What is the CPA Evolution?

The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) have come together to analyze and update the ever-changing skills needed to be career ready in today’s—and tomorrow’s—accounting environment. Their goal with the evolution is to reexamine and improve the CPA licensure requirements to keep up with the competencies you’ll need to succeed in the field, ensuring more prepared candidates from day one.

What are these new career readiness skills?

Newly licensed CPAs need to have digital and data skills. More specifically, their jobs will demand that they:

  • Identify structured and unstructured data from key business processes.
  • Understand attributes of data repositories.
  • Understand capabilities of tools supporting data extraction and analysis.
  • Recognize legal, ethical, business, and intellectual property considerations around data governance.
  • Exercise professional skepticism and judgment analyzing data and information to be used as evidence. For example, is it reliable, or does it corroborate or contradict management’s assertions?

How will these job skills be reflected in the CPA exam?

CPA evolution exam core discipline model

These evolving skill requirements are exactly why the CPA exam is changing—and how you’ll need to prepare for it. Overall, there will be a continued and increased emphasis on analytical skills and problem solving. The new model is a core PLUS disciplines licensure model.

The model starts with a deep and strong core in accounting, auditing, tax and technology that all candidates will be required to complete. Then, each candidate will choose a discipline in which to demonstrate deeper skills and knowledge. Regardless of chosen discipline, this model leads to full CPA licensure, with rights and privileges consistent with any other CPA. A discipline selected for testing does not mean the CPA is limited to that practice area.

This model:

Enhances public protection by producing candidates who have the deep knowledge necessary to perform high-quality work, meeting the needs of organizations, firms and the public
Is responsive to feedback, as it builds accounting, auditing, tax and technology knowledge requirements into a robust common core
Reflects the realities of practice, requiring deeper proven knowledge in one of three disciplines that are pillars of the profession
Is adaptive and flexible, helping to future-proof the CPA as the profession continues to evolve
Results in one CPA license

The new CPA exam will have 3 mandatory sections (Accounting, Auditing, Tax & Technology) and 3 optional sections (Tax Compliance & Planning, Business Reporting & Analysis, Information Systems & Controls). Each candidate will take the 3 mandatory sections plus 1 of the optional sections of their choice.

When will these exam changes go into effect?

The AICPA Governing Council and the NASBA Board of Directors are moving forward with implementing the core + discipline licensure model with a goal date of January 1, 2024, so please keep this date in mind as you prepare your testing path and dates.

How Wiley Is Keeping Up With the CPA Evolution

Wiley is monitoring all new information released by the AICPA to determine exactly how the CPA Evolution will affect the CPA exam.

We have assembled a task force of lecturers and subject matter experts on the AICPA Evolution task force to chart how CPA exam content will be moved (either to the core material or within the three discipline areas), added, or trimmed. At this time, the AICPA has released a big-picture model of the CPA Evolution changes and will release more specific changes in the Model Curriculum and new Blueprints. The Model Curriculum is expected to be released in June 2021, and the Blueprints will be released in 2022 or 2023. Wiley will make updates to courses and materials as this information is released.

While there is a lot of change happening within the accounting industry and to the CPA exam, Wiley is keeping tabs on it all and will make sure you are prepared to succeed in your career.

Taking the CPA exam in 2021? In 2021 there are changes to all four sections of the exam, with significant changes occurring in the AUD and BEC sections. Take a closer look at these changes in our Ultimate Guide to the 2021 CPA Exam Changes.

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Wiley’s Free CPA Practice Exam is helpful for both individuals considering taking the CPA exam and those currently studying for the exam. It helps you understand the strengths you already have and where you can improve.