THE SMOKE DETECTOR: Upcoming Changes to the CPA Exam Revisited

By Christopher Doemland posted 05-24-2016 16:44


It was only last August when I wrote about the upcoming changes to the Uniform CPA Exam coming up in 2017. Believe it or not, we are now only one year away from this happening! Has there been any talk amongst your CPA candidates at your office? If so, you are probably only hearing that it will be more difficult and will take longer to take the exams (at least for two sections). What response do you have to those with concerns?

As a bit of added news, the Indiana Board of Accountancy just last Friday issued a Notice of Intent in preparation for the CPA Exam rule changes. This is no longer something on the distant horizon. It is almost here.

Let’s take a quick step back as why the change is happening. First of all, changes happen about every seven years as stated in the May 2016 Journal of Accountancy. So, this shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, but the types of changes that are happening are designed to examine the competency of newly-licensed CPAs in this ever changing world. According to the AICPA and as a result of the survey responses mentioned in my previous blog, candidates need to be tested on “higher-order skills” which should coincide with what tasks CPAs perform today. “The profession is demanding stronger critical thinking skills from newly licensed CPAs. They need to be able to form conclusions in basic areas and identify issues in more complex and riskier areas…”

As a result, multiple choice will decrease from about 60% to 50% and task-based problems will increase proportionately. This also mirrors what INCPAS has promoted over the last few years about the core competencies a CPA should possess. Those competencies form the foundation of the CPA Center of Excellence® and the tools and resources it's developed.  

Does your company have any “extra” incentives to get the CPA Exam passed before the changes occur? Do the candidates even realize change is coming? I believe it would be in their best interest to familiarize themselves with the changes by going to This may encourage them to finish the exam before the end of 2016 as there will be new blueprints to help study for the new exam changes.

Not passing soon could also affect study habits that may have worked in the past. Of course you will have new staff that will have no choice but to take the new exam, but giving them the resources will show them how important these changes are in order to succeed as a CPA. These are the types of changes practitioners have been waiting for which will help their new staff transition into the CPA role. 

So, are you doing anything to educate your CPA candidates on the changes or are you just sitting back assuming they will figure it out on their own? To put it in a different way, if the roles were reversed, would you want your employer to give you some guidance for your future success? I know I would.

#CPA #rulechanges #criticalthinking #Competency #CPAExam #competencies