Top 3 insights from the 2021 APACPA meeting


As an accounting educator, you understand the importance of staying current in the CPA profession, especially as it relates to preparing your students for the CPA Exam. As exam changes are implemented frequently, it’s important to stay on top of content and structural changes to the CPA Exam so your students know what to expect on exam day.

The APACPA, or the American Professional Accounting Certification Providers Association, is the premier group of accounting review course providers, and meets twice yearly with major accounting organizations to discuss important updates to the CPA Exam.

This April, the APACPA hosted a session with the AICPA and NASBA to discuss the latest information surrounding the CPA Evolution initiative. This initiative is designed to ensure that the process of obtaining a CPA license and taking the CPA Exam is reflective of “the rapidly changing skills and competencies the practice of accounting requires today and will require in the future.” (AICPA)

Read on to hear the key takeaways from this informative meeting so you can relay the most significant changes to your students and help best prepare them for the CPA Exam.

  1. Revised exam structure

The AICPA and NASBA plan to launch a new CPA Exam structure in January 2024, aka, the Evolution CPA Exam model.  The new exam will be comprised of a combination of three “core” exams and one of three “discipline” exams, shown below:


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The three core exams will include exams on accounting, audit and tax, with a recognition of the impact of technology covered on each exam. These exams will represent the general skills and competencies that should be demonstrated by every newly licensed CPA (nlCPA), regardless of their professional area of focus. The AICPA has also stated that the audit exam will cover technology topics the most heavily of all core exams.

The discipline exams will assess the deeper knowledge and skills the candidate should have in their chosen area of focus. The three disciplines exams will cover:

  • Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP) – Topics related to individual tax compliance and planning, entity tax compliance and planning, and personal financial planning.
  • Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR) – Topics related to assurance and advisory services, financial statement analysis and reporting, technical accounting, and financial and operations management.
  • Information Systems and Controls (ISC) – Topics related to assurance or advisory roles related to a client’s business processes, information systems, information security, and governance and IT audit.
  1. New passing requirements

CPA Exam candidates will be required to take and pass all three core exams plus one of the discipline exams in order to obtain a CPA license. A candidate will not have the option to pass more than one discipline exam, although a candidate that fails one of the disciplines could chose to take another discipline exam instead. The disciplines will not result in differentiated licenses being granted.

  1. Content restructure

Although the content for each of the six exams is still under consideration, the AICPA indicated that they expect the content tested on the current FAR, AUD, REG and BEC exams will continue to be tested on the new CPA Exam, on the following new sections:

  • The current FAR content will be tested on the accounting core exam and/or the BAR discipline exam. 
  • The current AUD content will be tested on the auditing core exam and/or the BAR and/or ISC discipline exams
  • The current REG content will be tested on the tax core exam and/or the TCP discipline exam.
  • The current BEC content will be divided over the six exams, as appropriate based on the Blueprint to be developed for each exam.
When will these changes occur?

The AICPA has proposed the following timeline for the development of the new CPA Exam, starting with the exam foundation all the way through question development and launch.


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This timeline shows the major milestones that will be achieved in order to launch the new exam in January 2024, and may change as the project progresses. Currently, the AICPA and NASBA are working on a rough draft of the exam Blueprints and are continuing to perform research and obtain input on preliminary core and discipline content topics.

The organizations have also put together a Transition Task Force that is drafting the exam transition policy for CPA candidates who begin to take the CPA Exam under the current CPA Exam model but then must transition to the new Evolution CPA Exam model in January 2024.

What’s next?

Although there will be no new experience requirements to sit for the Evolution CPA Exam, the AICPA and NASBA have recognized that accounting education will need to evolve in order to properly prepare candidates for the new exam. In a free online event on June 15-16, the AICPA and NASBA, in partnership with the American Accounting Association (AAA), will unveil their new CPA Evolution model accounting curriculum. The model curriculum has been designed by a task force of educators, regulators and practitioners to serve as a roadmap that will help evolve accounting education to include the skills and competencies needed by nlCPAs. This event is open to all who are interested, and all accounting educators should consider attending. To attend, register here.

Accounting educators should fully understand the scope of the new changes and their implications on the exam to ultimately help students who are CPA candidates. You can learn more about the CPA Evolution here.


Keep reading the Becker Educator blog to learn about the newest accounting and CPA information that all accounting instructors should know about.

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