The One True Constant – Change

Earlier this year, NASBA, along with the AICPA and Prometric announced CBT-e (Computer-Based Testing evolution) which ushered in major changes to the 2011 U.S. CPA Examination (CPA Exam). In fact, once implemented – in January of this year – many within the profession recognized this as the largest transformation experienced since the exam was computerized in 2004, when it shifted completely from a “paper and pencil” exam to an electronic solution. Made up of four parts, Auditing & Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR), Regulation (REG), and Business Environment & Concepts (BEC), this year’s CPA Exam changes impacted both the exam’s structure and functionality and were widely covered in accounting-specific media, as well as through social media channels of both NASBA and the AICPA.

This July, a second set of changes to the content specification outlines (CSOs) for CBT-e is slated to take effect.  It is important to note that these changes only affect CSO references, and the technical content and weight allocations remain unchanged. NASBA and AICPA shared this information with the CPA Exam community, and circulated the information below.

Those preparing to take the CPA Exam should note the reference changes that went into effect July 1, 2011 are as follows:

Summary of Changes (effective: July 1, 2011):

AUD International Auditing Standards (ISAs)

International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing
COBIT (The Control Objectives for Information and related Technology)


Regulation S-K of the Code of Federal Regulations
Codification of Statements on Auditing Standards
– AU Section 623, Special Report
FASB Concept Statements
GASB Concept Statements
IFRS Framework


Removed: AICPA Code of Professional Conduct
Removed: AICPA Model Tax Curriculum
Public Law 86-272
Uniform Division of Income for Tax Purposes Act (UDITPA)
Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010

> Read the full details on changes effective July 1, 2011

January 1, 2011 changes to the exam included:

  • Content and Skill Specifications (CSOs/SSOs), including the addition of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)
  • Question formats, including short task-based simulations
  • Research functionality, including the addition of the FASB Codification
  • Exam structure and section time allocation
  • The percentage value of examination components

These changes were implemented not only to reflect changes to the profession, but also to facilitate an accelerated score release timeline. However, in order to release scores more quickly, data from the first three testing windows must undergo additional analysis. .  This ensures that questions are verified and accurately captures candidate performance.  Scores for the first three testing windows of 2011 have been scheduled to be released by AICPA to NASBA after the close of the testing window.  the analysis during the first three windows will enable scores to be released faster and more predictably starting with the fourth testing window of 2011.

Quick overview of score release schedule for 2011:

  • Q1: March Single Score Release (complete)
  • Q2: June Single Score Release (complete)
  • Q3: September Single Score Release
  • Q4: First release after the first month of testing, followed by score releases every two weeks for the remainder of the window.

From a candidate’s perspective the most visible differences in CBT-e are changes to section length, content weights/distribution, and migration of all written communication to the BEC section.

> Read the full details on changes effective January 1, 2011

Portions of this article are from the Uniform CPA Examination Alert. Click here to read the March 2011 edition.

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