So, we know that BEC is widely considered to be the easiest CPA exam, but where are the other CPA exam sections in order of difficulty?
After BEC, the next easiest CPA exam is Regulation (REG). At 60.7%, it has a similar pass rate to BEC (based on the most recent cumulative results). As with BEC, although it’s not as hard as FAR, it’s not an easy exam. REG is a four-hour exam comprised of 76 Multiple Choice Questions and 8 Task Based Simulations designed to test your knowledge of federal taxation, federal tax procedures, business law, ethics, and professional responsibilities. The key to passing REG is using up-to-date study guides and materials, as this section of the CPA exam tests you on current laws and regulations.
Following REG, the next CPA exam (in order of difficulty) is Auditing (AUD), which has, at the time of writing, a cumulative pass rate of 47.87%, making it more challenging than BEC or REG.
The AUD section is, again, a 4-hour exam and includes 76 Multiple Choice Questions and 8 Tasked Based Simulations. It is harder than the previous two tests because it heavily concentrates on professional conduct, ethics, planning, preparation and documentation of audit and attestation services in line with professional standards. Moreover, most college accounting courses do not cover auditing extensively, so extra study time is required.
The last CPA exam section in order of difficulty is Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), which averaged a pass rate of just 44.7% in 2021. Typically, FAR requires more study time than the other exam sections (around 200 hours) as there is an enormous amount to learn and remember about financial accounting standards, conceptual frameworks, financial reporting, and transactions. To pass FAR, you’ll also have to spend a lot of time practicing accounting math in strict time limits as there are 8 Tasked Based Simulations that account for 50% of the overall mark and a further 66 Multiple Choice Questions.
So, as a quick recap, the CPA sections in order of difficulty are: