Whether or not the Uniform CPA Examination should continue to be the only examination administered for candidates seeking initial licensure as a CPA.
Examinations to test the qualifications of public accountants were first used in New York state in 1896. As the country and profession grew, more states enacted accountancy laws that required individuals to pass an examination to qualify as a CPA. The AICPA has offered the Uniform CPA Examination as a tool for licensing CPAs since 1917. By the 1960s all jurisdictions required new CPAs to have passed the Uniform CPA Examination prepared by the AICPA and graded by its Advisory Grading Service.
The current Uniform CPA Examination is delivered to candidates through agreements between the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, Prometric and the AICPA. The Uniform CPA Examination is regarded as one of the premiere licensing examinations in the United States.
Over the years, forces in the marketplace have changed the demand for CPAs and the skills required for becoming a CPA. In order for the licensing exam to continue to adequately protect the public, it must periodically assess these skills. It was primarily for this reason that a joint group from AICPA and NASBA was put together to implement a computer-based examination that tests both technical knowledge and "real-world" skills that are essential for CPAs to practice competently. The first computer-based exam was offered in April 2004.
Importance to CPAs
The Uniform CPA Examination is the one and only common element for certification and licensure used by all states. Having a uniform examination administered to all U.S. CPAs is critical.
The AICPA is committed to the future of the CPA examination and has recently invested substantial resources to ensure the reliability and validity of the exam. In addition, through the AICPA/NASBA Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA), the practice of one uniform examination for the entire profession was reaffirmed through the concept of substantial equivalency (UAA Section 23), which contains basic criteria for initial licensure as a CPA, including: (1) 150 semester hours of education, including a baccalaureate degree; (2) successfully passing the uniform CPA examination; and (3) a one year general experience requirement verified by a licensee, which is broadly defined to accommodate experience in all fields of employment (i.e., public accounting, industry, education, government, etc.).
Prior to April 2004, states moved to modify their statutes and regulations to allow for a computer based exam. Since 2004, the computerized exam has been utilized in all jurisdictions.
AICPA Staff Contacts
Suzanne Jolicoeur, State Regulation and Legislation, 919.402.4906
Mike Decker, Examinations, 609.671.2054