The CPA certification is the highest standard of competence in the field of accountancy globally and is a highly sought-after and versatile credential for accountants. Check out all the important CPA exam details here in this exclusive blog.
CPA full form is Certified Public Accountants. It is an exam conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). It is a globally recognized designation for which aspirants must take the Uniform CPA Examination® and pass it. In India, Chartered Accountant (CA) designation is equivalent to CPA. In this article, we will be discussing how to become CPA exam pattern in detail.
Table of Contents
- Important Announcements
- Brief History of CPA
- Exam Details, Eligibility Criteria and Requirements
- CPA Score
- Cost of Exam
- Exam Score Release Dates 2024
CPA Central online application system will not be available from August 21 till August 28. The new application system will be made available on August 29 that you can access through your current CPA Candidate Portal.
CPA Exam Schedule 2024
Changes in Exam Pattern in 2024
NASBA will implement the CPA Evolution-aligned Exam in January 2024 where the following will happen:
1. Research and critical thinking related skills will be assessed:
- A research task based simulation (research TBS) will be introduced.
- AuthLit library1 will be removed which will reduce the exam restarts
- Use of Excel is not required to solve the questions in this exam. SpreadJS provides features and functionalities of SpreadJS with limited security lockdowns.
3. Written communication task (essay) will be removed:
- The present WC task only tests whether teh candidate can communicate clearly. However, stakeholders want technical accuracy in the responses as well. It has been found that the automated scoring of essays is not as advanced as expected.
4. Multistage adaptive testing in MCQ testlets will be removed:
- It will be replaced with linear test design to provide flexibility in aligning CPA exam driver software in future.
- In 2017, number of MCQs were reduced and more emphasis was given on higher-order skills and TBSs.
- Implememtation of linear design will provide accuracy and validity.
5. Four CPA Exam sample test will be consolidated into one sample test for every CPA exam section:
- AICPA will still maintain a sample test for candidates that require testing accomodations but it will be consolidated into a single sample test.
For detail, download the file named: infrastructure-changes-to-CPA-Exam-in-2024.pdf
Brief History of CPA
To define the standards of the accounting industry, 31 accountants formed an association called the ‘American Association of Public Accountants (AAPA) in 1887. This association was renamed AICPA in 1957 and is responsible for conducting the CPA exam. In 2001, the industry witnessed a major scandal called the ‘Enron Corporation scandal’. As per sources, the company’s leaders duped regulations by showcasing fake holdings and poor accounting practices.
Thus, in 2002, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed, and through this act, accountants are now liable to follow stringent restrictions for their consulting assignments. After this, the accounting industry saw a major shift in its general practices, hence the demand for certified accounting professional roles.
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CPA Course Details: Exam Schedule and Requirements
To become a CPA-certified professional, one must have the desired education and experience, preferably with certifications from accounting courses.
CPA Eligibility Criteria
Every state has its CPA exam prerequisites, but some standard eligibility criteria are:
- At least Graduation or equivalent degree
- 150 semester hours of college course to earn a CPA license
- 1-2 years of experience under any CPA
Do remember that the eligibility criteria for the US states and other countries is different.
Eligibility Criteria For Indians
In this section, we will be discussing who can do CPA course. Indian students should have one of the following qualifications. They should be members of either ICAI, ICMAI, or ICSI. Other than being a member of one of these organizations, they can possess an MBA or M.Com degree.
Sections of the CPA Exam
CPA is a 4-hour long exam that is divided into four sections. These sections are created to assess the skills and knowledge of candidates. A candidate must finish all sections within the 18-month testing window. You are allowed to pause the exam time for 15 minutes only after third testlet.
You can take up any section in any order during one open testing window. You can take any number of exams during the same window, but you are not allowed to take one section twice in the same testing window. If you fail one part of the exam, you would not be able to retake that section until the next testing window opens.
Each section of the CPA exam has a time limit of 4 hours. The exam related CPA syllabus include:
1. Auditing and Attestation (AUD)- This section may include questions from the following areas:
- Forming Conclusions and Reporting
- Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Response
- Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence
- Professional Responsibilities, Ethics, and General Principles
2. Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)- You can expect questions from the following areas:
- Corporate Governance
- Financial Management
- Operations Management
- Information Technology
- Economic Concepts and Analysis
3. Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)- Most of the questions in this section will be from:
- Financial Statement Accounts
- Local and State Governments
- Standard-Setting, Conceptual Framework, and Financial Reporting
4. Regulation (REG)- This part will include the following concept-based questions:
- Business Law
- Entity Federal Taxation
- Individual Federal Taxation
- Property Transaction Federal Taxation
- Professional Responsibilities, Ethics, and Federal Tax Procedures
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CPA Exam Structure
There are three parts in the CPA exam, categorized as testlets – MCQ, task-based and written communication. From the past few years, more importance is given to task-based simulations. MCQs are weighted evenly along with simulations except on BEC. MCQs are worth 50% of your points and simulations are worth the rest 50%. The AICPA has also divided the grade weightage to each topic/section under these testlets.
Testlet Wise Data
|Section||` Testlet 1||` Teslet 2||` Testlet 3||` Testlet 4||` Testlet 5|
|AUD||36 MCQ||36 MCQ||2 TBS||3 TBS||3 TBS|
|BEC||31 MCQ||31 MCQ||2 TBS||2 TBS||3 WCT*|
|FAR||33 MCQ||33 MCQ||2 TBS||3 TBS||3 TBS|
|REG||38 MCQ||38 MCQ||2 TBS||3 TBS||3 TBS|
Question Wise Data
|Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs)||50%||50%||50%||50%|
|Task-Based Simulations (TBSs)||50%||35%||50%||50%|
|Written Communication Tasks (WCT)||n/a||15%||n/a||n/a|
Skill Levels to be Assessed in Each Section
The CPA exam tests skills in a variety of evaluation methods.
|Section||Remembering and Understanding||Application||Analysis||Evaluation|
*Includes written communication
Syllabus of Auditing (AUD) for the CPA Exam
|AUD Content||Allocation (%)|
|Area I||Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, and General Principles||15-25|
|Area II||Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Response||25-35|
|Area III||Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence||30-40|
|Area IV||Forming Conclusions and Reporting||10-20|
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Syllabus of Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) for the CPA Exam
|BEC Content||Allocation (%)|
|Area I||Enterprise Risk Management , Internal Controls, and Business Processes||20-30|
|Area III||Financial Management||10-20|
|Area IV||Information Technology||15-25|
|Area V||Operations Management||15-25|
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Syllabus of Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) for the CPA Exam
|FAR Content||Allocation (%)|
|Area I||Conceptual Framework, Standard-Setting, and Financial Reporting||25-35|
|Area II||Select Financial Statement Accounts||30-40|
|Area III||Select Transactions||20-30|
|Area IV||State and Local Governments||5-15|
Syllabus of Regulation (REG) for the CPA Exam
|REG Content||Allocation (%)|
|Area I||Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, and Federal Tax Procedures||10-20|
|Area II||Business Law||10-20|
|Area III||Federal Taxation of Property Transactions||12-22|
|Area IV||Federal Taxation of Individuals||15-25|
|Area V||Federal Taxation of Entities||28-38|
Calculating CPA Score
CPA exam score range on a scale of 0 to 99. To pass the CPA exam, candidates need to score at least 75 out of 99. Through scores, neither you can tell about the correct percentage or interpret it in any way. Each response goes through several quality assurance reviews for ensuring score accuracy. The total score in FAR, REG, and AUD is the weighted combination of scaled scores from MCQs and task-based simulations. For BEC section, total score is the weighted combination of scaled scores from task-based simulations, MCQs and written communication tasks. In case candidates fail, they will receive a Candidate Performance Report to assess performance in a specific section.
CPA Exam Cost
1. Application Fee
Depending upon the state, the application fee is around $50-$200 (approx. Rs. 3,600 to Rs. 14,500)
2. Examination Fee
Approx. $193.45 for each section (approx. Rs. 14,100)
3. Registration Fee
Depending upon the state, one can either apply for one section at a time or can club all the sections and pay a registration fee to save the overall cost. The Notice to schedule (NTS) is valid for 6 months, so if you sign up for all four sections in one go, you need to schedule and appear for all four sections in the next 6 months, else, NTS won’t be valid. The list of CPA exam registration costs is:
- When you take one section at a time- $63 (approx. Rs. 4,600)
- If you take two sections at a time- $81 (approx. Rs. 5,900)
- When you take three sections at a time- $99 (approx. Rs. 7,200)
- If you take four sections at a time- $177 (approx. Rs. 12,900)
4. Ethics Fees
Some states ask to clear ethics exam in order to earn a license after the completion of the uniform CPA exam. The fees for the ethics exam is $150-200 (approx. Rs. 10,900 to Rs. 14,500).
5. CPA Licensing Fees
After the uniform CPA exam and ethics exam, candidates are eligible for earning a license, and for this, you need to pay approximately $50 -500 per year depending upon the state. Yes, licensing fees are to be paid every year till eternity so as to maintain a CPA license and practice CPA.
6. Continuing Professional Education (CPE) for CPA Exam
Many states demand 40 hours per year of continuing education so that the public accountant stays updated with the industry norms and updates. So the approximate cost for this CPE could be as low as $800 per year ranging up to $5000.
CPA Exam Score Release Dates 2024
The CPA exam takes place throughout the year and the scores are released on rolling basis.
|If you take your exam on/before||Your target score release date is|
|July 23||August 8|
|August 15||August 23|
|September 7||September 15|
|September 30||October 10|
|October 23||November 3|
|November 26||December 5|
|December 15||December 27|
|December 31||January 11|
|July 23||August 8|
CPA Exam Pilot In India
The CPA exam is administered in India as a pilot at Prometric test centers in the cities of Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Trivandrum.
A career as a CPA in finance and accounting is extremely rewarding. Your expertise is considered more than a normal accountant resulting in more opportunities, payouts, and increased credibility. Make sure to analyze the pros to generate more confidence.
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What is the full form of CPA?
The full form of CPA is Certified Public Accountant. It is a degree that is recognized worldwide and the exams for the same are conducted by AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants).
What is the average salary of a CPA professional in India?
The average salary of CPA professionals with 1-4 years of experience is around Rs. 6 -7 LPA in India.
Are CPA professionals in demand in India?
Yes, since MNCs and Big4s are rising in India, the demand for CPA certified professionals is progressing. CPA certification holders are giving preference over CAs because they have in-depth knowledge of subjects like US GAAP, IFRS & US Compliance & Taxation. In contrast, CA only has proficiency in Indian GAAP.
How is the CPA exam different from the CA exam?
The CPA exam is governed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), US. It is a Single-level exam with 4 papers and is recognized in the US as well as globally. The CA is governed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and is a 3-level exam with 16 papers.
Who are the top recruiters hiring CPA professionals?
The top recruiters hiring CPA professionals are Deloitte, Accenture, American Express, Philips, PWC, Capgemini, Barclays, Tata Power, KPMG, Genpact, JP Morgan, EY, WNS, and MetLife.
As an Indian, what are the eligibility criteria for attending the CPA exam?
To become eligible for the CPA exam, an Indian student should have any of the below qualifications: Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India; Member of the Institute of Cost and Works Accountants in India; Member of the Company Secretaries in India; Master of Commerce or MBAs. The minimum education qualification for taking the US CPA exam is CPA exam u2013 120 credits; CPA license u2013 120 credits. In India, 1 graduation year is equal to 20 credits; hence, 3 years B.Com and 2 years of MBA course equal 90 + 60 credits.
How many hours of study are required to prepare for the CPA exam?
Ideally, candidates must at least give 15-20 hours per week to prepare for the CPA exam.
How many times can you take a CPA exam?
You can retake the CPA Exam as many times as you would like. However, you can take each section one time per testing window.
What is the passing score for the CPA exam?
The passing score for the CPA exam is 75. The score for each section of the CPA Exam is reported on a scale that ranges from 0 to 99. To pass a section, you must score a minimum of 75.
Is the CPA exam all multiple choice?
All four sections of the CPA Examination consist of multiple-choice questions (MCQs).
What is the easiest part of the CPA exam?
BEC (Business Environment and Concepts) is considered to be the easiest of all four sections. It has the highest pass rate. FAR (Financial Accounting and Reporting) is considered to be the most difficult part of the CPA Exam to pass, because it is the most comprehensive section. AUD and REG tend to be middle of the road.
Can I take the CPA exam in India?
Yes, you can take the exam from India. Here, it is administered at 8 Prometric test centres. These include Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Calcutta, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi and Trivandrum.
Are CPA exams easy to pass?
The exam is difficult but not impossible to crack. You can make a strategy to cover each section of the exam. Along with that you can complete one of the top CPA courses in the meantime to improve your knowledge.
How many times can a candidate fail a CPA exam?
There is no limit on retaking the exam in case you have failed a section. However, if you clear a section, then you must pass the remaining sections within 18 months.
How to become a CPA in India or how to be a CPA in India?
To become a CPA, you need to take the exam and clear it in one of the eight centres in the country.
How many papers in CPA are there/ In CPA, how many papers are there?
There are four papers in CPA that you need to clear.
Who conducts CPA exam?
The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) administers CPA exam.
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