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September 22, 2023

The Format of the Next Version of the CPA Exam

next version CPA Exam

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The AICPA has now revealed the structure of the next version of the CPA Exam, and candidates taking part or all of the CPA Exam after April 1, 2017, should use the latest details about the exam structure to plan effective study schedules and establish realistic exam expectations. Changes to the format of the next version of the CPA Exam include more testlets, longer testing time, and an optional break.

CPA Exam Testlets and Testing Time

The format of the next version of the CPA Exam still consists of the same four sections of AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG, but these sections introduce more testlets. Each exam section will have 5 testlets, but the contents of these testlets will vary. For AUD, FAR, and REG, the testlets will feature multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and Task-based Simulations (TBSs), including at least one research-oriented TBS in which candidates must search relevant authoritative literature for the appropriate reference. In BEC, the testlets will contain MCQs, TBSs, and written communications tasks. The exact number and weighting of the MCQs, TBS, and written responses in the testlets of each section are as follows:


  • 72 MCQs total; 2 testlets of 36 MCQs each (worth 50% of your score)
  • 9 TBSs total; 2 in Testlet #3, 4 in Testlet #4, and 3 in Testlet #5 (worth 50% of your score)


  • 62 MCQs total; 2 testlets of 31 MCQs each (worth 50% of your score)
  • 5 TBSs total; 2 in Testlet #3 and 3 in Testlet #4 (worth 35% of your score)
  • 3 Written Responses in Testlet #5 (worth 15% of your score)


  • 66 MCQs total; 2 testlets of 33 MCQs each (worth 50% of your score)
  • 9 TBSs total; 2 in Testlet #3, 4 in Testlet #4, and 3 in Testlet #5 (worth 50% of your score)


  • 76 MCQs total; 2 testlets of 38 MCQs each (worth 50% of your score)
  • 9 TBSs total; 2 in Testlet #3, 4 in Testlet #4, and 3 in Testlet #5 (worth 50% of your score)

CPA Chart

Additional testlets means extended testing time for the exam sections. Instead of four hours for some sections and three hours for others, candidates now have a maximum four hours of testing time to complete each section, with an additional fifteen minutes to address administrative screens.

CPA Exam format

 CPA Exam Breaks

Candidates can also lengthen the amount of time spent with each exam section by accepting the new standardized 15-minute break. According to the AICPA, the 15-minute break will:

  • Be available during each section of the next version of the CPA Exam
  • Be offered after the first TBS testlet at the approximate midpoint of the section
  • Be optional and not count against testing time if utilized
  • Not be offered more than once even if a candidate declines to use it
  • Stop the exam clock when the break begins
  • Require candidates to adhere to all security protocols when leaving the testing room and to be cleared by Prometric personnel upon re-admittance
  • Cause the exam clock to restart at the end of 15 minutes even if a candidate has not returned and started the second TBS testlet
  • Not deny candidates the option of taking other breaks between testlets, but other breaks will not stop the exam clock and therefore will count against testing time

The AICPA based the placement of the break on the typical amount of time candidates spend finishing all the MCQs and TBSs. As the break would begin about two hours into the exam, you could use it to evaluate your agenda for the time remaining, but you should also understand that the difficulty level of the items and your own level of preparedness will affect how long it takes you to complete each testlet.

CPA Exam Review

Though news about the next version of the CPA Exam may be bittersweet, studying for the exam is always convenient and effective with Gleim CPA Review. Of course, there is still time to prepare for and pass the current version of the CPA Exam using the Gleim CPA Review system. However, if you need to wait and are unsure about how to adapt your studies to the next version of the exam, our friendly exam experts can work with you to develop a plan. Call them at 800.874.5346, or email them at [email protected]. We are always here for you!

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