One of the most common questions people ask the AICPA is what are these new CPA Exam Blueprints everyone is talking about? Well, since the CPA Exam is changing in April 2017, the whole exam is going to look different and focus on testing higher-order skills. This means there needs to be a new outline for the new exam—the CPA Exam Blueprints.
The AICPA has created and released CPA Exam blueprints to help you prepare for the new changes to the exam. These Blueprints will replace the CPA Exam Content Specifications Outlines (CSOs) and Skill Specification Outlines (SSOs). Since the Blueprints go over exactly what you need to know before taking the exam, its pretty important for you to know what they are and how they can help you study for your test.
CPA Exam Blueprints Replacing the CSOs/SSOs
Ever since 2009, the AICPA has communicated the content of the CPA Exam with candidates via the CSOs and the SSOs. Now they are called Blueprints, but they still serve the same purpose as the CSOs and SSOs. These components are intended to help you study by providing you information about the exam. They also aid in the development of CPA Exam questions so all exam versions have consistent content. And ultimately, the Blueprints record the knowledge and skills necessary for CPA licensure.
Since the CSOs and SSOs complemented the exam of their time, the production of the new exam calls for upgraded outlining documents. The CSOs laid the foundation for the new Blueprints by sharing the technical content that each CPA Exam section will test on and the allotted amount of coverage. The SSOs provided the information for all the exam sections and how the CPA Exam will test different skills.
The Blueprints built upon the information from the CSOs/SSOs and included more for CPA candidates, academia, regulators, and other stakeholders. There will still be a clear outline in the Blueprints of both content and skills that will be tested on the CPA Exam. Unlike the CSOs/SSOs, the Blueprints will also reveal the representative tasks assigned to each topic. The following charts are from the AICPA Blueprints:
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Auditing & Attestation (AUD)
Business Environment & Concepts (BEC)
Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR)
Source of Summary Blueprints: AICPA
As you can see, the Blueprints show the weightings of the content and skills that are necessary to know in order to pass the exam. The AICPA has identified over 600 tasks that CPAs must prove they can do and the Blueprints explain that these tasks combine both the applicable content knowledge and skills required for a newly licensed CPA.
Overall, the CPA Exam blueprints are more specific than the CSOs/SSOs and much more streamlined and user-friendly. Most importantly, they supply essential information if you are taking the next version of the CPA Exam.
How to Use the CPA Exam Blueprints to Help You Pass
If you are planning on sitting for the new version of the CPA Exam, you need to read through the CPA Exam Blueprints to see a general synopsis of the content that may be on the exam. The Blueprints display critical information in a clear and simple way so you can spend less time and effort figuring out what exactly you’re going up against on exam day.
You will find insight into how the exam will assess the higher levels of knowledge so you can better brace yourself for the ways in which the the next exam will test your understanding and abilities. By reading about these new modifications early on in your study process, you will be able to prepare for the CPA exam in a much more effective and efficient way.
The CPA Exam Blueprints act as a great overview and guide for your studies, but you will need a solid review course in order to fully prepare for the test. Your CPA review course will dive deep into the topics outlined in the Blueprints so that you can obtain the knowledge and confidence you need to finally become a CPA.
Bryce Welker is a regular contributor to Forbes, Inc.com, and Business Insider. After graduating from San Diego State University he went on to earn his Certified Public Accountant license and created CrushTheCPAexam.com to share his knowledge and experience to help other accountants become CPAs too. As Seen On Forbes