CPA Exam Blueprints

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The Uniform CPA Exam Blueprints are created by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) which comprises all the knowledge, skills and content topics that will be tested on the US CPA Exam. The Blueprints also cover upcoming CPA Exam changes.

The CPA Exam Blueprints are designed to help candidates prepare for the exam while also ensuring that they have the basic knowledge and abilities required for licensing as CPAs. While it's beneficial to consult the blueprints to better understand the knowledge and skills you will need to demonstrate in order to be successful on the CPA Exam, you don't need to be overly concerned with them. At UWorld, we have already utilized the blueprints to develop our course materials so that you are always prepared for the CPA Exam no matter what.

According to the AICIA website, the most recent blueprints and Practice Analysis Final Report were approved by the Board of Examiners on October 23, 2020 and became effective on July 1, 2021. The blueprints are published once or twice every year.

CPA Exam Design

Section Section time Multiple-choice-questions (MCQs) Task-based-simulations (TBSs) Written
AUD 4 hours 72 8 -
BEC 4 hours 62 4 3
FAR 4 hours 66 8 -
REG 4 hours 76 8 -

The CPA Exam is a comprehensive test composed of four parts: AUD, FAR, BEC and REG. Each section of the exam is four hours long, so 16 hours in total. The individual exam parts are broken down into 5 testlets that either contain multiple-choice questions (MCQs), task-based simulations (TBSs), or written communication (WCs) exercises.

From section to section, the types of questions and the amount of questions change. Furthermore, each question type has specific weightage in each section of the exam. BEC is the only section which has Written Communication questions. The AUD, FAR, and REG exams are similarly formatted in terms of type of questions tested. For these three exams, the MCQs are broken into two individual testlets, followed by three testlets of two, three, and three TBSs.

Similar to AUD, FAR, and REG, the BEC exam has MCQs broken into two individual testlets, followed by two testlets of two task-based simulations each. In the last BEC testlet, there are three Written Communication questions, one of which is pre-tested. These require a written response in a memo format.

Score Weightage by Question Type

Section Multiple-choice-questions (MCQs) Task-based-simulations (TBSs) Written
AUD 50% 50% -
BEC 50% 35% 15%
FAR 50% 50% -
REG 50% 50% -

For the AUD, FAR, and REG exams, the score weightage of MCQs and TBSs is 50% each. For the BEC exam, it’s slightly different. BEC weightage is divided in three parts: 50% for MCQs, 35% for TBSs and 15% for written communication questions.

Skill Levels

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 in order 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 CPA Exam blueprints layout around 570 representative tasks that newly licensed CPAs (nlCPAs) should be able to demonstrate within their first two years of licensure. Each task is labeled with a corresponding skill level that follows a revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Objectives. These skill levels, in order from easiest to most difficult, are Remembering and Understanding, Application, Analysis, and Evaluation. The table above depicts the four ability levels that correspond to each task on the CPA Exam.

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Score Weightage by Skill Levels

Section Remembering and
Application Analysis Evaluation
AUD 25-35% 30-40% 20-30% 5-15%
BEC 15-25% 50-60% 20-30% -
FAR 10-20% 50-60% 25-35% -
REG 25-35% 35-45% 25-35% -

The table above demonstrates how much weight each component has in different skill levels on the four parts of the CPA Exam. To pass the CPA Exam, it is important to prioritize each skill according to the weight it carries on the score.

How Do I Use the CPA Exam Blueprints?

The CPA Exam Blueprints lays out the rules and regulations candidates need to know when preparing for the CPA Exam. The AICPA describes the Blueprints as “a brief explanation of what the exam will test you on with correlation to the skill that is being tested.”

Candidates can use the Blueprints to do a lot more than just checking the quantity of content that needs to be covered. The Blueprints can help you to plan your exam preparation, make your own study schedule, and prepare yourself in a way that there are no surprises on exam day. Plan one section at a time, as opposed to all four sections at once. This will help you concentrate your study efforts. You should also change the schedule as you hone in on your study habits. Our recommendation would be to prepare for difficult topics first, as it is a time intensive process.

You can save a lot of time by focusing on content topics in accordance with the score weightage and representative tasks laid out in the blueprints. Give importance to topics which carry more weightage. This in turn, will enable you to dedicate an appropriate amount of time to each topic.

Having said that, you should also remember that you cannot solely rely on the blueprints. Studying with a strong, comprehensive review course is a key to CPA Exam success. A CPA Review course might seem costly, but studies show that candidates who take a CPA review have higher pass rates than those who do not. Ultimately, the investment is well worth the money and effort.

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CPA Exam Blueprint Changes

The most recent version of the CPA Exam blueprints came out on July 1, 2021.We've reduced the myriad of blueprint revisions down to the key takeaways by exam here:

  • Most of the changes to the CPA Exam fall into AUD and BEC and were spawned by the need for CPA candidates to be more familiar with three broad topics:
    • Business processes and the information technology (IT) that enables them, including their associated risks and controls
    • Data analytics and the data-driven mindset
    • System and Organization Controls for Service Organizations: Internal Control over Financial Reporting (ie, SOC 1, Type 2 Reports)
  • In AUD, these items are tested from an auditor's perspective. In BEC, these items are tested from management's perspective.
  • FAR and REG have had some reductions in content but have no additional content.

AUD Blueprint Changes Effective July 1, 2021

BEC Blueprint Changes Effective July 1, 2021

FAR Blueprint Changes Effective July 1, 2021

REG Blueprint Changes Effective July 1, 2021

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Read more about the CPA Exam

UWorld Roger CPA Review provides CPA candidates with all the study materials and resources needed to prepare and successfully pass the US Uniform CPA Exam online.

The AICPA releases the average CPA Exam Pass Rates on a Quarterly basis. The average pass rate percentage varies between 45-55% per section and per quarter. See previous years’ pass rates for each section of the CPA Exam.
NASBA releases scores in accordance with the Uniform CPA Exam score release timetables. The CPA Exam Score Release Dates are updated twice in a year by the AICPA.
The CPA Exam is a comprehensive test composed of 4 parts, given individually over a total of 16 hours. These exams cover a wide variety of topics taught in most university accounting programs.
The CPA Evolution is changing the CPA Licensure model to adapt to the changes required for newly licensed CPAs today and in the future. NASBA and the AICPA are working together to align the updated CPA licensure model.
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