CPA Evolution

The Universal CPA team has prepared a comprehensive guide to help you prepare for the CPA Evolution. 

What is the CPA exam evolution?

The AICPA is expected to launch the CPA Evolution in 2024, which is the new CPA licensure model. According to the AICPA, it is a joint effort of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The whole purpose of the CPA evolution is to transform the CPA licensure model to recognize the rapidly changing skills and competencies the practice of accounting requires today and will require in the future. Based on feedback from stakeholders across the profession, new CPAs will need to enhance their knowledge and skill sets in the following areas:

How will the CPA evolution impact CPA candidates?

Under the current CPA licensure model, CPA candidates are required to pass four individual sections (AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG) within an 18-month window. Under the CPA Evolution, the licensure model is switching to a CORE + Discipline model. CPA candidates will be required to pass three CORE sections (AUD, FAR, and REG), as well as one discipline. Candidates will choose one of the three disciplines offered (learn more below). In summary, BEC is being replaced by three disciplines (BAR, ISC, and TCP), and a CPA candidate must still pass 4 individual sections to pass the CPA exam.

Will the CPA exam be harder after the CPA evolution?

Historical CPA exam pass rates show just how hard the CPA exam is! While only time will tell, the AICPA has indicated that the CPA Evolution isn’t intended to make the exam harder. Rather, the CPA Evolution is intended to better equip a CPA candidate with the skill sets they need to succeed in the real world. While change can bring a lot of uncertainty, change is necessary to stay relevant in this ever-evolving environment!

What are the three disciplines in the CPA evolution model?

“Which discipline should I choose” is a question that will be asked a million times by CPA candidates. Is it important in the long run? Maybe. For passing the CPA exam, it will be important to choose the discipline that gives you the highest chance of passing. Our view is that the chosen discipline should be based on your existing knowledge, skill sets, and interests. Take the time to understand the topics tested and the related roles for each discipline. 

Business Analysis & Reporting (BAR)

If you are interested in assurance or advisory services, financial statement analysis and reporting, technical accounting, and financial and operations management, then you should consider choosing BAR.

Information Systems & Controls (ISC)

ISC is focused on technology and business controls and targets for candidates interested in assurance or advisory services related to business processes, information systems, information security and governance, and IT audits.

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Tax Compliance & Planning (TCP)

TCP would cover taxation topics involving more advanced individual and entity tax compliance, plus additional content focused on personal financial planning and entity planning.

To learn more about each discipline from the AICPA, visit the link below:

How is Universal CPA preparing for the CPA evolution?

Universal CPA Review has been working directly with the AICPA and NASBA to prepare for the CPA Evolution. The team at Universal CPA reviews all information that is released regarding the CPA Evolution. The Universal team has subject matter experts that have implemented changes to the CPA exam in the past and will continue to ensure that the students of Universal CPA Review are ready for the CPA Evolution. 

If you haven’t yet started a free trial on the Universal CPA platform, you can sign up by clicking the link in the button below:

Frequently Asked Questions on the CPA Evolution

The short answer is that you will only be impacted if you do not pass all 4 sections of the CPA exam (AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG) prior to December 31, 2023. If you have not passed one or more sections, then you will be impacted by the CPA Evolution. You will be required to sit for that section under the new licensure model and the 2024 CPA Exam blueprints.

No. Candidates who have credit for AUD, FAR, or REG on the current CPA exam will receive credit for the corresponding section. If a candidate has passed BEC, they will need to choose which discipline they would like to receive credit for.

In short, the answer to that question is absolutely not. The AICPA has outlined a transition policy. Essentially, if you have passed AUD, FAR, or REG, you will receive credit for those sections under the new model. If you have passed BEC, you will choose which of the three disciplines you would like credit for (Tax compliance and planning, information systems and controls, or business analysis and reporting). 

Yes. If you aren’t familiar with the 18-month policy, it means that after you pass your first section, you have 18 months to pass your remaining 3 sections. You will start to lose credit for sections passed if your timeline extends beyond 18-months.

The AICPA expects each candidate to choose a discipline based on their interests and future career path. The AICPA offered additional insight on the role:

Business Analysis & Reporting (BAR) – A candidate should choose this discipline if they are interested assurance or advisory services, financial statement analysis and reporting, technical accounting, and financial and operations management. 

Information Systems and Controls (ISC) – A candidate should choose this discipline if they are interested in assurance or advisory services related to business processes, information systems, information security and governance, and IT audits. 

Tax Compliance & Planning (TCP) – A candidate should choose this discipline if they are interested in individual and entity tax compliance, as well as personal financing planning and entity planning.

No. The under the new licensure model, every CPA candidate will be required to pass AUD, FAR, and REG. 

The AICPA has confirmed that the blueprints will be different. However, based on the proposed 2024 CPA Exam blueprints that were published for comment on July 1, 2022, it appears that AUD, FAR, and REG will largely (75%-85%) test candidates on the same topics.

The AICPA has stated that the 2024 CPA Exam blueprints will be published in January 2023. 

It is difficult to answer this question objectively, but new college accounting graduates and those that recently completed the CPA Evolution will have desirable skill sets that public accounting firms place value on.

No. The AICPA confirmed that there will not be any changes to the rights and privileges a CPA will have under the new licensure model. 

Our current understanding is that a CPA candidate only needs to pass one of the three disciplines. A CPA candidate will have the option to try and pass another discipline if they sit for a discipline and fail.

Yes, under the new CPA Evolution licensure model, each section will still be 4 hours. Candidates will sit for a total of 4 sections for 4 hours each. The total exam time will remain at 16 hours.

Yes. Our understanding is that each section will consist only of multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations. The written communication section is expected to be removed from the exam altogether.

Yes. India based candidates sitting for the US CPA exam will be required to transition to the CPA Evolution. If you are an India based candidate, learn more about FPA, our partner company based in India here

Still have additional questions? Send an email to [email protected] or you can directly contact the AICPA/NASBA regarding the CPA Evolution at [email protected]