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CPA Evolution Update

CPA Evolution Update
Updated May 12, 2021

CPA Evolution Update: NASBA and AICPA vote to support initiative

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. The two organizations will now work to implement the “core plus discipline” licensure model.

Current CPA Exam candidates should not be affected. The exam is not expected to change until January 2024 at the earliest. However, those just getting started and new accounting students should pay attention to education requirements. A new model for an accounting curriculum in line with the CPA Evolution update will be unveiled at a launch event June 15-16 2021.

To avoid having to account for these changes, Gleim recommends that candidates finish their CPA studies as soon as possible.

What is the CPA Evolution?

The CPA Evolution initiative aims to change the CPA licensure model to recognize the skills and competencies required to practice accounting today and in the future. The new CPA Exam will test a core set of skills required for all candidates, and candidates will additionally choose a discipline in which to demonstrate deeper skills and knowledge. The CPA Exam is expected to be no longer than the current 16 hours and remain split into 4 exams, including one for the chosen discipline.

The new CPA Exam model showing the core and three disciplines all lead to the same CPA designation. This model is apart of the CPA Evolution Initiative.

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

It has not yet been determined what content will be “core” or how exactly the disciplines will be set up. This will be determined by state board education requirements and the CPA Exam practice analysis. At this time, we know the core will focus on accounting, audit, tax, and technology. The disciplines will focus on more advanced tax, accounting, analytics, and information systems concepts. This model will allow the AICPA to easily add or remove disciplines to accurately reflect the practice as times change.

What are the next steps for the 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. In the fall of 2021, they will begin working with academia to make sure that students are well prepared for the changes to the education requirements when they are enacted. A practice analysis is currently underway to determine the content of the new exams, and it is expected to be complete by July 2022. Following the completion of the practice analysis, new Blueprints should be released in January 2023 that will provide more specific information on what will be covered in the new exam. The launch date of the new CPA Exam is currently scheduled for January 2024.

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!