2024 CPA Exam Changes – CPA Evolution
2024 CPA Exam Evolution
Learn everything you need to know about the 2024 CPA Exam Core-Plus Discipline Model, evolution timeline, recommendations and more.
Technology is rapidly changing the accounting profession, how accountants perform their jobs, and the skills and knowledge needed to be successful. In response to these changes, The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) are restructuring the CPA Exam into a new CPA core-plus-discipline licensure model. This initiative is known as the CPA Evolution.
How and Why the CPA Exam is Changing
As the profession evolves, so must the CPA Exam. Today’s CPAs are required to perform more advanced tasks, adopt new technologies, and contribute to increasingly complex projects earlier in their accounting careers. The CPA Evolution is a response to these changes in the profession, ensuring that the exam remains relevant as a measure of the knowledge and skills newly-licensed CPAs need to protect the public interest in today’s marketplace.
2024 CPA Exam Evolution: Core-Plus-Discipline Model
So, what does the new CPA Exam model look like? The exam will remain in a four-section, 16-hour format. The new CPA licensure model requires CPA candidates to be skilled in accounting, auditing, and tax. These topics will be tested in three core sections that are required for all candidates. They include:
- Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
- Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
- Taxation and Regulation (REG)
In addition, candidates will need to have a deeper knowledge in one of the following three primary disciplines:
- Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR) – a continuation of the FAR core
- Information Systems and Controls (ISC) – a continuation of the AUD core
- Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP) – a continuation of the REG core
Questions about technology will be infused throughout the entire CPA Exam.
Candidates will be required to pass all three core sections and one discipline on the CPA Exam. It is important to note that the discipline passed will not change the type of license granted. The new licensure model results in one CPA license no matter which discipline is chosen.
How does the CPA Evolution Affect Accounting Curriculum?
Most master’s programs will prepare students for one of the three discipline areas. For schools without a master’s program, elective courses may be added to prepare students for the discipline areas. The CPA Evolution committee meets regularly to determine what recommendations they will have for the evolving accounting curriculum.
“I would not expect the undergraduate accounting curriculums to be much different than they are now. In my opinion, the undergraduate curriculum will continue to prepare the students for the foundational requirements that will still be tested on the future CPA Exam.” - Dr. Marcus Odom, Ph.D., CPA, CFE
2024 CPA Exam Section Overview
The new CPA Exam assumes that CPA candidates will sit for the CPA Exam after completing a foundational academic program focused on a strong business and accounting-based curriculum. This will provide candidates with the skills they need to practice in today’s business world and meet the needs of the public.
Technology continues to be increasingly vital to the accounting profession. Therefore, technology will be tested on the 2024 CPA Exam, not as a single discipline but throughout all exam sections.
Watch These Quick Overviews of the New Discipline Options
Business Analysis and Reporting
CPA Candidates who are interested in assurance or advisory services, financial statement analysis and reporting, technical accounting, and financial and operations management should consider the BAR discipline. The content in the BAR discipline includes a data analytics focus and assesses topics like financial risk management and financial planning techniques. BAR could also include more advanced technical accounting and reporting topics, including assessment of revenue recognition and leases, business combinations, derivatives and hedge accounting, as well as employee benefit plan financial statements.
Information Systems and Controls
Technology and business controls is a focus of the ISC discipline. CPA candidates who are interested in assurance or advisory services related to business processes, information systems, information security and governance, and IT audits are encouraged to choose this discipline. Content for this discipline is focused on IT and data governance, internal control testing, and information system security, including network security, software access, and endpoint security.
Tax Compliance and Planning
The focus of the TCP discipline includes taxation topics involving more advanced individual and entity tax compliance. Content focused on personal financial planning and entity planning, inclusions and exclusions to gross income, and gift taxation compliance and planning could also be covered. Coverage of advanced entity tax compliance might include consolidated tax returns, multijurisdictional tax issues, and transactions between an entity and its owners. The tax treatments of the formation and liquidation of business entities could also be included in entity planning.
When are the 2024 CPA Exam Changes Expected to Launch?
NASBA and the AICPA have released tentative dates regarding application information and testing schedules for the end of 2023, and testing and score release schedules for 2024:
- November 15, 2023: NASBA’s Gateway system will stop processing Authorizations to Test and Notices to Schedule for BEC (final BEC application deadlines for each state are TBD)
- November 22, 2023: Authorizations to Test and Notices to Schedule for BAR, ISC, and TCP will begin processing (initial discipline acceptance dates for each state are TBD)
- December 15, 2023: This is the expected final testing day for current CPA Exam sections
- January 10, 2024: This is the expected first testing day for 2024 CPA Exam sections
It’s important to note that the application deadline for BEC and initial application acceptance date for discipline sections is determined by each state board of accountancy. In fact, NASBA announced that for the 36 states and jurisdictions that utilize their CPA Examination Services (CPAES) to administer the exam, the BEC application deadline for first-time candidates is October 1, 2023 and November 12, 2023 for re-exam candidates.
AUD, FAR, and REG applications will not experience the same processing blackout as BEC, but they will be subject to the gap in available testing dates from Dec. 16 through Jan. 9.
2024 CPA Exam Test Dates & Score Release Dates
The AICPA and NASBA announced the following, tentative testing schedule for the 2024 exam. Note that continuous testing will be discontinued in 2024 to account for standard-setting analyses and activities.
|Q1||Jan 10 – Mar 26||May 14 – June 4||Jan 10 – Feb 6||Mar 26 – Apr 16|
|Q2||Apr 1 – June 25||Aug 1||Apr 20 – May 19||June 20|
|Q3||Jul 1 – Sep 25||Nov 1||July 1 – 31||Sep 3|
|Q4||Oct 1 – Dec 26||Early Feb 2025||Oct 1 - 31||Dec 3|
*Dates are subject to change
CPA Exam Credit Extension
To accommodate the transition from the 2023 to the 2024 CPA Exam, NASBA announced a credit extension that has been adopted by most states. The following are proposals that some jurisdictions may or may not have already implemented. It’s best to check with your board regularly for updates. There are two proposed changes:
- Candidates who have passed at least 1 section of the CPA Exam before January 1, 2024, will have those credits extended to June 30, 2025 (see if your jurisdiction has adopted this here)
- The 18-month credit period could be shifted from the date you pass an exam section to the date the score is released
Transition and Pathways to Success
It is important to note that the CPA Evolution will not impact your current exam progress. Regardless of how far along you are in your studies, the AICPA and NASBA have a pathway to licensure that will keep you on track with your current goals.
Transition Policy for the 2024 Evolution
The AICPA and NASBA have developed a strategy to simplify candidates’ migration from the old exam to the new one. Those who have already earned credit in AUD, FAR, or REG on the current CPA Exam will not need to retake the corresponding new core section in AUD, FAR, or REG. In other words, those who have already earned credit for BEC on the current CPA Exam do not have to take any of the three discipline sections.
Sit for the CPA Exam Before Changes Take Place
If you’re eligible to sit for all four sections of the CPA Exam before 2024, then there’s no need to wait. This path allows you to avoid potential confusion and receive your CPA license sooner.
Hybrid Approach: Sit for the CPA Exam in Both 2023 and 2024
Because of the flexibility built into the exam transition policy, you can tailor your experience based on your preferences and proficiency in each core and discipline. It’s an opportunity that we encourage you to take advantage of. Below are four potential pathways that highlight how the transition policy can benefit you:
Sit for the CPA Exam After Changes Take Place
Another way you can avoid potential confusion surrounding the CPA Evolution is by taking the exam after changes take place. You would then be required to take the updated version of each exam section. This is what we recommend if you prefer a specific discipline to BEC or are comfortable with technology-based questions.
Recommended CPA Exam Order After 2024 Changes
No matter which pathway you choose, it’s important to develop a strategy as you plan your exam schedule. While every candidate is different, our experts have determined a general recommended order for taking the exam once the 2024 changes go into effect. We suggest you take the section you find most difficult first. We also highly recommend taking your chosen discipline after its related core section, as the material does build upon it.
Based on our own analysis of the AICPA blueprints, we anticipate AUD to be the section candidates struggle with the most. Instead of having content removed, it will have previously BEC content added. Conversely, FAR and REG are likely to have some of their advanced topics moved into their associated disciplines, making these cores less difficult. Considering currently released information, below are our proposed 2024 CPA Exam orders based on your chosen discipline: