In June 2021, it was announced that there will be a complete overhaul to the current Uniform CPA Exam system in the coming years. This is a process that was initiated in 2019. Starting with feedback from over 2,000 professional, students and corporations, as well as the joint efforts of their ‘CPA Evolution Model Curriculum Task Forces’ comprising of 40 volunteers from across the accountancy profession, NASBA and AICPA have developed a new curriculum and exam model to be implemented by January 2024. This is to accommodate students who have already begun their CPA process. It will still be comprised of four parts – three Core sections followed by a Discipline exam.

The move is part of NASBA’s ‘CPA Evolution’ Campaign that is a joint initiative between NASBA and AICPA. The purpose of this change is to bridge the gaps in the curriculum that fail to address certain technological advancements and their impact of the accounting industry.

Although the actual course content has yet to be announced while they smooth out the details, they have projected a release date of mid-2022. In the interim, they have adopted an interesting method of acquiring the curriculum material for the exams. Between August and October 2021, AICPA  reached out for community involvement in this endeavor by announcing a competition with a $1,500 prize for the submission of original teaching resources for the new curriculum. AICPA felt that by incorporating independent outreach they could adapt the curriculum to reflect modern subject matter that is highly relevant to today’s accounting world. These subjects include Data Analytics, IT Audit, Cybersecurity, Predictive Analytics or System and Organization Controls (SOC).

The new CPA Exam format and content:

New CPA Exam format
(From AICPA website)

Core Exam Course Work

1. Accounting and Data Analytics Core

  • Financial Statements
  • Select Financial Statement Accounts
  • Select Financial Statement Transactions and Events
  • Financial Statement Analysis and Metrics
  • Financial Statements and Select Transactions for Not-For-Profit (NFP) Entities
  • Financial Statements and Select Transactions for State and Local Governments
  • Critical Thinking
  • Financial Data Analytics
  • Digital Acumen

2. Auditing and Accounting Information Systems Core

  • Audit Environment
  • Engagement Planning and Considerations
  • Understanding an Entity and its Environment
  • Information Technology
  • Risk Assessment of Fraud and Noncompliance
  • Assessing Risk of Material Misstatement
  • Materiality
  • Audit Evidence
  • Audit Procedures
  • Special Considerations
  • Audit Conclusion
  • Audit Reports
  • Other Engagements
  • Subsequent Events and Subsequently Discovered Facts
  • Digital Acumen

3. Tax Core

  • Responsibilities in Tax Practice
  • Methods of Taxation
  • Federal Tax Procedures
  • Legal Duties and Responsibilities
  • Acquisition and Disposition of Assets
  • Federal Taxation of Individuals
  • C Corporations
  • S Corporations
  • Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Tax-Exempt Organizations
  • Technology and Digital Acumen

Discipline Exam Course Work

Once completed, the candidate will then choose a Discipline exam. This entails specialized knowledge in one of these specific areas, namely:

1. Tax Compliance and Planning

  • Individual Tax Fundamentals and Tax Planning
  • Acquisition, Use and Disposition of Assets
  • Tax Accounting Methods
  • Federal Taxation of Entities
  • C Corporations
  • S Corporations
  • Partnerships
  • Tax Planning for Entities
  • Trusts
  • Tax-Exempt Organizations
  • Multijurisdictional Tax Basics
  • Technology
  • Tax Research
  • Personal Financial Advisory Services

2. Business Reporting and Analysis

  • Accounting Research
  • For-Profit Entity Financial Statement Accounts
  • Select Transactions
  • Cost Accounting
  • State and Local Governments
  • Employee Benefit Plan Accounting
  • Planning Techniques
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Advanced Data Analytics

3. Information Systems and Controls

  • IT Governance and Risk Assessment
  • Performing Procedures, Test of Internal Controls
  • SOC Engagements
  • Use of Management of Data
  • Information Security and Protection of Information Assets

According to Sue Coffey, CPA, CGMA, CEO of Public Accounting – American Institute of CPAs, the goal of this new model is to develop, ‘A skill set that includes a deep understanding of new and emerging technologies is essential for CPAs entering the profession. We heard from accounting faculty that they want insight into how to begin transitioning their programs to teach these skills and better prepare students for the coming Core + Disciplines CPA Exam structure. We’re excited to share the work of our Task Forces and help faculty prepare a strong pipeline of future CPAs who will continue to meet the changing needs of U.S. capital markets.’

As to whether these exams will follow the current CPA Exam structure, that has yet to be announced. However, what is known is that the passing of all three Core exams and any one of the Discipline exams will result in the same full CPA exam licensure. As such, they will still be able to practice in any area, regardless of which Discipline exam they chose.

New CPA Evolution Model Curriculum:

AICPA and NASBA have not yet specified the requirements, but have suggested the following courses to prepare for the new CPA exam:

  • Advanced Data Analytics in Accounting (ADA)
  • Advanced Financial Accounting (ADV)
  •  Advanced Managerial Accounting (AMA)
  • Advanced Managerial Accounting/Data Analytics (AMDA)
  • Accounting Information Systems (AIS)
  • Auditing Principles (AUD)
  • Data Analytics in Accounting (DAA)
  • Emerging Attestation (EA)
  • Entity (Tax) Compliance and Planning (ECP)
  • Government/Not-for-Profit (GVT/NFP) – combined course or separate in one of the two subjects
  • Individual (Tax) Compliance and Planning (ICP)
  • Intermediate Managerial Accounting/Data Analytics (IMDA)
  • Information Security and Forensics (INFOSEC)
  • Intermediate Accounting 1 or 2 (INT) – two courses
  • Information Systems Assurance and Advisory 1 or 2 (ISAA) – two courses
  • Personal Financial Advisory Services (PFAS)
  • Introduction to Tax for Individuals and Entities (TAX)
  • Tax Research (TR)

Additional information can be found on AICPA’s new CPA Evolution website and their current suggested curriculum pamphlet with each of the above courses broken down in detail can be found here.