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State Board Report

March 2014

Executive Directors joined NASBA President Ken Bishop in heralding the upcoming tenth anniversary of the conversion of the Uniform CPA Examination to computer-based testing (CBT) from a paper-and-pencil based examination. Accompanied by a video presentation of exploding fireworks, those at the 2014 Executive Director and State Board Staff Conference, held March 3-5 in Savannah, GA, toasted the Executive Directors, staff of AICPA, NASBA and Prometric and State Board Members and Associates who made possible the computerized examination, which launched on April 5, 2004.

“Ten years ago the candidates’ most frequent problem was they failed to bring their Notice To Schedule (NTS) to the test center,” remarked NASBA Client Services Director Patricia Hartman. “Ten years later it is still their most common problem.” However, she noted the candidate experience has been improved in many ways since that time, including giving candidates the ability to reprint their NTS at the test center. Over the last ten years, there has been a 31 percent increase in the number of testing center seats available for CPA candidates, Kimberly Farace, team leader of Client Services and Sales at Prometric, pointed out. New, more robust servers have also been installed for all testing centers for the CPA Examination, as well as a hardware upgrade to 3,700 testing workstations, she reported.

The practice analysis, that will serve as the foundation for the validation and legal defensibility of the next version of the Examination, is underway, AICPA Director of Examinations Michael Decker told the Executive Directors. He explained that because the accounting profession is changing so rapidly, the goal is to have a new Examination ready earlier than 2018, as was initially projected. The practice analysis, which identifies knowledge and skills needed for entry-level practice, needs input from large and small CPA firms, as entry-level practice differs among them. A 60-day invitation to comment on the practice analysis’ results is expected to be released by the Board of Examiners in the summer of 2014, but the comment period may need to be extended, Mr. Decker said. NASBA Executive Vice President and COO Colleen Conrad told the Executive Directors that it is key to have this invitation on their Boards’ agenda for discussion, as this is the period in which they have the ability to most significantly influence the future of the Examination.

Mr. Decker asked the Executive Directors to think about how an examination that might look different in ways such as number of sections, length, ordering of sections, and so on, might require a change in their rules. Consideration would need to be given to the candidates currently in the pipeline if the Examination’s structure is changed, or if the specific sections changed. He stressed that no pre-conceived notion of changes have been made yet, as the practice analysis is in its early stages. NASBA Vice President Ed Barnicott, an executive sponsor of the Board of Examiners’ Practice Analysis Project, pointed out: “These decisions have not been made yet. It is important to know now that change might be coming.”

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