Written Communication Tasks (WCT) are only found in the Business Environment & Concepts (BEC) section of the CPA exam. It accounts for 15% of the mark. It used to be part of all four sections, but the AICPA decided to limit it to the BEC because they felt that this section was too easy. However, written communication is a crucial skill in the accounting field, as you will need to submit your findings or concerns to your boss and coworkers in a concise and legible way. Therefore, they did not remove it from the exam altogether, but instead left it as part of the BEC exam section. You will be given three WCTs to perform.
The rest of the BEC section is as follows:
- Testlet 1 – 31 MCQs
- Testlet 2 – 31 MCQs
- Testlet 3 – 2 TBSs
- Testlet 4 – 2 TBSs
- Testlet 5 – 3 WCTs
What is a WCT?
A WCT is a simulation task that requires you to demonstrate your written communication skills. It does so by presenting you with a scenario and then requiring you to write either a memo or essay according to the needs of the given scenario.
How are the CPA Written Communication Tasks graded?
The WCTs are mainly scored by a computer grading program. However, if there are extenuating circumstances, such as the candidate getting a close passing grade, the WCT might be flagged for review by a human grader who is a qualified CPA.
Things that are evaluated:
- Spelling, grammar and punctuation
- Applying the keywords from the instructions
- Following the correct paragraph structure for a letter or memo
- Using complete sentences
- Not using bullet points, abbreviations, or graphs
- Only mentioning relevant information
How can I prepare for the Written Communication Task Simulations?
If you are using premium study materials such as Becker or Wiley, they will cover this in their PDF study guide and online video course. They also provide sample TBSs to perform and be assessed on online. If not, there are also plenty of free resources that can help you.
The most important elements to remember when constructing your communication is:
- Follow a typical letter format, including an introduction, body, and closing paragraphs
- Be clear about the purpose of your communication in the introduction and conclusion and address it concisely and clearly in the main body
- Use the keywords in the text (for instance, if ‘change in estimate,’ ‘absorption costing methods’ and ‘fixed manufacturing overhead’ were used in the scenario text, then you must mention them in your written communication)
- Remember to address the letter or memo correctly and to fill in the subject line