Your Ask Joey ™ Answer

How Hard is the CPA Exam?

 

So you’re thinking about taking the CPA exam?

Whether you have a dream of becoming a tax advisor, feel as though you need public accounting experience, or just want to solidify your business acumen, the CPA license is one of the most prestigious and well respected licenses in the business world. The exam itself is known for being one of the most challenging professional exams out there.

Start a Free 7-day Trial Today!

You'll receive access to video lectures,
study guides, and practice questions!

How Many CPA Exam Sections Are There? 

Beginning January 1, 2024, the CPA Exam has commenced its Core-Discipline CPA Exam format. This means that there are now three Core CPA Exam sections (AUD, FAR, and REG), and three Discipline CPA Exam sections (BAR, ISC, and TCP). All state jurisdictions will likely extend the credit period from 18 months to 30 months. This means that once you pass your first CPA exam you will now have 30 months to pass your subsequent three sections (all of the required core CPA exams and one of the three discipline CPA sections).

While at first glance you might be thinking “that doesn’t sound like a huge hurdle”, you might feel differently once you dive into the exam material and learn just how comprehensive it is. The CPA exam pass rates have historically ranged between 45% and 55% per section, meaning only half of the candidates that sit for the exam each quarter have passed.

While the CPA Exam will always have around a 50% pass rate, we predict that with the new CPA Evolution format, the pass rates will actually go up. 

How Many Times Can I Take the CPA Exam?

You can take the CPA Exam as many times as it takes to pass. Meaning there is no limitation to how many times you can fail each exam. However, the testing availability will be somewhat limited in 2024 due to the CPA Exam updates.

Whenever there is a major change made to the CPA Exam format, everything gets a little bit wonky. With that being said, the AICPA anticipates that the testing schedules will revert back to normal start in 2025.

Take note of the following caveats related to the 2024 CPA Exam schedule:

Testing for the discipline sections will only be available for one month each quarter for the duration of the 2024 calendar year.

The CPA Exam score release dates will be less than normal as the AICPA needs additional time to score the submitted CPA exams.

You can take the CPA Exam as many times as it takes to pass. Meaning there is no limitation to how many times you can fail each exam. However, the testing availability will be somewhat limited in 2024 due to the CPA Exam updates.

Whenever there is a major change made to the CPA Exam format, everything gets a little bit wonky. With that being said, the AICPA anticipates that the testing schedules will revert back to normal start in 2025.

Take note of the following caveats related to the 2024 CPA Exam schedule:

CPA Exam Section Multiple-Choice Questions Task-Based Simulations
AUD - Core
50%
50%
FAR - Core
50%
50%
REG - Core
50%
50%
BAR - Discipline
50%
50%
ISC - Discipline
60%
40%
TCP - Discipline
50%
50%

Start a Free 7-day Trial Today!

You'll receive access to video lectures,
study guides, and practice questions!

Which CPA Exam Section is the Hardest?

While it’s still far too early to determine which CPA Exam section will be considered the hardest section within the new CPA Exam format, the Universal CPA Review team has been studying the AICPA blueprint since it became available, and we have some bold predictions:

Core CPA Exams

You will be required to pass all three core CPA Exams with a score of 75 to pass the Uniform CPA Examination.

Child writing 'about the CPA core exams' on a chalkboard to illustrate key points for the CPA Evolution core exams that will be tested

Auditing and Attestation (AUD)

The Auditing and Attestation (AUD) exam is the one CPA Exam that had the least amount of changes. There were some minor additions to the CPA blueprint for this section such as some added content related to data analytics. However, because these changes were so minimal, we believe that the AUD CPA Exam will stay the same.

Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)

In our minds, the Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) exam will have the largest increase in future passing scores. The reason FAR was so challenging pre-CPA Evolution was due to the sheer volume of information that was tested. Because much of this information was moved to the BAR Exam, we predict pass rates will go up!

Taxation and Regulation (REG)

Similar to the FAR Exam, the Taxation and Regulation (REG) exam also shifted much of its challenging content over to the new TCP discipline exam. Historically REG had some of the highest pass rates in previous years. This is still a tax-heavy exam, but due to the CPA Evolution changes, we predict that this exam will become even more doable than before.

Discipline CPA Exams

You will be required to pass one of the three discipline CPA Exams with a score of 75 to pass the Uniform CPA Examination.

  •  

Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR)

The Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR) exam focuses on assessing candidates’ skills in advanced financial accounting, entity analysis, and understanding economics, strategy, and risk. It evaluates their proficiency in cost of capital and valuation techniques. Content areas include:

Information Systems and Controls (ISC)

The Information Systems and Controls (ISC) exam can either be pretty easy or pretty hard, depending on your computer systems or IT background. Ask yourself, am I a computer person? If the answer is yes, then this exam could be your best friend. Like the AUD core CPA Exam, the ISC Exam is going to purely be conceptual. No math involved!

Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP)

If you have a background in tax, or found the Regulation CPA exam to be intuitive, then the Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP) CPA exam will be a good fit. Don’t get me wrong, the TCP CPA Exam is significantly more challenging than the REG Exam as it will cover more advanced tax topics and some additional specialty tax areas and financial planning. 

Start a Free 7-day Trial Today!

You'll receive access to video lectures,
study guides, and practice questions!

Can You Bring a Calculator to the CPA Exam?

CPA Exam calculators will be provided to candidates at the Prometric center. There is no need to bring your own calculator to the CPA Exam as you will not be allowed to bring it in. If you don’t feel like the CPA Exam calculator provided helps as much, you will have access to the exam version of Microsoft Excel. 

Bottom Line: 

So, how hard is it to pass the CPA exam? The short answer is that it’s very hard, but it is certainly doable. Regardless of your professional accounting background, or  lack thereof, the CPA exam is very different from what you might have learned in college, and it’s different from what you might have learned at work. The CPA exam is a thorough break out of anything and everything academic that you may see within the accounting profession. 

  •  

Back To All Questions

You might also be interested in...

  • Free Mental Maps – PDF

    Download Your Free Mental Maps by selecting the download icon in the top right-hand corner

  • Is An Accounting Degree Worth It in 2024

    If you stand at a crossroads of future professions and don’t know which path to choose, this article will help you uncover interesting facts about an accounting major. Accounting might be the right choice if you have a strong foundation in basic algebra and consider taking more advanced math courses like statistics or calculus if offered at your school. Strong math skills give you many career opportunities to choose from. Therefore, you need to have strong arguments to dive deep into the world of specialized accounting software. Even though studying accounting might be challenging, you can make it less stressful by using the assistance of online experts. Many services offer online research papers for sale on different business topics, including accounting. These companies are often the only kind of help for students who lack time or experience writing on business subjects. Studying is never easy, no matter the major you choose. However, with enough motivation and support, you can overcome all kinds of academic obstacles. Let’s look at some of the motivational reasons for choosing accounting as your major. Benefits of Getting an Accounting Degree in 2024 If you have doubts about which vocation to choose, consider the following benefits of pursuing a career in accounting. Job Security and Growth You can hear and read about the growing unemployment rate in many countries of the world. On top of that, people keep talking about AI technologies taking away millions of jobs from people. So, what does the future hold for those who choose to study accounting? The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 4% employment growth for accountants and auditors from 2022 to 2032. Interestingly enough, it exceeds the average growth for all occupations. We can count on seeing a continued demand for skilled specialists. Therefore, choosing this vocation means stability. Strong Demand in All Sectors Continuing the topic of your skills demand, every organization, regardless of size or industry, needs accounting services. Therefore, there will always be a demand for qualified accountants in the public and private sectors. Our digital era opens up many opportunities for people with expertise in accounting. You can consult people online and get engaged in projects worldwide. Versatility and Flexibility When pursuing a career in accounting, you can choose from many industries, such as healthcare, government, non-profit, and technology. Such versatility allows you to explore different career paths and find a work environment that suits your interests. You can also find internships relevant to your requirements and personality traits. Experiment and decide which industry is more appealing to you. Earning Potential One of the important questions popping up in your mind most probably sounds like this: “Will I earn enough if I become an accountant?” Even though everybody has an individual understanding of how much money they want to earn, accounting careers offer competitive salaries. The Robert Half Salary Guide informs us about the median annual salary for accountants being $71,500. Note that you can earn significantly more with experience and certifications, such as the CPA. Work-Life Balance “If I’m going to be making a lot of money, how many hours per week do I have to work?” – we hear you asking us. Again, there is no need to worry because many accounting jobs offer good work-life balance. While there may be busy seasons, such as tax time, accountants typically work regular hours and don’t take their work home with them (unless you already work from home, of course). Transferable Skills What if you realize during your studies that accounting is not the vocation of your dreams? This is no guarantee that you will not change your mind after college enrollment. Don’t worry, as an accounting degree equips you with valuable skills transferable to other business fields. These skills include critical thinking, problem-solving, financial analysis, communication, and data analysis. Moreover, you will successfully use these skills in a variety of industries. Business Acumen An accounting degree is your solid foundation for various business principles. You’ll gain a deep understanding of financial statements, taxation, auditing, and financial regulations. This knowledge will come in handy for anyone who wants to pursue a business career, not just accounting. Also, it will be easier for you to start your own business because you can create a detailed business plan and control money flow effectively. The financial skills you’ll learn will be essential for managing your business’s finances, securing funding, and ensuring its profitability. Continuous Learning Some people say that accounting is rather boring. You just look at numbers all day long. However, it is a field that is constantly evolving with new technologies and regulations. Accountants have great opportunities for continuous learning and professional development. You can go from writing accounting research papers in college to earning the most prestigious business awards. This kind of constant professional development will not leave any room for boredom and demotivation. Countless Opportunities With that continuous learning, you can count on many opportunities for advancement in the accounting field. With the necessary experience and qualifications, you can move into management positions, such as controller, chief financial officer, or partner in an accounting firm. Everything depends on your career ambitions and desire to reach the top of professional development.   Summing Up You might start paying more attention to research paper writing on accounting topics from now on, as you are aware of all the exciting opportunities this vocation has. Note that while accounting involves a lot of number crunching, you also need to communicate complex financial information to others in a way they understand it. Free some slots in your busy schedule to improve your communication skills to present calculations to clients, colleagues, and managers. If you’re still in high school, take advantage of courses in business, economics, and computer applications. Using this tactic will introduce you to key concepts that you will explore in your accounting major. Learn more about your future career opportunities. For instance, you can talk to friends and family who work in the industry and...

  • How to Reply to a Discussion Post: Tips for Students

    Level up your responses to discussion posts. This article will equip you with the key strategies to write effective and engaging replies that will spark conversation. A key component of most virtual courses is writing discussion posts. For this task, students are expected to engage with peers by sharing their perspectives and insights on the core topics of the course and the provided discussion prompts. In contrast to the classroom environment, where in-person conversations are common, interactions within an online course tend to occur primarily through discussion board activities. To optimize these exchanges, consider implementing these tactics to reply to discussion posts in a way that promotes continuous involvement and active participation among learners. Additionally, if you find yourself struggling with creating comprehensive references, you can always seek assistance from professional services with requests like “write annotated bibliography for me” to ensure your work is properly cited and well-organized. Active Participation is Key Students tend to mimic the same engagement patterns that their course instructors demonstrate. As a teacher, take on an involved role in the conversation platform – whether by contributing comments, guiding, directing, or overseeing – and remember the significant impact of using the @ symbol to address others directly. Using mentions to solicit student input is an effective and straightforward method to maintain lively conversations. Think about applying mentions to engage students who are less vocal or beginning to lose interest. You can find and monitor them with the help of engagement insights to draw them back into the dialogue. Whenever you contribute to an online course’s discussion board, keep in mind that your comment can be seen by all participants and will be available throughout the course’s duration. Make certain that your discussion post response is professional in tone. Verify that all information and facts you share are consistent with the course content, including materials found in textbooks or other resources provided for the class. Use your posts to reinforce key concepts of the course. Assume that whatever you post, whether positive or negative, has the potential to be widely shared. If it goes viral, screenshots of your post could be circulated to an unrestricted audience across various platforms. Find Meaningful Ways to Respond to a Discussion Post Maintaining a professional and scholarly tone in academic discussions is essential. But this doesn’t mean your replies must be dull or formulaic. On the contrary, don’t hesitate to infuse your contributions with your unique character and a touch of wit. In virtual classroom settings, we lack the non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, vocal tone, and body language that give spoken language a clear context. While punctuation can help convey meaning to an extent, adding a generous sprinkle of your own flair, a bit of humor here and there, and incorporating multimedia elements like pictures and personal videos can foster engagement in the classroom. This approach strengthens the connection between students and instructors and keeps students more actively involved in the conversations. Similarly to how you would inspire students to contribute through different platforms, your own updates should be diverse. Incorporate a mix of text, videos, audio clips, and pictures when providing your insights. This approach with multimedia usage brings energy to what might otherwise be tedious discussions and captivates students by catering to their preferred methods of communication. Discover methods to incorporate personal experiences or anecdotes when you respond. Students appreciate gaining insights into their instructor’s personal life. Sharing small portions of your personal experiences can undoubtedly make you appear more personable and accessible—just ensure that the examples you share effectively highlight and strengthen the principles you teach in the course. Evaluation: Questions and Feedback A significant benefit of virtual learning is that the involvement in online discussion forums can encourage introverted students to engage more than they might in a traditional classroom setting. To achieve this, you can interact with a student’s post using at least one of three strategies: asking a subsequent question, expressing agreement, or providing additional feedback. It’s essential to reply often to your pupils, regardless of whether it’s in a personal message or a public forum. To motivate the student to think more critically about the subject, consider posing an additional question in response to their initial comment. Below are a few examples of discussion responses: Responses of this nature are rooted in transformational learning, which suggests that students are not just receiving new knowledge but also re-evaluating their previous beliefs and perspectives, fundamentally altering how they view the world. This approach solidifies learning and demonstrates appreciation for student input, allowing you to identify those who may be struggling to grasp the material fully. Furthermore, you can acknowledge the strong points raised by your students. By affirming their contributions, you motivate them to contribute more frequently and maintain active participation. Using discussion rubrics and automated grading tools can make marking student participation more efficient. Yet, it is essential to offer private feedback to individual students as well. Such feedback could range from a brief praise for an excellent contribution to more detailed guidance. Reserve this personalized, qualitative feedback for students who have exceeded the standard requirements or those with difficulties. Remember, this is a formative evaluation. Students might need time to reach the level you desire for their discussion contributions. Ensure your feedback specifies what they need to work on or what you expect from them in future posts. Also, allow them ample opportunity to apply your suggestions for improvement. It’s easy to fall into the pattern of replying just to those who post first. Maintaining a weekly updated list of individuals you’ve responded to might be beneficial. Ensure that you engage with all participants consistently throughout the course. Keep the Dialogue Going A discussion board is designed to foster interactive conversation. The best way to respond to a discussion post is to broaden the conversation. Where relevant, draw upon course content, lectures, or personal experiences. Posed either as part of the original topic or in subsequent replies, asking insightful questions...