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 the Board of Examiners (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 an answer. They typically require candidates to use spreadsheets and/or research authoritative literature provided in the Exam.

CSO Update Effective January 1, 2017
On May 28, 2015, the AICPA Board of Examiners (BOE) approved changes to the CPA Exam Content Specification Outline (CSO) that will be effective on January 1, 2017.

Download: CSOs/SSOs Effective January 1, 2017

View a summary of changes to the CSOs/SSOs, effective January 1, 2017

CPA Exam Blueprints Effective April 1, 2017
On February 11, 2016, the AICPA Board of Examiners (BOE) approved CPA Exam blueprints that will be effective on April 1, 2017. 

Download:  CPA Exam Blueprints Effective April 1, 2017

CPA Exam Blueprints Effective January 1, 2018
On September 30, 2016, the AICPA Board of Examiners (BOE) approved changes to the CPA Exam blueprints that will be effective on January 1, 2018.

Download: CPA Exam Blueprints Effective January 1, 2018

View the summary of changes to the Exam blueprints, effective January 1, 2018

Examination content development is a major effort at the AICPA, involving hundreds of CPA volunteers who spend 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.

Access to Professional Literature 

The Uniform CPA Examination consists of multiple-choice questions and condensed case studies called simulations. Within the simulations, candidates must do an online search of professional literature databases to answer questions. Here are some ways that candidates, students, educators, and schools can get access to helpful online resources.

CPA Exam Candidates: Free On-line Access to Professional Literature Package

CPA exam candidates can get a free six-month subscription to professional literature used in the computerized CPA Examination. This online package includes AICPA Professional Standards, FASB Original Pronouncements and FASB Accounting Standards Codification (effective on the CPA Examination, January 1, 2011). 

Only candidates who have applied to take the CPA exam, and have been deemed eligible by state boards of accountancy, will receive access to this package of professional literature. This online package of literature will familiarize CPA Exam candidates with the use of online accounting resources. However, the interface used by the online package is not exactly the same as that used in the operational CPA Examination. Candidates are strongly encouraged to also review the CPA Exam tutorial and sample tests found on this web site. The sample tests reflect the functionality and interfaces used in the actual examination.

Apply for the free six-month subscription to the Professional Literature Package: Click here to subscribe

The link will take you to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) website. Please have your Notice of Schedule available.

For other Professional Resource Options, click here. 

Exam Development 

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 test materials are accurate and appropriate for use on the CPA Exam.

Practice Analysis 2014
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) became eligible for testing on the CPA Examination when the 2011 CSOs/SSOs went into effect. Among other IFRS information, these FAQs address the question of why the decision to add IFRS content to the CPA Examination was made.

New Pronouncements 

New Pronouncements Policy
This policy provides 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?"
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