What Every Candidate Should Know About the Uniform CPA Exam
Learn how to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) from NASBA, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, and discover where to find accurate information to help expedite the CPA licensing process. This How to Become a CPA Video will answer most of your questions. View our CPA Review Courses.
The CPA exam, also known as the Uniform CPA Examination, serves to protect the public interest by helping to ensure that only qualified professionals become licensed as CPAs. Once acquired, a CPA license is valid in any of the 55 U.S. jurisdictions (the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands).
The CPA examination is essentially an academic assessment that tests the breadth of material covered by good accounting curricula. It emphasizes the body of knowledge required for the practice of public accounting.
So, how should candidates get ready? According to CPA Review, here is what every candidate should know about the computerized exam:
CPA Exam Content
According to Checkpoint Learning's CPA Review, exam content has been expanded so that it more closely matches the skills candidates need to practice competently today.
“As a company that operates on the cutting-edge of e-learning technology, we could see this change coming,” CPA Review said. “Technological advances have had a major impact on the work being done by entry-level CPAs. This new format helps determine if a candidate has the ability to use technology to address and resolve client problems — an essential skill for today’s accountants.”
According to the AICPA, the CPA exam is designed to test for the following skills deemed necessary for entry-level CPAs:
The four areas tested in the CPA Exam are:
- Auditing & Attestation - covers professional responsibilities (including ethics and independence), knowledge of auditing procedures, auditing standards generally accepted in the United States (GAAS) and other standards related to attest engagements and the skills needed to apply that knowledge.
- Financial Accounting & Reporting - covers knowledge of accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (GAAP) for business enterprises, not-for-profit organizations and governmental entities, International Financial Reporting Standards, and the skills needed to apply that knowledge.
- Regulation - covers knowledge of federal taxation, ethics, professional and legal responsibilities, and business law, and the skills needed to apply that knowledge.
- Business Environment & Concepts - covers knowledge of general business environment and business concepts that candidates need to know in order to understand the underlying business reasons for and accounting implications of business transactions, and the skills needed to apply that knowledge in performing financial statement audit and attestation engagements and other functions normally performed by CPAs that affect the public interest.
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CPA Exam Questions, Format & Length
In three of the four sections (FAR, AUD & REG), multiple-choice questions comprise approximately 60% of the CPA Exam, while the other 40% consist of task-based simulations — case studies that test candidates’ accounting knowledge and skills using real work situations. In the final section, BEC, multiple-choice questions comprise approximately 85% of the CPA exam, with the remaining 15% made up of written communication questions.
“This is an important change. In today’s rapidly changing business world, accountants must have excellent analytical, communication and research skills in order to be successful. These exam simulations will help ensure that they do.”
CPA Review added that the company’s popular Online CPA Review programs have been updated to include task-based simulations so that students receive a “real exam” experience. Traditional features, such as the CPAReview Personal Trainer and a final exam simulator, all remain in the review, he added.
The length of the new CPA Exam is as follows:
Time Breakdowns for the CPA Exam
Auditing &Attestation | 4 hours
Financial Accounting & Reporting | 4 hours
Regulation | 3 hours
Business Environment & Concepts | 3 hours
Exam (total) | 14 hours
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CPA Exam Schedule
The CPA Exam is offered up to six days a week, during two out of every three months.
The AICPA continues to create and grade the computerized CPA Exam, and NASBA and the state boards of accountancy are responsible for the overall administration of the exam to the more than 100,000 candidates each year.
Prometric, the world’s leading technology-based testing company, delivers the examination to candidates through more than 300 testing centers in the United States and U.S. territories as well as many international locations. Prometric sites are located in most metropolitan areas.
Candidates can sit for one or more parts of the exam during a test period but may not take a specific part of the exam more than once during that same test period. Each State Board can establish its own policy on the time frame in which a candidate must pass all four parts of the exam. The AICPA has recommended that the period be 18 months.
CPA Exam Cost
Exam costs vary state by state. The AICPA recently projected the "Total Average Cost for a Typical Candidate" as being $533.
CPA Exam Preparation
So what’s the best way to get ready for the CPA Exam? Well, according to CPAReview, that’s a question with an easy answer.
“Our CPA Review program is the most powerful and easy-to-use program out there,” CPAReview said. “You can use it to develop personalized study plans, chat with America’s leading CPA Review instructors, pinpoint your test-taking strengths and weaknesses and sit for an unlimited number of final exams that are formatted just like the real thing.”
“There really is no better way to get prepared,” CPAReview said. “In fact, complete our program, which is available online, and we guarantee you will pass - or we will give you your money back.*”
The CPA Review Program has actually broken down passing the CPA Exam into six easy steps:
- Get Started with CPAReview’s Exam Preparation Tips - which will familiarize you with the CPA Exam.
- Develop a Study Plan with the CPAReview Personal Trainer™ - which analyzes your performance on the practice questions and exams and develops an extensive study plan just for you.
- Master the Content with Online Classrooms and Streaming Video Lectures - attend class anytime, anywhere you have access to a PC, nothing could be more convenient.
- Speak Directly to CPA Exam Experts through Online Communication Tools - including email, chat rooms and message boards.
- Get Ready with the CPA Exam Simulator - which allows you to take an unlimited number of final exams that are formatted just like the real thing.
- Take the CPA Exam and Pass Guaranteed.*
Professor Bob Monette, JD, CPA, who has helped tens-of-thousands of candidates pass the CPA Exam, comments that it is “state-of-the-art.”
“CPAReview’s CPA Review program, which was designed by leading e-learning experts, simulates the actual test environment,” said Monette, who founded Philadelphia CPA Review and is a former Becker instructor. “Candidates who complete this review will not only do well on the exam, but they will feel confident and assured prior to sitting.”
For more information on the CPA Exam or on CPA Review’s materials, please call 800-404-7231 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Call 800-404-7231 for details.
CPA Requirements by State
Although CPA licensing occurs at the state level, the exam is uniform at all testing sites and is accepted nationally. Passing the CPA exam in one jurisdiction generally allows a candidate to obtain a reciprocal certificate or license in another jurisdiction, provided they meet all jurisdictional requirements.
It is important to note that requirements for the exam differ from state to state. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) maintains information on each state board’s requirements on its website. Visit our CPA Exam Requirements page for more information.