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2017 CPA Exam Changes: Standardized Breaks


During our meeting with the AICPA earlier this month, we received a lot of great information regarding the final changes being made to the 2017 CPA Exam. As such, we promised to delve into more detail as to how each of the changes being made will affect current and potential CPA Exam candidates. In this article, we’ll take a look at something that will actually make candidates happy: beginning April 1, 2017, standardized 15 minute breaks have officially been added to the next version of the CPA Exam. And it won’t count against a candidate’s test-taking time.

As a result of the Exam’s increased focus on testing higher- order skills, actual time for a break has been added to each Exam section.

Because the Exam will test candidates’ abilities to apply and evaluate information more thoroughly than it does on the current version, these breaks were added to give candidates sufficient time to recollect themselves and step away from their exam for a short amount of time. And the best part? These breaks will not count against the candidate’s testing time, whereas in the current Exam, they do. 

In the current CPA Exam, candidates are presented with the option to take a break between testlets, but it will count toward their test-taking time.

It’s important to note that the current CPA Exam does alot time for a break, but the fact that the clock continues to tick makes candidates feel obligated to sit for the exam for the whole duration. They do not have to—but if they choose to take a break, they will be asked to leave the testing room quietly and since breaks are considered a part of the testing process, the testing clock does not stop. 

For this reason, many current CPA Exam candidates feel obligated to use as much of their time as possible to focus on the Exam rather than taking breaks in between testlets.

But with the new break time added to the 2017 CPA Exam, candidates will no longer feel obligated to sit in their seats for the entire duration; they will instead have the ability to disengage from their testing environment without having it affect their test-taking time. 

The amount of time for these new standardized breaks in 2017 will be 15 minutes long to provide candidates with nominal and yet sufficient time to rejuvenate themselves before continuing the Exam.

CPA Exam candidates in 2017 can anticipate a little breather from their testing environment without worrying about it cutting into their overall performance. If candidates choose to take more than one break outside of the pre-set 15 minutes, this is where the testing clock will continue ticking. During this break, the rules will remain the same: candidates cannot access prohibited items such as their cell phones or study materials, and they cannot smoke outside or leave the testing facility. 

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