The CPA Exam Pilot Comes to a Successful End

The successful completion of a pilot version of the computer-based Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Examination was announced jointly today by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the National Association of the State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and Thomson Prometric.

Beginning April 5, 2004, the computerized CPA Examination will be delivered on behalf of boards of accountancy through 300 Prometric testing labs in the United States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

More than 200 pilot test sections were taken at one of the testing centers – a large, state-of-the-art facility in New York City. The pilot project included volunteer CPA candidates who had taken the final paper-based CPA exam in November.

The pilot's participants concluded the computer-based version has benefits not found in a paper and pencil format:

  • Increases the opportunity to take the exam during eight months out of the year, instead of only twice a year
  • Flexible scheduling options (online, phone, on-site)
  • Integration of simulations with technology to test candidates on higher order skills required of entry-level CPAs.
  • Temperature-controlled, well-lit, well-ventilated testing labs with private testing areas.

More than 100,000 people take the CPA exam annually. Previously, the paper-and-pencil-based exam was only offered twice a year and generally administered in large auditoriums to accommodate hundreds or thousands of CPA candidates simultaneously. The computer-based exam will be offered on behalf of boards of accountancy through the testing centers eight months out of the year, instead of once in May and once in November, making studying and scheduling for the exam more convenient. Candidates will have the option of taking the four exam sections individually.

"Taking one part at a time makes it much easier and less stressful than having to cram everything into your brain for a few months and take all the parts in one forty-eight-hour period," said another candidate. "With the pencil-and-paper exam, by the second day you were mentally exhausted."

"Moving to a computer-based examination allows us to change the content so that we can assess the candidate's research, analytical, judgment and communication skills," said Arleen Thomas, AICPA Vice President, Professional Standards and Services. "These skills are critical for CPAs to fulfill their responsibility to protect the public interest."

"Boards of accountancy have eagerly participated in the development of this new CBT because they are convinced it will better protect the public by ensuring qualified candidates have state-of-the-art entry into the profession," said Lorraine Sachs, NASBA Executive Vice President. "We are working to streamline our process for getting talent into the profession."

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