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September 30, 2023

YSK: NASBA Is Still Exploring the Possibility of Remote CPA Exam Testing

Back in September we talked about the NASBA Summer 2020 State Board Report, in which the benevolent overlords who torture you for fun who oversee the CPA exam discussed the possibility of remote testing. I know it was a loooooong time ago (let’s be real, yesterday is a long time ago when on Corona time) and a lot has happened since then so you may have forgotten. Or may have assumed NASBA would drop the idea if and when Rona numbers started to fall.

Here we are almost in March; not only have they not forgotten about it, in his latest President’s Memo, NASBA President and CEO Ken Bishop expressed a desire to move forward with a remote testing pilot program.

A critical step in the development of a viable and safe remote testing capability is pilot testing. To be successful, candidates who test remotely must be qualified, prepared and motivated to the same degree as they would be for testing in a Prometric testing center. To achieve that, remote testing candidates must know that their Examination scores will be accepted by State Boards — all State Boards.

Several State Boards have raised concerns about the risks associated with remote testing and have asked valid questions that must be addressed. Many of those concerns can be mitigated with compensating controls and procedures, but others are more challenging. The pilot testing program is the critical vehicle for addressing those issues. We will provide subject matter experts to any State Board that has concerns or questions about remote testing. We would appreciate being invited to participate in a Board meeting to address specific questions you may have. We are committed to developing a safe, reliable and valid remote CPA Examination delivery model. If we do not accomplish that goal, it will indeed be a “dumpster fire” impacting us all!

For context, the first half of Bishop’s memo encourages us to find a phrase other than “dumpster fire” to describe 2020 since although things were pretty bad, there was some good to be found in it too. The resilience of the human spirit, or something like that.


Anyway, about remote testing. It sounds like at least a few stakeholders are uncomfortable with the idea of remote testing. That’s fair, and nothing new. Sitting for a professional examination which at least half of test-takers fail every time it is administered isn’t like switching everyone to work-from-home, it’s a bit more complicated than that. If it were as simple as firing up a Zoom meeting, surely they would have deployed it by now.

In a late July blog post, NASBA said several State Board executive directors “expressed significant concerns regarding its use except for an emergency situation,” which makes “have raised concerns about the risks associated with remote testing and have asked valid questions that must be addressed” a mild improvement skepticism-wise. It’s not unrestrained enthusiasm for the idea of remote testing but it’s something.

As usual, we’ll keep you updated if there’s anything new on remote CPA exam testing to report. We don’t expect this to be something they fast track, and President Bishop’s most recent comments on the importance of pilot testing only point to that assumption.

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