Gleim Section Title
AICPA Formal Title
Auditing & Attestation
Business Environment & Concepts
Financial Accounting & Reporting
3, 30 questions each
3, 24 questions each
3, 30 questions each
3, 24 questions each
1 with 7 TBS
1 with 7 TBS
1 with 6 TBS
This study unit will give you an overview of the CPA exam and outline our suggested method of preparation.
Study Unit 1: The CPA Examination: An Overview and Preparation Introduction
Study Unit 2: AICPA Content Specification Outlines and Skill Specification Outlines
Study Unit 3: Content Preparation, Test Administration, and Performance Grading
Study Unit 4: Multiple-Choice Questions
Study Unit 5: Task-Based Simulations and Written Communications
Study Unit 6: Preparing to Pass the CPA Exam
Study Unit 7: How to Take the CPA Exam
The CPA examination is designed to measure professional competence in auditing, business law, taxation, accounting, and related business topics, including
Passing this exam validates and confirms your professional accounting education and requires your complete dedication and determination. The benefits include higher salary, increased confidence and competence, and recognition as a member of an elite group of professionals.
The AICPA is the national professional organization of CPAs in particular and professional accountants in general. The AICPA determines/prepares the content and scoring of the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. Study Unit 3, Subunit 3, contains more information.
Obtain AICPA Student Affiliate membership for FREE! College graduates who have not yet passed the CPA exam may obtain a discounted CPA Candidate membership for $50. Information regarding all memberships can be obtained from the AICPA website at www.aicpa.org.
NASBA’s mission is to enhance the effectiveness of state boards of accountancy in meeting their regulatory responsibilities. It is also a major component of the computerized CPA exam. As part of the exam application process, NASBA issues a Notice To Schedule (NTS) to each CPA candidate after completion of an application. While applications may be made and forwarded to individual State Boards, NASBA handles some, or all, of the application process for most State Boards. NASBA also receives all CPA scores from the AICPA and records them in their National Candidate Database before forwarding the grades to individual State Boards, which ultimately send the grades to individual CPA candidates.
All 50 states (and the District of Columbia, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands) have an administrative agency that administers the laws and rules that regulate the practice of public accounting. Each of these 55 jurisdictions contracts with the AICPA to use the AICPA’s Uniform CPA Examination.
The rules and procedures for applying to take the exam and becoming licensed to practice public accounting vary by jurisdiction. Accordingly, you should contact your state board for a CPA exam application form. With the form, you will receive that board’s rules, regulations, and directions to you as a CPA candidate.
August of 2011 was the inaugural offering of the Uniform CPA Examination outside the U.S. The international exam is offered only in English, has the same licensure requirements, and is the same as the current U.S. exam. The international exam is administered during the same testing windows as for domestic test-takers (i.e., Jan/Feb, April/May, July/Aug, and Oct/Nov), and international exam scores will be released on the same timeline as domestic scores. In addition to passing the exam, international candidates must meet educational and experience requirements.
International testing is available in Brazil, Japan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and the UAE. A candidate’s residency status determines his/her testing center eligibility. For example, a citizen or permanent resident of Argentina may take the exam in either the U.S. or Brazil. To see where they can sit for the exam, candidates should consult the International Testing Center Eligibility Table at www.nasba.org/exams/internationalexam/international-process-to-apply/.
The jurisdictions through which candidates can apply to take the CPA exam in an international location can also be found at the NASBA website listed above. Prospective candidates must select the U.S. jurisdiction (i.e., a state board of accountancy) to which they will apply, contact the board of accountancy in that jurisdiction to obtain application materials, and submit the completed applications and required fees as instructed. After receiving the NTS, candidates may then register to take the examination in an international location through the NASBA website.
The AICPA publishes Content Specification Outlines (CSOs), which outline the subject matter tested on the CPA exam. The CSOs have three levels: areas, groups, and topics.
The CSOs for each of the four sections of the CPA exam are presented verbatim in Study Unit 2. We have also provided cross-references to the study units and subunits in the Gleim materials that correspond to the CSOs’ coverage.
The listing below contains the CSO areas covered by each section of the CPA exam with the AICPA percentage weighting for each CSO area. NOTE: The AICPA provides ranges, e.g., 17 to 23%. We averaged each range to a single number, e.g., 20%.
Auditing and Attestation
Financial Accounting and Reporting
Your authors have divided the overall task of preparing for the CPA exam into 20 study units for each section of the exam. As you will see in the Study Unit 2 cross-references, these study units conform to (or parallel) the AICPA CSOs. Note that the scope of most AICPA areas is broad, resulting in coverage by more than one Gleim study unit. The Gleim CPA Review books have AICPA CSO/Gleim study unit cross-references listed in the Introductions so that you are assured of being completely prepared to PASS.
The CPA exam should be taken immediately after graduation (or while in the last semester of school, if permitted) while your education is still fresh. If you take the exam before taking all relevant accounting and business law courses, you will have to study (rather than review) the relevant subject matter. Courses relevant to the CPA exam include
Out of the 55 U.S. jurisdictions, 54 have implemented the “150-hour rule,” which requires a bachelor’s degree plus 30 hours to be certified. As of 2013, only the U.S. Virgin Islands have not passed this requirement. The 150-hour rule for four states, however, will not become effective until a future date. These states are as follows:
* Becomes effective January 1, 2014
** Becomes effective July 1, 2015
*** Becomes effective July 1, 2014
Twenty-nine of the states and jurisdictions that have implemented the 150-hour rule allow candidates to sit for the exam before completing 150 hours:
* Requires residency or employment in Minnesota to take the exam there.
** Pennsylvania is still an optional 150-hour state but requires 150 hours for licensure.
If you have already graduated and have not signed up to take the CPA exam, do so as soon as possible and start studying.
An important consideration in deciding where to take the exam is continuing professional education (CPE) requirements. Most state boards require CPE to renew a license to practice. Many accountants take the CPA examination, obtain the experience necessary to become licensed to practice public accounting, subsequently leave public accounting, and do not maintain their CPE requirements. If you are not going to practice public accounting or do not need a license to practice public accounting, you may wish to sit for the CPA exam in a state that has a CPA certificate separate from its license to practice and where CPE requirements apply only to the license to practice.
Seven jurisdictions (Alabama, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, and Oklahoma) issue CPA certificates that are separate from the license to practice. Some of these states do not require public accounting experience to receive the CPA certificate, do not require CPE of their CPA certificate holders, and/or do not require residency to sit for the CPA exam. Contact the individual state board for more information.
Go to www.gleim.com/states to access requirements for each Board of Accountancy. Then, call, write, or check the website of the boards for those states in which you may want to be certified. Communicate your intentions and confirm your expectations in writing, i.e., separate CPA certificate, no experience required for CPA certificate, residency not required, CPE not required of certificate holders, etc.
Pass Rates on the CPA Exam*
(Q1, Q2, and Q3)**
*Both domestic and international pass rates are included.
**Pass rates for Q4 had not yet been released at time of printing.
The passing percentages for the CBT-e exam have dropped to the mid to low 40s when only one section is taken per exam window. We expect the per-section passing percentages to continue to be 40-50% as candidates adjust to the new exam.
The implication for you as a CPA candidate is that you have to be, on average, in the top 45% of all candidates to pass. A major difference among CPA candidates is their preparation program. You have access to the best CPA review material; it is up to you to use it. Conversely, if you do not apply the suggestions in How to Pass the CPA Exam: A System for Success, you will be at a disadvantage to the tens of thousands of candidates who pass with Gleim. Even if you are enrolled in a review course that uses other manuals, you will benefit with the Gleim CPA Review System.
Cost estimates, which vary from state to state, appear below. Some states offer lower fees if you apply for all four sections at the same time. However, note that in most states, your NTS expires after 6 months. You should only apply for those sections you plan to take within the next 6 months. To determine your current State Board fee, see www.gleim.com/states.
State Board Fees
The following is an abbreviated description of the information that is covered throughout the rest of this How to Pass the CPA Exam: A System for Success.
The Preparation Process -- In order to be successful on examinations, you need to
Dr. Gleim has been helping accountants pass the CPA exam for 5 decades -- far longer than any other review provider. He innovated; the others followed. We have the experience and knowledge to help you pass the first time!
There are many other CPA review providers. We, of course, want you to be successful with Gleim, but we recognize that you will look at alternative products and may use one or more CPA products in conjunction with Gleim to prepare for the CPA exam.
A major distinction is self-study vs. group study. The Gleim system is self study (unless you use our Professor-Led Review described below). Group study is assembling with others to obtain live instruction, audio, and/or video lectures. Make sure the “instructor” of such a course is a professor or passed the CPA exam the first time, not just a PR person who merely turns a recorded lecture on or off!
Once you have reviewed all of the information in Subunits 1.1 through 1.13, you are ready to begin taking the steps to become a CPA. Use the checkpoints below to keep yourself on track and to make sure you do not omit any important steps. If you would like, check off the boxes as you progress to give yourself a sense of accomplishment regarding the huge undertaking you have embarked upon.
Become knowledgeable about the exam and decide which section you will take first.
Purchase the Gleim CPA Review System to thoroughly prepare for the CPA exam. Commit to our systematic preparation for the exam as described in our review materials, including How to Pass the CPA Exam: A System for Success.
Determine the board of accountancy (i.e., state) to which you will apply to sit for the CPA exam (discussed in Subunit 1.9).
Obtain, complete, and submit your application form, including transcripts, fees, etc., to your State Board or NASBA. You should receive a Notice To Schedule (NTS) from NASBA in 4 to 6 weeks.
Schedule your test with Prometric (online or by calling your local Prometric testing site). Schedule at least 45 days before the date you plan to sit for the exam.
Work systematically through the study units in each section of the Gleim CPA Review System (Auditing, Business, Financial, and Regulation).
Use Gleim CPA Test Prep: Over 8,500 CPA questions, all updated to current tax law, Accounting Standards Codification, etc. Listen to CPA Audio Review as a supplement.
Sit for and PASS the CPA exam while you are in control, as described in Study Unit 6. Gleim Guarantees Success!
Enjoy your career and pursue multiple certifications (CIA, CMA, EA, etc.), recommend Gleim to others who are also taking these exams, and stay up-to-date on your continuing professional education with Gleim CPE. Additional certifications are appreciably easier to earn after recently passing the CPA exam, and they open many other doors of opportunity.