CPA or Certified Public Accountant is a well-known and global designation, which is offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountant (AICPA) after an individual clears the Uniform CPA Examination®. In India, Chartered Accountant (CA) designation is equivalent to CPA. The CPA certification is the highest standard of competence in the field of accountancy globally and is a highly sought after and versatile credential for accountants. Check out all the important CPA Exam Details here in this exclusive blog:

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Brief History of CPA

To define the standards of the accounting industry, 31 accountants formed an association called the ‘American Association of Public Accountants (AAPA) in 1887. This association was renamed as AICPA in 1957, and it also conducts the CPA exam. In 2001 industry witnessed a major scandal called the ‘Enron Corporation scandal.’ In this, the company’s leaders duped regulations by showcasing fake holdings and poor accounting practices.

Thus, in 2002, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed, and through this act, accountants are now liable to follow stringent restrictions for their consulting assignments. After this, the accounting industry saw a major shift in its overall practices, and hence the demand for certified accounting professional roles.

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CPA Exam Details and Requirements

To become a CPA certified professional, one must have the desired education and experience. Every state has its own CPA exam prerequisites, but some standard eligibility criteria are:

  • Graduation or equivalent degree to pursue a CPA exam.
  • 150 semester hours of college course to earn a CPA license.
  • 1-2 years of experience under any CPA

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CPA Exam Schedule and Details

The CPA exam is a 4-hour exam divided into four sections, which test the skills and knowledge of candidates.

4 Sections of the CPA Exam:

  1. Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
  2. Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
  3. Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
  4. Regulation (REG)

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CPA Exam Details

A candidate must finish all 4 sections in the 18-month testing window, and each section of the CPA exam has a limit of 4 hours.

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CPA Exam Structure

Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs) 50% 50% 50% 50%
Task-Based Simulations (TBSs) 50% 35% 50% 50%
Written Communication Tasks n/a 15% n/a n/a

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Skill levels to be assessed on each section of the CPA Exam

Section Remembering and Understanding  Application  Analysis  Evaluation
AUD 25–35%  30–40%  20–30% 5–15%
BEC 15–25%  50–60%* 20–30%
FAR 10–20% 50–60% 25–35%
REG 25–35% 35–45% 25–35%

*Includes written communication

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What is the CPA Syllabus of Auditing (AUD) for the CPA Exam?

AUD Content Allocation (%)
Area I Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, and General Principles 15-25
Area II Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Response 25-35
Area III Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence 30-40
Area IV Forming Conclusions and Reporting 10-20

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What is the CPA Syllabus of Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) for the CPA Exam?

BEC Content Allocation (%)
Area I Enterprise Risk Management, Internal Controls, and Business Processes 20-30
Area II Economics 15-25
Area III Financial Management 10-20
Area IV Information Technology 15-25
Area V Operations Management 15-25

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What is the CPA Syllabus of Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) for the CPA Exam?

FAR Content Allocation (%)
Area I Conceptual Framework, Standard-Setting, and Financial Reporting 25-35
Area II Select Financial Statement Accounts 30-40
Area III Select Transactions 20-30
Area IV State and Local Governments 5-15

What is the CPA Syllabus of Regulation (REG) for the CPA Exam?

REG Content Allocation (%)
Area I Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, and Federal Tax Procedures 10-20
Area II Business Law 10-20
Area III Federal Taxation of Property Transactions 12-22
Area IV Federal Taxation of Individuals 15-25
Area V Federal Taxation of Entities 28-38

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What is the CPA Exam Cost?

1. Application Fee for CPA Exam

Depending upon the state, the CPA exam application fee is around $50-$200 (approx. Rs. 3,600 to Rs. 14,500)

2. Examination Fee for CPA Exam

Approx. $193.45 for each section (approx. Rs. 14,100)

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3. Registration Fee for CPA Exam

Depending upon the state one can either apply for one section at a time or can club all the sections and pay a registration fee to save the overall cost. The Notice to schedule (NTS) is valid for 6 months, so if you sign up for all four sections in one go, you need to schedule and appear for all four sections of CPA exams in the next 6 months, else, NTS won’t be valid. The list of CPA exam registration cost is:

  • When you take one section at a time- $63 (approx. Rs. 4,600)
  • When you take two sections at a time- $81 (approx. Rs. 5,900)
  • When you take three sections at a time- $99 (approx. Rs. 7,200)
  • When you take four sections at a time- $177 (approx. Rs. 12,900)

4. Ethics Fees for the CPA Exam

Some states ask to clear ethics exam in order to earn a license after the completion of the uniform CPA exam. The fees for the ethics exam is $150-200 (approx. Rs. 10,900 to Rs. 14,500).

5. CPA Licensing Fees

After the uniform CPA exam and ethics exam, candidates are eligible for earning a CPA license and for this, you need to pay approximately $50 -500 per year depending upon the state. Yes, licensing fees are to be paid every year till eternity so as to maintain a CPA license and practice CPA.

6. Continuing Professional Education (CPE) for CPA Exam

Many states demand 40 hours per year of continuing education so that the public accountant stays updated with the industry norms and updates. So the approx. cost for this CPE could be as low as $800 per year ranging up to $5000.

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CPA Exam Score Release Dates 2021

If you take your exam on/before Your target score release date is
23 January 9 February
15 February 23 February
10 March 18 March
31 March 9 April
23 April 11 May
16 May 25 May
8 June 16 June
30 June 13 July

CPA Exam Pilot In India

The CPA exam is administered in India as a pilot at Prometric test centres in the cities of Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Trivandrum.



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