CPA Exam Changes

What are the CPA Exam Blueprints?

Every year, and sometimes twice per year, the AICPA updates and publishes the CPA Exam Blueprints, a document explaining what is 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. Planning an Engagement). The Blueprints also include scoring weights assigned to each content area. These Blueprints can be used as the base to your studies, and you can build off it with an exam review course.

Each CPA Exam section has its own section on the Blueprints detailing the minimum level of knowledge and skills you’ll need to pass the CPA exam.

Recently, the AICPA released a new set of Blueprints, which will take effect on July 1, 2019, and include changes to AUD, BEC, and REG.

The Blueprints released by the AICPA effective July 1, 2019 include changes to AUD, BEC and REG Blueprints. While these specific changes don’t affect the nature and scope of content available for testing, it does add and clarify skill expectations on each exam.

What are the 2020 CPA Exam Changes?

CPA Exam Changes Effective October 1, 2020:

The fourth quarter of 2020 will see the addition of the CARES Act within the CPA Exam’s tested material, primarily adding content to REG – though you can expect to also see a small amount of content surrounding the CARES Act in FAR. This is included in Surgent’s CPA Exam Review’s automatic updates.

CPA Exam Changes Effective July 1, 2020:

The third quarter will see a continuous testing model added to the CPA Exam for the first time.

Continuous Testing

  • Under the Continuous Testing model, candidates will have the ability to take the Exam year-round, without restriction – with the only exception being while they wait to receive scores from prior attempts of the same section or when there is a major change to the Exam. This also means there will be no black out windows, because this model will replace the existing CPA Exam Testing Window model, which currently only permits candidates to test during designated time frames each calendar quarter.
  • REG Updates

    • Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE)
      • Repeals the maximum age (70½) up to which traditional IRA contributions can be made
      • Provides penalty-free withdrawals (up to $5,000) from retirement plans for individuals in the case of birth or adoption of a child
      • Increases the age for required mandatory distributions from 70½ to 72
      • Changes the tax rates that apply under the Kiddie Tax back to the parent’s tax rates (rather than trust rates)
      • Changes the AGI floor for deductible medical expenses back to 7.5% (from 10%)

CPA Exam Changes Effective January 1, 2020:

The first quarter of 2020 will see new Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) pronouncements tested in the CPA Exam for the first time. While several items are changing, many of these changes are minor in nature and are not pervasive across the FAR section of the exam, with the exception of Goodwill Impairment (ASC 350).

Major Change coming to Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR):

  • Goodwill Impairment (ASC 350)
    • Companies will only apply one step to the assessment of goodwill impairment instead of the previously required two-step impairment test.
    • If the implied fair value of the reporting unit is below the carrying value, the entity will now recognize a loss for the difference, with the loss being recognized not to exceed the total goodwill allocated to the reporting unit.
    • Prior to that test companies still must perform the qualitative test of impairment at least annually to determine if the quantitative analysis is even necessary.

Minor Changes and Newly Testable Materials in Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) will include:

  • Credit Losses, Disclosure of Fair Value Measurements (GASB 87)
  • Credit Losses (ASC 326), applying to public entities
  • Lease Modifications (ASC 842) is delayed for most nonpublic entities, with the exception being:
    • A public business entity
    • A not-for-profit entity that has issued, or is a conduit bond obligor for, securities that are traded, listed, or quoted on an exchange or an over-the-counter market
    • An employee benefit plan that files financial statements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission