Essential Guide to the CPA Exam
WHAT IS CPA EXAM?
For some, passing the CPA Exam denotes the climax of numerous long periods of exertion just as the start of a worthwhile profession.
Most realize that you require a 75 to pass, however few know that a 75 does not speak to 75% right. Scoring a 75 demonstrates, per the AICPA,
“execution mirroring a dimension of information and expertise adequate for the security of people in general.”
So, how precisely does the AICPA grant the CPA passing score? How is the CPA Exam evaluated?
You’ll comprehend that subtle 75 somewhat better with the responses to these inquiries.
CPA stands for Certified Public Accountant.
To be a CPA, the candidate must pass this professional accounting exam. Each state has some different requirements but somehow this is common for all.
To sit for the exam, the candidate must have a bachelors or master’s degree with concentration in accounting which means minimum 39 semester hours in business related studies and out of which 27 semester hours should be in accounting.
The CPA Exam is what is known as a foundation referenced test, which implies each applicant’s execution is estimated against built up gauges to decide if the competitor has exhibited the dimension of learning and aptitudes spoken to by the CPA passing score.
The CPA Exam isn’t curved, and each applicant is held to a similar standard.
The AICPA Board of Examiners set the CPA passing score by thinking about recorded patterns, changes in substance, contribution from the scholastic network and calling, and different sources.
The score is set to such an extent that a hopeful who goes with the most reduced conceivable score will think about the expert network.
Format of the Exam:
The CPA Exam Blueprints are made by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to help CPA Exam competitors recognize what aptitudes and substance themes will be applied in the CPA exam.
The 2019 CPA Exam Blueprints were affirmed by the Board of Examiners on May 31, 2018 and will be viable on January 1, 2019.
The CPA Exam Blueprints are planned to help competitors get ready for the exam and considers the base dimension of information and aptitudes fundamental for starting licensure once applicants progress toward becoming CPAs.
Not exclusively are the CPA Exam Blueprints proposed to help competitors in planning for the exam.
While it’s great to reference the outlines to all the more likely comprehend what’s expected of CPAs, you likewise don’t need to stress over them excessively.
We have officially used them to direct our course materials, so you’re set up for the CPA exam regardless.
The exam consists of four sections.
All four sections are of four hours. Section 1 incorporates Auditing and Attestation (AUD). Section 2 consists of Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR). Section 3 deals with Regulation (REG) and section 4 consists of Business Environment and Concepts (BEC).
The passing criteria is to score more than 75 in each section. And most importantly, the candidate must pass all the four sections within the 18 months test window.
A candidate’s score is a weighted blend of the scaled scores from the Multiple-Choice Questions, Task-Based Simulations and Written Communication Tasks. BEC is the only one of the CPA exam sections with a written communication portion.
Who is Eligible for the CPA Exam?
In order for aspiring students to sit for the exam, they must demonstrate considerable postsecondary education.
As far as the profession’s history goes, a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution was considered the standard preparation for the exam.
However, in today’s accounting environment, a large increase in new regulations and compliance laws resulted in a body of knowledge that cannot be summarized in a 4-year degree program.
Quick advancements in technology have also greatly changed the skill sets in practice management, compliance and audit that CPAs are expected to have.
In response to those changes, the AICPA adjusted its educational mandate.
Other than delivering 120 semester hours in a baccalaureate degree program, 30 hours of graduate-level instruction are also required.
Almost all of the US states enforce this 150-hour requirement.
The following stipulations are from a master’s degree but aren’t strictly required.
Typically, the criteria to be eligible for CPAs include:
- A bachelor’s as well as a master’s degree in accounting.
- A bachelor’s degree in another discipline, along with a master’s degree in accounting or taxation, or an MBA with a concentration in accounting.
- A dual program that grants both a bachelor’s and master’s degree over the course of 5 years.
- A bachelor’s degree in accounting, along with 30 semester hours of graduate-level instruction in accounting and taxation.
Individual states, though, might differ in their requirements.
For instance, in some states, a master’s degree in finance, law or accounting information systems satisfies the requirements for eligibility.
Some states demand proof of citizenship or residency, while others don’t.
How Does One Register for the CPA Exams?
To register for the CPA exams, you must first choose the jurisdiction where you plan to sit for the exams.
In other words, it’s based on the residency and where you plan to practice for the exams.
However, some states have different combinations of citizenship, residency and educational qualifications that make them more appealing than the others.
But you have to consider each state’s accountancy board rules just as you consider where you’re going to sit for the exam.
Ensure that all of your educational requirements are met before registering yourself for the CPA exams.
You also have to round up original transcripts of undergraduate as well as graduate school classes for evaluation.
Some states also offer a pre-evaluation service before registration, and expect transcripts to be accompanied along with registration materials.
Depending on the area, the time it takes to process a registration differs.
Most jurisdictions recommend planning for a month or two’s wait.
When you register yourself, you have expressed your intent to sit for part or all of the four-section of the CPA exam.
Each one of those sections is separately administered with a certain time frame.
You can either register for all four sections at once, or for individual sections.
Once your registration has been accepted, you will be issued a Notice to Schedule (NTS).
This is an official document that qualifies you to schedule testing with Parametric, which is the official proctoring service of the CPA.
When you get your NTS, you may register for a seat online during the next testing window that is available.
You have the freedom to choose which of the CPA sections you wish to take; it isn’t necessary that you take each section in sequential order.
Typically, it is recommended that you reserve your seat 45 days before the exam, though you can also reserve a seat five days prior as well.
A NOTE ABOUT NTS EXPIRATION
The process of registration simply states your intent to schedule yourself for your exam session under a certain time period.
Although individual juries vary, most of them expect you to schedule the exams that you have paid for within 18 months.
This time period refers to calendar months without factoring in testing windows. So you either plan well within the time frame, or you risk running past the deadline and sacrifice part of or all of your registration fees.
In most cases, an aspiring student of the CPA can both prepare and pass all sections of their exams in under 18 months.
However, there are things that could interrupt or get in the way of your long-term examination timelines, such as difficulties scheduling around testing windows or unexpected challenges in your personal or work life.
Some students are actually more comfortable taking the exam in individual sections rather than going at them all at once.
That’s why you have to carefully consider the external variables in your life that may impede your plans.
This way you can avoid repeating the registration and payment process should your NTS expire.
How Much Does the CPA Exam Cost?
NASBA has worked out a fee schedule for each exam section, but bear in mind that the fees vary because they are managed by boards of accountancy in individual states and jurisdictions; so you should carefully check for variations.
Be advised that you may be charged extra for online license verification or transcript reviews.
Typically, aspiring CPAs are expected to spend over $1,000 for all four sections of the exams.
When Should I Take the Exam?
The concept of test scheduling is somewhat complicated, so that’s why it’s important to stay on top of the particulars.
Parametric, which is the company that proctors the CPA exam, provides testing during designated windows of time eight months a year (or twice a quarter in accountant lingo).
The only times that testing is unavailable are March, June, September, and December.
For the rest of the months, testing is usually offered five or six days a week, depending on the test site.
Within those windows, the specifications include:
- You can take one exam test section at a time per test day.
- You can schedule test days one, a couple or every section of the exam during a single test window.
- You can schedule exam sections in any sequence you desire.
- You cannot take the same section of the exam more than once during a single test window.
The whole exam lasts around 14 hours.
Depending on the type of section you choose, you will have either three or four hours to complete the section test.
What to Prepare From?
So, you’ve chosen what you need to wind up a CPA, however that test is holding up out there in your sights to entangle you possibly.
You have three fundamental choices when you intend to take the CPA test. You can prep for it in a customary classroom structure, in an on-the-web or recorded class, or you can self-ponder.
This is what you should think about your decisions.
Candidates often get confused about how to prepare for the exam.
There are certain topics regarding each section. Professional Responsibilities, Ethics, General Principles, Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Response, Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence, Forming Conclusions and Reporting.
All the topics mentioned above are very helpful to prepare for the first section which is Auditing and Attestation.
Furthermore, Standard-Setting, Conceptual Framework, and Financial Reporting, Financial Statement Accounts, Transactions, Local and State Governments could be very helpful in preparing for the second section that is Financial Accounting and Reporting.
However, (Regulation) Professional Responsibilities, Ethics, and Federal Tax Procedures, Business Law, Property Transaction Federal Taxation, Individual Federal Taxation, Entity Federal Taxation are very important topics to prepare for.
Corporate Governance, Economic Concepts and Analysis, Financial Management, Information Technology, Operations Management. These topics are recommended to prepare for the fourth section Business Environment and Concepts.
Furthermore, we can also get well prepared from:
Classroom surveys are incredibly prevalent, but on the other hand they’re the costliest.
For instance, the Northern Illinois University audit course is much respected, and it has an incredible reputation of passing test scores.
However, this includes some significant pitfalls—it costs a few thousand dollars to take the audit courses for each of the four test segments.
On the off chance that you have the assets accessible, classroom audit courses are extraordinary as long as you do your exploration first to ensure the course has a decent notoriety.
Numerous individuals discover examining to be simpler when they have an educator to manage them through the topic.
On the Web or Recorded Reviews
On-the-web or recorded surveys are like a classroom setting, yet the pace of the course is controlled by the competitor as opposed to the course plan.
These surveys have components of both customary classroom guidance and self-think about.
The courses have structure and configuration like that of a classroom, however inspiration and the time you spend examining lie specifically on your shoulders, such as self-think.
It is a decent alternative for somebody who wants a classroom setting yet might not have the assets to go to a class or a hopeful who can’t focus on customary classroom hours because of work or different obligations.
Ultimately, self-think about is fundamentally what it sounds like—the competitor does all of their preparation without anyone else.
There’s nothing substandard about this technique.
The mystery is to have the best possible examination materials, for example, the Wiley arrangement of CPA test survey books.
They’re exceedingly respected, and they refresh each year, so you can make certain that the substance matches what will be on the test.
On the off chance that you choose to prepare without anyone else, you can generally take a course later in case you’re not very effective on your first attempt.
You’ll likewise need to get your family or housemates play a part in your examination planning, so you’ll have the capacity to commit the time and vitality important to be completely arranged.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Distinctive audit courses are accessible depending on where you live.
A speedy web pursuit will without a doubt give you a ton of decisions.
You may likewise contact your state’s CPA society for proposals, or a school bookkeeping program staff to see who or what they recommend.
It’s a big responsibility and cost to consider, so do however much research as could reasonably be expected.
Notwithstanding what technique you pick, one other asset ought to be added to your investigation plan: the CPA Review, accessible on the web.
It’s free, and it offers free practice inquiries with a full clarification of answers.
There’s some paid substance here also, yet the free substance alone should be a vital piece of your test prepping process.
One last note—whichever choice you pick, ensure you just utilize around date materials.
Try not to depend on your school course readings. Test content changes each year. Focus on dated materials from your course readings, not something as fundamental as moderate bookkeeping, as it can give you the wrong data and cost you plenty.
- Practice as much as you can by looking for the questions and formats because if you get confused at this point, it will definitely affect your score.
- Most importantly, practice to manage the time.
- Begin with the segment that you are most comfortable with, whether it’s FAR, AUD or REG. Ordinarily you will need to spare BEC for last since it has the most noteworthy pass rate.
- The way to pass the CPA test is to distinguish the CPA audit course that will consider how you learn best.
- It is prescribed that you sit for the CPA test between 350-800 hours aggregate for the CPA test to be dependent on the proposal of the CPA audit courses.
- A few people learn best by watching classroom addresses and assimilate the material by sound-related learning, others learn better by perusing and playing out different decision questions, and even others learn best by flashcards and self-educating.
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