Current and aspiring CPA candidates should be aware of the planned changes to the CPA exam that will go into effect in January 2024.
The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) profession is constantly evolving to keep pace with the dynamic business landscape. As technology, data analytics, and critical thinking skills become increasingly vital in the field of accounting, the Uniform CPA Examination is undergoing updates to ensure its relevance and effectiveness in the modern world of accounting.
Changes to the CPA exam were initiated by a joint effort of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). The effort, dubbed the CPA Evolution Initiative
, is the result of feedback from key stakeholders in the profession and reflects the demand for CPA candidates to possess a broader set of skills beyond traditional accounting knowledge.
Here are a few things to know about the planned modifications to the CPA Exam, set to go into effect in January 2024:
What is changing about the CPA Exam?
The most significant change introduced through the CPA Evolution Initiative is the adoption of the core + disciplines framework
. This framework focuses on the traditional core skills that all CPAs must possess (financial accounting and reporting, auditing and attestation, and taxation and regulation), along with a deeper understanding in one of three specialized disciplines:
- Tax Compliance and Planning (Tax): Concentrates on taxation, planning, and compliance.
- Business Reporting and Analysis (BRA): Emphasizes business analysis, financial reporting, and decision support.
- or Information Systems and Controls (ISC): Focuses on information systems, controls, and cybersecurity.
The integration of the core + disciplines sections will provide a more comprehensive evaluation of a candidate's accounting knowledge and specialized skills. Regardless of the chosen discipline pathway, the model leads to full CPA licensure, with rights and privileges consistent with any other CPA.
Note that while a candidate can select their discipline section, it does not restrict their practice throughout their career. Candidates must pass the discipline section of their exams (in addition to the core section) to earn their CPA.
What can candidates do to prepare for CPA exam changes?
The AICPA and NASBA highly recommend that CPA candidates review the 2024 exam Blueprints
, which are available to download, to familiarize themselves with the new format of the CPA exam. With over 100 pages, the Blueprints serve as an essential resource for students, academics, faculty members, testing officials, exam writers, and various other individuals preparing for the CPA Exam.
What does this mean for current students?
According to the NASBA website, candidates who pass and retain credit for all four existing CPA exam sections by December 31, 2023 will NOT be impacted by the planned exam changes. Candidates still working their way through the CPA exam in January 2024 and beyond should review and understand the transition policy. For complete details on the transition policy, visit the NASBA website
UC San Diego Division of Extended Studies accounting
courses now offer a recommended section where more CPA and Licensor course offerings are available for individuals missing CPA Exam required units. Additional Ethic Studies courses have been added to help fulfill the Ethic Study requirement for the CPA License. New core + disciplines course sections have been added to help individuals prepare for the discipline portion of the CPA Evolution Exam. Lastly, the accounting program continues to offer its Uniform CPA Examination Review Course, study material to prepare for all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination. Individuals are guaranteed free online content and courseware updates until they pass all four sections.
The changes to the CPA exam signify an important step toward preparing future CPAs for the demands of the evolving accounting profession. By adopting the new core + disciplines framework, the exam will assess a wider range of skills and provide candidates with the opportunity to specialize in one of the three disciplines. As the CPA exam evolves, aspiring accountants will be better positioned as well-rounded professionals capable of thriving in the field of accounting.
UC San Diego Division of Extended Studies' professional certificate in accounting helps students gain a solid foundation in accounting skills and an understanding of the environment in which accountants work. The Accounting program can be completed online. Please visit the program website for more information.