Breaking News: The CPA Exam Is Changing Sooner Than 2017


The AICPA has just announced that in 2016, the CPA Exam testing software will be updated to improve the User Experience (UX) as well as include a new Task-Based Simulation question type called Document Review Simulation (DRS). These changes to the UX are in response to the AICPA’s extensive research that involved testing and feedback from CPA Exam candidates’ experience with the current CPA Exam software. The updates to the CPA Exam software will go live in January, 2016, and the  introduction of DRS Simulations on the exam is expected to go live July 1, 2016. We highly recommend candidates and educators review the AICPA’s recently released sample CPA Exam that includes these UE updates, as well as sample DRS questions for the AUD, REG and FAR Exam sections. BEC will include these questions with the 2017 CPA Exam changes. 

Updates to User Interface 

To improve the candidate experience, candidates can expect to see multiple updates to the User Experience of the CPA Exam software. These changes have been incorporated in order to make the User Experience less stressful and easier to understand. A good example of this is changing the “Exit Exam” button in the upper right hand corner to “Submit Testlet”. In the previous version, candidates were actually afraid to submit their exam because the button was unclear. This update helps alleviate that stress. 

Candidates will also see improvements to other areas of the software such as the welcome screen, toolbar, timer, break screen, and section introduction to provide them with a better testing experience. Below is a screenshot of the FAR directions screen which delineates some of these changes: 

Document Review Simulation 

While many candidates have heard about this new Task-Based Simulation (TBS) called Document Review Simulation (DRS), the news of its appearance on the CPA Exam as of July 1st, 2016 will come as new news. It will appear on the AUD, FAR, and REG sections of the CPA Exam. However, the AICPA reassures candidates that they should not be overly concerned. The content being tested for this new TBS will still be based on the 2016 content specific outline; the only thing to change will be the format in which it is delivered. 

While the DRS is subject to testing higher level skills in conjunction with the 2017 CPA Exam changes, this is not expected to go into effect until the second quarter of 2017. Therefore, candidates should not be worried about the DRS testing at the 2017 level next year since this will not be the case. As long as candidates know what the DRS is, how it’s being tested, and gain familiarity with the content and format, they are still expected to perform well. So here’s everything candidates need to know about the DRS to properly prepare themselves for success.  

Why it’s being added 

The DRS has been added to the CPA Exam next year to better prepare newly licensed CPAs for the tasks they will be expected to perform. Many of which will include management and review of bank statements, memos, and other documents that are representative of common business documents they will encounter as practicing CPAs. As a result, inclusion of the DRS plays a significant role in making the CPA Exam more realistic and informing future CPAs of expected job functions.  

What it will be testing

The DRS will test application, analysis, and/or evaluation skills of candidates to review realistic documents and related source documents (exhibits) to discern what’s important and what’s not important for solving the problem. In the DRS, the candidate will be presented with highlighted phrases or sentences within the document that may or may not be correct. 

How it will be tested

They must then select the appropriate edit for that highlighted section based on the relevant source documents, which will appear as categorized tabs on the upper left hand corner. In the below example, the tabs are labeled as “Document Review, Authoritative Literature, Exhibits, and Help”.  

An important change to take note of is the new “Help” tab for the Task-Based Simulation questions for each section. This tab gives candidates detailed information about what they’re expected to do and how to do it. An example is below:

The candidate must be sure to answer each highlighted section in the document by selecting an appropriate edit and then clicking the “Accept” button to finalize their answer.

A blue checkmark will appear once an answer has been chosen. Candidates should ensure that each question has a checkmark. 

This is extremely important because each highlighted section counts as its own question. So even if the candidate does not answer all of them correctly, they will receive partial credit for questions they do answer correctly. 

How Roger CPA Review Will Help You Prepare

At Roger CPA Review, we understand the importance of providing students with everything they need to successfully prepare for and take the CPA Exam. We will ensure that our software and preparation materials fully cover the new DRS so that students are familiar with the format and content and know how to answer the questions properly. These updates in our course software will not only prepare students for the changes to come, but also give them the confidence and resources they need come exam day. 

Scroll to Top