By: Shane Simmons
If you’re an accountant or accounting student, you’ve probably heard the news – the CPA Exam is changing. These considerable modifications by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has created some anxiety among future exam-takers, mainly because of the uncertainty regarding the new format.
“To be successful on the new CPA Exam, students must first be aware of the changes,” said Lin Zheng, clinical associate professor of accounting.
Before we get too deep into the CPA Exam revisions, let’s look at some basic modifications.
- The new CPA Exam will take effect on April 1, 2017 (Q2).
- The AICPA developed the new CPA Exam based on the results of a research project it launched in 2014. Findings suggested those wanting to obtain a CPA license should demonstrate stronger problem-solving and cognitive skills.
- The new exam will still consist of four familiar sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG).
- If you’ve taken sections of the CPA Exam before the April changes, you will not have to retake those sections.
Ok, now, let’s get down to the basics with the new CPA Exam.
It’s going to cost more money.
Of course, the total cost depends on your jurisdiction, but what is certain is new test takers will see an increase in price. The exam will increase from 14 to 16 hours, requiring additional administration fees.
The new CPA Exam will be more difficult.
Here it is—the thought no future CPA-Exam-taker wants to hear: The test’s difficulty will intensify. The new CPA Exam will increase emphasis on higher-order thinking by giving students more task-based problems. For example, task-based simulations will be added to the BEC section for the first time, and the AUD, FAR, and REG sections will each have more task-based simulations. This results in a decrease of overall multiple choice questions.
“Students need to realize you won’t be able to only memorize the rules and standards seen on the new CPA Exam,” says Zheng.
“Students need to know how to apply accounting principles in different kinds of problems. This puts a lot of pressure on professors to ensure students have a deep understanding of the material,” adds Zheng.
The AICPA wants young CPAs to be more than book-smart, but also problem solvers.
The multiple-choice and task-based simulations are balanced.
Multiple-choice and task-based simulations each will amount to about 50 percent of your score in the AUD, FAR and REG sections. In the BEC section, the number of multiple-choice questions will amount to about 50 percent of your score, with 35 percent coming from task-based simulations and 15 percent from written communication.
“Typically, when you’re dealing with a higher volume of multiple choice questions, the problems tend to be shorter, and if needed, you can always guess on a problem and potentially get it correct. But when you’re tasked with simulation problems, the reading is much longer, and you don’t have the option to guess,” Zheng says.
The bottom line is this: The creators of the exam want future CPAs to be able to apply information, analyze problems, propose solutions, and give guidance to colleagues. The AICPA believes the new CPA Exam will help test those qualities.
Testers will receive an added test break.
On a lighter note, the new exam will offer a 15-minute break for every section, which won’t count against your total time. You can choose to skip the break.
The new CPA Exam will be more difficult. If given the opportunity, you might consider sitting for the exam prior to April 2017. Don’t worry, however, if you cannot. The Kelley Indianapolis faculty will be implementing more critical-thinking and problem-solving techniques into their classes, ensuring you’ll be ready to pass the exam when that times comes.