New CPA Exam

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Launching April 1, 2017


Ongoing transformation in the business world and advancements in technology have affected the accounting profession, changing the required knowledge, skills and professional responsibilities of newly licensed certified public accountants (CPAs). These professionals are required to perform more advanced tasks and contribute to increasingly complex projects earlier in their accounting careers. Professional content knowledge remains fundamental to protecting the public interest, but newly licensed CPAs must also possess:

  • Higher-order cognitive skills, including critical thinking, problem solving and analytical ability, as well as professional skepticism
  • A thorough understanding of professional and ethical responsibilities
  • A strong understanding of the business environment and processes
  • Effective communication skills

The results of in-depth research, which included a call for a greater assessment of higher-order cognitive skills, drove changes to the design of the next version of the CPA Exam, launching on April 1, 2017 (though some changes are in the process of being implemented now).  Take a look at the video below for a quick overview of the new Exam, then select the topics listed below the video for more details as needed.

Webinar Recording: CPA Exam Changes & Florida Licensure


Exam Content

The Exam remains structured by the four existing sections, Auditing/Attestation (AUD), Business Environment/Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting/Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG) however it will have an increased emphasis on testing higher order skil that include but are not limited to, critical thinking, problem solving, analytical ability and professional skepticism. To test knowledge and these higher-order skills, more Task-Based Simulations (TBSs) will be used in all four sections.

Exam Blueprints

New Exam blueprints will replace the current Content Specification Outlines (CSOs) and Skill Specification Outlines (SSOs) for each section. These blueprints contain approximately 600 representative tasks across all four Exam sections, which identify the content knowledge and related skills required of newly licensed CPAs.

  • Blueprints were developed by an experienced group of CPAs, psychometricians and content subcommittee subject matter experts and further supported by survey results.
  • Blueprints provide candidates with greater clarity in the presentation of content, skills and related representative tasks that will be tested on the Exam.
  • Blueprints apprise educators about the knowledge and skills candidates will need to function as newly licensed CPAs

Item Distribution & Scoring



Multiple Choice
Questions (MCQ)

Task-Based Simulations (TBSs)


















Scoring weights for AUD, FAR and REG will be approximately 50% MCQ/50% TBS.  Scoring weights for BEC will be approximately 50% MCQ, 35% TBS and 15% written response.

Outdated Study Materials

Contact your Exam prep provider directly to find out if any outdated prep materials that you ordered recently can be replaced with updated prep materials.
Gleim CPA Review
Roger CPA Review
Surgent CPA Review
For other providers, see links listed under Exam Review Courses.

Task-Based Simulations (TBSs)

Simulations are the most effective way to assess higher-order skills. All sections except the BEC section will have some simulations starting July 1, 2016. The BEC section will not have simulations until September 2017.  The TBSs on the next Exam will feature increased background material and data that will require candidates to determine what information is or is not relevant to the question (reflects actual practice).

Transition Policy

Any combination of passing current Exam sections and passing next Exam sections (within the 18-month window following passing one section) will count toward licensure. Candidates will be required to take the new version(s) of any sections not completed before the new Exam is released.

Exam Fees

Implementation of the Exam in 2017 will necessitate a cost increase resulting from the additional examination time for each of the BEC and REG sections.  Information on Exam fees is available from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the Florida Boards of Accountancy (BOA).

Exam Scheduling

Date availability is being expanded to extend each quarter’s testing time by 10 days into the traditional dark months (March, June, September and December) - adding 40 additional days to the calendar year for scheduling your exam.  The 10-day extension will be implemented in Q2 (second quarter) of 2016, as candidates are predicted to accelerate their testing in 2016 in advance of the launch of the next Exam in 2017. However, the extension will not be available during the first test window when the Exam launches in the second quarter of 2017, due to time required for analyzing score validity and accuracy.

Exam Time

Total Exam testing time increases from 14 to 16 hours (four sections – four hours each).  This includes an increase of one hour each to BEC and REG, keeping AUD and FAR at four hours each.
It was determined that sufficient testing time was important, specifically in relation to the increased use of TBSs

With the launch of the next Exam, one standardized 15-minute break will be offered to candidates during each section, which will be offered approximately midway through each section and does not count against testing time.  Candidates may decline the break, but the time will not be added to the allotted four hours.

Score Release

Since the Exam is undergoing significant change, a new passing score must be established. Scoring validity/accuracy is essential to the Exam remaining legally defensible. Following the close of the of 2017 Q2 (2nd quarter) testing window, candidate performance data will be fully analyzed to establish a passing score for the Board of Examiners to approve. Scores for this testing window will be released approximately 10 weeks after the close of the window. Additional candidate performance reviews will be conducted following the close of the 2017 Q3 (3rd quarter) and Q4 (4th quarter) testing windows. Scores for these testing windows will be released once, approximately 10 days after the close of each window.  After the score hold of the first three testing windows of the next Exam, the existing average 20-day score release timeline will be restored.


Test Window


AICPA and Board of Examiners: Review Exam Performance Data and Set Passing Score


Approximate Release Date of Candidate Scores

2017 Q2

     10 weeks*

     August 14

2017 Q3

     10 days

     September 22

2017 Q4

     10 days

     December 22

* New passing score will be set during this time

More Information

For other questions related to the content of the Exam, please visit the AICPA website.

For other questions related to the administration of the Exam, please visit the NASBA website.

For a video overview of the new exam structure, please click here