As the old adage goes, the only constant is change, and that’s certainly true in the accounting profession. As the world evolves, we grow with it, adopting new technologies, skills, and best practices to better serve our clients and communities. While the fundamentals of accounting may be stable, in just the last 20 years the job requirements have changed significantly. Below I detail what to expect from the CPA evolution.
CPA Evolution – Overview
To ensure that newly licensed CPAs are prepared for the challenges of accounting today and in the future, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) are currently updating and restructuring the CPA Exam to align with the skills required of newly licensed CPAs.
They recently agreed to move forward with the CPA Evolution initiative and timeline. They are working to have the new exam ready to roll out to CPA candidates by January 2024.
Since the CPA Evolution is aimed at modifying CPA licensure to reflect the skills and knowledge needed in an increasingly technology-driven marketplace, it is important for candidates, educators, and firm managers to understand these new expectations. The following is a quick outline of the future CPA exam model.
So, what can you expect from the CPA Evolution?
New Emphasis on Tech Skills
At the center of the CPA Evolution is an assessment of a candidate’s mastery of accounting, auditing, tax, and technology. The updated exam will maintain the same high standard regarding the principles CPAs have mastered in the past. There will be additional emphasis on the technological requirements of our ever-changing profession.
Core + Discipline Model
Every CPA candidate will be required to choose one discipline to specialize in for the CPA Evolution. Currently, the disciplines are expected to be Business Analysis and Reporting, Tax Compliance and Planning, and Information Systems and Controls.
This new Core +Discipline model is intended to provide students an opportunity to demonstrate a deeper level of mastery specific to one aspect of accounting. It will do this without confining them to a career choice within that field. No matter the discipline a candidate chooses, passing will result in the same full CPA licensure.
To reflect the new model, the structure of the exam will change with the CPA Evolution as well. The new exam will include three core sections and three discipline sections. Candidates will have to pass all three core sections as well as one of the discipline sections. The format of the exam, four sections across 16 hours, is expected to remain the same.
Preparing for the Future
Today’s CPAs are required to perform more advanced tasks and contribute to increasingly complex projects earlier on in their accounting careers. Modern technology and practices are key drivers in that shift.
The changes coming with the CPA Evolution will ensure that the CPA Exam remains relevant as a measure of the knowledge and skills CPAs must have in order to practice their profession at such a high level from the beginning of their careers.