If there’s one piece of advice we continue to provide to aspiring CPAs, it’s to start studying and sit for the CPA Exam as soon as possible. Whether you’re just graduating or already working in the accounting field, passing the CPA Exam will greatly benefit your career. For CPA Candidates who held off waiting for the 2017 dust to settle, guess what? The AICPA has announced a new round of updates to hit the CPA Exam in 2018.
But have no fear! Most of these updates will actually improve the Exam-taking experience. It will just be important for candidates to familiarize themselves with these changes so that they are adequately prepared in 2018. As always, we’ll be at the forefront with any CPA Exam information, and will continuously provide our community with resources and guidance to ensure Exam day success.
Here is a quick, high-level rundown of what’s expected on the 2018 version of the CPA Exam.
1. New User Experience Redesign
The CPA Exam is getting a software makeover, expected to go live April 1, 2018. The software will be sporting a new, sleek design, as well as include technological enhancements to improve the user experience (UX). You can be the first to preview the 2018 Exam software, as the AICPA will host a month-long preview for Exam candidates on a “first-come, first-serve basis.” According to the AICPA 2018 announcement, “The previews will help the AICPA conduct final testing of the software’s functionality in a live test environment.”
While these changes will not affect Exam content, it will be important for candidates to be familiar with the new design before taking the Exam. The last thing a test-taker needs is to waste precious minutes looking for a button!
2. Inclusion of Microsoft Excel
With the expected April 1, 2018 UX update, the CPA Exam will also include Microsoft Excel. This will be a replacement to the generic spreadsheet tool candidates currently use to complete their calculations to answer Exam questions.
This should be good news for the majority of candidates, as Excel is commonly used throughout the accounting profession. Most candidates will have either recently completed coursework covering Excel through their university accounting program, or are already required to use the tool in their career.
It should be noted that candidates will not be tested on their Excel abilities—it is simply an added tool to use at their disposal while taking the Exam.
3. Larger monitors at Prometric Testing Center
Candidates will begin taking the CPA Exam on computers utilizing 23-inch HD monitors by 2018, which aligns nicely with the technological advances to the Exam. A benefit of taking the exam on a larger monitor is that candidates can view multiple elements on one screen. This will be especially useful when answering Task-Based Simulations that include numerous exhibits, such as the Document Review Simulations that launched Q1 of 2016.
4. Content Updates: Focus on Revenue Recognition
Similar to previous years, there will be a standard set of content updates to the CPA Exam in 2018. Among these, the most significant update is the heavy revision of Revenue Recognition in the FAR section of the Exam, which will be eligible for testing as early as January 1, 2018.
This Exam change is in response to FASB changing the guidelines by which a company recognizes its revenue. This is due to the shift in our economy from mainly producing tangible goods and providing services under simple arrangements to providing more intangible goods and providing services under complex arrangements (think software, information, etc.).
The new standard streamlines the process of determining when revenue should be recognized, and also brings US GAAP into closer alignment with international accounting standards, as the treatment under both sets of standards was developed jointly.
This is just a bit of insight on what the 2018 CPA Exam changes will entail.
At Roger CPA Review, we will of course ensure all our students are fully prepared for this new update, as well as any other standard updates that occur.
It’s important to remember that the CPA Exam’s job is to reflect the expectations of a newly licensed CPA, which is influenced by continuously evolving technology that affects the accounting profession. In other words, candidates should expect the CPA Exam to always be evolving to meet industry expectations.
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