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CPA Exam Changes Guide

How did the CPA Exam change in 2019?

In 2019, the CPA Exam began testing the tax laws introduced by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) on the REG section of the exam. Most other changes were minor.

The CPA Exam changes regularly. Gleim CPA Review takes new pronouncements, law changes, and the AICPA Blueprints into account when developing our materials, so there is really nothing for you to worry about. In other words, you don’t need to stress about learning each of the Blueprint changes because Gleim updates your CPA review materials based on all of these changes.

But if you want to keep up with the landscape of CPA Exam changes, read on!

Current CPA Exam Changes

Beginning in January 2019, the REG CPA Exam will begin testing the tax laws introduced by the TCJA. This means that most content areas of the REG exam have been updated.

Most of the other changes are minor. AUD and FAR are receiving very few changes, and BEC is receiving none at all.

The July 2019 CPA Exam changes mainly impact two areas.

  1. The AUD changes involve how data analytics will be tested starting July 1, 2019. See more on how to prepare for AUD data analytics changes.
  2. The BEC Blueprint was reorganized to better explain how candidates will be tested on Information Technology (IT) topics.

We’ll walk you through all the 2019 CPA Exam changes below. Keep in mind that just because a content area changes, it doesn’t mean you’ll definitely see a question about it.

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Gleim has you covered through every CPA Exam update. We study every AICPA Blueprint change and pronouncement, attend every AICPA discussion, and work with a team of skilled accountants and educators to ensure that every change the AICPA makes to the CPA Exam is reflected in our materials with plenty of time to study prior to the actual changes to the exam.

2019 AUD Changes

The AUD section of the CPA Exam does not change significantly in January 2019. While the blueprint was updated to include more detail on professional skepticism, it does not add any new content to the exam.

The AUD section of the CPA Exam does not change significantly in July 2019. While the term “data analytics” was added throughout the AUD Blueprint, it does not add any new exam content. All of these topics had been previously been tested.

For more information on the what the addition of “data analytics,” check out our blog explaining why you shouldn’t worry about it.

For detailed information on the AUD Blueprint changes, see our AUD Blueprint changes.

2019 BEC Changes

The BEC section of the CPA Exam does not change significantly in January 2019.

The BEC section of the CPA Exam does not change significantly in July 2019. While the BEC Blueprint was heavily revised, the changes were made to improve clarity and reorganize the information. It does not add new content to the exam.

For detailed information on the BEC Blueprint changes, see our BEC Blueprint changes.

2019 FAR Changes

Beginning in January 2019, the FAR section of the CPA Exam will begin testing a new task to adjust the notes to the financial statements. This was done in response to a standard-setting activity related to not-for-profit, nongovernmental financial reporting.

The FAR section of the CPA Exam does not change significantly in July 2019.

For detailed information on the FAR Blueprint changes, see our FAR Blueprint changes.

2019 REG Changes

Beginning in January 2019, the REG section of the CPA Exam will begin testing on the new tax laws introduced by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). This has a significant impact across the exam.

Many of the new concepts from the TCJA relate to corporations and are so new that most CPA candidates will be starting from square one when studying them. These changes include:

  1. Elimination of personal exemptions. This is a huge change for the individual taxpayer. Before the TCJA, you could claim a $4,050 deduction from your taxable income, which essentially meant, if you made $30,000 in 2018, you could claim a $4,050 deduction and only be taxed on $25,950. The new law completely does away with the personal exemption. Now, without considering other deductions, that $30,000 you made is taxed at the full amount.
  2. Raising the standard deduction substantially. For example, the standard deduction for single taxpayers went from $6,350 in 2017 to $12,000 under the new law.
  3. Shifting of individual income tax brackets. Most people are getting tax breaks. Of the seven tax brackets, five brackets have tax rate reductions and two remain the same.
  4. Introduction of a flat 21% corporate tax rate. This constitutes a tax cut for any business with income greater than $50,000, and a tax increase for businesses with income less than $50,000.
  5. Increasing the 50% first-year bonus depreciation to 100%. This will apply to qualified property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017, and before January 1, 2023. The deduction for Section 179 is taken before any bonus depreciation, and any deduction for bonus depreciation is taken before the regular depreciation is recalculated.
  6. Reduction of people paying the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The AMT exemptions for individuals were increased to reduce the amount of people subject to the AMT.

For July 2019, the CPA Exam will restructure how they present information in multiple-choice questions, task-based simulations, and research simulations in order to indicate whether the TCJA or pre-TCJA rules should be followed.

For situations in which timing is important, specific years (2017, 2018, etc.) will be used. For other situations, placeholder years (Year 1, Year 2, etc.) will be used. If there is no indication of timing, candidates should assume that the events referenced occurred in the current year.

For detailed information on the REG Blueprint changes, see our REG Blueprint changes.

2019 AICPA Detailed Blueprint changes

The AICPA releases a new CPA Exam Blueprints once or twice a year. These Blueprints can serve as study materials, but even the AICPA recommends using them alongside a review provider. We’ve studied the 2019 Blueprints and have listed every revision below.

These changes are listed in the order they appear on the CPA Exam Blueprint. As additional changes are announced, they will be added to the list below.

Changes to a task or content area do not guarantee that it will appear on your CPA Exam.

2019 AICPA AUD Blueprint changes

In the section introduction, the following statements were added/revised:

Changes effective for CPA Exams beginning January 2019

Added Introduction Statments

Professional skepticism reflects an iterative process that includes a questioning mind and a critical assessment of audit evidence. It is essential to the practice of public accounting and the work of newly licensed CPAs.

Changes effective for CPA Exams beginning July 2019

Overview of content areas, the 3rd bullet item for Area II

Assessing Risks and Planning Further Procedures —Identifying and assessing risks of misstatement due to error or fraud and developing appropriate engagement procedures, including understanding and calculating materiality and considering specific engagement risks, as well as incorporating concepts such as audit data analytics, group audits, using the work of the internal audit function and the work of specialists

Overview of content areas, the description of Area III

Area III of the AUD section Blueprint covers performing engagement procedures and concluding on the sufficiency and appropriateness of evidence obtained, including performing specific types of procedures (e.g., analytical procedures, analytical procedures using audit data analytics, observation and inspection, recalculation and reperformance); testing the operating effectiveness of internal controls; performing tests of compliance and agreed-upon procedures; understanding and responding to specific matters that require special consideration (e.g., accounting estimates, including fair value estimates); evaluating and responding to misstatements due to error or fraud and to internal control deficiencies; obtaining management representations; and performing procedures to identify and respond to 3 subsequent events and subsequently discovered facts.

The following representative tasks were added:

Changes effective for CPA Exams beginning January 2019

Area I, Group B, Topic 4

Professional skepticism and professional judgment

  • Understand the concepts of professional skepticism and professional judgment.
  • Understand personal bias and other impediments to acting with professional skepticism, such as threats, incentives and judgment-making shortcuts.

Area III, Group A

Understanding sufficient appropriate evidence

  • Investigate evidence that either contradicts or corroborates management explanations, expectations and other hypotheses throughout an audit or non-audit engagement.

Area III, Group C, Topic 3

Inquiry of management and others

  • Analyze responses obtained during structured or informal interviews with management and others, including those in non-financial roles, and ask relevant and effective follow-up questions to understand their perspectives and motivations in an audit or non-audit engagement.

Area III, Group C, Topic 6

All other procedures

  • Modify planned procedures based upon new information, such as inconsistent explanations, new evidence and environmental cues, to achieve audit objectives in an audit of an issuer or a nonissuer.

Changes effective for CPA Exams beginning July 2019

Area II, Group C, Topic 4

Information Technology (IT) general and application controls

Identify and document an entity’s key IT general and application controls, their impact on the audit of an entity’s financial statements, including an audit of an entity’s internal controls, and consider the effect of these controls and manual controls on the completeness and reliability of an entity’s data.

Perform and document tests of an entity’s key IT general and application controls, their impact on the audit of an entity’s financial statements, including an audit of an entity’s internal controls, and consider the effect of these controls and manual controls on the completeness and reliability of an entity’s data.

Area II, Group E, Topic 3

Further procedures responsive to identified risks

  • Assess RMM using data analytic outputs (e.g., reports and visualizations) to determine relationships among variables and interpret results to provide a basis for developing planned audit procedures.

    Area III, Group C, Topic 1

    Analytical procedures

    • Perform analytical procedures using data analytic outputs (e.g., reports and visualizations) to determine relationships among variables and interpret results in an audit or non-audit engagement.

    Area III, Group C, Topic 6

    All other procedures

    • Modify planned procedures based upon new information, such as inconsistent explanations, new evidence and environmental cues, to achieve audit objectives in an audit of an issuer or a nonissuer.
    • Determine sources, structure, and attributes of data needed to complete audit data analytic procedures.
    • Use data analytic outputs (e.g., reports and visualizations) to determine relationships among variables and interpret results to meet objectives of planned procedures in an audit or non-audit engagement.

      The following representative tasks were revised:

      (No changes for January 2019)

      Changes effective for CPA Exams beginning July 2019

      Area II, Group C, Topic 4

      Information Technology (IT) general and application controls

      • Identify and document an entity’s key IT general and application controls, their impact on the audit of an entity’s financial statements, including an audit of an entity’s internal controls, and consider the effect of these controls and manual controls on the completeness and reliability of an entity’s data.
      • Perform and document tests of an entity’s key IT general and application controls, their impact on the audit of an entity’s financial statements, including an audit of an entity’s internal controls, and consider the effect of these controls and manual controls on the completeness and reliability of an entity’s data.

      2019 AICPA BEC Blueprint changes

      In the section introduction, the following statements were revised:

      (No changes for January 2019)

      Changes effective for CPA Exams beginning July 2019

      Overview of content areas, the description of Area I

      Area I of the BEC section blueprint covers several topics related to Corporate Governance, including the following:

      • Knowledge and use of internal control frameworks
      • Knowledge and use of enterprise risk management frameworks
      • Identifying key corporate governance provisions of regulatory frameworks and laws such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002

      Overview of content areas, the description of Area IV

      Area IV of the BEC section blueprint covers several topics related to Information Technology (IT), including the following:

      • Understanding the role of IT and systems, including the use of data in supporting business decisions.
      • Identifying IT-related risks associated with an entity’s information systems and processes, such as processing integrity, protection of information and system availability, including those risks introduced by the relationships with third-parties.
      • Identifying application and IT general control activities, whether manual, IT dependent or automated, that are responsive to IT-related risks, such as access and authorization controls, system implementation testing and incident response plans.

      The following representative tasks were revised:

      (No changes for January 2019)

      Changes effective for CPA Exams beginning July 2019

      Because this restructuring involves the removing and recategorizing of nearly every task within BEC Area IV, we have provided the entirety of Area IV.

      BEC Blueprint Area IV

      Area IV, Group A, Topic 1 – Organization and governance

      • Explain the role that IT people, processes and strategies play in determining and supporting an entity’s overall vision and strategy.
      • Describe the IT governance structure within an entity (e.g., tone at the top, policies, frameworks, steering committees and oversight).

      Area IV, Group A, Topic 2 – Systems and processes

      • Define the basics of hardware, software, databases, networks, mobile technology, etc. used by an entity internally, externally and through outsourcing arrangements (e.g., application service providers and cloud computing).
      • Understand the flow of transactions represented in a flowchart, data diagram and system interface diagram.
      • Identify the role of information systems (e.g., enterprise and application systems) in key business processes (e.g., sales, cash collections, purchasing, disbursements, human resources, payroll, production, treasury, fixed assets, general ledger and reporting).

      Area IV, Group A, Topic 3 – Data

      • Understand key characteristics of a relational database (e.g., data dictionary, data types, tables, records, fields, relationships, keys, views, queries and reports).
      • Recognize the role of big data in supporting business decisions.
      • Use business intelligence (including data analytics and statistics) to support business decisions.

      Area IV, Group B, Topic 1 – Risk assessment

      • Identify IT-related risks and describe mitigation strategies given risk severity, probability and costs.

      Area IV, Group B, Topic 2 – System development and maintenance

      • Determine the fundamental issues and risks associated with selecting, developing and implementing new information systems or maintaining existing information systems.

      Area IV, Group B, Topic 3 – Processing integrity

      • Determine the risks associated with ensuring the completeness, accuracy and continued processing integrity in input, storage, processing and output processes.

      Area IV, Group B, Topic 4 – Security, availability, confidentiality and privacy

      • Identify system access and segregation of duties risks.
      • Identify the risks (e.g., cybersecurity and internal) associated with protecting sensitive and critical information (e.g., proprietary and personal information)within information systems (including processing, storing and transmitting information internally and with external parties).
      • Perform threat identification to identify risks related to information confidentiality.
      • Perform threat identification to identify risks related to system availability.

      Area IV, Group C, Topic 1 – Application controls

      • Determine the role and appropriateness of input, storage, processing and output application controls (e.g., authorizations, approvals, tolerance levels, inputedits and configurations) to support completeness, accuracy and continued processing integrity.

      Area IV, Group C, Topic 2 – General IT controls

      • Understand the controls and testing strategies used in selecting, developing and implementing new information systems.
      • Identify effective IT control activities, including manual, IT dependent and automated controls, as well as preventive, detective and corrective controls.

      Area IV, Group C, Topic 3 – Logical and physical controls

      • Identify logical and physical access controls (e.g., roles and rights and segregation of duties).
      • Identify the controls associated with protecting sensitive and critical information (e.g., proprietary and personal) within information systems.
      • Determine responses to information system confidentiality risks (e.g., incident response plan).

      Area IV, Group C, Topic 4 – Continuity and recovery plans

      • Determine responses to system availability risks (e.g., data backup and recovery procedures and alternate processing facilities).

      2019 AICPA FAR Blueprint changes

      The following representative tasks were added:

      (No changes for July 2019)

      Changes effective for CPA Exams beginning January 2019

      Area I, Group B, Topic 6

      Notes to financial statements

      • Adjust the notes to the financial statements to correct identified errors and omissions.

      2019 AICPA REG Blueprint changes

      In the section introduction, the following statements were added:

      (No changes for January 2019)

      The January 2019 REG Blueprint Introduction does not include any changes.

      Changes effective for CPA Exams beginning July 2019

      Section introduction

      In the section introduction, the following statement was added:
      The REG section of the Exam includes multiple-choice questions, task-based simulations and research prompts. Candidates should assume that the information provided in each question is material and should apply all stated assumptions. To the extent a question addresses a topic that could have different tax treatments based on timing (e.g., alimony arrangements or net operating losses), it will include a clear indication of the timing (e.g., use of real dates) so that the candidates can determine the appropriate portions of the Internal Revenue Code or Treasury Regulations to apply to the question. Absent such an indication of timing or other stated assumptions, candidates should assume that transactions or events referenced in the question occurred in the current year and should apply the most recent provisions of the tax law in accordance with the timing specified in the CPA Exam Policy on New Pronouncements.

      The following representative tasks were added:

      (No changes for July 2019)

      Changes effective for CPA Exams beginning January 2019

      Area IV, Group C

      Adjustments and deductions to arrive at adjusted gross income and taxable income

      • Calculate the qualifying business income (QBI) deduction for federal income tax purposes.

      Area IV, Group F

      Filing status

      • Recall relationships meeting the definition of dependent for purposes of determining taxpayer filing status.

      Area V, Group C, Topic 5

      Multijurisdictional tax issues (including consideration of local, state and international tax issues)

      • Identify situations where the base erosion and anti-abuse tax (BEAT) would apply.
      • Identify factors that would qualify income as Foreign Derived Intangible Income (FDII).
      • Define the components of Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income (GILTI).

      The July 2019 REG Blueprint does not include any changes.

      The following representative tasks were removed:

      (No changes for July 2019)

      Changes effective for CPA Exams beginning January 2019

      Former Area IV, Group F

      Filing status and exemptions

      • Recall relationships qualifying for personal exemptions reported on federal Form 1040 — U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
      • Identify the number of personal exemptions reported on federal Form 1040 — U.S. Individual Income Tax Return given a specific scenario.

      Former Area V, Group C, Topic 1

      Computations of taxable income (including alternative minimum taxable income), tax liability and allowable credits

      • Calculate alternative minimum taxable income and alternative minimum tax for a C corporation.

      The July 2019 REG Blueprint does not include any changes.

      The following representative tasks were revised:

      Changes effective for CPA Exams beginning January 2019

      Area III, Group B

      Cost recovery (depreciation, depletion and amortization)

      • Compare the tax benefits of the different expensing options for tax depreciation for federal income tax purposes.

      Area V, Group C, Topic 1

      Computations of taxable income, tax liability and allowable credits

      • Calculate the credits allowable as a reduction of tax for a C corporation.

      Area V, Group C, Topic 2

      Net operating losses and capital loss limitations

      • Analyze the impact of net operating and/or capital losses during tax planning for a C corporation.

      Area V, Group E, Topic 7

      Ownership changes

      • Calculate the revised basis of partnership assets due to a transfer of a partnership interest for federal income tax purposes.

      Changes effective for CPA Exams beginning July 2019

      Area III, Group A, Topic 4

      Related party transactions (included computed interest)

      • Calculate the direct and indirect ownership percentages of corporation stock or partnership interests to determine whether there are related parties for federal income tax purposes.

      Area III, Group C, Topic 3

      Area III, Group C, Topic 3 – Determination of taxable estate

      • Recall assets includible in a decedent’s gross estate for federal estate tax purposes.
      • Recall allowable estate tax deductions for federal estate tax purposes.

      2019 Prometric interface and administration changes

      There are no changes to the Prometric testing interface or exam administration in 2019.

      All about CPA Exam changes

      Why does the CPA Exam change?

      The AICPA regularly revises sections, adds new topics, and removes outdated topics to make sure it reflects the latest professional standards and regulations of the following governing bodies:

       
      Sometimes it changes the interface or other administration elements of the exam to take advantage of new technologies and improve the testing experience.

      Many of the changes are minor changes that improve how information is presented or clarify topics and testing material.

      What are the CPA Exam Blueprints?

      The CPA Exam Blueprints are a breakdown of the knowledge and skills the AICPA has deemed necessary for Certified Public Accountants. The AICPA uses these Blueprints when creating the CPA Exam and releases them as study guides for CPA candidates.

      The AICPA usually releases CPA Exam Blueprints once or twice a year, and the changes do not go into effect immediately.

      Within the Blueprints you will find

      • Exam topics along with their relative score weight
      • Sample tasks within each exam topic
      • Administration information on each exam, such as question numbers and score information

      The most important thing to remember is that the Blueprints are not an exam rubric. They present sample tasks, but they are not limited to only testing the content areas with those tasks. Equally important: not every topic on the Blueprint will be tested on every CPA Exam.

      CPA Exam changes archive

      Gleim is committed to providing you with all the materials you need to pass the CPA Exam the first time, so you can rest assured that you don’t need to comb through an archive of exam changes. With Gleim, you can be certain that there will be no exam-day surprises.

      Check out our free CPA Exam Guide for everything you need to know about the CPA certification, including the most up-to-date information regarding the format and interface of the CPA Exam.

      Because curiosity gets the better of us all sometimes, we’ve included our archive of CPA Exam changes below. Enjoy your time exploring the past, and when you’re ready to come up for fresh air, we’ll be here for you.

      2018 CPA Exam changes

      Why is the CPA Exam changing in 2018?

      As you may recall, the 2017 CPA Exam changes challenged candidates to reach higher levels of accounting knowledge and unveiled the new CPA Exam Blueprints that contained 600+ tasks representing real-world CPA responsibilities. The AICPA used an increased number of task-based simulations (TBSs) and harder multiple-choice questions (MCQs) to produce an exam that was harder to pass, but more accurately evaluated candidates’ knowledge and skills.

      This year’s update aims to create an easier testing experience for candidates by focusing more on the exam’s design and functionality rather than on the content and questions. The modernized look and feel of the exam is good news for all.

      2018 CPA Exam content changes

      The 2018 Blueprints include a few minor changes to AUD and REG, no changes to BEC, and some updates in FAR to indicate not-for-profit accounting changes. The 2018 exam also integrated the new revenue recognition standard, which provides a single, principles-based revenue recognition model that can be applied to all contracts with customers regardless of whether the accounting issues are industry-specific or transaction-specific.

      Most of the July 1, 2018, Blueprint changes affect fairly specific tasks that we don’t recommend focusing on too much.

      2018 CPA AUD changes

      The meaningful change made to the AUD CPA Exam section was the addition of a new task regarding an entity’s ability to continue as a going concern. The revised Blueprints expect candidates to assess the evaluations done by management in regard to an entity’s ability to continue as a going concern.

      In addition, the new Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s (PCAOB) reporting standards, except for critical audit matters (CAMs), are being added to the exam in July 2018.

      2018 CPA BEC changes

      Because of the COSO ERM framework revision, BEC CPA Exam section has the biggest content changes of any exam section. The Blueprint evolved to reflect the new framework’s expanded emphasis on the integration of risk management. Note that exam functions could reflect the new ERM as early as April 1, before the changes to the Blueprints are effective. Several tasks were also added to the Economic Concepts and Analysis area of BEC, but per the AICPA, these tasks don’t change the nature or scope of the testable content because the three new tasks are basically a breakdown of the one previous task with more details added.

      2018 CPA FAR changes

      The FAR CPA Exam section received two important changes. The first reflected the simplification of revenue recognition. To accomplish this simplification, the AICPA removed the tasks that accounted for industry- or transaction-specific data and consolidated those tasks into the simpler task of “the amount and timing of revenue to be recognized under a contract.” The second FAR change was an adjustment to terminology in the Leases section due to the effects of ASU 2016-02, which will be testable beginning Q1 2019.

      In addition, the new revenue recognition standards, the International Accounting Standards Board’s (IASB) IFRS 15 and the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) ASU 2014-09 (ASC 606 “Revenue from Contracts with Customers”), were added to the FAR section of the CPA Exam on January 1, 2018.

      2018 CPA REG changes

      The CPA Exam will not test on the 2018 tax law changes until January 1, 2019. If you’re sitting for the REG CPA Exam section in 2018, you’ll only need to know about the tax laws and regulations effective July 1, 2017. The Authoritative Literature will include the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) as published before the enactment of the new tax law, and the AICPA will update all questions and the IRC for Q2 of 2019.

      2018 CPA Exam interface and functionality changes

      On April 1, 2018, the AICPA will be updating certain CPA Exam design and function features. These changes will modernize the look of the interface and make the test-taking experience easier for candidates. We discuss each of these changes in detail below. As always, the Gleim CPA Exam Guide covers everything you need to know about the CPA Exam.

      2018 Excel Integration

      Instead of the proprietary spreadsheet used previously, candidates will now have access to the desktop version of Excel, which launches by clicking the spreadsheet icon found in the top toolbar.

      The Exam spreadsheet will perform all of the same essential functions as a regular desktop Excel spreadsheet. In addition, candidates can easily transfer data out of and in to Excel, for example, by copying from Excel and pasting to the answer fields of a simulation or into the Calculator, and vice versa. Excel will retain all of the information entered while in a testlet, even if Excel is closed and/or when navigating between questions/simulation. Excel will only clear when beginning a new testlet. There is also an option to manually save any work.

      Work done and calculations performed within Excel will not be graded. Many of Excel’s shortcuts and some functions of Excel that may threaten user security will not work.

      2018 cpa exam changes

      2018 New User Interface Design

      The entire layout of the CPA Exam will be updated in 2018. The new design is clean and uncluttered with more modern icons, colors, fonts, and buttons.

      • Current CPA Exam Version (through March 10, 2018)
      Current CPA Exam Example
      • Redesigned CPA Exam Version (on April 1, 2018)

      The new user interface affects these existing exam components:

      POP-UPS
      ACTION SCREENS
      QUESTION TYPES

      Policy Agreement Warning — Reminds candidates to accept the Policy Statement and Confidentiality agreement of the exam



      Skipped Questions Notification — Reveals how many questions have been skipped in a testlet and allows one to navigate to them



      No Entry Required — Confirms that a submission of a journal entry table containing no responses was intentional

      End of Exam — Notifies completion of the Uniform CPA Examination and directs the candidate to take the survey


      Break Option: Standard — Gives the option to take a break that pauses the exam timer for 15 minutes

      Break Option: Non-Standard — Allows a break during which the exam timer continues to run

      • Multiple-Choice Questions

      • Task-Based Simulations

      • Document Review Simulations

      • Written Communications

      • SCREEN WIDTH

      CPA Exam screens have been optimized for 23″ HD resolution monitors.

       

      • TESTLET TABS

      The information and navigation bar at the top of every testlet screen has been rearranged and redesigned.

       

      • TIMER

      The exam timer has been moved to the top left corner of the screen, underneath the testlet tabs. The format of the timer changes slightly as it counts down to different time increments.

       

      New CPA Exam Timer
      Exam Timer Format
      4 hours to 1 hourLess than 1 hourLess than 2 minutes*Less than 1 minute*No time remaining
      H:MM0:MM0:MM:SS0:00:SS0:00:00

      *Display updates every five seconds

      • EXAM TOOLS

      The Calculator, Excel, Authoritative Literature, Overview and Help buttons, when appropriate, appear in the middle of the top bar. Excel, Help, and the Overview tool are new to the 2018 version of the exam.

      New CPA Exam Toolbar
      • QUESTION NAVIGATION

      Question navigation has moved up to the top of the screen, right under the toolbar.

       

      New CPA Exam Question Numbers

      2018 Exam Question Functionality

      Exam Tools

      The MCQ toolbar contains the Calculator, Excel, Overview, and Help buttons. The TBS toolbar has the Authoritative Literature button as well. The WC toolbar only includes the Overview and Help tools.

       

      CALCULATOR
      OVERVIEW
      Help
      AUTHORITATIVE LITERATURE

      The Calculator has improved functionality and is better able to interact with the other parts of the exam.

      The Calculator tape is saved and accessible throughout the entire testlet; it does not clear until a new testlet is entered or the “Clear Tape” function is employed. Numbers (but not text) can be copied and pasted between the Calculator, the TBS exhibits, the question content, and Excel.

      The Overview icon launches a pop-up box that lists all the testlet questions in numerical order. The first sentence of the question is presented beside each question number.

      Help has been dramatically redesigned. Instead of being presented as one page of static text at the beginning of each testlet, there is now an icon that is present in the top toolbar for the duration of the exam. This icon opens an extensive file that provides all of the most important information about exam navigation, question responses, and exam tools, which can be navigated either via the table of contents or using the search bar.

      The Authoritative Literature tool has a new look and new organization that allows candidates to search within any or all of the different sources for any section. The table of contents will not populate until a source has been selected.

      An extremely useful new feature is that candidates can bookmark a document by clicking the bookmark icon next to the document title. All bookmarked documents will be listed in a new section that appears above the table of contents, and hovering over the bookmarked items reveals the full title in a popup box.

      The Advanced Search options have been altered to include:
      • “All of these words”: multiple words at a time, in no particular order
      • “This exact phrase”: exact words in an exact order
      • “Any of these words”: one or more of the entered words in no particular order
      • “None of these words”: none of the words entered

      Clicking the “Search within:” box next to the search bar allows candidates to limit their search to a specific folder or sub-folder. Within the Advanced Search field, candidates must once again click the “Search within:” box in order to limit their search to a designated sub-folder, even if the “Search within:” box is activated for the basic search.

      The search function of the Authoritative Literature tool can be used at a basic level to find words or numbers. A search can be enhanced with an asterisk, which searches for anything starting with the word, or with a question mark in place of a character, which indicates that any character can appear in that specific position in the search term. Up to three question marks can be used.

      ORDER OF AUTHORITY FOR EXAM TOOLS

      When open, Excel always remains on top of any other tools or exhibits. The other exam tools and exhibits should arrange themselves in open order, with the most recently selected tool opening on top.

      TASK-BASED SIMULATIONS
      2018 cpa exam changes
      WORKSPACE

      The old vertical and horizontal split screen functions in the Task-Based Simulations have been replaced by a designated workspace where all of the exam tools and exhibits open.

      EXHIBITS

      Instead of being separated into different tabs across the top of the screen, the exhibits are now located within the simulation, just under the question number.

      When one or more exhibit is opened, they can be arranged with the Cascade and Tile buttons, but no more than eight exhibits can be open at a time. Open exhibits in one simulation cannot be seen after you navigate to another simulation, but the exhibits in the first simulation will be open when you return to that simulation.

      Numbers from exhibits can be copied and pasted into the number answer fields in the simulations unless the exhibits specify that they are “Read Only” in the exhibit title bar. An IRS form is an example of a read-only exhibit. In addition, within non-image exhibits, you can select text with your cursor to make a Highlighting toolbar appear. With this toolbar, you can apply or remove highlighting to text you want to easily refer back to later.

      2018 cpa exam changes
      JOURNAL ENTRIES

      Journal entry simulations received a relatively high amount of changes to make them easier to complete. An icon indicates the type of response required for each cell.

      2018 cpa exam changes

      Clicking a list icon cell brings up a list of text response options, while clicking a “123” icon cell results in a pop-up for number entry. This pop-up automatically formats the answer as necessary, for example, by rounding the entry up or down; removing any misplaced letters, commas, or decimals; and adding commas, decimals, and dollar/percent signs where appropriate. However, candidates still need to carefully read the directions and ensure responses are tailored to the simulation’s specific instructions because the auto-format will not address certain items, for example, it will not automatically multiply decimals by ten to present them as a whole percentage. Adding the following to the response field yields these results:

      • A period – formatted response begins with a zero.
      • A negative number – the formatted response includes parentheses around the answer.
      • Open and close parentheses – formatted response contains open and close parentheses.
      • Open parentheses – formatted response will not include this invalid character.

      A small box above the journal entry table that reads “No Entry Required” now allows candidates to indicate that any given transaction does not require a journal entry. Clicking this box disables the table and summons a pop-up warning that all entered answers will be cleared if confirmed. If confirmed, the exam will then record the answer as “No Entry Required.” Deselecting the small box reactivates the journal entry table.

      GLOBAL RESPONSE GRID

      There is a new kind of simulation known as the global response grid, which features multiple spreadsheet/table-response type questions within one simulation separated by text blocks with different questions or instructions. The questions cater to more complex items and may involve filling in a balance sheet or whole journal entries.

      Written Communications

      The appearance and functionality of the Written Communications toolbar has been updated. The toolbar remains visible as candidates scroll down through the response area, and the operations of undo and redo are now only possible using the buttons on the toolbar, not the keyboard shortcuts Control + Z and Control + Y.

      2018 Sample Tests

      To help candidates adjust to the new format and functionality of the CPA Exam, the AICPA has released new sample tests for each of the exam sections. These sample tests differ from the current sample tests in the following ways:

       

      CORRECT ANSWERS

      The new Sample Tests allow candidates to see the correct answer to a question immediately after answering and without having to leave the testlet and then return. Candidates will not be able to view the correct answers on the actual CPA Exam.

      LAUNCH CODE

      The new Sample Tests better simulate the first steps of the CPA Exam testing experience by providing a launch code that candidates must use to enter the exam initially and to return after each break.

      New CPA Exam Launch Code Example

      2017 CPA Exam Changes

      The Purpose and Basis of the 2017 CPA Exam Changes

      The goal of the upcoming iteration of the CPA Exam is to continue to protect the public interest while preserving the relevance and legal defense of the exam. The new version of the exam intends to assure boards of accountancy that the candidates who pass are adequately equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to fulfill the duties of a CPA in the current state of the accounting industry. The AICPA’s Board of Examiners gleaned their information about the present expectations of a CPA through an extensive research project that consulted key stakeholders in the profession. The results of this research project, called a practice analysis, determined the impending changes.

      The 2017 CPA Exam Changes

      Some of the 2017 CPA Exam changes include:

      • An increased focus on testing higher-order skills. The next exam will assess cognitive faculties such as critical thinking, problem solving, and analytical ability.

      Skill Levels Tested on the 2017 CPA Exam

      Skill Levels

      Skill Descriptions

      EvaluationThe examination or assessment of problems and the use of judgments to draw conclusions.
      AnalysisThe examination and study of the interrelationships between separate areas in order to identify cause and find evidence to support inferences.
      ApplicationThe use or demonstration of knowledge, concepts, or techniques.
      Remembering and UnderstandingThe perception and comprehension of the significance of a topic utilizing knowledge gained.

       

      • Analysis-level tasks in all sections of the exam. The structure of the exam will continue to feature the four sections of AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG, and a portion of each section ranging from 15-35% will test at the analysis skill level. AUD will also test evaluation-level skills.

      Skill Levels Tested on Each Section of the 2017 CPA Exam

      Section

      Remembering and Understanding

      Application

      Analysis

      Evaluation

      AUD

      30-40%

      30-40%

      15-25%

      5-15%

      BEC

      15-25%

      50-60%

      20-30%

      FAR

      10-20%

      50-60%

      25-35%

      REG

      25-35%

      35-45%

      25-35%

       

      • An increased number of Task-Based Simulations. As Task-Based Simulations (TBSs) are an effective way to appraise higher-order skills, each section will contain more TBSs, and TBSs will also be added to BEC for the first time.

      Format of the 2017 CPA Exam Per Section and Question Type

      Section

      Multiple-Choice Questions

      Task-Based Simulations

      Written Communications

      AUD

      72

      8

      BEC

      62

      4

      3

      FAR

      66

      8

      REG

      76

      8

       

      • Adjusted score weights for all sections of the exam. For AUD, FAR, and REG, the scoring weight of the multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and the TBSs will be about 50% each to balance the increase in TBSs. For BEC, the score weight will approximate 50% for MCQs, 35% for TBSs, and 15% for written communication.

      Score Weighting Per Section of the 2017 CPA Exam

      Section

      Multiple-Choice Questions

      Task-Based Simulations

      Written Communications

      AUD

      50%

      50%

      BEC

      50%

      35%

      15%

      FAR

      50%

      50%

      REG

      50%

      50%

       

      • An increased time allotment. Candidates of the BEC and REG sections will receive one additional hour of testing time. As each section of the exam will be four hours, total exam time increases from 14 to 16 hours.
      • A new 15-minute standardized break. Each section will also include a 15-minute standardized break that will not detract from candidates’ testing time. Candidates will only be offered this break at about the halfway point of the section, and they can choose to accept or reject it. Other optional breaks taken between testlets will continue to count against testing time.
      • A blueprint for each section. The new 2017 CPA Exam blueprints will take the place of the CSOs and SSOs as the foundation of the exam and will supply a stronger and more precise presentation of testable content.

      Additional Updates to the 2017 CPA Exam

      Along with the 2017 CPA Exam changes, the AICPA also mentioned again the 10-day testing window extension that creates extra days to take the CPA Exam each quarter by shortening the blackout months of March, June, September, and December. Following the release of the 2017 CPA Exam, the 10-day extension will not be available in June 2017 in order to afford the AICPA additional time to analyze exam results and set new passing scores, but the extension will be available again in September 2017. The 10-day testing window extension necessitated more score release dates for each quarter, and these dates now appear on the score release timetable for Q2.

      TBS Navigation on the Old CPA Exam

      In the previous version of the CPA Exam, candidates could view all of the TBSs at the same time because all of the TBSs were in the same testlet. You could click forward or backward within the testlet to assess each TBS and decide the order in which you wanted to address them.

      TBS Navigation on the 2017 CPA Exam

      Almost a year ago, we learned that the number of testlets in each section of the new CPA Exam would increase from three to five. The additional testlets contain more TBSs, giving AUD, FAR, and REG a total of eight TBSs and BEC a total of four TBSs.

      As the new version of the exam serves candidates more TBSs, these TBSs are divided between three testlets. You can still move between TBSs within a given testlet; however, you cannot view other testlets or their TBSs unless you exit the current testlet. To exit a testlet, you must click the button that reads “Submit Testlet”, and you should only do so when you have completed each TBS and are satisfied with your responses. Once you submit a testlet, you will not be able to view it again.

      task-based simulations on the new cpa exam

      If you’re familiar with the old CPA Exam, you should adjust your expectation of how many TBSs you will have access to at once. You should also devise a new time management strategy for completing the TBSs, as you won’t be able to assess all of the TBSs before beginning or review all of the TBSs at the end if you have time remaining. Make sure you know how many TBSs you will encounter on each testlet and budget your time accordingly.

      Keeping up with the CPA Exam changes

      The CPA Exam changes every year, sometimes more than once. It can be hard to determine which changes are important, so let us do the work for you! Our free CPA Exam Guide includes everything you need to know about the CPA Exam. Studying with Gleim CPA Review means you never need to worry about CPA Exam changes—we always have you covered.