2017 Major CPA Exam Changes

A lot of CPA candidates are nervously trying to pass all four sections prior to the major 2017 CPA exam changes.

The last time major changes were implemented was 2013 and there is always a 12-18 month period of unease after major exam changes.

I think one of the main changes for the 2017 CPA exam is to lessen the value of memorization. Too many candidates with near photographic memories are able to pass the exam without any real knowledge of the subject. This is common throughout university exams. The reason for this is that multiple choice exams are the cheapest form of examination to administer.

“The current CPA Exam equally assesses Remembering and Understanding and Application level skills in all four exam sections. In the 2017 CPA Exam, there will be a distinct shift to test higher order skills – Analysis and Evaluation”

It is clear that AICPA wants to diminish the value of “remembering and understanding.”

AICPA is planning to reduce the MCQ portion of the CPA exam as you can see from the chart below.

Unfortunately, the task based simulations will be increased by 15-20%. This is a big jump and clearly shows a change in philosophy.

Of course, all sections with the exception of BEC will have a document review simulation which we discussed in depth.

The scoring weight will be radically altered for some sections like the BEC. Currently, the BEC is 85% MCQ and 15% Written Communication. However, in 2017, only 50% of the BEC will be weighted towards MCQ’s.

The BEC and REG exams which are currently only 3 hours will increase to 4 hours to be in line with the other two sections.

Although the structure of the CPA exam will change in 2017, it will not make the CPA exam any easier or harder. The pass rates are always kept relatively consistent. However, the changes will have an effect on some candidates. The uncertainty will cause some students great stress and other students with superior memories will lose a bit of their advantage.