Is the CPA Exam Getting Harder?

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The Uniform CPA Examination is made up of four total sections: Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Business Environmental Concepts (BEC), Auditing and Attestation (AUD), and Regulation (REG). Each of the four sections of the CPA exam in 2022 is made up of multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations. The BEC CPA exam section also contains a written communication section that asks the candidate to write information regarding various topics that can range from managerial accounting concepts to financial reporting and auditing standards. The below information is designed to provide candidates with a CPA Exam guide so that you can have a better understanding of what’s to come. 

CPA Exam Changes: 

There is no secret in the CPA exam world that the exam structure is changing, and I mean big time. CPA exam evolution is the updated version of the CPA exam that expects to be launched in January of 2024. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) have teamed up to improve the overall assessment of accounting professional competencies to make it more reflective of what is happening in today’s accounting profession. The new CPA exam focuses heavily on CPA candidates’ ability to think critically and interpret complicated data. 

Will the Exam be Harder? 

The CPA exam is a hard exam, and will always be a hard exam. This isn’t necessarily due to the current future structure itself, but rather the CPA exam content that is being tested and the CPA exam pass rates definitely speak to that. If you are currently, or planning to sit for the CPA exam, we recommend purchasing a CPA review course that is aligned with how you learn. Universal CPA Review course is a great choice as it is cost-effective and also a great resource for those who learn more visually. 

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How Does CPA Exam Evolution Impact What is Tested? 

The CPA Evolution model is switching to a unique format that includes CORE disciplines and one Discipline mode. This basically means that there will be three CORE sections (the current FAR, AUD, and REG sections) while exam candidates will be allowed to select one discipline. The three disciplines consist of the following: 

  • BAR
  • ISC 
  • TCP

Business Analysis & Reporting (BAR) –

this discipline is more aligned with assurance and advisory services. It also includes elements of financial analysis and reporting. 

Information Systems & Controls (ISC) –

this discipline covers topics of technology and internal controls. Similar to Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR), it is a discipline designed for candidates that have more of an interest in auditing and assurance services as a career path. 

However, this is more of an IT discipline than Business Analysis & Reporting. 

Tax Compliance & Planning (TCP) –

this discipline speaks to the name itself. This is a discipline that is meant for candidates that have a focus in tax work and tax regulations. 

How Will CPA Evolution Impact Pre-Evolution Exam Takers? 

CPA Exam candidates that have not passed all four sections of the CPA pre-evolution exam model will not have to retake any sections that they passed under the prior model. In other words, if you pass one of the four sections in the pre-evolution model (FAR, AUD or REG), you will not have to retake them as CORE exams under the new exam model. 

How Will the CPA Exam Format Change? 

How Will the Contents of the FAR, AUD, and REG Change Under the New CPA Evolution Exam? 

Per the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the CPA exam blueprints will change slightly for the CORE exams. However, it is known that most of the content itself will remain the same. 

How Does CPA Exam Evolution Impact International Candidates? 

There will be no difference in expectations for United States based CPA candidate’s vs those based in India. The availability of testing centers for international candidates continues to grow as availability exists in some of the following cities: 

  • Ahmedabad
  • Bangalore
  • Calcutta
  • Chennai
  • Hyderabad
  • Mumbai
  • New Delhi
  • Trivandrum

How Long Will the CPA Exam Be Under the New Format? 

The CPA exam will remain the same 4-hour exam. There will be no changes made to the length of the exam as the same volume of information remains testable. The exams will continue to extend 15-minute breaks in between testlets, so you will not be required to sit at your exam computer for four straight hours.  You can expect to continue to schedule and take your exam at a Prometric center near you. 

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Bottom Line: 

The CPA exam is changing for the better. It is allowing accounting professionals to focus on a discipline (or a service) that is aligned with what it is they want to pursue as a career. The pre-CPA exam evolution version of the exams has always been a little bit broader. While CPA evolution’s structure still requires accountants to have an expert understanding of the fundamentals of all accounting CORE concepts, it is also allowing them to demonstrate and showcase their niche in the industry by selecting a discipline as well. 

Authored by Joey Reeve

Joey Reeve, CPA is cofounder and lead instructor of Universal CPA Review. This post is designed for those interested in learning more about the CPA exams or currently studying for them. As a disclosure, Universal CPA Review is a CPA exam study resource that is particularly designed for visual learners. If interested in learning more about Universal CPA Review, you can sign up for a free 7-day trial with this link

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.

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