AUD CPA Exam Section

AUD CPA exam section

The CPA Exam features four sections, and while each section is unique, they share a similar structure and, occasionally, content. The Auditing and Attestation (AUD) CPA Exam section is completely devoted to the audit process, but we’ll take a closer look at the AUD CPA Exam section to see what really sets it apart from the other sections of the CPA Exam, so you’ll know what to expect come exam day.

AUD Content

AUD covers every part of the audit process. Preparing for and passing the AUD requires candidates to understand auditing standards, auditing procedures, compilations, reviews, attestation engagements, and the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct. The AICPA breaks down this information about auditing into four major content areas.

AUD CPA Exam Content



Ethics, Professional Responsibilities and General Principles

15% – 25%

Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Response

20% – 30%

Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence

30% – 40%

Forming Conclusions and Reporting

15% – 25%

AUD Skill Levels

The CPA Exam is not easy, and one factor contributing to CPA Exam difficulty is the fact that the exam assesses candidates at four different levels of skill.

CPA Exam Skill Levels (Lowest to Highest)

Skill Level


1. Remembering and Understanding The perception and comprehension of the significance of an area utilizing knowledge gained.
2. Application The use or demonstration of knowledge, concepts, or techniques.
3. Analysis The examination and study of the interrelationships of separate areas in order to identify causes and find evidence to support inferences.
4. Evaluation The examination or assessment of problems, and use of judgment to draw conclusions.

AUD CPA Exam Skill Allocation

Skill Allocation


Remembering and Understanding








AUD is the only exam section to test at the Evaluation level of higher order skills, and much of it is testable at the Application and Analysis levels. It’s especially important for AUD to make sure that you understand the concepts fully. On the Task-Based Simulations (TBS), as you’ll see below, simply choosing the “right answer” is not sufficient. You must be able to explain and support why your answer is correct.

AUD Structure and Format

The AUD CPA Exam section consists of five testlets: two testlets of multiple-choice questions (MCQ) and three testlets of Task-Based Simulations (TBS).

AUD Testlet Structure


Question Number and Type

Testlet 1

36 MCQs

Testlet 2

36 MCQs

Testlet 3

2 TBSs

Testlet 4

3 TBSs

Testlet 5

3 TBSs

The MCQ portion of AUD accounts for 50% of your CPA Exam score, and the TBS portion accounts the other 50%.

Most AUD testlets include pre-test and operational questions. Operational questions count toward your total exam score, and pre-test questions do not. However, AUD presents both types of questions at the same time, and in the same way, so don’t waste valuable time trying to tell the difference.

AUD Question Format

Question Type









The AICPA includes pre-test questions on the exam in order to collect data on candidates’ performance. The resulting data helps the AICPA decide whether to use the pre-test questions as operational questions on later exam iterations. Some pre-test questions may be more difficult than operational questions, but since the two types are indistinguishable, just remember to answer all questions to the best of your ability and keep moving.

AUD CPA Exam Time Management

The total testing time for AUD is four hours, which is the same for the other CPA Exam sections. To effectively manage your time on AUD, follow this time management system:

Time Management System for AUD CPA Exam Section



Question Count

Time (in minutes)













15 minute break

(does not count toward total exam time)









Extra Time



72 MCQs / 8 TBSs


AUD Testing Process

The difficulty level of the first MCQ testlet is “medium.” The difficulty level of the next testlet will be determined by your performance on the first. If you answer the medium difficulty level questions well, you will receive more difficult questions in the next testlet. If you do not perform well with the medium difficulty testlet, you will receive another medium difficulty testlet.

The difficulty level of the testlet denotes the average difficulty level of the testlet questions. According to the AICPA, your score isn’t affected by whether you get harder or easier questions. However, if your second testlet is suddenly harder than the first one, it means you’re doing well.

Your performance on the MCQ testlets does not impact the difficulty level of your TBS testlet. The TBS testlets are pre-selected, and their difficulty levels do not change based on your performance.

AUD Difficulty

Most people do not consider AUD as hard as FAR, and the pass rates below support that general consensus. However, AUD can still be a challenging section—it may present questions that require financial accounting knowledge, for instance, and without such knowledge, you wouldn’t be able to attest to whether a financial statement is accurate.

AUD Grading Process

Computers grade all CPA MCQ and TBS testlets. Your score is scaled according to the difficulty of the MCQs you answered correctly and the credit you receive on the TBSs. A CPA passing score is 75 points or higher. Bear in mind that 75 points does not necessarily equate to 75% of questions answered correctly.

AUD Pass Rates

AUD pass rates are typically comparable to those of the REG section, with a pass rate ranging from 46% to 50%. For three of four quarters last year, though, AUD had higher pass rates than REG, and as of Q3 2018, pass rates for AUD and REG differ by about 5.48%.

AUD CPA Exam Section Review

AUD is a difficult exam section, but it’s not impossible. As long as you have a good review provider that can instill you with an understanding of auditing principles, you will be able to pass it.

The Gleim Premium CPA Review course can ensure you pass AUD on your first attempt. Our course covers the exam content better than any other, and always features the most up-to-date information. Our SmartAdaptTM technology constantly adjusts content delivery according to your weak areas to ensure you optimize your study time. It also uses cumulative review questions to promote maximum retention of AUD topics. The AUD questions you’ll see in Gleim CPA Review are just as challenging and realistic as those on the actual exam, and by the time you complete our Final Review, which helps you boost your score through last-minute improvements, you’ll be completely prepared and confident for exam day!

Gleim CPA Review incorporates everything you need to know to overcome the AUD CPA Exam section. Check out our free CPA Exam Guide for more information!