CPA Examination Content 

    Examination content refers to CPA Examination questions – multiple-choice, written communication, and task based simulations* – reflecting the subject matter eligible to be tested. According to Board of Examiner (BOE) policy, Content and Skill Specification Outlines (CSOs/SSOs) document the content that is covered in all four sections of the Examination.

    *Task based simulations are case studies that allow candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and skills by generating responses to questions rather than simply selecting the correct answer. Task-based simulations typically require candidates to use spreadsheets and/or research authoritative literature provided in the Exam.

    Download: CSOs/SSOs Effective January 1, 2014

    CSO Update Effective January 1, 2015
    On October 3, 2013, the AICPA Board of Examiners (BOE) approved changes to the CPA Exam Content Specification Outline (CSO) is available for download.

    Examination content development is a major AICPA effort, involving hundreds of CPA volunteers who spend literally thousands of hours every year on the development of new examination questions. A constant flow of new questions is necessary to maintain the vitality and credibility of the CPA Examination.




    Content Area 1 

    The Development of Examination Content - in Brief
    The content of the Uniform CPA Examination is developed in an extensive and integrated process. At each step in the process expertise in various disciplines is applied to ensure that the test materials are accurate and appropriate for use on the CPA Exam.

    Practice Analysis 2008
    The practice analysis provides a way to evaluate the knowledge, tasks, and skills required of CPAs entering the profession, determine the feasibility and resources required for assessment, and develop a blueprint documenting the content, skills, length and time of the examination.


    International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) will become eligible to be tested on the CPA Examination when the new CSOs/SSOs go into effect on January 1, 2011. Among other IFRS information, these FAQs address the question of why the decision to add IFRS content to the CPA Examination was made.

    Content Area 2 

    New Pronouncements Policy
    Candidates need to read this policy document to obtain answers to this important question: “How soon after a new pronouncement is issued is its content eligible to be tested on the Uniform CPA Examination?”

    Beginning in 14Q1, the extant standards (AUs) will no longer be tested on the AUD section of the Uniform CPA Examination.

    The clarified U.S. Auditing Standards (the AU-Cs), issued by the Auditing Standards Board in 2012, are effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 2012. These clarified standards became  eligible for testing on the Uniform CPA Examination beginning in 13Q3.  At present, the pre-clarified standards, otherwise known as the extant standards (AUs), remain in effect and are also eligible for testing on the Uniform CPA Examination.

    On January 1, 2014, the AICPA plans on suspending publication of the extant standards (AUs). This follows the normal timeline, where publication is stopped approximately one year after a new standard is issued. Beginning in 14Q1, the extant standards will no longer be tested on the CPA Exam. The clarified U.S. Auditing Standards (AU-Cs) will remain eligible for testing.

    Summary of CSO Changes

    Access a quick list of the changes to the Content and Skill Specification Outlines (CSOs/SSOs) that became effective on January 1, 2014.

    Also, take a look at the changes to the Content and Skill Specification Outlines (CSOs/SSOs) that become effective on January 1, 2015.


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