CPA Hot Topics 09/03/10 – Order to Take Exams

Garrett Gleim sends CPA candidates bimonthly emails concerning different aspects of the CPA exam. Candidates can see the most recent email and all the archives here on the CPA Candidate Forum.

I hope your summer was enjoyable and that you were able to accomplish your summer CPA exam goals. The third testing window is behind us. At this time, most of you should have only one or two sections remaining. I suggest that all CPA candidates take time to relax and enjoy this Labor Day weekend, but spend some time studying for a CPA exam section, if possible. If you have not already scheduled a section for early October, please call Prometric and schedule an appointment.

If you are just beginning to study for the CPA exam, try to pass two sections in the October/November window. I suggest you at least sit for and pass BEC this year. Beginning in 2011, BEC will have three essays within the time allotted. The most significant change to the Content Specification Outlines (CSOs) for BEC is the addition of Corporate Governance, which will comprise between 16% and 20% of the BEC section. Accordingly, by passing BEC in 2010, you can experience BEC without the stress of writing an essay or studying Corporate Governance.

If you have two or more sections to take in order to complete the CPA exam, I suggest taking either Auditing or Financial after you have passed BEC. While several new auditing pronouncements will be tested in early 2011, the AICPA just basically reorganized the CSOs. In addition, Auditing will test international auditing standards, as well as auditor-related AICPA ethics, now tested in Regulation. If you are able to complete BEC and Auditing in 2010, you will be able to forgo studying Corporate Governance, international auditing standards, and auditor ethics.

On the other hand, you could take Financial after BEC and avoid the stress of studying IFRSs. In 2011, Financial will be testing IFRSs, which could be new to you. The one key change to the Financial CSOs is that you will be tested on the differences between IFRSs and U.S. GAAP. IFRSs will be integrated gradually into the examination, so most questions will probably still be referencing U.S. GAAP. Another change in the Financial CSOs is that some topics (exit and disposal activities and fair value measurements for example) although previously testable, are now explicitly listed. Consider taking Financial in 2010 along with BEC and you will be able to forgo studying both Corporate Governance and IFRSs.

Naturally, if you have already passed BEC, try to take both Auditing and Financial in the October/November testing window. This would leave you only needing to pass Regulation in 2011. Changes have been made in Regulation but, while the AICPA has added some new topics, others have been dropped. If you need to push an exam section into next year, it should be Regulation.

This information should work towards your making an educated decision when scheduling your exam dates, and prevent your being caught off guard by exam changes.

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