Details of the CPA program


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.

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


  • 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