About The CPA Exam
2023 - 2024
CPA Exam Basics
Your 1-stop-shop to CPA requirements, exam content & structure, plus tips to pass!
Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Examination is part of the CPA licensing requirements to become a CPA in the US. The CPA Exam evaluates the knowledge and skills needed for newly licensed CPAs (nlCPAs) to practice public accounting. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), in collaboration with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and state boards of accountancy, develops, manages, and scores the exam.
Prometric testing centers administer the CPA Exam throughout the year, and all the sections must be passed within an 18-month rolling period, with a score of 75 or higher for each section. The 18-month rolling window begins once you've passed your first exam section.
What To Expect On The 2023 CPA Exam?
The 2023 CPA Exam consists of four sections, each four hours long, with a total test-taking time of 16 hours. Each section focuses on specific subject areas that CPA candidates must learn before obtaining their license. The four exam sections are:
- Auditing and Attestation (AUD): This section covers the auditing procedures per the generally accepted auditing standards, standards related to attest engagements, and the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct.
- Business Environment and Concepts (BEC): This section covers business concepts, the professional obligations of practicing CPAs, and responsibilities in the business environment.
- Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): This section requires a strong understanding of US GAAP, financial statement concepts and standards, types of transactions, governmental accounting, and non-governmental accounting and reporting.
- Regulation (REG): This section assesses knowledge and skills in US federal taxation, US ethics and professional responsibilities related to tax practice, and US business law.
What Skills Are Tested On The 2023 CPA Exam?
The CPA Exam framework is based on the AICPA blueprints, which provide a detailed listing of each CPA Exam section. The CPA Exam blueprint incorporates the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, which classify a sequence of skill levels candidates must exhibit when taking the exam. There are around 570 representative tasks that all CPAs must demonstrate when they begin their careers. Each representative task aligns with the four skills indicated below:
- Evaluation: The examination or assessment of problems and use of judgment to draw conclusions.
- Analysis: The examination and study of the interrelationships of separate areas to identify causes and find evidence to support inferences.
- Application: The use or demonstration of knowledge, concepts, or techniques.
- Remembering & Understanding: The perception and comprehension of the significance of an area utilizing knowledge gained.
The four exam sections cover the skill levels at varying levels. It intends to assess the candidate’s performance holistically by looking at subject comprehension, interpretation, application, and retainment. The below table indicates the percentage of skill levels tested in each section and discipline.
|Section||Remembering and |
2023 CPA Exam Question Types
Each CPA Exam section contains a varying set of topics, content, question types, and score weightage. There are three main types of questions on the 2023 CPA Exam:
- Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ): MCQs test Remembering & Understanding and Application skills. They require candidates to select the correct answer from a list.
- Task-based Simulations (TBS): TBSs test Application, Evaluation, and Analysis skills. The intent is to simulate real-life work tasks nlCPAs will have to perform in their careers, as opposed to simply selecting the correct answer option.
- Written Communication (WC): WCs test candidates’ writing skills and ability to comprehend and explain concepts.
The table below provides information about the CPA Exam by section, allotted time, and question type.
The below table provides the score weightage of multiple-choice questions (MCQs), task-based simulations (TBSs), and written communication (WC) for each section.
CPA Exam testlets
Each CPA Exam section has five testlets that consist of operational and pretest questions corresponding to each section.
- For AUD, FAR, and REG, the first two testlets consist of multiple-choice questions (MCQs), and the remaining three testlets comprise two to three task-based simulations (TBSs) each.
- For BEC, the last testlet consists of written communication (WC) tasks.
Once completing and submitting a testlet, candidates cannot return to it and must move on to the next testlet. Candidates will receive at least one research-oriented TBS in the AUD, FAR, and REG sections of the exam, requiring them to search through authoritative literature to find appropriate references to answer the question.
|Section||Testlet 1||Testlet 2||Testlet 3||Testlet 4||Testlet 5||Total MCQs||Total TBSs||Total WCs|
|AUD||36 MCQs||36 MCQs||2 TBSs||3 TBSs||3 TBSs||72||8||–|
|BEC||31 MCQs||31 MCQs||2 TBSs||2 TBSs||3 WCs||62||4||3|
|FAR||33 MCQs||33 MCQs||2 TBSs||3 TBSs||3 TBSs||66||8||–|
|REG||38 MCQs||38 MCQs||2 TBSs||3 TBSs||3 TBSs||76||8||–|
What Order Should You Take The CPA Exam
As we transition from the 2023 to 2024 CPA Exam, our regular recommendations for CPA Exam order do not apply. This is because the sequence that makes sense for you is very dependent on your personal situation. When determining your game plan, it’s important to understand the CPA Exam Transition Policy that has been announced by NASBA:
- If you can sit for all four CPA Exam sections before 2024, go ahead. You need not worry about the changes.
- If you pass any sections before the changes occur, those credits still count! AUD, FAR, and REG will transfer over to their 2024 exam section counterparts. If you’ve passed BEC, this credit will carryover and you will not need to take one of the new discipline sections.