may undergo during your 18 month window. So to all of those who are considering studying or who are currently studying but losing motivation to continue, remember to use these changes as your motivator. Take advantage of only having to study for one version of the exam and to get it out of the way as quickly as you can. It will only get harder if you push it back.
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