CPA Exam Content & Structure

CPA Exam Content & Structure

The CPA Exam is a comprehensive test composed of 4 parts, given individually, over a total of 14 hours. The four exams cover a wide variety of topics taught in most University accounting programs.

Choose from the boxes below to explore each CPA Exam section

Topics Per Exam Section

Auditing
4 hrs
Standards, Planning & Evidence, Internal Control, Reports, Compilations & Reviews
Financial
4 hrs
Business Enterprises, Governmental Entities, Not-for-Profit Organizations
Regulation
3 hrs
Federal Taxation, Ethics, Professional and Legal Responsibilities, and Business Law
Business
Environment &
Concepts
3 hrs
Cost Accounting, Economic Concepts, Financial Mgmt., Information Technology

Types of Questions

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, REG, and FAR 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.

Format of the Four Parts of the CPA Exam

AUD, FAR, REG Exam Format

The Auditing & Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG) Exams are similarly formatted. These three exams are composed of 60% Multiple Choice Questions and 40% Task-Based Simulations.

The Multiple Choice Questions are broken up into 3 individual testlets: 30 questions per testlet for AUD and FAR, 24 questions per testlet for REG. The MCQ portion of the exam is followed by the Task Based Simulations (TBS): Seven TBS for AUD and FAR, and six for REG.

BEC Exam Format

85% of the Business Environment & Concepts (BEC) exam is comprised of Multiple Choice Questions. Just like the other 3 exams, the MCQs are broken into 3 individual testlets, with 24 questions in each. The MCQ portion of the exam is followed by the Written Communication. There are three Written Communication questions - one of which is pre-tested - that require a written response in a memo format.

 

AUD FAR REG Exam Structure
CPA Exam BEC Structure

CPA Exam Content by Part

Auditing and Attestation (AUD)

70% Auditing & Attestation

  • Internal Controls Testing
  • Audit Reports & Opinions

20% Professional Responsibility

10% Accounting & Review Services

  • International Standards on Auditing vs. U.S. Auditing Standards

Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)

80% Financial Accounting

  • Bonds, Leases, Pensions
  • Prepare Consolidated Financial Statements
  • Identify & understand the difference between financial statements prepared on the basis of GAAP vs. IFRS

20% Governmental & Not-for-Profit

 

Regulation (REG)

60% Tax

  • Individual Taxes (Form 1040)
  • Partnerships
  • Corporate Taxation (S-corps & C-corps)

20% Business Law

  • Contracts
  • Uniform Commercial Code

20% Ethics, Professional and Legal Responsibilities

  • AICPA Code of Professional Conduct

Business Environments and Concepts (BEC)

  • 35% Financial & Operations Management
  • 15% Information Systems
  • 30% Corporate Governance
  • 20% Economic Concepts & Strategic Planning
  • Demonstrate an understanding of globalization on the business environment and business strategies

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