What Is BEC CPA? How Many Hours Should I Study for the BEC CPA Exam?


As a CPA Candidate or future CPA Candidate, you might be wondering what the BEC CPA Exam is and how many hours you should study for it. The Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) section of the CPA Exam assesses the necessary knowledge and skills of a newly licensed CPA (nlCPA) and their understanding of business concepts within the larger context of the business environment.

Types of Questions on the BEC Exam

The BEC CPA Exam is four hours long and consists of 62 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) administered in two testlets, 4 Task-Based Simulations (TBSs) administered in two testlets, and 3 Written Communication (WC) questions in one testlet.  

SectionSection TimeMCQsTBSWC
BEC4 Hours6243

Skills Tested on the BEC Exam

The skills required on the BEC CPA Exam are divided between remembering & understanding, application, analysis, and evaluation.

SectionRemembering & UnderstandingApplicationAnalysisEvaluation

Remembering and understanding are the observation and understanding of the significance of an area utilizing knowledge gained.

Application is the use or exhibition of knowledge, concepts, or techniques. 

The analysis is the investigation of the interrelationships of separate areas to identify causes and find confirmation to support implications. 

Evaluation is the assessment of problems and the use of personal judgment to derive conclusions. 

BEC Exam Content and Content Allocation

The blueprint for the BEC CPA Exam is organized by area, group, and topic. The content areas tested under the BEC section of the CPA Exam include the following five content areas: 

  • Enterprise risk management, internal controls, and business processes
  • Economics
  • Financial management
  • Information technology and operations management Reference materials

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BEC Content Allocation

The five BEC Exam content areas and their allocation percentages are broken down in the chart below.

Content  Area
Area IEnterprise Risk Management, Internal Controls, and Business Processes20–30%
Area IIEconomics15–25%
Area IIIFinancial Management10–20%
Area IVInformation Technology15–25%
Area VOperations Management15–25%

BEC Exam Time Strategies

Preparing for the BEC CPA Exam is challenging in both the effort and time needed to properly plan for success. Many CPA candidates consider BEC to be the easiest section of the CPA Exam. Yet BEC pass rates have historically been only slightly higher than those for other sections, and the exam still requires a serious study effort. So, it is important to understand time management on exam day. The chart below is a sample time strategy breakdown to consider for the four-hour BEC CPA Exam.

In order to optimize your time the most when you arrive at the test center, write your countdown times as soon as you sit to take the exam. We suggest:

  • Aiming to be approximately halfway through your time after Testlet 3 
  • Take the built-in 15-minute break
  • Keep the approximate question time in mind to stay on track
    • MCQ: 75 –84 seconds
    • TBS (General): 15-20 minute
    • TBS (Complex): 20-25 minutes
    • Research: 10 minutes
    • Written Communication: 15minutes

BEC Exam Scoring

A candidate’s BEC score consists of 50% MCQs, 35% TBSs, and 15% WC. 


Hours Needed to Study for the BEC Exam

CPA Candidates often ask how many hours it takes to study for the BEC CPA Exam. The AICPA recommends that CPA Candidates spend a minimum of 300 to 400 hours to study for the CPA Exam. That’s about 16.7 days of consecutive study time—needless to say, it’s a lot. Because we all learn differently, some sections will require more study hours than others due to the volume of material included in a section and how quickly one is able to grasp and retain the study material. Taking your study style into account and having the proper expectations on hours needed to study for and pass the CPA Exam is vital to your success. So, remember to be realistic about how many hours it will take for you to pass the CPA Exam when creating a study plan. 

BEC Exam Study Tips

If you’re ready to start studying for the BEC CPA Exam now, we suggest considering some of our study tips below.

  1. Create a game plan and study schedule
  2. Set boundaries to protect your study time by saying “no” when you need to study. 
  3. Ask for support from family and friends. 
  4. Get plenty of sleep, eat well, and stay physically active. 
  5. Study on the go with mobile devices to turn a walk, workout, or time waiting in line into a study session. 
  6. Study smarter by not wasting time with ineffective study methods. 
  7. Keep your eyes on the end goal and remember why you’re taking this journey. 

 Source: CPA Exam Blueprints

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