Uniform CPA Examination FAQs - General Information 

    Published February 23, 2010

    1. What is the purpose of the Uniform CPA Examination?
    2. Who is responsible for the Uniform CPA Examination?
    3. Where is the Uniform CPA Examination administered?
    4. Is the Examination available outside the U.S. and U.S. territories?
    5. Is the Examination available in a language other than English?
    6. When is the Uniform CPA Examination administered?
    7. What are the component parts of the Uniform CPA Examination?
    8. Must all four Examination sections be taken at the same time?
    9. Is there a time limit for passing the four Examination sections?
    10. What subject matter is covered on the Examination?
    11. What types of questions are included on the Examination?
    12. What does the Examination look like? How does it function?
    13. What are the requirements to take the Examination?
    14. How much does it cost to take the Examination?
    15. What is the process to obtain special accommodations at the Examination?
    16. How do candidates begin the application process?
    17. Isn't there one central U.S. organization through which candidates may apply?
    18. Is there a special application process for international applicants?
    19. Is there a publication that describes the application and examination process?

     

    What is the Uniform CPA Examination?

    The Uniform CPA Examination is the examination that individuals must pass in order to qualify for licensure as Certified Public Accountants in any of the 55 U.S. jurisdictions (the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands).

    The Uniform CPA Examination is one of the "Three Es" - Education, Examination, and Experience - that are required for licensure as a CPA. Consequently, passing the Examination is not, in itself, sufficient to meet requirements for licensure.

    Licensure requirements vary by jurisdiction, and are described on the websites of all Boards of Accountancy. Links to Board of Accountancy websites are available at http://www.nasba.org/nasbaweb.nsf/exam

    What is the purpose of the Uniform CPA Examination?

    According to the CPA Examination Mission Statement, the purpose of the Examination is "To admit individuals into the accounting profession only after they have demonstrated the entry-level knowledge and skills necessary to protect the public interest in a rapidly changing business and financial environment."

    Who is responsible for the Uniform CPA Examination?

    The Uniform CPA Examination is provided on behalf of the Boards of Accountancy who have the ultimate licensing authority. The Examination is offered jointly by three organizations: NASBA (The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy), the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants), and Prometric. The AICPA is responsible for developing and scoring the Examination, NASBA for the National Candidate Database, and Prometric for examination delivery at authorized test centers.

    Where is the Uniform CPA Examination administered?

    The Examination is offered at authorized test centers located throughout 54 U.S. jurisdictions. (The Examination is not yet offered in the 55th jurisdiction, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands)

    Is the Examination available outside the U.S. and U.S. territories?

    The Examination will be offered in selected countries beginning in the third quarter of 2011.

    Is the Examination available in a language other than English?

    No. The Examination is offered only in English

    When is the Uniform CPA Examination administered?

    The Examination is offered 5 (and sometimes 6) days per week during two months of every quarter. (These periods are known as "testing windows.") Testing is available in January & February; April & May; July & August; and October & November. Testing is NOT available in: March, June, September, and December.

    What are the component parts of the Uniform CPA Examination?

    The Uniform CPA Examination consists of four sections:

    Auditing and Attestation (AUD). This section covers knowledge of auditing procedures, generally accepted auditing standards and other standards related to attest engagements, ethics, and the skills needed to apply that knowledge.

    Business Environment and Concepts (BEC). This section covers knowledge of general business environment and business concepts that candidates need to know in order to understand the underlying business reasons for and accounting implications of business transactions, and the skills needed to apply that knowledge.

    Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR). This section covers knowledge of generally accepted accounting principles for business enterprises, not-for-profit organizations, and governmental entities, and the skills needed to apply that knowledge.

    Regulation (REG). This section covers knowledge of federal taxation, ethics in tax practice, professional and legal responsibilities, and business law, and the skills needed to apply that knowledge.

    Must all four Examination sections be taken at the same time?

    No. As a rule, Boards of Accountancy permit eligible candidates to take any sections of the Examination in any testing window and in any order they wish. However, candidates may not take any single section twice in the same testing window. Candidates should check their board's requirements for the exact rules that will apply to them.

    Is there a time limit for passing the four Examination sections?

    These requirements are determined by Boards of Accountancy. Once candidates pass one Examination section, most boards allow 18 months for passing the remaining three sections. Candidates should refer to the requirements of their boards for the rules that will apply to them.

    What subject matter is covered on the Examination?

    The Uniform CPA Examination Content Specifications Outline provides information about Examination topics. To access the Content Specifications Outline, click here.

    What types of questions are included on the Examination?

    The Examination is composed of testlets - groups of 24 or 30 multiple-choice questions, or condensed case studies known as task-based simulations (TBS). Auditing and Attestation (AUD) and Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) consist of three multiple-choice testlets and a single simulation testlet with seven task-based simulations. Regulation (REG) consists of three multiple-choice testlets and a single simulation testlet with six task-based simulations. Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) consists of three multiple-choice testlets and one simulation testlet with three written communication tasks.

    What does the Examination look like? How does it function?

    The sample tests and tutorial available on line provide an introduction to the format, content and functionality of the Examination. Candidates are responsible for reviewing the Uniform CPA Examination tutorial and sample tests. Thorough familiarity with the examination’s functionality, format, and directions is required before candidates report to test centers. Failure to follow the directions provided in the tutorial and sample tests, including the directions on how to respond, may adversely affect candidate scores. To access the tutorial and sample tests, click here.

    What are the requirements to take the Examination?

    Examination requirements vary from one jurisdiction to another. To obtain information about the requirements in effect in a particular jurisdiction, visit the Board of Accountancy website of the appropriate state or territory. Links to all Board of Accountancy websites are available at http://www.nasba.org/nasbaweb.nsf/exam

    How much does it cost to take the Examination?

    Fees also vary from one jurisdiction to another. For information about fees in a specific state or territory, visit the appropriate Board of Accountancy website. Links to all Board of Accountancy websites are available at http://www.nasba.org/nasbaweb.nsf/exam

    What is the process to obtain special accommodations at the Examination?

    Special accommodations under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) may be requested as part of the application process. Information about the ADA request procedures are included in the application materials of each Board of Accountancy. Links to all accountancy board websites are available at http://www.nasba.org/nasbaweb.nsf/exam

    How do candidates begin the application process?

    Candidates must first decide on the jurisdiction to which they will apply. If uncertain about the jurisdiction, candidates may find it helpful to review the requirements of several Boards of Accountancy (access to board websites is available at http://www.nasba.org/nasbaweb.nsf/exam). After selecting the jurisdiction, candidates should obtain application materials, and submit completed applications as directed.

    Isn't there one central U.S. organization through which candidates may apply?

    No. Candidates may take the Examination (and qualify as CPAs) only if they meet the requirements of a Board of Accountancy in one of the 55 jurisdictions.

    Is there a special application process for international applicants?

    No. The basic application process is the same for all candidates. Like U.S. applicants, international applicants must select the jurisdiction in which they wish to qualify and file an application with the Board of Accountancy in that jurisdiction. Any special instructions for international applicants are specified in board requirements.

    Is there a publication that describes the application and examination process?

    Yes. The Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Bulletin provides detailed information about filing applications, scheduling test sessions, and taking the Examination. To access the Bulletin, click here.




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