The Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Examination is developed by the AICPA with significant input and assistance by NASBA and state boards of accountancy. It is designed to assess the knowledge and skills entry-level CPAs need to practice public accountancy.
The CPA Exam is one of the “Three Es” (Education, Examination and Experience), that is required for licensure as a CPA in the U.S. The successful completion of the Uniform CPA Exam is a requirement in all 55 jurisdictions; where Education and Experience requirements may vary for each state or jurisdiction. Many jurisdictions also require an additional exam in ethics in order to obtain a license (sometimes referred to as the fourth “E”).
NOTE: The CPA license is the only license for accounting professionals and is issued by state boards of accountancy in the 55 jurisdictions (There is not a national CPA license).
The CPA Exam is a 16-hour, computer-based test comprised of four sections:
- Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
- Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
- Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
- Regulation (REG)
The CPA exam employs a combination of question formats. It includes the traditional multiple choice questions and essays, as well as highly innovative simulations – questions that replicate workplace situations and require the application of knowledge and skills to arrive at solutions.
History of the Uniform CPA Examination
In its nearly 100-year history, the Uniform CPA Examination has undergone many changes. Until the end of 2003, it was a paper-and-pencil exam administered twice each year. In April 2004, the computer-based CPA exam was launched and the paper-and-pencil exam was discontinued. The computer-based CPA exam achieved its one millionth administration in 2009.
Today the Uniform CPA exam is a state-of-the-art licensure examination – technologically advanced and psychometrically sound.