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.
Candidate Alert! Major Changes to CPA Exam in Q2 of 2017
The CPA exam will significantly change on April 1, 2017. The changes will result in a more difficult exam, presenting questions that test candidates at higher levels of knowledge–which is exactly how Gleim has been preparing candidates all along. Nevertheless, Gleim advises you to pass as many sections as you can before these changes take effect.
Gleim will release a thoroughly updated CPA Review System with plenty of time for you to fully prepare for the new exam, should you not have time to pass it before then.
Overview of Changes*
You can count on Gleim to provide you with all of the latest information on these 2017 exam changes as it becomes available. Learn more now at www.gleim.com/cpa2017.
*Note that Gleim had originally published this section with the Document Review Simulations (DRS) listed as one of the changes coming in 2017. However, the AICPA has since announced that the DRS will appear on CPA exams beginning July 1, 2016.
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.
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.
You can find the state boards’ contact information at www.nasba.org.
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 or her testing center eligibility. To see where they can sit for the exam, candidates should consult the NASBA website.
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
Business Environment and Concepts
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. Each Gleim CPA Review book has AICPA CSO/Gleim study unit cross-references listed in an appendix 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. Only the U.S. Virgin Islands have not passed this requirement.
Requirements for education in order to sit for the CPA exam vary by state or jurisdiction; some states require only a minimum of 120 credit hours in order to sit. Check with your state or jurisdiction board for more information.
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.
Six jurisdictions (Alabama, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, 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.
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*
*Both domestic and international pass rates are included.
For more recent pass rates, check our blog at www.gleim.com/accounting/cpa/blog.
The implication of these pass rates 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 Premium CPA Review System.
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 the total cost, which includes application and administration fees in addition to examination fees, refer to your jurisdiction’s website and application materials.
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
Once you have reviewed all of the information in Subunits 1.1 through 1.12, 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 Premium 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 30 to 45 days before the date you plan to sit for the exam.
Work systematically through the study units in each section of the Gleim Premium CPA Review System (Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Regulation).
Sit for and PASS the CPA exam.
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.