Industries change over time and accounting is no exception. To keep up with the changes technology has brought to the accounting industry, the AICPA redesigned the CPA exam to focus more on higher-level skills like critical thinking, analytical skills, ethics, and professionalism.
The new exam will be issued starting on April 1, 2017 and anyone who takes the test after that date will be taking a very different exam than what is currently offered. The updated CPA exam will still consist of four sections, but test takers will be seeing different types of questions. So what changes can you expect to see on the new exam?
The new exam is designed to focus on higher-level skills, so test takers will see fewer multiple-choice questions and more task-based simulations (TBSs):
- AUD will now have 8-9 TBSs instead of 7
- BEC will now have 4-5 TBSs instead of 0
- FAR will now have 8-9 TBSs instead of 7
- REG will now have 8-9 TBSs instead of 6
Test takers will also see three new types of TBSs. Document Review Simulations (DRSs) were introduced in July 2016 and Enhanced TBSs and Integrative TBSs are going to be introduced in April 2017.
Longer Exam Times
Given that the CPA exam will include more TBSs, test takers will have more time to complete certain sections. Starting in April, people will have up to 4 hours to complete the AUD and FAR sections instead of 3. This means that all four sections will take a total of 16 hours to complete instead of 14.
Higher Testing Fees
Since the exams will now take longer to complete, testing fees for the BEC and REG sections will increase slightly.
There is a benefit to the new CPA exam changes! Test takers will now be able to take an optional 15-minute break halfway through each section of the exam. This break will not count against their total testing time.
Can I Still Take the Exam Before These Changes are Made?
Because of these impending changes, many people are trying to take the exam before April 1, 2017. If you begin testing before then but aren’t able to complete all four sections by April 1, don’t worry. All passing test scores from the past 18 months count toward your license, even if they were from the old exam. If you aren’t able to complete all four sections of the exam before April 1, 2017, save the FAR section for last and start by taking the BEC and REG sections. BEC and REG will be the most impacted by the new changes, so even if you can’t complete all four sections before April 1, at least the FAR section will be the section most similar to the current exam.