AICPA seeks comment on next format of CPA exam


The AICPA is inviting public comment as it shapes the next version of the Uniform CPA Examination, to ensure that it continues to reflect the skills that newly licensed CPAs need to protect the public interest.

An Invitation to Comment, issued Tuesday, is the first document available for public comment in the Practice Analysis, a comprehensive study the AICPA is conducting to determine the outline for the next version of the CPA exam.

The next version of the exam is scheduled to be launched in 2017. The Invitation to Comment includes information on the project’s milestones, results from preliminary research, and specific questions about potential changes to the exam.

Comments will be accepted until Dec. 2 on a survey link provided by the AICPA.

The AICPA also will undertake a large-scale survey of CPAs late this year to gather additional input and will revise the draft exam blueprints early next year before issuing a final proposal as an exposure draft for public comment later in 2015. Comments in response to the exposure draft will be incorporated into the design of the next version of the CPA exam, whose format will be announced in 2016.

Based on initial research that has included input from 17 focus groups, the AICPA has noticed particular knowledge and skills that newly licensed CPAs need to protect the public interest. These include:

  • Critical thinking, problem-solving, analytical ability, professional skepticism, and adaptability.
  • A strong understanding of the business environment and process.
  • Effective communication skills.
  • Well-developed research skills.
  • The ability to analyze data.
  • Understanding of ethics and professional responsibilities.

To ensure that the CPA exam continues to reflect those skills, the AICPA is asking questions as basic as whether the current four examination sections provide the right structure, whether the number of sections should change, and whether those sections should be organized differently.

More targeted questions about specific aspects of the exam also are asked.

“The Invitation to Comment is an opportunity for key stakeholders such as state boards of accountancy, standard setters, public accounting firms, academics, and state CPA societies to review our preliminary research and provide feedback,” Michael Decker, AICPA vice president–Examinations, said in a news release. “This valuable input will help influence the development of the exam and ultimately ensure that we’re continuing to protect the public interest while setting the standard for testing accounting professionals.”

Ken Tysiac ( ) is a JofA editorial director.

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