Written communication questions (i.e., essays) are off the exam completely

These written communication tasks/questions, commonly referred to as essays, were only tested in BEC. With the elimination of the BEC section as part of the CPA Evolution the written communication tasks were also eliminated.

Note: While BEC was eliminated as a stand-alone section, much of the content will continue to be tested in other sections. Economic concepts will move to the AUD core section and cost accounting will appear in BAR.

Authoritative guidance is gone as a resource, removing the pure research questions that appear now

Currently, when you get a task-based simulation in REG, AUD or FAR you have authoritative guidance you can use a resource to look up how to solve the problem. The exam also contains research-focused simulations where you must determine what section of the code, codification or other authoritative guidance applies to a given scenario. Pure research simulations are gone, as well as the authoritative guidance as a resource.

Task-based simulations were redesigned

As part of the authoritative guidance elimination, you will see a type of task-based simulation that provides you with sections, paragraphs or snippets of the authoritative guidance (but not the entire repository of literature). From there, you will need to determine what parts of the provided evidence, if any, apply to a given simulation. The authoritative guidance is provided separately from the exhibits and evidence presented. Relevant or potentially relevant guidance are presented along with the exhibits and evidence. 

Excel has been replaced with JavaScript SpreadJS

SpreadJS is still a spreadsheet tool. It is just not Excel and does not have all the same features as Excel. Many of the basic formulas and calculation tools remain close to the tools in Excel. 

Key takeaway: The authoritative guidance as a resource is gone but it will still appear in select simulations in reduced form and written communication questions (i.e., essay) are gone. 

The full AICPA presentation can be found here