I tried earlier this week to gently encourage you little shits to attend the webcast held Thursday by folks from NASBA and the AICPA who think CPA exam candidates deserve to be as informed as possible, so hopefully you took my advice and were in attendance.
Now, for those of you who had to tend to your grandmother in the hospital or simply disregarded my advice because you think I’m stupid, I tuned in and took notes so I can report back on the important bits. Don’t say I’ve never done anything for you.
Overall, there wasn’t anything particularly groundbreaking revealed during the hour-ish webcast, although there was one tidbit you might be interested in. AICPA’s Joe Maslott, who is with the Examinations team, said that while the exam is currently offered on a “window” schedule, year-round testing could be a possibility “in the future.”
So yeah, maybe those of you currently tackling the exam don’t and shouldn’t care about something that you may or may not see during your active test taking, but who knows, maybe some now-16-year-old future accountant will Google this article in the future and be informed. Or something.
One thing to note from the webcast is that the AICPA and NASBA really, REALLY want you to use the resources they’ve developed to educate yourself on exam content. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t want you to fail miserably and end up flipping burgers at Wendy’s; they do genuinely want candidates to be prepared and well-informed. That said, a viewer poll during the webcast revealed that only 11.2% of participants have accessed and thoroughly reviewed the CPA Exam Blueprints, a pretty bad-ass document that highlights just about everything you need to know.
Back in the day, candidates were stuck with the Content Specification Outlines, a behemoth chunk of information slapped into some semblance of order. As pointed out during the webcast by Pat Hartman of NASBA, the CSOs sucked pretty hard compared to the snazzy Blueprints, hence candidates should be grateful for the effort. OK, that’s not exactly what she said, but it was alluded to.
In the Blueprints you will find:
- Content organized by Area, Group, and Topic along with score weighting.
- Sample task statements that represent what you may be asked to do when testing.
- Skill levels at which tasks are tested.
- Reference materials that support the sample task statements.
- Number of item types you must complete (multiple-choice questions, task-based simulations, and written communication tasks).
- Score weighting of each item type.
All shit that you need if you don’t want to go into this thing completely blind. So yeah, use it. You can download the Blueprints directly from the AICPA, as well as access other candidates resources at their CPA exam information page.
One other point beaten to death like a two-legged horse was candidate preparation. I’m not talking about review, I’m talking about being prepared for exam day.
“Biggest issue we still have is people forgetting to bring their NTS [Notice to Schedule],” Hartman said.
She recommends printing the NTS out and keeping it in your wallet as soon as you receive it because you will not be able to take the exam without it.
They also touched on what is and isn’t allowed at Prometric on test day, which boils down to this: bring your pretty little behind and not much else to the exam. As always, phones and any other crap you don’t leave in your car are stored in a locker, and don’t even think about checking your phone on break or you’re going to be out on your ass and one step closer to an illustrious career in food service. An on-screen calculator is provided, but if you need a larger one due to visual issues, contact NASBA. In fact, if you need any sort of accommodation due to disability, just talk to NASBA in advance of your test date and they will make sure your Prometric test center is prepared to hook you up.
What’s the biggest takeaway from the webcast? There’s no magic order in which to take your exam sections, the AICPA doesn’t want you to fail, and candidates should use the numerous resources that have been developed with them in mind. Bam.