One of the most common questions we receive from accountants and accounting majors preparing for their CPA Exam is: “which CPA Exam section should I take first?” Right now, the answer is BEC, based on nearly 50 years of CPA experience and what we’ve learned from navigating several major CPA Exam changes.
CPA Evolution changed our longstanding recommendation to take FAR first and BEC last. Here’s why.
Up until this year, the right CPA Exam testing order for most people was taking FAR first and BEC last, for a few reasons.
For starters, FAR is considered to be the most difficult CPA Exam section of the bunch. Since the 18-month rolling window you have to pass all 4 CPA Exam sections doesn’t begin until you pass your first section, by taking FAR first, you could have all the time you needed to study stress-free.
Additionally, BEC is considered the easiest CPA Exam section. Passing all 4 sections is hard and takes many people several months to a year to complete. If you front-load the more difficult CPA Exam sections and pass them while you’re fresh, you’re making future-you a whole lot less stressed.
This advice helped thousands pass, but the CPA Exam is changing in January 2024. CPA Evolution is changing the structure of the exam, removing BEC and adding 3 brand new “discipline” sections, among other things.
We’re changing our recommendation to account for the CPA transition policy to make your choice clear and your studies as simple as possible.
CPA Evolution is coming January 10, 2024, and BEC is going away. In its place will be three new, untested “discipline” sections:
Candidates taking the evolved CPA Exam will be required to pass one discipline of their choice in addition to the three core exam sections, which are AUD, FAR, and REG from the current format with some minor updates.
While the core Exams will see minor content shifts but otherwise keep the same theme, the disciplines contain new content designed to keep the CPA license competitive. And given BEC was perceived to be the easiest CPA Exam section, the CPA Exam in 2024 is probably going to be more difficult.
Gleim CPA Product Manager, Valerie Wendt, has been meeting with the AICPA and NASBA and our team of accounting experts has examined every CPA blueprint update, so we’re sure our new recommendation will see you through the exam changes with the least possible stress (and the best possible score).
According to the rules, candidates have 18 months to pass all 4 sections of the CPA Exam. But to help you with the transition to the new CPA Exam,beginning with the launch of CPA Evolution, State Boards of Accountancy are extending the validity of everyone’s currently-valid credit to June 30, 2025.
There will be limited testing days and delayed score releases while a standard is being established for the new exam, so this is a huge benefit to CPA candidates.
However, don’t rely on the credit extension policy to save you. Get started today, and pass as much as you can in 2023!
Starting your exams in 2023 will give you an advantage, and we’re here to help. It’s important to create a study plan and strategy that you will stick to as you prepare for each exam.
Remember, we’re here to help you along your CPA journey! Our team of Personal Counselors are ready to guide you through the exam process and our Accounting Experts are already hard at work making sure our materials are ready to prepare you to pass no matter which version of the CPA Exam you take.