CPA Exam Definitions

To help you with the CPA Exam process, Surgent CPA Review has provided you with definitions of some key terms related to the CPA Exam.  If you have any additional questions on the CPA Exam or it’s process, please contact us at


FAR – Financial Accounting & Reporting – one of the 4 sections of the Uniform CPA Examination

AUD – Auditing & Attestation – one of the 4 sections of the Uniform CPA Examination

REG – Regulation – one of the 4 sections of the Uniform CPA Examination

BEC – Business Environment & Concepts – one of the 4 sections of the Uniform CPA Examination

75 –The passing score on the CPA exam is 75 on a 0-99 scale.  The scale of 0-99 does not represent “percent correct”.  A score of 75 indicates Examination performance reflecting a level of knowledge and skills that is sufficient for the protection of the public.

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants – The AICPA administers the Uniform CPA Exam in the 54 U.S. jurisdictions and foreign countries.

Blueprint – the new content outline for the CPA Exam, replacing the CSO (Content Specification Outline) and SSO (Skill Specification Outline).

BOE – Board of Examiners – a senior committee of the AICPA, is the body that sets policy for the Uniform CPA Examination in accordance with legal and psychometric standards as they apply to licensure examinations. In addition, the BOE (1) oversees the development and scoring of the CPA Examination; (2) ensures that the CPA Examination is consonant with entry-level knowledge and skill requirements of CPAs; and (3) represents the CPA Examination to state boards of accountancy and the profession.

CSO – Content Specification Outline – provides an outline of the CPA Examination content by exam section (FAR, AUD, REG & BEC)

DRS (Document Review Simulation) – a simulation question type that asks candidates to review a document and make any necessary edits.  These documents are similar to the types of documents that a newly licensed CPA would expect to see on their job.

Enhanced Task-based Simulations – Task-based simulation questions that have been expanded to include additional background material and data that will require candidates to determine what information is or is not relevant to the question, which is more reflective of the nature of challenges newly licensed CPAs encounter in practice.

IQEX – the International Qualification Examination (IQEX) is an examination for accounting professionals from other countries who wish to qualify as U.S. CPAs and whose professional bodies have entered into mutual recognition agreements with the U.S. accounting profession.

MCQ – Multiple-choice question – a type of question in all four sections of the CPA Exam.

NASBA – National Association of State Boards of Accounting – NASBA assists candidates in the CPA Exam process and handles the application process for 32 jurisdictions and supports the remaining State Boards of Accountancy.  NASBA also handles the score reporting of the CPA Exam.

NTS – Notice to Schedule – you cannot schedule your CPA Exam until you receive your Notice to Schedule.  This will be sent to you once your application to sit for the CPA Exam is received and approved.

Prometric – the testing center that administers the CPA Exam.  Candidates should reach out to Prometric ( to schedule their exam once they receive their NTS (Notice to Schedule).

Psychometrics – is a field of study concerned with the theory and technique of psychological measurement. One part of the field is concerned with the objective measurement of skills and knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits, and educational achievement. For example, some psychometric researchers have, thus far, concerned themselves with the construction and validation of assessment instruments such as questionnaires, tests, raters’ judgments, and personality tests. Another part of the field is concerned with statistical research bearing on measurement theory (e.g., item response theoryintraclass correlation).  As a result of these focuses, psychometric research involves two major tasks: (i) the construction of instruments; and (ii) the development of procedures for measurement.

Score Report – data provided to the CPA Exam candidate when they receive their exam score that shows how they performed on the various section categories as compared to other candidates.

SSO – Skill Specification Outline – identifies the various skill sets tested on the CPA Examination.

State Boards of Accountancy – the jurisdictional regulatory body that oversees the accounting profession for that particular jurisdiction.  This body oversees the CPA exam eligibility requirements, continuing education requirements, ethics standards, disciplinary actions and various other needs for the profession.

Task-based Simulation – a question type that tests the skill & knowledge level of a CPA candidate as it relates to a specific topic.  This type of question requires candidates to do calculations, complete forms, analyze data, and other application of knowledge skills.

Testing Center – the CPA Exam is administered at testing centers through Prometric (  Testing centers are located in 54 U.S. jurisdictions, which include the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Testing centers are also located in the following international locations where the CPA exam can be taken:  Japan, Brazil, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.

Testlet – a series of questions within the Uniform CPA Exam.  Each section of the CPA Exam contains multiple testlets.