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July 2021 Changes to The CPA Exam: Everything You Need to Know

Change is right around the corner!

The talk of the (CPA) town is that changes are upon us and they are coming quickly. While this is not an overhaul in the way that CPA evolution will be in 2024, there are changes that are being made to all four sections (FAR, REG, AUD, and BEC) that all candidates should consider.

Look, I am not trying to give you a complete panic attack, nor am I saying you need to scream into a pillow, okay, just hear me out! Just because there is change, it doesn’t necessarily mean that change is bad . So, let’s unpack the major changes going on and then we’ll let you decide if, in this case, change is good or bad.

We’ve created a video for you that is meant to be educational and informative, but also lighthearted and provide some reassurance that you will be ready and that there is no reason to panic!

So what are the changes for FAR?

Let’s start by talking about the elephant in the room and discuss changes being made to the Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR) exam. Everybody is naturally terrified of the big bad FAR exam, and that’s because there is naturally SO MUCH content that needs to be understood.

However, I am here to tell you, FAR became a whole lot less scary! Changes made to the FAR exam only consist of content being removed, and namely, the removal of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). All I can say is, I wish I didn’t have to take a FAR exam that included IFRS, so this is certainly something that should be celebrated.

So what are the changes for REG (Regulation tax)?

Like FAR, content is only being removed from the REG exam. This is also a big one because a lot of people struggle with understanding alternative minimum tax (AMT) as well as incorporating how much time should be allocated to certain areas like tax-exempt income, and federal securities registration within business law. Good news here, you no longer have to worry about any of these three.

So what are the changes to AUD (audit)?

Now, the audit exam is a different story, because unlike FAR and REG, audit is one of the four exam sections that has not only some content is being removed, but some topics are getting added. This is one of the two areas (in addition to BEC – see below) that will have an added emphasis on data analytics and information technology. Stay tuned. We are still learning to what extent the AICPA plans to include this in post July tests.

So what are the changes in BEC (Business Environment Concepts)?

Finally, the BEC exam will have both some content getting added and a little bit of content getting removed. Similar to Audit, BEC will primarily have an increased emphasis on data analytics and information technology content, but from a “I am running the business” perspective.

Below is the official PDF that was released from the AICPA with the July 2021 exam changes.

Final thoughts and our plan to update the materials on the Universal platform?

Look, you can sit around and overthink this all you want, but the reality is, that kind of behavior really is unnecessary. The AICPA does this all the time, the exams are ALWAYS changing. The way the blueprint changes always seems like a whole lot of important words.

At the end of the day, like all other things CPA related, there is a mental map and a systematic approach that can be built in your brain to ensure that you’re ready for anything they throw your way! To those of you who are Universal CPA students, we are working towards updating our platform with added material by Mid May and will have removal of content completed by June 30th.

If you’re looking for some additional guidance about how to prepare for the CPA exam or what order you should schedule your exams, reach out to us!


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