AUD CPA exam format

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Hey! My name is Matt. I am a licensed CPA and the co-founder of Universal CPA Review. Prior to Universal CPA Review, I spent 9 years in audit and advising clients on M&A transactions.

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The format of the Auditing and Attestation (AUD) section of the CPA exam covers a wide range of concepts outlined in the framework set forth by Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS), Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS), Statement on Standards for Accounting and Review Services (SSARS), and Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements.

CPA AUD Exam Format Breakdown

The AUD CPA exam is a four-hour exam with five total testlets, two sets of 36 multiple-choice questions and three sets of task-based simulations, one with 2 sims and the other two containing 3 sims.

AUD CPA Multiple-Choice Questions

Total multiple-choice questions: 72

Weight: 50%

You will start the AUD CPA exam with two sets of multiple-choice question testlets, and while you will be provided with 72 total questions, 12 of them will be “pre-test” questions. This means that these questions are not actually being graded. Now, there is no way to determine which questions are these distractor questions and which are the graded ones, so worrying about that is not energy well spent.

CPA Exam Multiple-Choice Difficulty

The first of the two multiple-choice testlets will be a medium-difficulty testlet. If you score comparably, the exam will automatically follow up with a difficult level testlet as your second one. Those who are well prepared for the exam shouldn’t have a hard time identifying if the second teslet seems noticeably more challenging than the first, so if you notice a much harder testlet as your second, it is generally a good sign that you performed well on the first.

AUD Task-Based Simulations

Total task-based simulations: 8

Weight: 50%

You will have

Similar to the multiple-choice CPA questions, task-based simulations will also contain pretest sims that will not be graded. Also like the multiple-choice questions, you will not be able to determine which sims are pretest and which are graded. However, only 1 sim will be a pretest sim while the remaining 7 will count towards your score.

Task-Based Simulation Difficulty

There are five types of sims that you might see on the AUD CPA exam, research, journal entry, numeric entry, and document review. Everybody has their opinion as to which sim type is more challenging than the others, but the reality is, all sims are challenging if you don’t truly understand auditing concepts and the overall flow of the audit engagement. Task-based simulations are meant to test your ability to think critically and respond to certain situations as if you are operating as an auditor in the professional world. The sims can be mentally taxing and are truly a reflection of just how hard the CPA exam truly is.

How is the AUD CPA Exam Graded?

Like all other sections of the CPA exam, the passing score for the AUD exam is a 75 or higher. However, keep in mind, that not all of the questions presented will carry the same weight. Difficult questions are weighted more than medium difficulty level questions. So, if you score higher on the first multiple-choice testlet and subsequently receive one that is a difficult level, you will have the opportunity to pick up more points on your exam. So, your final score is graded based on the total points earned from the multiple-choice questions coupled with the total credit earned on the task-based simulations.

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