What is the new, overhauled CPA exam going to look like in 2017? If you read the AICPA’s exposure draft, you’ll learn that the AICPA wants to follow what academicians follow: Bloom’s Taxonomy, which is a sort of “stair step” in the learning process.

Dr. Benjamin Bloom created the taxonomy in 1956 to advance higher thinking in education. He wanted students to be able to learn more than memorized facts. (In 2001, Anderson and Krathwol revised the taxonomy, using verbs instead of nouns to describe the skills involved.)

In the cognitive domain, mental skills, Bloom categorized the domain into 6 levels: knowledge (remembering), comprehension (understanding), application (applying), analysis (analyzing), synthesis (evaluating), and evaluation (creating). If you look at these levels as college courses, you have lower-division courses and upper-division courses. In a college course book, you would start in the 1.00 lower-division course and work up to the 6.00 upper-division course. “Remembering” would be considered a 1.00 level, introductory course, “understanding” a 2.00 level course, “applying” a 3.00 level course, “analyzing” a 4.00 level course, “evaluating” a 5.00 level course, and “creating” a 6.00 level, advanced course.

In the current CPA exam, the questions and simulations test on remembering (“knowledge”), understanding (“comprehension”), and application of the material. The 2017 new exam will incorporate analysis and evaluation. “Remembering” and “understanding” are the traits of being able to recall and comprehend information learned. “Application” is the trait of being able to apply the information learned to a new scenario. 2017 will bring a new trait of “analysis”: the ability to distinguish between facts and conclusions. “Evaluation” will also be added to the repertoire: the ability to make good judgments and create conclusions.

We hope this gives you a better understanding of what’s happening to the CPA exam in 2017. If you can conquer the current exam, you will need two additional, higher-level courses to get you through the new exam.



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Pearl Zeiler is currently Vice President of Accounting & Editorial and Controller at ExamMatrix. Ms. Zeiler is based in Denver, CO.