October 24, 2020

The CPA Exam is Changing Soon, Here’s What We Know

Last week, we caught you up on the latest goings-on with the CPA Evolution process, an ambitious effort by NASBA and the AICPA to tweak the CPA exam to ensure the licensure model is meeting the profession’s demand for future-proof CPAs. This week, we’ve got news that a separate but related effort is underway to revisit CPA exam topics.

Writes the Journal of Accountancy:

The AICPA is proposing changes to the CPA Exam Blueprints to update the subject matter tested on the CPA Exam to ensure it continues to focus on the core knowledge and skills required of newly licensed CPAs.

In an Exposure Draft and Invitation to Comment issued Monday, the AICPA describes major themes derived from a months-long consultation and proposes content additions, changes, and deletions.

The AICPA is planning for the updates to appear in the CPA Exam Blueprints, which contain the material to be tested on the exam, by Dec. 31, 2020. The AICPA does not plan changes to the 16-hour, four-section structure of the exam.

Feedback from 80 AICPA subject-matter experts and 130 CPAs who directly supervise newly licensed CPAs was incorporated into the ED and Invitation to Comment. The project focuses on the impact data analytics and technology have on the role of newly licensed CPAs and reexamines the core knowledge and skills essential to those entering the profession.

It’s been a few years since they made any significant changes to exam content (2017, specifically) beyond the usual twice-yearly small changes they’ve always made so I guess we’re due for a shakeup.

The JofA laid out a few key areas around which changes might be centered based on input from the latest practice analysis:

  • The current exam structure and blueprints are well positioned to accommodate changes that reflect a greater assessment of technology and data analytics.
  • Newly licensed CPAs must understand business processes, information systems, data flows, and internal controls.
  • Newly licensed CPAs must have a digital and data-driven mindset.
  • The profession is placing greater reliance on System and Organization Controls (SOC) reports as clients are outsourcing more accounting processes, impacting the work of newly licensed CPAs.

As always, we’ll keep you updated as more details emerge. For now, it looks like this isn’t anything you’ll have to worry about if you’re testing in 2020 but those who expect to sit in 2021 and beyond should be aware of these changes and prepared to be tested on the above areas.

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