Passing CPA exam in 2010 becomes top priority as exam changes loom

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) will be rolling out a new Uniform CPA Examination in January 2011, sending many candidates racing to pass the CPA exam as soon as possible. Industry experts concur with this strategy.

"Candidates should take as many sections as feasible during the next two CPA exam windows, as the new version will include structural adjustments and added content to comprehend," said Bob Monette, a Philadelphia-based CPA and longtime exam review instructor. "Given that most have already invested time and money into exam prep for the current version, completing the sections for which they've already prepared should be top priority."

In addition to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) being tested, portions of all four Exam sections will change. These changes are not only significant and copious - in effect a "new CPA exam" according to AICPA - they are all scheduled to go into effect at the same time. Some of the most notable changes include:

  • New Content and Skill Specifications (CSOs/SSOs), including International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
  • Changes in the scoring percentage value of examination components.
  • Replacing the two long simulations in the current format with several short Task-Based Simulations (TBS) in Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG).
  • Deleting the written communication testing from AUD, FAR, and REG.
  • Adding written communication testing to the Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) section.
  • Reducing the scoring weight of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) in AUD, FAR, and REG by 10 percent and reducing the weight of MCQ in BEC by 15 percent.
  • Doubling the simulations in AUD, FAR, and REG.

"The extensive changes debuting in the 2011 Uniform CPA Examination have given preparation a renewed priority among students," said Sandy Levine, VP of Marketing Services for Bisk Education.

Passing the CPA exam is far less challenging for candidates who have a solid plan of attack. Bisk CPA Review recommends the following steps when preparing for the exam:

  • Create a study plan. Candidates should examine their daily routine to identify the times they won't be able to study, and then block out an hour a day of personal time. With the remaining time, they should be able to find 10 to 14 hours of study time per week.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Take CPA practice exams to determine any weak areas and refocus study efforts on them.
  • Develop an exam strategy. Become familiar with the format of the CPA exam and know exactly what to do when entering the testing room. Planning in advance will save time and confusion on exam day.
  • Choose suitable study materials. When selecting CPA exam study materials, candidates should look for those that match their learning style. Some students need the guidance of an instructor, some prefer to work alone and other students learn best through video, audio or books.

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