2017 CPA Exam Changes

A new version of the CPA Exam will be launching on April 1, 2017. Here's what you need to know.

Questions?

Contact Lauren Walsh at lwalsh@ njcpa.org or 973-226-4494 x224.

News and Resources on the New Exam

The CPA Exam Is Changing

Posted: January 6, 2017
With an emerging generation entering the changing world of accounting, the new CPA exam is designed to help them land on their feet and excel in the accounting profession.

Next CPA Exam Sample Test Now Available

Posted: October 11, 2016
The new sample test for the next version CPA Exam, which launches April 1, 2017, is now available. The updated sample test provides candidates with a preview of exam content as well as the functionality experienced in a Prometric test center. The sample test is compatible with both MACs and PCs, and runs on most major web browsers.

Quiz: How Much Do You Know About the Next CPA Exam?

Posted: September 19, 2016
Are you up to date on the changes that will occur in the first major update to the CPA Exam since 2011? Take this six-question quiz and find out.

How the Next CPA Exam was Developed

Posted: September 12, 2016
The debut of the next CPA exam on April 1, 2017, reflects an important evolution in the accounting profession. Here are seven things you need to know about the design of the test.

How to Pass the CPA Exam Before 2017

Posted: May 3, 2016
The recent release of the finalized changes to the 2017 CPA Exam has left many candidates feeling pressured to pass the current exam before the new version launches. Thankfully, with the additional testing days provided by the testing window extension and the official introduction of the 2017 CPA Exam not scheduled until next April, passing before then is completely possible.

An Update on the 2017 CPA Exam Changes

Posted: April 27, 2016
A new version of the CPA exam will launch on April 1, 2017. Here's what you need to know about the changes, and what you can do to prepare for the new exam.

AICPA Announces Next Version of CPA Exam

Posted: April 4, 2016
The American Institute of CPAs has presented final details on the next version of the Uniform CPA Examination that will be launched on April 1, 2017.


An Update on the 2017 CPA Exam Changes

 – April 27, 2016
An Update on the 2017 CPA Exam Changes

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) has announced that a new version of the CPA exam will launch April 1, 2017.

How the New Test Changes Came About

The AICPA's Board of Examiners worked with three committees: The State Board Committee, Content Committee and Psychometric Oversight Committee. They came together to set a strategic direction for the new CPA exam. They conducted interviews, coordinated focus groups, collected feedback and drafted blueprints for the new exam. State boards of accountancy, state CPA societies, NASBA and others provided input on the new exam blueprint and structure. The committees designed the exam to better reflect the skills successful CPAs need to have.

An Overview of the Changes

The four sections of the exam will remain the same:

  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
  • Regulation (REG)

The test structure will rely less on memorization and include more questions related to analysis, evaluation and application.

The new exam will have an increased emphasis on testing higher-order skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, analytical ability and professional skepticism.

Below is a percentage breakdown of the new test structure for each section.

Increaseed_assessment_higher_order_skills_new_cpa_2017

Roger CPA Review created this graphic that breaks down the ways in which test takers should approach the higher order skills addressed in each exam section:

Understanding Skill Level_2017 CPA Exam Changes

 
So let's say you're taking the AUD section of the exam. If you come across a question that requires analysis, you may need to approach the problem by reconciling, integrating or validating the problem.

The weighting and number of multiple-choice questions (MCQ) and task-based simulations (TBS) in each section will also change:

  • The BEC section will now include task-based simulations and continue to include a writing component.
  • TBSs will feature more background information material and data CPA candidates can use to determine what's relevant to the question.

       Current Structure              New Structure

Current_exam_new_exam_structure_new_cpa_2017

To accommodate all of these changes, the testing time for both BEC and REG will increase by one hour, bringing each of the sections to four hours and the total testing time to 16 hours.

Document Review Simulation (DRS)

Starting July 1, 2016, the current exam will use a new simulation item type known as the Document Review Simulation (DRS). The DRS presents realistic problems CPAs may need to solve on the job. Those scenarios include reviewing memos, bank statements and other documents. DRSs will appear in the AUD, FAR and REG sections. In 2017, DRS will be included in the BEC section as well.

Below are examples of what a DRS would look like in the exam:

DRS_image_one_new_cpa_2017

DRS_image_two_new_cpa_2017

There are other changes to the exam:

  • The exam costs will increase to reflect the extra time added to the BEC and REG sections. We don't know the new costs of the exam yet. But NASBA and the New Jersey State Board of Accountancy will provide updates in the future.
  • Testing windows have been extended by 10 days, giving candidates more options for scheduling exams. This change took effect in March 2016. The AICPA and Board of Examiners will take 10 days to review your performance and set passing scores. But during the April 1 to May 31 2017 time window, it will take them 10 weeks to set passing scores. Test_taking_window_new_cpa_2017
  • Test takers will have a 15-minute break they can use midway through each testing section. The break won't count against the allotted time for each part of the exam.

Bridging the Current Exam and the New Exam

If you are in the process of taking the CPA exam, you can combine passing sections with the new ones in the 2017 CPA exam. But remember, the 18-month window still applies: You must pass all four parts of the exam within 18 months of passing your first section.

We advise that if you've studied and prepared for the current CPA exam, take it as soon as possible. The new exam structure will be different from the study materials you're currently working with.

Another Round of Changes in 2018

The CPA exam will undergo technological updates in 2018. The AICPA will make the new exam sleeker and more user friendly. CPA candidates will take the exam sections on 23 inch HD monitors. Also, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets will replace the current generic spreadsheet. Don't worry though. You won't be tested on your Excel skills. It will be a tool you can use during the exam.

To learn more about the exam changes, check out this page.

Additional resources: