The CPA Program is the most sought for, considering its lucrative career path and salary associated with it. Following are the details of the CPA program.

Subjects:
Each subject is tested with a separate exam
The subjects are:

  • Auditing and Attestation
  • Business Environment and Concepts
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • Regulation

Exam format:

  • The exam is computer based
  • Questions are a combination of multiple choice, cases and subjective type

Exam difficulty level: The CPA exam is seen as a tough exam and the passing percentage is usually around 40-50%

  • The test by itself is not considered overly tough, however the sheer amount of concepts to master and learn makes it a daunting task
  • There are 4 exams and one needs to score 75% in each exam to clear

Exam dates:

  • In order to appear for the exam, the candidate first needs to obtain a “Notice to Schedule” from the state they apply to, confirming their eligibility to sit for the exams. This NTS is valid only for a particular period hence scheduling exams soon after getting the NTS is important
  • All 4 exams (1 for each subject) are offered for the first 2 months of every quarter. Each set of 2 months is a ‘testing window’, so there are 4 testing windows in a year

o Testing windows:
• January & February
• April & May
• July & August
• October & November

  • You can appear for one subject only once per testing window. So effectively, you can take all 4 subjects in one testing window, but usually people tend to focus on 1 or 2 subjects per window because of the vast amount of syllabus
  • You can attempt the subjects in any order
  • All the four exams should be cleared within a time period of 18 months (for most states), so you must schedule all exams accordingly

Exam Duration: The 4 exams together add up to 14 hours

  • Auditing and Attestation – 4 hours
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) – 3 hours
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting – 4 hours
  • Regulation – 3 hours

CPA Licensure requirements:

  • A CPA license gives the individual a right to practice public accounting
  • The requirements to obtain a CPA licensure differ depending on which U.S. state you decide to apply through

o Education: Most states require that the candidate has at least 150 semester credits (often includes a graduate degree)

  • There are a set number of accounting hours included in the above 150 credits which varies from state to state
    o Examination: All states require that the candidate appear for and clear the Uniform CPA exam
    o Experience: Work experience requirements again vary by state
  • Several states need 1-2 years of experience under a CPA, preferably in in a public accounting firm
    o Some states require undergoing an Ethics exam as well
  • The license once obtained, needs to be renewed on expiry
  • The licensure also demands a ~40 hours of continuing education every year (again depends on the state)
  • A licensee can join the AICPA or respective State Society to reap benefits like access to career resources, knowledge resources, networking, discounts as well as affinity programs

Fees:

  • Exam costs vary from state to state
  • Typical application and exam fees are in the range of $800 to $1000
  • Ethics exam fees (if needed) and licensing fees would be additional