The CPA exam is getting its first major update since 2011.  The new exam places more emphasis on analysis and critical-thinking skills.  During their most recent survey the AICPA found that the normal routine tasks a new CPA would be responsible for are being handled through new technology or outsourcing.  Because of this, the newly licensed CPA is increasingly tasked with duties that require higher-order cognitive skills.

As a result, the 2017 exam will feature more task-based simulations in order to test how one can apply their knowledge of accounting to analyzing issues and coming up with a solution if needed.  For the first time task-based simulations will be included in the BEC portion while the other three sections will have their number increased to 8 or 9.  The approximate breakdown is as follows:

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“The profession is demanding stronger critical-thinking skills from newly licensed CPAs,” Michael Decker, AICPA vice president–Examinations said. “They need to be able to form conclusions in basic areas and identify issues in more complex and riskier areas. And, based on the feedback from our stakeholders, we have designed each of the exam sections based on a task and skill framework to meet those requirements.”

The AICPA has new blueprints to prepare (these replace both the CSO and SSO) and they include a myriad of representative tasks attuned to what the market now needs from a newly licensed CPA.


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