CPA Exam

CPA Exam Advice

If you’re thinking about taking the CPA Exam, you probably already know it is a difficult test for many candidates to pass. In fact, the national pass rate of the CPA Exam is around 50%. Luckily, Surgent CPA Review is a great place to get CPA Exam advice. Our experts have been preparing CPA students to pass for decades–and our candidates pass at nearly twice that national average pass rate, so we are a great source for trusted CPA Exam advice, 1-on-1 success coaching, as well as an adaptive learning course that will help you pass more reliably, and with less study time.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the CPA Exam and how you go about preparing to sit for it:

Q: What are the parts of the CPA Exam?  A: The CPA Exam is a four-part test that totals 14 hours all together. Its four sections are: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Regulation (REG), and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC). You need to score at least a 75 on each of the four sections within an 18-month period to pass the CPA Exam.

Q: How is the CPA Exam scored? A: The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) is responsible for administering and scoring the CPA Exam. Candidates take the exam at Prometric test centers. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) oversees content updates to the exam. In recent years, the AICPA has changed the test to focus more on analytical skills and evaluation, primarily through what are called Task-Based Simulations (TBS) and Document Review Simulations (DRS). These simulations (or “sims”) are designed to replicate real work scenarios that practicing CPAs will face. Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) make up the rest of the test. Simulations count as 50% of your total score on the exam.

Q: Can anyone sit for the CPA Exam? A: There are requirements you must meet to take the exam. These can vary by state so it’s best to verify what your state requires with your state board. In most states, you will need a bachelor’s degree or have completed at least 120 college credit hours to be eligible to take the exam. Many states require that you take a certain number of credit hours in specific business and accounting subjects. Some states and jurisdictions allow you to take the CPA Exam outside of the U.S., but the eligibility requirements can vary. View requirements to sit for the CPA Exam as an international candidate.

Q: How difficult is the CPA Exam? A: As mentioned above, the exam has changed in recent years, requiring different skills to pass it. In addition, as tax and accounting laws have changed, the amount of content tested has grown quite a bit. As a result, CPA Exam pass rates have declined in recent years. For many years, more than 50% of candidates passed. Now, per the AICPA individual sections now average between 45% and 55% pass rates. And very often, students pass one or two exam sections but are unable to pass all four sections within the required 18-month window.

Q: How can I increase my odds of passing the CPA Exam? A: Because the CPA Exam is so challenging and covers so much content, most candidates choose to get help from a CPA Exam prep course. Though they used to feature in-classroom lectures, most popular CPA Prep courses are now online. Most of these follow what you may call a “linear” learning approach, meaning that the course is laid out with the same specific path for each student. Basically, these courses suggest students study every topic, in order, from the first chapter to the last chapter, answering every question and watching every video. Becker CPA Review is a well-known example of this kind of traditional course that uses the linear study methodology.

Surgent CPA Review is a newer course that was designed differently, using adaptive learning technology to streamline the study process by personalizing study plans to each student’s performance. Rather than suggesting that students study every lecture, textbook, and test bank question, students using adaptive learning technology focus their study time on the specific areas and topics they don’t yet understand. This has been proven to save hundreds of hours of study time, while actually preparing students better to pass.

Below are some links to material that could be helpful when working through your decision to buy, as well as just help you better understand the CPA process.

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