The AICPA just released what the final structure for the next version of the CPA Exam will be. Beginning April 1, 2017, here’s how the CPA Exam will be administered and what it will consist of.


The exam will still consist of the same 4 sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG). Each section will be comprised of 4 hours with 15 minutes allotted for administrative screens and another 15 minutes for a standardized break. This means that each exam section will be a total of 4.5 hours. 


Perhaps one of the bigger changes in the structure of the new CPA Exam is that it will now consist of 5 testlets instead of the current 3. On the current exam, candidates are administered 3 testlets comprised of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) only. A separate section for task-based simulations (TBSs) is presented after all 3 MCQ testlets have been completed. 


On the 2017 CPA Exam, there will be 5 testlets administered altogether. The first 2 testlets will consist of MCQs only while the remaining 3 will consist of 2-3 TBSs each for all sections. BEC will still have 3 written communication tasks. As the exam divides TBSs into their own testlets, this means that candidates will not be able to move between all TBSs; once a TBS teslet is finished, candidates cannot go back and must move onto the next one. It is important to note that candidates will also receive at least one research-oriented TBS in the AUD, FAR, and REG sections which will require candidates to search through authoritative literature to find appropriate references that will help them in their answer explanation. The chart below shows what this new structure will look like. 



Additionally, the 15-minute standardized break will be presented to candidates after the first TBS testlet, which is about the midpoint in the exam—two hours. This break does not count against the candidate’s testing time and was determined to be placed at the two hour mark since candidates typically are halfway through the exam by that time. Candidates can choose to not take the break, in which case the break will not be offered again. 


Candidates who choose to take the break can leave the test room as long as they adhere to all security protocol and will be readmitted to the testing room once cleared by Prometric personnel. If the candidate hasn’t returned and started the second TBS testlet before the 15 minutes expires, the exam clock will restart. 

Similar to the current exam, candidates can continue to choose to take a break between any two testlets; however, it will count against their test taking time. 


Source: Next Version CPA Exam Structure