No Foolin’: Next Version of CPA Exam to Launch April 1, 2017by
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) will launch its next version of the Uniform CPA Examination on April 1 next year, and that’s no April Fools’ joke.
The new exam is the result of a research project, called a practice analysis, that the AICPA began in 2014 to determine the knowledge and skill set required of new CPAs.
The findings and proposal for the next exam version were published in an exposure draft last September, indicating that changes in the business world and technology now require new CPAs to perform more advanced tasks and be involved in more complex projects earlier in their careers. They must exhibit higher cognitive skills, such as critical and analytical thinking, and professional skepticism, the exposure draft states. They also must fully understand professional and ethical responsibilities, the business environment and process, and be effective communicators.
To that effect, the new exam will include blueprints to replace the current Content Specification Outline and Skill Specification Outline, analysis and evaluation-level tasks, and increased simulations of real-life situations to better assess cognitive skills.
The length of the exam will increase from 14 to 16 hours; however, the four existing sections of the exam will remain: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG). Four hours will be allotted to each section.
“The next version of the CPA exam will continue to help protect the public interest by ensuring that newly licensed CPAs have the skills and knowledge they need to meet the needs of a business environment that is increasingly complex,” Michael Decker, AICPA vice president of examinations, said in a written statement. “On behalf of the AICPA, I’d like to thank all of the key stakeholders for their role in the rigorous process of creating the next version of the CPA exam. I believe that, as a profession, we have created an exam that is relevant, reliable, and current in today’s world.”
To make it easier for would-be CPAs, the AICPA is granting a 10-day extension of the testing window in March, June, September, and December. However, the extension won’t be granted for June 2017 to allow for more time to analyze results of the new exam and set new passing scores.
In addition, administration of the new exam will include a 15-minute standardized break during each section that will not count against a candidate’s testing time. Any combination of passing current exam sections and passing next exam sections within the 18-month window following passing a section will count toward licensure, the AICPA stated.
Terry Sheridan is an award-winning journalist who has covered real estate, mortgage finance, health care, insurance, personal finance, and accounting and taxation issues for newspapers, magazines, and websites. A Chicago native and former South Florida resident, she now lives in New England.