What The 2021 CPA Exam Changes Mean For You

By Jack Castonguay

CPA Exam Changes 2021

If you’re studying for the CPA Exam, you’re likely already aware that every year, the AICPA updates and publishes the CPA Exam Blueprints. This is a document explaining what will be tested on the CPA Exam, as well as the skills (e.g. analysis) and tasks (e.g. develop a detailed engagement plan) for each content topic (e.g. Financial Reporting) and section of the CPA Exam. The Blueprints also include scoring weights assigned to each content area.

So, what CPA Exam Changes can you expect in 2021?

Effective July 1 the Uniform CPA Exam Blueprint will be updated by the AICPA. The AUD and BEC sections will see the largest changes and the most new material added to them. REG and FAR are seeing significant material removed from the sections with minimal additions.

Okay – so what should CPA candidates do to be successful?

If feasible, CPA candidates should take AUD and BEC before the Exam Blueprint is updated on July 1. If choosing between those two, we recommend you attempt AUD before taking BEC. Next, take REG and FAR after July 1 as those two sections have more material coming out of their Blueprints than is being added. You will not need to know as many topics if you wait until July 1 to take either of them.

Surgent CPA Review automatically updates, so you’ll never have to worry about whether you’re studying the right content. The outline you see in our platform is based on the anticipated exam date you have provided us. Please update your expected exam dates if you reprioritize your sections.

Here’s a Summary of Significant Changes by CPA Exam Section

AUD:

  • Business processes and testing
  • Cloud computing
  • New materials and focus on data analytics. Note: due to system limitations, the exam will not have you perform advanced data analysis in Excel. The questions will be more understanding, less application.
  • Reviewing, understanding, and performing procedures on SOC1 and SOC2 reports
  • Understanding SOC1 and SOC2 reports in relation to internal controls

BEC:

  • Business processes
  • Cloud computing
  • Data analytics: ETL (extract, transform, load)
  • Data governance, management, and data relationships
  • Reviewing and analyzing SOC1 reports

FAR:

  • IFRS no longer tested
  • Post-retirement pension plans administered by external parties accounting no longer tested (e.g., pension expense, pension benefit obligations, etc.)
  • Derivative and hedging journal entries no longer tested

REG:

  • Many CARES Act provisions expired on 12/31/2020 and are no longer testable </li
  • Estate taxes removed
  • AMT removed
  • Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 testable