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The CPA Exam is a comprehensive test composed of 4 parts, given individually, over a total of 16 hours. The four exams cover a wide variety of topics taught in most University accounting programs.
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The CPA Exam Blueprints are created by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to help CPA Exam candidates know what skills and content topics will be tested on the CPA Exam. The 2019 CPA Exam Blueprints were approved by the Board of Examiners on May 31, 2018 and will be effective on January 1, 2019.
What's covered on the 4 parts of the Exam, CPA Exam scoring and pass rates, education requirements, application checklist & more!
The CPA Exam Blueprints are intended to assist candidates in preparing for the Exam and takes into account the minimum level of knowledge and skills necessary for initial licensure once candidates become CPAs. Not only are the CPA Exam Blueprints intended to assist candidates in preparing for the Exam, but also takes into account the minimum level of knowledge and skills necessary for initial licensure once candidates become CPAs.
While it's good to reference the blueprints to better understand what's required of CPAs, you also don't have to worry about them too much. We have already utilized them to guide our course materials so that you're prepared for the CPA Exam no matter what.
Multiple Choice Questions: One question and four potential answers, MCQs make up the majority of each exam.Task-Based Simulations: Questions that require you to apply practical knowledge found in the AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG exams. This question type may include filling out a form or completing a research question.
Written Communication: Questions that require properly composed written essay responses and found only in the BEC exam.
The Auditing & Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG) Exams are similarly formatted. These three exams are composed of 50% Multiple Choice Questions and 50% Task-Based Simulations. The Multiple Choice Questions are broken up into 2 individual testlets: 36 questions per testlet for AUD, 33 questions per testlet for FAR, 38 questions per testlet for REG. The MCQ portion of the exam is followed by three testlets of 2, 3, and then 3Task-Based Simulations (TBS) for AUD, FAR, and REG, for a total of 8 TBSs per exam section.
50% of the Business Environment & Concepts (BEC) exam is comprised of Multiple Choice Questions. Just like the other 3 exams, the MCQs are broken into 2 individual testlets, with 31 questions in each. The MCQ portion of the exam is followed by two testlets of 2 Task-Based Simulations, for a total of 4 TBSs. Finally, there are 3 Written Communication questions in the final testlet- one of which is pre-tested - that require a written response in a memo format.
15-25% Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, and General Principles
20-30% Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Responses
30-40% Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence
15-25% Forming Conclusions and Reporting
25-35% Conceptual Framework, Standard-Setting and Financial Reporting
30-40% Select Financial Statement Accounts
20-30% Select Transactions
5-15% State and Local Governments
55%-85% Federal Taxation
10-20% Business Law
10-20% Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, and Federal Tax Procedures
17-27% Corporate Governance
17-27% Economic Concepts and Analysis
11-21% Financial Management
15-25% Information Technology
15-25% Operations Management
The sections of the CPA Exam can be taken in any order. However, with the CPA exam changes beginning in April 2017, if you are eligible to sit for the CPA Exam now or will start soon, then it is recommended to take the exam in the following order:
According to our recent CPA Industry Survey, 46% of people surveyed believe FAR to be the most difficult section of the CPA Exam. FAR requires that CPA candidates have a strong knowledge of US GAAP, including concepts and standards for financial statements, typical items in financial statements, specific types of transactions and events, accounting and reporting for governmental entities, and accounting and reporting for nongovernmental and not-for-profit organizations. CPA candidates must also be able to demonstrate the skills needed to apply their financial reporting knowledge required of CPAs.
However, this is a very subjective matter. The most difficult section of the CPA Exam can vary by individual, as some may find certain topics harder to understand than others.
If you fail a section of the CPA Exam, then follow these steps:
Pre-tested questions are questions that do not count against your score. The reason pre-tested questions are on the CPA Exam is so that the questions can be categorized as difficult or moderate based on how candidates perform on the question. The questions could be on new tax laws, accounting standards or a new topic.
There are 10-15 pre-tested Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs) and 1 TBS/Written Communication per part.
Candidates are allowed to take all four sections of the exam during any one testing window. However, a candidate may not take the same section more than once during any single testing window.