How to create your CPA Exam plan based on CPA Exam changes
In January 2024, the CPA Exam will change. Students are uncertain about how these changes will impact your CPA Exam experience—should you keep studying for the CPA Exam as-is, or put studying on hold until the new CPA Exam’s content is released? The AICPA recently released the CPA Exam Exposure Draft, which explains in detail the structural and content changes that will be reflected in the new exam as of January 2024. We’ve already shared key takeaways from the Exposure Draft for students and educators. In this article, we’ll share implications of the Exposure Draft for students and how this news can help shape your CPA Exam studies.
While the Exposure Draft is exactly that, a draft, it provides more clarity and allows us to make informed recommendations to students about how to plan and take the CPA Exam.
Create your CPA Exam testing plan with the CPA Evolution in mind
As we previously shared in the article, How to plan and prepare for the new CPA Exam amid the CPA Evolution, students who recently graduated or who are graduating college after 2023 won’t need to change their CPA Exam plan based on the CPA Evolution. Recent graduates should focus on taking the entire CPA Exam now, in its current form, and post-2023 graduates will take the entire CPA Exam in its new form. Some nontraditional CPA candidates and 2023 college graduates may need to pay closer attention to the details of CPA Evolution to determine when to take the exam and which sections to focus on.
Based on the upcoming CPA Exam changes, we recommend the following options for students as you develop your CPA testing plan.
Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
The AUD section of the CPA Exam tests the knowledge and skills that newly licensed CPAs must demonstrate when performing audits and attestation engagements for issuer and non-issuer entities, as well as professional responsibilities, including ethics, independence, and professional skepticism. This section of the exam remains largely unchanged by CPA Evolution, though select concepts from the Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)—basic economic concepts such as supply and demand, and business process and internal controls—are moving to AUD.
Students should plan to take this part of the exam when you’re ready – whether that’s now or after the CPA Evolution - as the content in the AUD section will be largely unchanged in 2024.
Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
The FAR section of the CPA Exam focuses on the financial accounting and reporting frameworks used by public and nonpublic business entities, not-for-profits, and state and local governments. Historically, this section is the most intimidating for students because it covers such a large amount of content, but many topics from the current FAR section will be moving to the Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR) discipline section.
Students may plan to take FAR after CPA Evolution is effective, as it may be more manageable. While the FAR section will include concepts from the current BEC section, a number of topics from the current FAR section is moving to the BAR Discipline section.
The REG section of the CPA Exam tests the knowledge and skills that a newly licensed CPA must demonstrate regarding U.S. federal taxation, business law, and ethics and professional responsibilities related to tax practice. With the new exam, the REG Core Exam will focus on routine and recurring transactions; other non-routine content will move to the Tax Compliance and Planning Discipline section, which may make the exam more manageable. As such, students may plan to take REG after CPA Evolution.
Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
Here is where we see the biggest change between the current exam and the new exam coming in 2024 under CPA Evolution. Most of the content that was previously assessed in the BEC section is being moved to the AUD, FAR, BAR and Information Systems and Controls (ISC) sections. The written communication task-based simulations will be eliminated entirely with the new exam.
In February 2022, NASBA announced the transition guidance from the current CPA Exam to the exam under CPA Evolution. If a candidate has credit for BEC they will forego needing to take one of the discipline sections. If you’re intimidated by the need to choose a Discipline or worried you won’t perform well in any of the Discipline sections, take BEC prior to CPA Evolution.
However, the Disciplines are nothing to fear! The three discipline options simply offer the opportunity to specialize, which reflects future of the accounting profession. That said, whatever discipline you choose, it does not dictate nor define your career path.
Each CPA Exam study plan option is a suggestion based on the first iteration of the Exposure Draft. Your CPA Exam plan may vary from this depending on your work experience and preference.
Again, keep in mind that the AICPA’s Exposure Draft is a draft. While we don’t anticipate substantive changes, we do expect there will be some changes. The comment period is open until September 30, 2022 and the AICPA will finalize the Blueprint in December 2022. The final Blueprint will be published in January 2023 and the new exam will launch in January 2024.
In the meantime, something that won’t change—ever—is the fact that Becker is here for you.
As the CPA Evolution approaches, students and educators should look to us for guidance and support on the CPA Exam and leverage the expertise of our team of CPA Exam professionals. We are staying on top of the latest updates so that you don’t have to. Keep up with all CPA Evolution news and changes at our CPA Evolution Content Hub.