AICPA Issues Report on Proposed Changes in Next Version of CPA Exam

Board of Examiners Supports Increased Assessment of Higher Order Skills

June 4, 2015

NEW YORK (June 4, 2015) – The American Institute of CPAs released a report summarizing key stakeholders’ input on potential ways to adapt the next version of the Uniform CPA Examination. The report, Invitation to Comment Results: Maintaining the Relevance of the Uniform CPA Examination,  is part of a practice analysis – an extensive research project designed to determine the knowledge and skills required of newly licensed CPAs.

The report summarizes more than 300 responses to the Invitation to Comment (ITC) from members in public accounting and business and industry, state boards of accountancy, state societies, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), firms, academia, standards setters and regulators. The Board of Examiners (BOE) reviewed this feedback, along with additional research, with the AICPA Examinations Team and agreed on a number of preliminary changes to consider and areas for further exploration. Notable findings include:

  • ITC respondents support the consideration of testing higher-order skills beyond basic content knowledge, i.e., critical thinking, problem solving, analytical ability and professional skepticism. The AICPA is exploring increasing its assessment of these higher-order skills throughout each section of the Exam.

  • Candidates strongly requested additional opportunities to sit for the CPA Exam. Therefore, the AICPA is exploring extending the testing windows, allowing candidates to re-test a failed section within a testing window, and other ways to enhance convenience for candidates taking the CPA Exam. .
  • Members of the profession indicated that the current structure of the Exam is appropriate for testing in the fundamental areas of Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Regulation (REG), and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)..
  • Because of its prevalence in the profession, respondents support the use of Excel in the CPA Exam to create an authentic user experience. The AICPA plans to launch a new testing interface utilizing Excel in 2018.

“On behalf of the AICPA, I’d like to thank all the individuals and groups that submitted feedback during the invitation to comment period, as well as our volunteer members for their efforts in this important project,” said  Michael Decker, AICPA vice president - examinations. “The AICPA is continuing to collect input to ensure the next version of the CPA Exam maintains a focus on the competencies needed by newly licensed CPAs to protect the public interest in an increasingly complex business environment,”

In September 2015, the AICPA plans to distribute an exposure draft for comment, which will serve as a final proposal for the next version of the CPA Exam. The research conducted during the practice analysis will inform the development of the next version of the CPA Exam, which will be announced in 2016 and launched in 2017.

The full report on the Invitation to Comment results is  available on the AICPA website.