The Uniform CPA Examination is the first step toward obtaining licensure as a certified public accountant (CPA) and is recognized by all 55 U.S. jurisdictions, granting CPA licensure as one of the most important indicators of competency.
What topics are covered in the Uniform CPA Examination?
Topics on the CPA exam vary and are determined primarily by the results of a “Practice Analysis”: a periodic study of public accounting practice and evaluations from CPA practitioners and educators. Its goal is to identify and evaluate the knowledge and skills required of CPAs entering the profession.
CPA Exam Structure
The computer-based exam is broken down into four separate exams (referred to as sections):
- Auditing and Attestation (AUD) – The AUD section of the exam covers generally accepted auditing procedures, other standards related to attest engagements, skills needed to apply that knowledge and the ethics and independence an auditor should enforce.
- Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) – The BEC portion of the exam covers topics such as Corporate Governance, Economic Concepts and Analysis, Financial Management, Information and Technology, and Operations Management.
- Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) – The FAR section tests generally accepted accounting principles for business enterprises, not-for-profit organizations, and governmental entities. The financial reporting exam coverage of specific transactions extends from U.S. GAAP to IFRS.
- Regulation (REG) – The REG section of the exam covers federal taxation, ethics, professional and legal responsibilities and business law.
What types of questions are on the CPA exam?
There are 3 different types of questions on the CPA exam:
- The first two testlets on each exam contain the multiple-choice questions.
- Task-Based Simulation (TBS) – TBS questions appear in all four sections and are condensed case studies that present a scenario or “situation” along with a specific task to complete. TBS’s are intended to test both content knowledge and higher order skills that include but are not limited to critical thinking, problem-solving and analytical ability./li>
- Written Communication – The BEC section concludes with a testlet containing three written communication tasks that will require you to read one or two paragraphs describing a situation and write a related “constructed response.”
When is the CPA Examination offered?
The CPA exam is offered quarterly in what is referred to as a “testing window.” The testing window is generally the first two months in a quarter for a calendar year. The third month is referred to as a “blackout month.” The 2018 testing schedule is as follows (the 2019 testing schedule will be posted when announced by the AICPA). Each section may be taken separately, during one of the following testing windows:
|Q1||January 1||through||March 10|
|Q2||April 1||through||May 31|
|Q3||July 1||through||September 10|
|Q4||October 1||through||December 10|
How do I know if I’m eligible to take the CPA exam?
Eligibility requirements to take the CPA exam vary by jurisdiction; for instance, undergraduate coursework or degrees required to sit for a CPA exam in the state of Colorado differs from the academic requirements in New York. Please check with your desired accountancy board. (The NASBA has links to all 54 jurisdictions.)
How do I register for the CPA exam and where do I take the exam?
The CPA exam is provided through the cooperative efforts of three organizations, all of which you will need to communicate with in order to register for and take the exam:
- The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) – Develops and scores the examination
- The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) – Maintains the National Candidate Database
- Prometric – Delivers the exam at authorized test centers
Learn more about applying for the CPA Exam with our CPA Exam Application Guide.
How much does the CPA Exam cost?
To apply and sit for the Uniform CPA Examination, it will cost about $1,000. This includes the first-time application fee which varies by jurisdiction, as well as the examination fee for all four parts.
What is the CPA Exam pass rate?
The pass rate for the CPA exam is only 46%. The pass rate among Wiley CPAexcel students is 87%.