As the summer approaches, significant changes are on the horizon for the CPA Exam, set to take effect from July 1, 2021. These modifications, outlined in the new 2021 Blueprints by the AICPA, might instill a sense of apprehension among candidates. However, rest assured that the alterations are designed to enhance the exam's relevance and align with the evolving landscape of the accounting profession. In this comprehensive guide, Vishal's Director of Curriculum, Mike Potenza, breaks down the content additions, removals, and changes, offering valuable insights to help candidates optimize their study approach.
Chapter 1: Overview of Changes
Retaining the Structure:
The CPA Exam will maintain its traditional four sections – AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG. The fundamental structure remains intact, with a 4-hour time limit per section and no adjustments to the number of testlets and questions.
Varying Impact Across Sections:
While all sections will see some modifications, the extent of changes varies. FAR and REG experience minimal adjustments, while AUD and BEC undergo more substantial content changes.
Chapter 2: Changes by Section
Discontinued operations as a separate topic
Journal entries for derivative/hedging transactions
Defined benefit pension plan accounting
Differences between IFRS and U.S. GAAP
Alternative minimum tax (AMT)
Tax-exempt organizations – obtaining and maintaining tax-exempt status
Securities Exchange Acts of 1933 and 1934
Net operating loss and capital loss limitations
Tax-exempt organizations – unrelated business income
Bankruptcy and insolvency
Alerts restricting the use of written communication
Communication of "other matters" with management and those charged with governance
Communication with component auditors and parties other than management and those charged with governance
Letters for underwriters and filings with the SEC
Subsequently discovered facts
Developing a detailed engagement plan
Preconditions for an engagement
Litigation claims and assessments
New Topics Introduced:
Business processes and internal controls
Audit Data Analytics
SOC1 and SOC2 Reports
Regulatory frameworks other than SOX
General macroeconomic content (calculating GDP, aggregate demand curve, money supply, and analysis of impacts on the overall economy)
IT systems development and maintenance
IT continuity and recovery plans
New Topics Introduced:
Data management and analytics
Systems development and change management
Chapter 3: Study Recommendations
BEC: Suggested study period in April and May, with the exam in mid-May.
AUD: Recommended study period in the second half of May and June, sitting for the exam in late June.
FAR or REG: After July 1, 2021, suggested order based on personal schedules and study preferences.
Flexibility for Success:
Candidates are encouraged to adapt the study order based on individual circumstances. Vishal acknowledges that success is the ultimate goal and offers support and guidance to candidates in their unique study journeys.
As the CPA Exam undergoes these changes, candidates should approach them with a strategic mindset. The alterations aim to align the exam with the expectations of newly licensed CPAs, promoting relevance and effectiveness. Vishal committed to providing the latest and most relevant content, will release an updated course version on June 1, 2021, reflecting the Blueprint changes. In this dynamic landscape, staying informed and proactive is key to success. Happy studying!