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CPA Evolution Update

CPA Evolution Update
Updated January, 2022

CPA Evolution update: Final CPA Evolution Blueprints released!

The AICPA just released the final CPA Exam blueprints for the new CPA Exam that is slated to launch on 1/10/2024.  These blueprints lay out the structure and content to be tested when the new exam launches. 

With this release, we now know what the final exam structure looks like and what specific content areas will be tested.

Regarding the exam structure, here are the final question counts by exam section (CORE and Disciplines).

SectionSection timeMultiple-choice questions (MCQs)Task-based simulations (TBSs)
AUD – Core4 hours787
FAR – Core4 hours507
REG – Core4 hours728
BAR – Discipline4 hours507
ISC – Discipline4 hours826
TCP - Discipline4 hours687

Weighting of the MCQs and TBSs for each Core and Discipline Exam section has also been finalized.  These percentages reflect the weight successful completion of the various question types have on the candidate’s final exam score.

SectionMultiple-choice questions (MCQs)Task-based simulations (TBSs)
AUD – Core50%50%
FAR – Core50%50%
REG – Core50%50%
BAR – Discipline50%50%
ISC – Discipline60%40%
TCP – Discipline50%50%

The final blueprint release incorporates comments and recommendations made by stakeholders through the exposure draft comment period that began in July 2022 and ended at the end of September 2022.  The AICPA published a final summary report that outlined the number and types of comments received that resulted in the final release of the new blueprints.  A copy of the final summary report can be found on the AICPA’s website.

The new blueprints, which can also be found on the AICPA website includes updates/revisions to representative task statements, clarifications in some areas, and improved introductions and references; all in an effort to assist CPA Exam candidates, Academic faculty and review course providers for the new CPA Exam.

Updated December, 2022

CPA Evolution update: key dates announced!

NASBA has shared critical info for anyone planning to take the CPA Exam at the end of next year and beyond. All of the dates mentioned below are subject to change, but they’re extremely important to be aware because they may affect your plans.

Before CPA Evolution

You won’t be able to take BEC at the end of 2023.

  • November 15, 2023 is the last day that the NASBA Gateway system will process Authorizations to Test and Notices to Schedule (NTS) for BEC.
  • That means Boards of Accountancy will have to set application deadlines for BEC sometime before then
  • Those dates will be published on NASBA’s website when they’re available, and we’ll keep you updated.

The last day to sit for AUD, FAR, BEC, and REG before CPA Evolution is December 15, 2023!

That means if you pass all four sections of the CPA Exam before December 15, 2023, you shouldn’t be affected by any of the other content or administration changes.

The CPA Exam will not be offered between December 16, 2023 and January 9, 2024, so that testing centers can get ready to administer the 2024 CPA Exam.

After CPA Evolution

The new exam, with all of the CPA Evolution changes, will be offered beginning January 10, 2024.

  • Core sections (AUD, FAR, and REG) will be offered through March 26, 2024.
    • Authorizations to Test and NTSs for these Core sections will be continuously processed.
  • Discipline sections (BAR, ISC, and TCP) will be offered through February 6, 2024.
    • Authorizations to Test and NTSs for Discipline sections will not be processed until November 22, 2023.

The Boards of Accountancy are considering extending credit for any passed sections that candidates have on January 1, 2024, to June 30, 2025.

Boards of Accountancy are also considering changing when the 18-month rolling window for CPA Exam credit begins.

  • Currently, many boards use the date a candidate sits for and passes their first CPA Exam section.
  • The change would move the date to when NASBA or the state board release the passing score to the candidate.
  •  

What is the CPA Evolution project?

The basics

The CPA Evolution initiative updates the CPA licensure model to reflect the skills and competencies required to practice accounting today and in the future. Evolution introduces a new CPA Exam that tests a core set of skills required for all candidates, plus a chosen Discipline in which to demonstrate deeper skills and knowledge. The new CPA Exam is still expected to total 16 hours over 4 exam sections, 3 Core and 1 Discipline. 

The history

  • In June 2019, the AICPA and NASBA announced an initiative to update the CPA Exam to match the growing demands placed on newly-licensed CPAs.
  • On July 27, 2020, the NASBA Board of Directors voted unanimously to advance the CPA Evolution initiative.
  • The AICPA’s Governing Council already voted overwhelmingly in favor of the initiative in May 2020.
  • In the summer of 2021, the AICPA began working with academia to make sure that students are well prepared for the changes to the education requirements when they are enacted.
CPA Evolution Model

Why CPA Evolution?

The new “CORE plus Discipline” model is designed to show CPAs have the deep knowledge necessary to perform high-quality work. It also reflects the reality of most practices focusing on a key area of accounting rather than all of them at once. This model will allow the AICPA to easily add or remove Disciplines to accurately reflect the practice as times change. 

Once a candidate achieves their CPA license, they will be able to practice in any area, regardless of which discipline they test in.

When does CPA Evolution happen?

The launch date of the new CPA Exam is currently January 10, 2024. That’s when you’ll be able to sit for sections of the new, evolved CPA Exam. The rest of the important dates you need to know are at the top of this article. 

What's the new 2024 CPA Exam look like?

The current AUD, FAR, and REG sections will become “Core” sections and all candidates will have to pass them to meet their CPA Exam requirement. The current BEC section, however, is going away. In lieu of BEC, candidates will choose one of three new “Discipline” sections in which to demonstrate deeper skills and knowledge.

The new CPA Exam Discipline sections are

  • Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR)
  • Information Systems and Controls (ISC)
  • Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP).

The administration of the new CPA Exam is expected to be remain largely the same: it should still total the same 16 hours it does currently and will remain split into 4 total sections. 

New accounting students should pay attention to the exam’s education requirements. They have not changed yet, but a new model for an accounting curriculum in line with the CPA Evolution updates was unveiled in June 2021. 

To avoid having to account for these changes, we recommend that candidates complete their CPA studies as soon as possible.

What's on the 2024 CPA Exam?

On June 28, 2022, the AICPA gave the public their first look at the content coming to the CPA Exam in 2024 when they released an Exposure Draft (ED), that contains tentative CPA Evolution Blueprints, for public comment.

Titled, Maintaining the Relevance of the Uniform CPA Examination – Aligning the Exam with the CPA Evolution Licensure Model, the draft was open for comments via email to practiceanalysis@aicpa.org until September 30, 2022.

In addition to the draft Uniform CPA Examination Blueprints, the ED presents the findings and conclusions of the Practice Analysis conducted by the AICPA, under the oversight of the Board of Examiners, that was used to draft of the blueprints.

The Practice Analysis was meant to determine the technical knowledge and critical skills necessary for newly licensed CPAs to possess, which makes the Evolution Blueprint draft the first glimpse into how the new CPA Exam is addressing the accounting skills gap and ensuring the CPA Certification remains the gold standard in the world of accounting.

The blueprints for Evolution include not only the content (by way of representative task statements for each exam section), but also the proposed numbers of questions, how the AICPA is planning to weight the content on the new CPA Exam, and the critical skills allocated for testing on each exam section.

Do I have to worry about two different CPA Exams?

If you’re able to complete your exams before Q4 2023, you shouldn’t be affected by CPA Evolution. 

If you start your exams under the current model and have to finish them after CPA Evolution launches in January 2024, don’t panic!

NASBA has been working with the State Boards of Accountancy to establish a transition policy for candidates who find themselves in such a position. The goal of this policy is to ensure that CPA candidates are not penalized for exam sections already passed within their 18-month window and that exam costs are not increased.

In February 2022, NASBA announced their CPA transition initiative, which explains how CPA candidates who complete one or more sections of the current CPA Exam will transition to the new format of the CPA Exam when it is updated.

CPA Evolution Transition Policy

CPA Exam candidates who have already passed the AUD, FAR, or REG sections of the exam when CPA Evolution launches will be given credit for the corresponding CORE sections:

  • CORE: Auditing and Attestation
  • CORE: Financial Accounting & Reporting
  • CORE: Taxation and Regulation

Candidates who have already passed the Business Environment & Concepts (BEC) section will be given credit for the Discipline exam, of which there are currently three choices.

Because Evolution candidates can only take one of the Discipline exams, this means that candidates who have already passed the BEC section of the exam will not need to select a Discipline.

All of this is good news for current exam candidates!

CPA Exam Transition Policy

Next steps for CPA Evolution?

The AICPA and NASBA will continue working with state boards, state CPA societies, academia, CPA firms, and others to ensure that the new CPA Exam drives the accounting profession forward.

Gleim will update CPA candidates as new information becomes available. For now, continue to prepare for (and pass!) the CPA Exam to avoid these changes. Demo Gleim Premium CPA Review to see how we can help you pass the CPA Exam!