CPA Exam Changes

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.





30 comments on “CPA Exam Changes in 2010 – What You Need to Know”

  • please i wanted to know the requirement that your suppose to fulfill before you called a CPA(K) GRADUATE.thank you

  • Was there any changes in exame duration hours in November 2010? because when i booked the Regulation exam on November, the confirmation indicated that the exam duration will be 3.5 hours where normally it is 3 hours. please advise.

  • Im hoping to start testing this late spring. If i end up retaking parts in jan or feb 2011, will there be a transition phase for those who took parts in 2010 or will i have to take the new test? Like the BEC for example, since they are restructuring it, would I have to take the new one where its all written and will i have to know IFRS, or will they allow those situations to take the old way?

  • I took FARE on July 10th and had the task-based sims also. I still haven’t gotten my score. Have you? I am assuming that this was a new sim and am in Wave 2??

  • I can just imagine the thousands of candidates awaiting nervously for this coming report….myself included….

  • I can just imagine the thousands of candidates awaiting nervously for this coming report….myself included….

  • I just found out this past Saturday I passed Audit…So now I have four of the five requried exams, however, at the end of the week I loose credit for BEC (again). I took it originally in July 2004 and had a change of job responsibilities so never got any further than that. However, I regrouped and started testing again last year and passed it again. I'm glad to hear the changes won't happen for a while so I can keep my same notes and cut the review down to a minimum. I just have to get thru FAR now…

    So, it sounds like IFRS definitely won't be tested in 2010, BEC is going to inherit the communications away from the other three exams but didn't say definitely when it would begin or did I miss that? When in September will the additional information be released?

  • Thanks for the fast reply.

    So I won't have to spend any extra time by reviewing AUD/FARE/REG in preparation of new SEC written communication questions as BEC written communications you said only pertain BEC topics. That's a great relief for me. One more question for you is that when referring to “some crossover between the topics”, do topics include AUD/FARE/REG or topics within the BEC subjects-ECON, COST, Planning, IT, Business Structure or all four subject matters?

    Looking forward to your answer

    Thanks million

  • well…BEC won't have any written communications for awhile…no need to
    even think about it until the AICPA releases the updated CSO timetable in

  • They said that the BEC written communications would only pertain to BEC
    topics. So, you won't be addressing a client about an audit issue in theory.
    I can envision some sort of scenario where they want you to explain to their
    old school CEO what exactly the company's disaster recovery IT plan entails,
    or to explain what cost variance means or something like that. However,
    there is some crossover between the topics, so keep that in mind.

  • I may not be understood correctly but BEC topics also include ones from AUD/FARE/REG? or purely BEC topics? Your anwers would be greatly appreciated.


  • Im in the same boat, Taylor. I've yet to have a simulation with a common theme (4 simulations, total). I hope that's not too much information Jeff, I don't think it is but feel free to delete.

  • I took FAR on July 15th and definitely already had the “task-based” simulations in which nothing was related.

  • oh come on…there's nothing wrong with the “Three Year Plan” 🙂

    Here's to you being done!

  • Thanks for the update Jeff. Its kind of disappointing they didn't lay more out on the table than that since most of that info is available through the cpa exam website and the newsletters that they publish. In any case, it seems like IFRS is going to become a pain in the you know what for future test takers. I'll be glad when that section is out of the way.

  • Written communication on the BEC to equal 20% of the total grade? That means BEC is definitely getting easier with regards to how many MCQ one has to answer correctly. But with all the IFRS material also being introduced, that could potentially increase the difficulty level of the exam and thus reduce the impact that the communication section could have.

    Conclusively, the other three sections look like they will be getting harder. What without the almost free 10% available from the communication sections being taken away.

    I will definitely complete this exam before all these maddening changes take place. Thanks for the updates Jeff.

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