This study unit consists primarily of a detailed listing of procedures and rules used to administer the exam. Remember, the more you know about the examination process and what to expect, the greater your competitive advantage over others taking the exam. Leave nothing to chance, and be in total control of the examination process.


The AICPA is a nondisclosed exam for three stated reasons:

  1. Pretest objective items (i.e., questions) to assemble a large, high-quality item bank
  2. Statistically equate each examination for differences in the level of difficulty
  3. Facilitate computer administration of the Uniform CPA Examination in the future

All candidates are required to accept the attestation that appears in the next subunit and are warned about the disastrous consequences of disclosing information about specific questions and/or answers.

Because the exam questions are not released to the public, we depend on feedback from CPAs and CPA candidates to know how to improve our materials, with emphasis on topics to be strengthened and/or added. Go to or email your Personal Counselor with any of this kind of feedback. This process has been approved by the AICPA.

Based on candidate feedback, the Gleim CPA materials emphasize knowing exactly what will be expected of you during the CPA exam and preparing you for what will be required. We also help you avoid overpreparation. We change our approach and subject matter coverage as the exam changes.



As part of the AICPA’s nondisclosure policy and to prove each candidate’s willingness to adhere to this policy, a confidentiality and nondisclosure statement must be accepted by each candidate during the introductory screens before each section is taken. This statement is reproduced here to remind all CPA candidates about the AICPA’s strict policy of nondisclosure, which Gleim consistently supports and upholds. Spend only the time necessary to read and understand the content of the introductory screens, as the exam will terminate if you do not advance beyond them to the actual exam. If the exam terminates, you will not be able to restart your exam and will forfeit all fees, etc.

“Please read the Confidentiality and Break Policy Statement presented below. You must accept the terms and conditions to proceed.

Policy Statement and Agreement Regarding Exam Confidentiality and the Taking of Breaks

I hereby agree that I will maintain the confidentiality of the Uniform CPA Examination.

In addition, I agree that I will not:

  1. Divulge the nature or content of any Uniform CPA Examination question or answer under any circumstance
  2. Engage in any unauthorized communication during testing
  3. Refer to unauthorized materials or use unauthorized equipment during testing
  4. Remove or attempt to remove any Uniform CPA Examination materials, notes, or any other items from the examination room

I understand and agree that liability for test administration activities, including but not limited to the adequacy or accuracy of test materials and equipment, and the accuracy of scoring and score reporting, will be limited to score correction or test retake at no additional fee. I waive any and all right to all other claims. I further agree to report to the AICPA any examination question disclosures, or solicitations for disclosure, of which I become aware.

I affirm that I have had the opportunity to read the Candidate Bulletin and I agree to all of its terms and conditions.

I understand that breaks are only allowed between testlets. I understand that I will be asked to complete any open testlet before leaving the testing room for a break. In addition, I understand that failure to comply with this Policy statement and Agreement could result in the invalidation of my scores, disqualification from future examinations, expulsion from the testing facility and possibly civil or criminal penalties.”



The BOE sets policy for the Uniform CPA Examination using the legal and psychometric standards appropriate for licensure examinations. The BOE also oversees the development and scoring of the CPA exam.

There are three subcommittees that report to the Board: Content, Psychometric Oversight, and State Board. The Content Committee is responsible for the technical content of the CPA exam. The Psychometric Oversight Committee directs and evaluates CPA exam research and oversees the application of psychometric procedures. The State Board Committee links the BOE to state boards of accountancy by communicating state board concerns to the BOE and keeping the BOE advised of activities and decisions.

The AICPA Examinations Team, located in the AICPA’s Ewing, New Jersey, office, carries out the Board policies. It is responsible for creating, delivering, and grading the Uniform CPA Examination.

Additional information about the Uniform CPA Examination, the Board of Examiners, and the Examinations Team is available at the AICPA’s website (

The Board of Examiners provides advance disclosure of changes to the CPA exam. This policy has resulted in increased confidence in and respect for the CPA exam from CPA candidates, academia, the profession, testing experts, and the general public.



The AICPA has contracted with third parties to produce vast quantities of multiple-choice questions, simulation tasks, and written communications. Only a qualified selection will be used, however, as the psychometric qualities of question testlets and exam versions will have to be carefully measured to grade and score each exam equitably on a comparative basis.

Implications for CPA candidates: Your CPA exam should be made up of questions so coverage follows the AICPA Content Specification Outlines. When taking the exam, your concern is with answering each question to the best of your ability, not with the topical coverage. Expect the unexpected and adjust. The more difficult the exam, the better for you because you will be better prepared to maximize your score. Remember, only the top 45% of CPA candidates PASS!



Per the AICPA’s Policy on New Pronouncements, effective April 1, 2016, accounting and auditing pronouncements are eligible to be tested on the Uniform CPA Examination in the later of: (1) the first testing window beginning after the pronouncement’s earliest mandatory effective date or (2) the first testing window beginning 6 months after the pronouncement’s issuance date. In either case, there is a simultaneous introduction of content related to the new pronouncement and removal of content related to the previous pronouncement.

Changes in the federal taxation area, the Internal Revenue Code, and federal taxation regulations may be included in the testing window beginning 6 months after the change’s effective date or enactment date, whichever is later.

For all other subjects covered in the Regulation and Business Environment and Concepts sections, materials eligible to be tested include federal laws in the window beginning 6 months after their effective date and uniform acts in the window beginning 1 year after their adoption by a simple majority of jurisdictions.

The AICPA does not appear to be completely committed to the 6-month rule. For example, tax forms (if they appear in simulations) could be recent prior-year forms. Do NOT be distracted by the year; complete the form to the best of your ability. If a question on your exam provides an out-of-date tax rate, use that rate. Also, auditing, financial, and tax research databases are updated on the AICPA’s schedule and may appear out of date. According to the Candidate Bulletin, candidates should use the research database as presented, even if a recent change to the literature is not yet appearing.


Prometric Testing Services has contracted with the AICPA and NASBA to deliver the CPA exam to CPA candidates at hundreds of testing centers throughout the U.S. and overseas. Prometric will schedule and administer your exam at one of the testing centers, reporting your responses back to the AICPA for grading.



The multiple-choice questions within each test section are administered to candidates in three groups (called “testlets”). Each testlet contains “operational” and “pretest” questions. The operational questions are the ones used to generate the candidates’ scores. Pretest questions are not scored; instead, candidates’ responses to these questions are used to evaluate whether they should appear on future exams. Since you will not know which questions are operational versus pretest, you should answer every question as if it is an operational question.

The same is true regarding task-based simulation questions and written communications. The AICPA has announced, for example, that one of the three written communications will be a pretest, while the other two will be graded.



The multiple-choice testlets have two levels of difficulty. Because of levels of difficulty, the CPA exam has become an adaptive exam. The scoring procedures take the statistical difficulty of the testlet into account so that candidates are scored fairly regardless of the difficulty of the testlets they take*. What does this mean for you as a candidate? Nothing. You still need to answer every question to the best of your ability.

Only correct responses are counted. In other words, there is NO PENALTY for incorrect responses that may occur from guessing. Accordingly, you want to maximize your potential total score by answering EVERY question. Study Unit 4, Subunit 6, “Educated Guessing,” has more information on this subject.

CPA exam scores are reported on a scale that runs from 0 to 99. A total score of 75 is required to pass each section. The total score is not a “percent correct” score. That is, your score is an indication of overall examination performance. The AICPA uses a specialized scoring method that takes into account the difficulty level and statistical properties of the questions you are given. Therefore, the passing score of 75 does not mean that you answered 75% of the questions correctly.

The total score is a combination of scores from the multiple-choice, simulation, and written communication portions of the exam. See the table below for the coverage breakdown details. There are no minimum scores required on the different kinds of questions or on different content areas within each section to earn a passing score.

Task-Based Simulations
Written Communication
Relative Weight Assigned to Exam Portions (per AICPA’s Candidate Bulletin)

* CAUTION: You may encounter an AICPA diagram that depicts how question difficulty is handled in the exam administration and grading process. We elected not to reproduce it here because it has NO value for you, the CPA candidate. The bottom line is that your focus is to answer EVERY question to the best of your ability and NOT concern yourself with matters regarding question difficulty. Again, the AICPA scoring procedures take the statistical difficulty of each question into account so that each CPA candidate is scored fairly.

Written Communication Grading

The grading for BEC’s written communication is different than for any other testlet on the exam. Your responses are forwarded to contract graders who grade writing style.

In a written communication response, you will be graded on both technical content and writing skills, based on the following three criteria: organization, development, and expression. Study Unit 5, Subunit 6, contains more information on how to craft a response that will receive the highest score.



Updated score release timelines will be announced every quarter on the AICPA’s website. The release dates are targets, not guarantees, though the majority of scores will be released on the target date, according to the AICPA.

For updated 2016 dates, which were not available at the time of print, check back at We will update the score release table as soon as that information is released.



Virtually no grades are changed as a result of re-scoring and appealing. Be positive. We have a System for Success to get you through the exam. If you have to retake a section, move on and learn from your mistakes by studying your Candidate Performance Report (discussed in Study Unit 6, Subunit 10) and recommitting yourself to following our suggested study steps (discussed in Study Unit 6, Subunit 7).


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