July 2021 CPA Exam: What’s Changing
This summer, a number of important changes are coming to the CPA Exam. If you’re studying for one or more of your exams, don’t fret! Becker’s new Director of Curriculum, Mike Potenza, has written an in-depth overview of the exam content additions, removals and changes to help you make the most of your study time.
Dear Becker CPA candidates,
By now, you have probably heard that the AICPA’s new 2021 Blueprints will be testable starting on July 1, 2021. When there are exam content changes, some students will understandably get nervous. But, rest assured that these changes will not severely impact your ability to pass any section of the exam. The team at Becker wanted to share a summary of the upcoming changes and give guidance to students who have not yet started studying for their next section.
The CPA Exam will retain its four traditional sections, AUD, BEC, FAR and REG. The 4-hour time limit per section and the number of testlets and questions in each section has not changed. FAR and REG have the fewest number of changes, and AUD and BEC contain the majority of the content changes. Below is a brief summary of the content changes, ordered from fewest to most changes per section. In the parentheses, you can see the modules within the Becker CPA course materials that each of these changes map to.
In July 2021, the following FAR topics will be completely removed from the FAR exam:
- Discontinued operations as a separate topic
(still testable as a component of the income statement) (F1)
- Going concern (F2)
- Preparing journal entries for derivative/hedging transactions (F6)
- Defined benefit pension plan accounting (F7)
- Differences between IFRS and U.S. GAAP (F1-F7)
In July 2021, the following REG topics will be completely removed from the REG exam:
- Alternative minimum tax (AMT) (R1)
- Estate taxation (R6)
- Tax-exempt organizations – obtaining and maintaining tax-exempt status (R6)
- Securities Exchange Acts of 1933 and 1934 (R8)
The following REG topics will be tested on more simplified level:
- Net operating loss and capital loss limitations (R4)
- Tax-exempt organizations – unrelated business income (R6)
- Secured transactions (R7)
- Bankruptcy and insolvency (R8)
In July 2021, the following AUD topics will be completely removed from the AUD exam:
- Alerts that restrict the use of written communication (A1)
- Single statements (A1)
- Opening balances (A2)
- Auditing derivatives (A4)
- Communication of “other matters” with management and those charged with governance (A4)
- Communication with component auditors and parties other than management and those charged with governance (A4)
- Letters for underwriters and filings with the SEC (A6)
The following AUD topics will be tested on more simplified level:
- Subsequently discovered facts (A1)
- Developing a detailed engagement plan (A2)
- Preconditions for an engagement (A2)
- Related parties (A3)
- Going concern (A4)
- Litigation claims and assessments (A4)
- Written representations (A4)
- Preparation of compliance reports (A5)
The following are new AUD topics that will be tested starting in July 2021:
- Business processes and internal controls (A2)
- Audit Data Analytics (A3)
- SOC1 and SOC2 Reports (A5)
In July 2021, the following BEC topics will be completely removed from the BEC exam:
- Regulatory frameworks other than SOX (B1)
- General macroeconomic content (calculating GDP, aggregate demand curve, money supply and analysis of impacts on the overall economy) (B5)
The following BEC topics will be tested on more simplified level:
- Capital structure (B2)
- IT systems development and maintenance (B6)
- IT continuity and recovery plans (B6)
The following are new BEC topics that will be tested starting in July 2021:
- Business processes (B1)
- Data management and analytics (B6)
- Systems development and change management (B6)
This may seem like a large amount of information to digest. However, these changes will make the CPA Exam more focused on tasks that are expected of newly licensed CPAs. If you have not already decided which part you will sit for next, here is some guidance to help you make the decision:
- BEC: Since BEC has the most content changes, Becker suggests studying for BEC in April and May and sitting for the exam in mid-May.
- AUD: After BEC, Becker suggests studying for AUD in the second half of May and June and sitting for the exam in late June.
- If you only have time to sit for one exam between now and the end of June, take either AUD or BEC.
- FAR or REG: After July 1, 2021, we suggest you sit for FAR and REG in the order that serves you best. The recommended FAR study time is 130 to 150 hours, and the recommended REG study time is 100 to 120 hours. If your schedule is lighter in the third quarter vs. the fourth quarter of the year, we suggest you study for FAR in the third quarter and REG in the fourth quarter. If the fourth quarter is lighter, study for REG in the third quarter and FAR in the fourth quarter.
The last piece of advice that we will share is that if you have already started studying in a different order than we suggested, that is perfectly fine. We want all of our students to be successful and we are always available to discuss strategies, so please feel to reach out to our Customer Support Team to discuss any questions you may have. You can contact the Becker Customer Support team at 1-877-CPA-EXAM. For international support, please fill out this form or reach us by phone at 630-472-2213.
As always, Becker wants to make sure you’re equipped with the latest and greatest content that is reflective of up-to-date testable material. Becker will be releasing an updated version of its course content on June 1, 2021 to reflect the CPA Exam Blueprint changes that are being implemented on July 1, 2021.
Thank you and happy studying.
Read the full list of changes coming to the CPA Exam in the 2021 CPA Exam Blueprints. View the AICPA’s 2019 Practice Analysis Final Report here. For specific questions on the Blueprints or the report, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a high-level overview of why these changes are taking place, check out this Becker blog post.