CPA Exam

6 Important Things To Know About The 2017 CPA Exam


In less than 6 months, the 2017 CPA Exam will be rolling out to replace the current one. Beginning April 1, 2017, candidates will see large changes made to the content, structure, and administration of the CPA Exam. Here are the 6 most important things you should know about these changes. 

Testing Higher Order Skills

Due to advances in technology and its ever-increasing use, CPAs new to the profession are now expected to perform at more advanced levels earlier on in their careers. Therefore, CPA Exam candidates needed to be tested with higher order skills in order to reflect these types of tasks and responsibilities.

As the current CPA Exam stands, it only assesses remembering and understanding and application level skills in AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG. In the 2017 version, higher order skills will be tested by distributing the focus to include analysis of exam content in AUD, BEC, FAR, & REG, and evaluation of exam content solely in AUD.

5 Testlets Instead of 3

On the current exam, candidates are administered 3 testlets comprised of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) only. A separate section for task-based simulations (TBSs) is presented after all 3 MCQ testlets have been completed. 

On the 2017 CPA Exam, there will be 5 testlets administered altogether. The first 2 testlets will consist of MCQs only while the remaining 3 will consist of 2-3 TBSs each for all sections. BEC will still have 3 written communication tasks. As the exam divides TBSs into their own testlets, this means that candidates will not be able to move between all TBSs; once a TBS teslet is finished, candidates cannot go back and must move onto the next one. 

CSO vs. Blueprints 

The Content Specification Outline (CSO) that the exam currently uses to guide candidates on what will be tested on the exam will be replaced by Blueprints. Blueprints will go into much more specific detail about what tasks candidates will be asked to perform on the exam, and is directly related to the tasks they can expect to perform on the job. Blueprints break down the tasks by topic and sub-topic, and also states which skill level it will be testing. Candidates are encouraged to look at these Blueprints to get a better understanding of what they will see on the exam. 

Increased Task-Based Simulations & Adjustment in Scoring Weights 

AUD, FAR, and REG will each include 8 TBSs. BEC will still have 3 Written Communications, but will additionally now have 4 TBSs.

In order to accommodate the increase of TBSs, the scoring weights will also change. The MCQs in all 4 sections will account for 50% of the total score. TBSs in AUD, FAR, and REG will account for the other 50% of the total score while TBS and WC will account for the other 50% of the total score in BEC (35% for TBS and 15% for WC). 

15 Minute Standardized Break

Standardized 15 minute breaks will now be incorporated for each section of the exam that won’t count against candidates’ test-taking time. It will be offered after the administration of the first TBS testlet, which is about the midpoint in the exam—2 hours. 

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. 

Time Management

BEC and REG will each increase from 3 to 4 hours in order to accommodate the additional TBSs. 

Additionally, it will be important for candidates to properly manage their time on this new exam to ensure they have a chance to see and answer all the questions efficiently and effectively. Read more about our recommended time strategy for the 2017 CPA Exam and see why it’s a crucial part of preparation to pass the exam successfully.