2017 CPA Exam Changes

On April 1, 2017, the AICPA launched the next version of the Uniform CPA Examination, an assessment that places a greater emphasis on testing a candidate’s higher-order cognitive skills such as critical thinking and analytical ability.  

Among the changes to the next version of the CPA Exam:

  • Increased assessment of higher-order cognitive skills that include, but are not limited to, critical thinking, problem solving and analytical ability.
  • Additional task-based simulations (TBSs) will be included on the exam, which are an effective way to assess higher order skills.
  • New exam blueprints containing approximately 600 representative tasks across all four Exam sections will replace the Content Specification Outline (CSO) and Skill Specification Outline (SSO). These blueprints are more robust than the CSO and SSO, identifying content knowledge linked directly to representative tasks performed by newly licensed CPAs.
  • Total CPA Exam testing time will increase from 14 to 16 hours – four sections of four hours each.

The Exam will remain composed of the four existing sections – Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) and Regulation (REG).

How soon will I get my scores with the next Exam?

The changes in the Exam will not impact the existing average 20-day score release timeline on an ongoing basis. However, consistent with Exam launches in the past, there will be a delay in the release of scores following the close of the initial testing window (second quarter of 2017). Scores will be released once, approximately 10 weeks after the close of the testing window.

For the third and fourth quarters of 2017, scores for all candidates will be released once, approximately 10 days after the close of each testing window. The delay in score releases for the Q2, Q3 and Q4 testing windows provides sufficient time to statistically validate candidate performance on the next Exam. In the first quarter of 2018, it is expected that the existing average 20-day rolling score release timeline will resume.

 Test Window

 Approximate Release Date of Candidate Scores

2017 Q2
April 1 - May 31, 2017

 August 16 - 18

2017 Q3
July 1 - September 10, 2017

 September 22

2017 Q4
October 1 - December 10, 2017

 December 22


For those affected/concerned by scoring delay

“The Georgia Accountancy Board has notified NASBA that those affected by the scoring delay will be given an automatic three-month extension of the 18-month window for score(s) expiring during the score delay. NASBA will make the determination if you qualify, so make sure you communicate that to the GA Exam Coordinator when applying for the exam during that period.” — Paul Ziga, Executive Director, Georgia State Board of Accountancy 

Where can I find information about the next version of the Exam?

To lessen candidates’ feelings of being overwhelmed with new information overload, NASBA recently created a web page that hosts information specifically tailored to the next version of the Exam. Here, candidates will find items such as the updated Candidate Bulletin, FAQs, Exam Blueprints, information about the Exam’s Higher Order Skills and contact information.

Candidates will also find information about scheduling their BEC and REG Exam sections as well as information about the rescheduling process. The site will be updated accordingly as new details about the next version of the Exam become available.

For more information about the next version of the CPA Exam, visit: https://nasba.org/exams/the-next-version-of-the-cpa-exam/.