Updated version of CPA Exam released

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The AICPA, National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), and testing company Prometric announced this month the launch of the new version of the Uniform CPA Examination.

The updated Exam went into effect April 1, with a new emphasis on cognitive skills, task-based simulations (TBSs), and critical thinking to better prepare new professionals for real-life challenges once they achieve licensure.

“The roles and responsibilities of newly licensed CPAs are constantly evolving, so it’s crucial for the CPA Exam to stay ahead of the curve," said Michael Decker, AICPA vice president of examinations, per a statement. "The CPA Exam now better reflects the knowledge and skills essential to today’s profession. “With an eye toward the future, we’ll continue to work with stakeholders to ensure that the CPA Exam, along with the experience and education requirements, maintains the high bar for entry into the profession.”

“Through strong collaboration and partnership, we are proud to be a part of this joint effort to successfully bring the latest version of the Uniform CPA Examination to market,” stated Michael Brannick, president and CEO of Prometric. “By successfully completing the exam, candidates demonstrate that they have the knowledge, skills and abilities to perform their jobs. We are pleased to continue our work with both AICPA and NASBA in protecting the public interest for years to come.”

The Exam is still comprised of the four original sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG). New additions include the Exam's testing time being increased from 14 to 16 hours (four hours per section), and a new 15-minute break occurring each section that won't count against testing time.

The AICPA has also started carrying "Exam Blueprints" on their website, which includes approximately 600 practice tasks across all four sections of the test, replacing the previously used Content Specification Outline (CSO) and Skill Specification Outline (SSO).

“The new Exam Blueprints demonstrate the continuous enhancement model of the Uniform CPA Examination,” stated Colleen Conrad, NASBA executive vice president and COO. "This strengthens the public protection role of Boards of Accountancy by enhancing the examination portion of the licensing model (education, examination and experience) used to regulate more than 700,000 licensees throughout the U.S.”

Also noted is that any combination of passing Exam sections prior to the April 1 start date, as well as passing Exam sections on or after April 1 within the 18-month window following the passing of a section, will be counted towards CPA licensure.

Additionally, the 10-day extension of the testing window introduced last April will continue into the second half of 2017. This extension will not be available during April/May in order to allow the AICPA proper time to follow the standard setting process and study Exam results to determine new passing scores. Scores will also be released once following the closing of each testing window.

For more information on the Exam, head to the AICPA's site here and NASBA's site here.

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