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Practice Analysis: Developing a CPA Evolution-aligned CPA Exam

The AICPA conducts practice analyses to ensure the CPA Exam remains aligned with the professional practice. The research helps confirm the relevant knowledge and skills to be assessed.

The AICPA Governing Council and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) Board of Directors have both voted to advance the CPA Evolution initiative. The initiative requires the development of a new CPA Exam with a Core and Disciplines structure and content.

As with any substantive change proposed for the CPA Exam, the AICPA must conduct a practice analysis to ensure it remains aligned with the professional practice of newly licensed CPAs. This research helps confirm the relevant knowledge and skills the CPA Exam must assess.

During the practice analysis, the AICPA will engage with subject matter experts and other stakeholders to determine the appropriate content to be assessed in the Core and Discipline sections. Information and progress will be shared periodically throughout the practice analysis and requests will be made for public input.

All practice analysis questions should be directed to the AICPA Examinations team.

Timeline

  • July 2021 – Release survey of Core and Discipline draft content

  • July 2022 – Publish Practice Analysis Exposure Draft

  • January 2023 – Announce new CPA Exam details and publish new CPA Exam Blueprints

  • January 2024 – Launch new CPA Exam

Core and Disciplines sections to be developed

The CPA Evolution-aligned CPA Exam will feature three Core sections and three Discipline sections.

Core – The proposed sections will focus on Accounting, Auditing & Attestation, and Taxation with a recognition of the impact technology has on each of the three areas. The sections will comprise content that all newly licensed CPAs may be exposed to in practice and assess the knowledge and skills critical to protecting the public interest. All CPA candidates will be required to pass the three Core sections.

Disciplines – The CPA Exam will have three Discipline sections from which candidates must choose and pass one. The proposed Discipline sections are Business Accounting and Reporting (BAR), Information Systems and Controls (ISC), and Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP). Candidates will be required to demonstrate greater knowledge and skills in the specific content area of the chosen Discipline. The topics covered in these sections apply to newly licensed CPAs who work in these areas of practice and are less likely to be encountered by CPAs who are not focused on that area of practice.

Practice Analysis Confirmation Phase Volunteers (November/December 2021)

The AICPA seeks licensed CPAs from all areas of the profession to participate in research for each Core section and associated Discipline sections.

More than 400 active CPAs who have directly supervised newly licensed CPAs within the last two years are needed to review and rate the proposed content for the new CPA Exam Blueprint. These volunteers will have the requisite work and supervisory experience in the respective areas covered by the content presented for review.

The research will begin on/around November 1, 2021, and require no more than two hours, including a short training session. Please complete this volunteer eligibility survey no later than Friday, October 15, 2021.

To learn more about this important practice analysis research, download the CPA Exam Practice Analysis Background document below.

Download the Practice Analysis Background Document

File name: paconfirmationbackground.pdf

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of this CPA Exam practice analysis?

This practice analysis will guide the development of a new CPA Evolution-aligned CPA Exam that features three Core sections and three Discipline sections. As with previous practice analyses, the AICPA will rely on stakeholder input to identify the content knowledge and skills that must be assessed in each of the sections.

Will stakeholders have an opportunity to provide feedback during the practice analysis?

Yes. Feedback from practitioners, regulators, educators, and others is an important component when developing CPA Exam content. We began this practice analysis by working with subject matter experts, including — but not limited to — information systems specialists, auditors, tax professionals, CFOs, controllers, and financial advisers. These volunteers gave us insight into the role of today’s and tomorrow’s newly licensed CPAs. They confirmed a preliminary view of the content for the CPA Exam’s Core sections and helped identify potential content topics for each of the three proposed CPA Exam Disciplines. We will continue to share details about our progress and will seek out feedback periodically, including when we publish an Exposure Draft in July 2022.

What will these CPA Exam changes mean for future candidates?

Please visit evolutionofcpa.org for updated information for students and candidates.