Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can be a rewarding and lucrative career move, but it requires work. The CPA exam is known for its difficulty, so students need to devote plenty of time to studying before their exam dates. This article will address ten of the most frequently asked questions about this challenging exam to help students evaluate whether they’re really prepared.
What Topics Will it Cover?
The CPA exam covers everything novice accountants need to know to get started in their fields. Questions will focus on four areas, including auditing and attestation (AUD), business environment and concepts (BEC), financial accounting and reporting (FAR), and regulation (REG). Students who want to study intensively prior to their exams can enroll in a CPA Exam Bootcamp to ensure that they’re fully prepared.
What Materials Are Available During the Exam?
Students will be allowed to access authoritative literature during their exams. Available literature may include sections of the AICPA, the FASB Codification, and the Tax Code.
What is a Passing Score?
A passing score is a 75. Keep in mind that scores are not curved.
Who Scores the Exams?
The scoring process is fully automated for most sections of the exam. The only part of the CPA that does not use automated scoring is the written communication section, which is calibrated by human scorers.
What Scoring Rubric Is Used?
The CPA exam uses a multistage adaptive test delivery model. It breaks questions up into testlets, each of which is a different difficulty level. If a student performs well on a testlet, he or she will receive a more difficult one for the next set of questions.
What if Students Don’t Agree With Their Scores?
If an exam applicant disagrees with his or her score, the first step to take is to request a score review. This review will ensure that the answer keys were used correctly and that no alternate responses could be considered valid. It’s uncommon for scores to change after score reviews.
How Can Students Prepare?
In addition to the CPA boot camps mentioned above, students can also take sample tests, engage with online or in-person study groups, or review the available literature. It’s best to use a combination of study methods.
What’s Included in Sample Tests?
Sample tests won’t use the exact same questions as the exam, but they’ll be structured in the same way and will cover the same concepts. They include two multiple-choice tests and three task-based simulation tests for each section, along with a written communication test for the BEC section of the exam.
What Do Students Need to Take a Sample Test?
Students will need a computer with an internet connection. The sample tests are optimized for Microsoft Internet Explorer 11, but students can also access them on Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.
How Can Students Apply?
Students must apply to one of 55 state boards if they want to take the CPA. Most state boards delegate the determination of eligibility to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), which will then notify eligible candidates and help them make plans to schedule their exams.
The Bottom Line
The CPA exam is hard, but with adequate preparation, students need not worry come exam day. Just make sure to take full advantage of all available study resources and leave plenty of time to prepare.