What We Learned at the 2018 APACA Meeting (2019 CPA Exam Info Inside!)


Every year, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) hosts the American Professional Accounting Certification Providers Association (APACPA) meeting—giving CPA Review providers a chance to learn more about their findings on how candidates are performing on the exam, as well as what their plans are for the upcoming year. 

This year, the meeting was held in Washington, D.C. We’re excited to share with you what we learned with the continued focus on ensuring all candidates are prepared for the 2019 Exam in addition to being setting up for success within the accounting profession.   

Top 9 Key Takeaways from the APACPA Meeting:

1. There will be no score holds for Q1 2019. Cue the confetti!

The CPA Exam underwent several changes in 2018, including a new user interface design that launched on April 1st. And as with any changes made to the Exam, score releases were delayed in 2018. However, even with big changes happening with Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) and Regulation (REG) on January 1, 2019, this time there will be no score release holds in Q1 2019.

2. CPA Exam pass rates have increased.  

Pass rates on the CPA Exam increased in 2018. Candidates are spending less time on the Exam and are managing exhibits better. The AICPA attributes this uptick in pass rates to the new CPA Exam user experience that launched April 1, 2018. 

3. The CPA Exam Blueprints are being underutilized by CPA Candidates. 

The AICPA noted that only about 5% of CPA Candidates who review and study the CPA Exam utilize the provided blueprints. CPA Candidates don’t seem to recognize the value that this free resource provides: a tool for better understanding the framework of the overall Exam. Blueprints guide our program from video lectures to practice questions and more. They are the backbone of the CPA Exam that we follow closely to ensure that candidates are properly prepared.

4. Accounting Technology is changing the CPA Exam. 

The AICPA and NASBA are working together to explore what it means to be a CPA today and in the future. At the crux of this research is taking into consideration how accounting technology will continue to evolve. Emerging trends in accounting technology and skillsets firms need in new hires has forced firm clients to make huge updates in their technology, demanding that auditing firms align with those changes.

Therefore, technology will continue to impact the evolution of the CPA Exam. Topics being considered are machine learning and artificial intelligence, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), continuous auditing, remote auditing, SOC and Cybersecurity, and Blockchain. 

5. Speaking of Accounting Technology- Audit Data Analytics will impact the Attestation and Auditing (AUD) Blueprint in 2019.

The AICPA is considering what the key drivers will be for auditing in the future. There are many areas in the current AUD Blueprint where data analytics can be incorporated. This includes testing for understanding and interpretation of data visualizations. In January 2019, the AICPA will provide updates and expectations of data analytics in the AUD blueprint for upcoming CPA Exams. 

Stay tuned throughout the beginning of 2019 for more information on this exciting announcement!

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6. There will be a review of the IT areas within the Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) section of the CPA Exam. 

The AICPA is currently evaluating Area IV, Information Technology, of the BEC Blueprint. There will be a review and rewrite of the IT areas within the BEC Exam in 2019. The BEC blueprints will be updated Q1 2019 with an effective date of Q3 2019. However, changes to BEC will be minor. The AICPA is not considering adding new content to the BEC Exam, but instead better describe what’s being tested. 

7. The opportunity to sit for the CPA Exam continues to expand internationally. 

The AICPA wants to provide a convenient way for international CPA Exam Candidates to sit for the CPA Exam.  So, there are new CPA Exam international testing locations that are slated to be opened starting October 1, 2018 to meet the international CPA Candidate demand. Tune in to our social channels on September 5th to get the official announcement of where International CPA Candidates can sit for the CPA exam.

8. There is a continued interest in critical thinking skills by accounting firms. 

Professional skepticism, judgement, and critical thinking skills remain a high priority to firms when looking at new hires. While the profession is rapidly changing due to emerging technologies, the need for these types of soft skills remains constant. The CPA Exam will continually adjust to meet this profession demand.

9. The AICPA is not only focused on the 2019 exam, but beyond.  We learned some things about the 2020 Exam.

What does the 2020 CPA Exam look like? The AICPA wants to improve the CPA Candidate testing experience. That means being agile and flexible to the profession’s requirements and ensuring they meet future CPA Exam content and assessment needs.