The 5 Most Difficult Topics on the BEC Exam

BEC (Business Environment and Concepts) is the only component of the four-part Uniform CPA (UCPA) Exam featuring 3 written communications questions.

Students need to demonstrate proficiency in such topics as:

  • Concepts of business and economic performance

  • Managing financial conditions, 

  • IT-applications suitable for accounting purposes

  • Planning/measuring the outcomes of accounting/financial strategies.

You will be expected to be fully articulate in these matters for three written simulations, describing the particular query-conditions in-depth and with professional precision, to examiners’ satisfaction. In addition, the BEC is further comprised of three multiple-choice testlets of 30 questions each.


To improve your knowledge of business law, economic theory, and the interconnection of IT and business strategy, learn about:

  • Enterprise administration: the impact of stakeholders like audit committees, Boards of Directors, and others on how the corporation is governed for questions encompassing 16-20% of BEC. 

  • The impact on business of economic realities like exchange rates, foreign currencies, inflation, and interest rates (16-20%).

  • Financial management accounting, personified by capital-costing procedures, derivatives, financial modeling, and loan covenants/rates (17-23%).

  • IT/communications from the dual-perspective of systems’ essentials like file organization/security, and business information processes (BIPs) for management/transaction reporting (15%-19%).

  • All aspects of strategic planning (10%-14%) and operations management (12%-16%) for accounting.

The Five Most Difficult BEC Topics

Within the overall range of topics, the most difficult are as follow:

  • Students need to prepare for BEC’s wider range of subject matter and the consequently relative randomness of its questions. There’s a considerable quantity of material that’s not specifically about accounting. Yet, don’t expect BEC to be easier to prepare for the more expansive topic-range makes it more difficult for the students to focus on a explicit assemblage of accounting, or other, material during study, andenter into a rhythm during the exam.  That is, unlike the other CPA tests, BEC’s overall subject matter is comparatively unpredictable in what it will cover and when.

  • COSO-problems reflect professional concern about fraudulent financial reporting for both political campaigns and changing business conditions.  Expanding real-time global commerce demands an integrated framework of accounting practice for internal control, risk management, and corporate governance.  BEC’s COSO-probelms can be puzzling to decipher and complex to process. Some of the issues seem more appropriate to the AUD or REG exams, but surface on BEC because of the need to establish a persistently reliable foundation for monitoring enterprise administration and ethical financial reporting.

  • Information technology issues may seem easy, especially for those just out of school. However, digitally maintaining business-continuity within the context of real-world accounting functions and decisions goes beyond the computer lab; BEC requires you show your ability to maintain the integrity and security of accounting BIPs. 
  • Consistent writing skills are expected.  Examiners require professionally-written documents clearly explaining all aspects of the simulations’ query-conditions. Apply the standard business writing format to simulations, which assume the form of memos, client-letters or business reports. Also emphasize clarity and concision in your descriptions, effectively organizing your thoughts and the relevance of your remarks. Mathematical/symbolic representations — graphs, charts, abbreviations or bullet-points — are NOT accepted. The objective is well-formed, complete sentences that speak to the issues of the simulation; keywords, core-concepts and a direct conclusion improve your writing.

  • Knowing accounting techniques for strategic planning and operations management requires demonstration of the more practical aspects of business environments and concepts.  For example, cost management techniques, accounting for outsourcing or shared-services, and monitoring project-development require a hands-on demonstration of often traditional accounting methods applied to the realities of business performance in the global marketplace. 

And with that, we conclude our series of “Top 5 Most Difficult Subjects” blog posts. If there are other areas on the CPA Exam you’d like us to write about, please let us know in the comments below and we will address those areas right away.

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