New York (March 31, 2004) -- With less than a week to go before the official launch of the computerized Uniform CPA Examination, officials from the American Institute of CPAs, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and Thomson Prometric claim they are confident the new exam is ready for its April 5 debut.

Leaders of the three parties involved with the exam’s content and administration met with members of the press Tuesday at the AICPA's New York office to demonstrate the basics of the new exam format and how it will be taken, and to prove that all is in readiness.

“We’ve been working strategically on this exam for three years, and when it is finally live, I think everyone will see it is the most technically sophisticated exam and it reflects a positive image of the profession, which is critical at this stage,” said Barry Melancon, president of the AICPA. “I believe it will be well managed and well executed and very few issues have risen to our level that needed to be resolved.”

Beginning April 5, the computerized exam will be delivered on behalf of 54 boards of accountancy through more than 300 Thomson Prometric test sites throughout the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Exam candidates will be able to take the exam most days of the week for eight months out of the year, rather than sitting for two days each in May and November.

The content of the new test will differ from that of the paper-based version. The 14-hour computerized exam will be broken down into four sections: Auditing and Attestation; Financial Accounting and Reporting; Regulation; and Business Environment and Concepts. About 80 percent of the new test will be multiple-choice questions. The remaining 20 percent -- the newest portion of the exam -- will be simulations, or case studies.

Candidates will pay $600 for all four parts of the new exam, versus $250 for the paper exam. Rather than sitting in a large exam hall, they will sit at a semi-private computer station with a 17-inch monitor, keyboard and optional headphones for noise filtering.

Overall the new exam is an hour and a half shorter than the paper exam and features a clock at the top of the screen; the option to return to questions; a calculator; the ability to use a spreadsheet; a cut and paste function; and access to necessary AICPA databases for research on topics such as professional standards documents.

-- Seth Fineberg

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