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New Material for the CPA Exam: Am I Outdated?

Thumbnail image for cpa exam.jpgEditor’s Note: Want more JDA? You can see all of her posts for GC here, her blog here and stalk her on Twitter. See all of GC’s posts on the CPA Exam here.
As most of you know, my day job involves teaching unlicensed accountants how to pass the CPA exam so everything I’m about to tell you comes from experience. One of the most frequent questions I’ve been getting these days revolves around new material to correspond with the new year, so let’s debunk some of those common rumors about new exam material, shall we?

• Stop thinking IFRS is going to hit the exam in 2010. You have at least another year to procrastinate, and that’s the best case scenario. The AICPA said “some time in 2011” which means “when we get around to it”. Even when IFRS hits the exam its impact will be minimal at best so stop freaking out.
• Yes, new CPA exam materials are the best when available but keep in mind AICPA pronouncements take at least two windows to hit the exam, meaning if you take the exam in the first quarter of 2010 you will be tested on information released in June of 2009.
Trust me when I say this: the AICPA Board of Examiners is cheap (no offense AICPA BoE but you know you are). Although review courses would love to tell you to get the latest latest info, chances are the AICPA BoE will prefer testing standard questions over introducing excessive amounts of new content. Sure, they test new things all the time but don’t expect them to overhaul the exam every quarter just for shits and giggles. New questions cost a lot of money and the AICPA BoE would rather recycle old questions than pay to create new ones. Use this to your advantage.
So, that being said, what’s the big deal about IFRS hitting the CPA exam? Stop panicking, it’s not as bad as you think.
IFRS is actually much more principles-based than rule based, which means you have a pamphlet to study instead of two dictionaries worth of GAAP. The AICPA is offering courses on IFRS for professionals or any simple textbook can suffice if you need a primer. However you look at it, the AICPA BoE does not expect you to know IFRS like an accountant in China. All they want to know is if you know the differences between IFRS and GAAP. Easy, right?
Lastly, if you have a review course, you should be able to request updates to the material as long as you’re a student. So don’t worry for the first two testing windows of 2010 but come June of 2010, ask for an update and you should be good. New AICPA pronouncements are released twice a year so ask again in December if you haven’t finished this thing by now.