By now you have likely heard the CPA Evolution that will become effective Jan. 1, 2024, transitioning the CPA Exam from its four existing sections to three core sections (AUD, REG, FAR) and a required specialization track in either BAR, ISC or TCP. Now in addition to these Evolution-related changes, question format, question type and user experience also will be changing across all the sections. Here is a list of what is to change beginning in 2024 (not today!):
Writing communication (i.e., essays) are off the exam completely
These written communication tasks, 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 also are being eliminated.
Note: While BEC is being 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. We continue to recommend that candidates receive their NTS and sit for the BEC section prior to 2024 if they are able. BEC has the highest pass rate of the four sections under the current exam format.
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. In 2024, those pure research simulations will be gone, as will the authoritative guidance as a resource.
Task-based simulations redesigned (effective immediately in 2022)
As part of the authoritative guidance elimination, during the transition (effective immediately) you will see a new 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. You will not have the entire guidance to search through as you do now. Similar type simulations already appear but the authoritative guidance is provided separately from the exhibits and evidence presented. Now, relevant or potentially relevant guidance will be presented along with the exhibits and evidence. You will no longer need to search through pages of text to find the information relevant to your task. These new simulation formats are eligible for testing today.
Adaptive multiple-choice presentation removed – questions will no longer get harder or easier based on your performance
You have probably heard that the current multiple-choice testlets adjust to your performance early on when taking your exam. If you are scoring well, you will be shown more difficult questions. If you start off by missing many questions, you will be shown easier questions. Most of the time the candidate does not even realize this is occurring. Beginning in 2024 the adaptive question presentation will cease and the question testlets will not change based on performance.
SpreadJS is still a spreadsheet tool. It is just not Excel and won’t have all the same features as Excel. We expect much of the basic formulas and calculation tools to remain close to the tools in Excel.
Key takeaway: The simulations you see in 2024 will look slightly different from the simulations you see today. The authoritative guidance as a resource is gone but it will still appear in select simulations in reduced form and written communication (i.e., essay) tasks disappear with BEC. Lastly, if these seem like big changes to you, try and sit for as many sections as you can before these changes go into effect along with the CPA Evolution in 2024.
The full AICPA presentation can be found here.