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CPA Exam Proposed Changes

Posted by Dr. Phil Yaeger on Nov 20, 2020 12:30 PM

CPA Exam Proposed Changes

Meta-Analysis -The AICPA has released an exposure draft on proposed changes to the CPA Exam, which would add content to the Exam to improve its relevance, as well as remove content, thought to be less pertinent. These proposed changes are described in detail in the AICPA’s Practice Analysis Report, with expected implementation in July of 2021.

The AICPA has released an exposure draft on proposed changes to the CPA Exam. The AICPA’s goal is to keep the CPA Exam relevant to the current accounting environment. Therefore, the proposed changes focus on both adding and removing content, but these proposed changes will not impact the time allotted to take each exam. The Practice Analysis Report is extensive, and can be found here; it includes a timeline, including an estimated release in July of 2021. April 30, 2021, is the deadline to comment on these proposed changes.

Exam Additions

The proposed additions relate to the impact of technology because technology has transformed the accounting profession. Such changes include process automation, data analytics, and digitalization.

CPA Exam Proposed Changes

These additions would primarily affect the Audit and Attestation (AUD) and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) sections of the Exam. For example, as more and more companies rely on third-party processors, the AICPA believes understanding and interpreting Service Organization Control 1 (SOC1) reports is a critical skill. Therefore, there will be greater emphasis on these reports on AUD. Similarly, on BEC, candidates should expect to see more questions focused on utilizing innovative technologies, identifying gaps in internal controls, structuring processes for increased efficiency, and applying data to business processes.

Exam Subtractions

The AICPA also believes that some of the current Exam topics are too specialized to be relevant to the majority of newly licensed CPA candidates. Therefore, it is considering the removal of such topics as:

  • Alternative minimum tax on Regulation (REG)
  • Differences between IFRS and GAAP on Financial and Accounting Reporting (FAR)
  • Use of the internal audit function (AUD)

Also, the AICPA has proposed eliminating the written communication section on BEC. These are just a few of the topics being considered for removal from the Exams. A full list can be found on the Practice Analysis Report itself.

The removal of these topics will open up room on the Exam for topics considered more applicable to new CPAs across various fields and specialties.


Calendar featuring the month July 2021First of all, if you are interested in having a say on these topics, you should read the proposed changes and respond by April 30, 2021. See the official instructions on the Invitation to Comment.

Secondly, CPA candidates should evaluate the timing of their exam dates.

  • For candidates wanting to avoid studying the new topics, they should focus first on AUD and BEC and passing those exams before July of 2021.
  • On the other hand, candidates who do not plan or want to take the AUD or BEC sections before the proposed changes are implemented should make sure their study materials for the Exam are up-to-date with all of the latest changes.

Interested in acing the CPA Exam now? Check out Yaeger’s competitively priced CPA review package here.

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