What are the CPA Exam Blueprints?

The AICPA builds the CPA examination from the “specs” contained in a document called Blueprints. The CPA Exam Blueprints are updated and published once or twice a year, and the version used to build the 2019 exam was just released this month.

There is a Blueprint for each exam section, which details the skills (e.g. analysis) and tasks (e.g. develop a detailed engagement plan) for each content topic (e.g. Planning an Engagement). The scoring weight is assigned to each content area.


What’s changing in 2019?

Here are the summaries of specific revisions for each exam section released by the AICPA (Source: Summary of Revisions to the Uniform CPA Examination Blueprints Effective January 1, 2019). Surgent CPA Review materials will be updated for these changes and available later this year, and all content updates are automatic and free of charge.

Changes coming to Auditing and Attestation (AUD)

The revisions add more detail on professional skepticism and professional judgment. Professional skepticism and judgment concepts are included throughout and eligible for testing under the current AUD Blueprint. The revisions do not change the nature or scope of content eligible for testing in the AUD section.

Changes coming to Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

There are no revisions to the BEC exam section.

Changes coming to Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)

The revisions are in response to standard-setting activity related to nongovernmental, not-for-profit financial reporting and become eligible for testing on January 1, 2019. Specifically, a new application task was added to adjust the notes to the financial statements to correct identified errors and omissions.

Changes coming to Regulation (REG)

The revisions are in response to legislative activity (known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or TCJA) and become eligible for testing on January 1, 2019. The revisions:

  • Modify terminology in Groups, Topics and representative task statements to address obsolescence resulting from TCJA
  • Add representative task statements to existing Groups/Topics to address significant new concepts introduced with TCJA:
    • Compare tax benefits of tax depreciation options
    • Calculate qualifying business income (QBI) deduction
    • Understand relationships meeting the definition of dependent for purposes of determining taxpayer filing status options
    • Compute taxable income, tax liability, and allowable credit
    • Calculate tax credits for a C corporation
    • Analyze the impact of net operating and/or capital losses for a C corporation from a tax planning perspective
    • Identify situations where base erosion and anti-abuse tax (BEAT) would apply
    • Identify factors that qualify income for Foreign Derived Intangible Income (FDII)
    • Define the components of Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income (GILTI)
    • Calculate the impact of partnership transfers on basis of partnership assets


How do the CPA Exam blueprints break down the exam structure by section?

The table below shows the Exam’s design by section, section time, and question type:

Section Section Time Multiple-Choice Questions Task-Based Simulations Written Communication
AUD 4 Hours 72 8
BEC 4 Hours 62 4 3
FAR 4 Hours 66 8
REG 4 Hours 76 8


This is how the scoring weight of multiple-choice questions, task-based simulations, and written communication break down for each Exam section:

Section Multiple-Choice Questions Task-Based Simulations Written Communication
AUD 50% 50%
BEC 50% 35% 15%
FAR 50% 50%
REG 50% 50%


Here are the skill levels to be assessed on each section of the Exam:

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


What we recommend

Sit for REG in 2018

There are some major changes coming to REG in 2019. If you’ve already begun studying, we recommend sitting for REG as soon as possible, so you don’t have to re-learn new material.

Practice simulations

Sims are worth 35-50% of each Exam section’s score, meaning you can’t afford to not practice these ahead of time. Surgent’s CPA Review courses come with over 400 task-based simulations to help you prepare. Also, take advantage of our live and pre-recorded webinars, which cover topics like “How to Solve a Document Review Simulation in Auditing,” “How to Solve a Research Sim” and “How to Solve a BEC Task-Based Simulation.”


The complete, revised Blueprints can be found on the AICPA website.


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