CPA Exam Changes in 2010 – What You Need to Know

I attended a meeting with the AICPA examination team in New York City this morning where they discussed the changes to the CPA Exam in 2010. In attendance were representatives from all of the major CPA exam review courses along with myself and a few others.

Here is what I learned about what you can expect on the CPA Exam in 2010:

Very little will change on the CPA Exam – if anything, in 2010

I went to the meeting today fully expecting to hear about huge changes in regards to IFRS being tested or more about the new Content Specification Outline, but the AICPA played it pretty close to the vest.

Here is what I *did* learn that might be of interest to those taking the Exam in 2010 and beyond:

    • BEC is eventually going to get “simulations” but they're not sims in the sense that current candidates are used to. BEC is going to absorb the written communication sections from AUD/FAR/REG and the written communication sections are all going to be based on BEC topics. So ~ no more writing about REG, FAR, or AUD once the change takes place. BEC will not have any simulations other than the written communication section.
    • 20% of BEC grading is going to be based on the written communication section.
    • Auditing, Regulation, and Financial Accounting and Reporting simulations are going to change from the classic simulation format to “task-based” sims.Candidates will have 6 or 7 smaller tabs in each simulation that are independent of each other instead of having one set of facts that affects most of the simulation in the current set up. This will promote faster score reporting according to the AICPA.
    • Overall, the CPA Exam is still going to be allotted 14 hours to complete.The AICPA is going to take time allotments from other sections and apply them to BEC.
    • The AICPA would not give specific details about the new CSO implementation, but did say that a major announcement regarding this would be coming in September 2009.
    • IFRS will NOT be tested on the CPA Exam in 2010 and will begin being tested “no earlier than 2011 and not later than 2012.”Announcements on the Codification are to follow and will likely be lumped in with the IFRS and other exam changes.

Here is a breakdown of how each section will ultimately be affected once these changes take place:

  • AUD – International Auditing Standards will be tested
  • FAR – candidates will have to be “bilingual” and be “fluent” in both GAAP and IFRS
  • REG – no major changes planned other than some changes to ethics, which will become an AUD topic
  • BEC – you WILL see IFRS-related questions on BEC eventually
  • When faced with a question regarding either IFRS or GAAP, the exam will tell you which one is being tested on that particular question.
  • You WILL see some crossover between exam sections. This is not a fluke. If you get a FAR question on an AUD Exam…consider it normal
  • Overall, what did I learn? The 2010 CPA Exam will not change much – if at all. The public announcement in September will give a lot more details about the CSO changes.

    How does this affect you as a candidate? You can buy your 2010 review courses with confidence and not worry about changes to the Exam in 2010 until the AICPA says otherwise.

    Photo courtesy of Flickr user numberstumper under this Creative Commons license.