How hard is the CPA Exam? Becker CPA FAQs

You’ve probably heard stories about the CPA Exam. From the lengthy application process to the long nights of MCQs, it’s no wonder that the CPA licensure is the highest standard of competence and achievement in the accounting profession. But with the right preparation, you can develop the skills and strategies that will teach you how to pass the CPA Exam. So, what is the CPA Exam? Just how hard is the CPA Exam? Where do you even begin with the preparation process?

We answer some of the most common CPA Exam FAQs below.

What is a CPA?

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is an accounting professional who has met state licensing requirements to earn their CPA designation through educational training.

What is the CPA Exam?

What is the CPA Exam and why would anyone need to take it? The exam is a 16-hour, four-part assessment that you must pass in order to qualify for a CPA license. It’s designed to test the minimum knowledge and skills required of a CPA. You must pass all four sections of the exam within 18 months. You should note that the calculation of when the 18-month timeframe begins varies by jurisdiction, so check with your specific Board of Accountancy for details.

How long is the CPA Exam?

The current version of the CPA Exam takes a total of 16 hours.

The CPA Exam is divided into four sections:

• Auditing and Attestation (AUD)

• Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

• Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)

• Regulation (REG)

Each section has its own content area, and each content area constitutes a different percentage of that section’s exam. Each exam section has a four-hour time limit.

The Auditing and Attestation (AUD) section has 72 questions and eight task-based simulations. The Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) section has 62 questions, four task-based simulations and three written communications tasks. The Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) section has 66 questions and eight task-based simulations. The Regulation (REG) section has 76 questions and eight task-based simulations.

When and where can I take the CPA Exam?

Beginning July 1, 2020, the CPA Exam is offered year-round, which is great news for test takers. This means no testing windows - you no longer have to wait until the next calendar quarter to sit for the CPA Exam, and if you do not pass any part of the exam, you can immediately sign up to take the test again (although we highly recommend taking time to study before sitting again).

You can take the CPA Exam at authorized Prometric test centers throughout the 55 US jurisdictions, as well as select international locations. Here are tips for the day of your CPA Exam at Prometric.

Is the CPA Exam hard?

The golden question - how hard is the CPA Exam? The CPA Exam is considered one of the most difficult professional licensing exams. That’s because the exam covers a wide variety of topics at different skill levels. It also tests these topics using multiple choice questions and task-based simulations that mimic the real-world tasks CPAs are expected to perform.

There are significant roadblocks to passing the CPA Exam, including eligibility requirements, the time commitment, reviewing study material and the CPA Exam content itself. These obstacles may affect your experience differently from other CPA candidates depending on your learning style. Regardless of your biggest challenge, we can help you overcome and continue through your CPA journey.

How do I study for the CPA Exam?

Your learning style will help to determine how to study for the CPA Exam. At Becker, we have a variety of learning formats and resources designed to provide everything you need to help prepare for success. Our CPA Exam Review is completely integrated, so all course components work together to give you a powerful and efficient way to prepare.

Given the exam’s level of difficulty, knowing how to study for the CPA Exam is essential. A well-designed CPA Exam review course will help familiarize yourself with both the exam’s content and its format and functionality.

Becker’s CPA Exam Review administers timed drills that assess your strongest and weakest areas. Our course includes thousands of questions from previous exams to help you understand the content that will be tested. It’s also designed to help you become familiar with the exam’s functionality. And with two full final exams per part, you’ll be able to practice using exam-like conditions before exam day.

Our expert instructors will show you how to structure time for each exam part and provide valuable time saving tips. The tools and materials contained within Becker’s CPA Exam Review course are specially designed to mirror the CPA Exam interface. So on exam day, you can focus on answering the questions, not figuring out the format, features and functions.

How do I apply for the CPA Exam?

How to apply for the CPA Exam depends on your specific jurisdiction. This is usually the state where you plan to use your license. Then, obtain that jurisdiction’s required application materials and submit as directed. Be sure that you qualify based on your state’s specific CPA requirements.

How much does the CPA Exam cost?

CPA Exam fees depend on the jurisdiction where you choose to become licensed. As part of the CPA Exam application, you’re required to pay an application fee and the fees for each exam section you’re applying to take at the time registration. If you’re applying to take the CPA Exam for the first time, you’ll also have to pay an initial application fee, which also varies by state. Returning applicants must pay both examination and exam section fees. You can find details by referring to your Board of Accountancy.

You should also take the cost of your study materials into account. Additionally, some states require you to pass an ethics exam after passing the CPA Exam before you can receive your CPA license, and that comes with an additional fee. Here is a resource for each CPA Exam fee and their approximate cost.

How do I pass the CPA Exam? 

Everyone wants to know how to pass the CPA Exam. First, be prepared. Comprehensive and rigorous preparation is the key to passing all four sections of the CPA Exam. Create a study plan that is realistic with your exam timeline and that works best with your learning style.

Time management while studying and on exam day is also essential. It’s important to budget the total exam time appropriately among the testlets within each exam section, and to devote adequate time to each.

The CPA Exam is a timed exam and you have to answer the questions quickly and accurately. That means you’ll need to learn how to understand the questions quickly and respond instinctively. For multiple-choice questions, allow approximately 90 seconds per question. Task-based simulations in the FAR, AUD and REG sections will require about 2.5 hours to complete. For BEC, expect to take 2.5 hours to complete both the task-based simulations and written communication tasks. Familiarize yourself with the exam’s simulations using Becker’s Guided Simulated Exam Reviews. These sessions include guided walk-throughs of task-based simulations, through explanations of multiple-choice questions and strategies for success on exam day.

It’s also important to understand the exam’s computer-based environment, which features a unique interface and tools that you may find uncomfortable unless you practice beforehand. The exam requires you to demonstrate the ability to perform beyond basic computer skills. You must also be proficient in using the provided four-function calculator, spreadsheet, and research components. You’ll also need to access authoritative literature to answer auditing, accounting, and taxation questions, support judgements, and create formal audit communications.

How hard is the CPA Exam? Depends on your discipline. Commit to the preparation that’s required. Failure to do so can result in lower scores, incremental fees, missed testing windows, or even lost credit for previously passed sections of the exam.

When does Becker make updates to the CPA Exam review and final review content?

Becker will be making updates per the following schedule:

Exam Part Audit Business Financial Regulation
CPA Exam Review December 2020 June 2021 December 2020

September 2020

Software Only

 

December 2020

Textbook & Flashcards

CPA Final Review December 2020 June 2021 December 2020

September 2020

Software Only

 

December 2020

Textbook