The Next Version of the Uniform CPA Exam

Lawyers pass the Bar; CPAs pass the Uniform CPA Exam, which will feature some major renovations come in April 1 2017, in format, content and scoring weight.

Most candidates take a review course before sitting for the exam. CalCPA student and candidate members get discounts on review courses offered by Becker CPA Review, Roger CPA Review and Surgent CPA Review. A review course requires an investment of time and money but, come test day, you’ll know what to expect and have several test-taking strategies to complement your vast body of professional knowledge. This alone can help calm jittery nerves and ensure success.

The Nitty-Gritty

The next version of the Uniform CPA Exam will be a 14-hour, computer-based test that spans multiple days. It consists of four sections: business environment and concepts (BEC/4 hours); auditing and attestation (AUD/4 hours); regulation (REG/4 hours); and financial accounting and reporting (FAR/4 hours).

The exam is offered five (and sometimes six) days per week during two months of every quarter. These periods are known as “testing windows.” Testing is available in January and February; April and May; July and August; and October and November. Testing is not available in: March, June, September and December. Beginning in with the 2016 Q2 testing window (April 1, 2016), each quarters’ window will be expanded by 10 days into the traditional dark months. (e.g. the 2016 Q2 window will now close on June 10). This additional testing time was a response to candidate feedback requesting additional days of testing. This 10-day extension will not be offered during the 2017 Q2 testing window when the next Exam launches.

Candidates can take any sections of the exam in any testing window and in any order they wish. However, candidates may not take any single section twice in the same testing window. Once a candidate passes a section, an 18-month rolling time frame begins. The other remaining sections must be successfully completed within 18 months from the date candidates sat for their first successfully completed section.

On the current exam, candidates are administered 3 testlets comprised of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) only. A separate section for task-based simulations (TBSs) is presented after all 3 MCQ testlets have been completed.

On the 2017 CPA Exam, there will be 5 testlets administered altogether. The first 2 testlets will consist of MCQs only while the remaining 3 will consist of 2-3 TBSs each for all sections. BEC will still have 3 written communication tasks. As the exam divides TBSs into their own testlets, this means that candidates will not be able to move between all TBSs; once a TBS testlet is finished, candidates cannot go back and must move onto the next one.

Coming in April 2017

On April 1, 2017, the AICPA will launch the next version of the Uniform CPA Examination (“Exam”), a four-section (AUD, BEC, FAR and REG), 16-hour assessment (four hours per section) that places a greater emphasis on testing a candidate’s higher-order cognitive skills such as critical thinking and analytical ability. Through multiple-choice questions and an increased use of task-based simulations (TBSs) in all sections of the Exam, as well as written responses in BEC, candidates will be presented with questions that test the knowledge and skills that a newly licensed CPA must possess.

To guide candidates along in their preparation, Exam blueprints will replace the current Content Specification Outline (CSO) and Skill Specification Outline (SSO). A blueprint for each Exam section will provide greater clarity in the presentation of content, skills and related representative tasks that may be tested on the Exam.

Developed through comprehensive research and the input of countless stakeholders committed to strengthening and preserving the profession, the next Exam remains current, relevant, reliable and legally defensible, and fulfills the needs of the boards of accountancy in carrying out their licensing responsibility.

Learn more about the next Exam on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page or read the Practice Analysis Final Report.

You can also watch a November 2016 webcast, featuring presenters from AICPA and NASBA, which gives a thorough overview of the next Exam, how the content is changing, and how you can best prepare. Access it here. Note you will be prompted to register in order to view the presentation.

Ask Questions, Learn More

For more on the exam’s content, the application and scheduling process, or sample exam sections and tutorials, visit the Uniform CPA Exam website.

For questions about the exam, contact the CBA at (916) 561-1703 or For questions about licensing requirements, contact the CBA at (916) 561-1701 or

CalCPA also can help. By joining as a student or candidate member, you’ll have access to an enormous amount of technical and professional knowledge. Our staff can help answer your questions and guide you toward in-depth information. Call us at (800) 922-5272 or visit our Career Center.

(rev. March 13, 2017)