Certified Public Accounting (US CPA) exam is the topmost international professional credential in accounting conferred by The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Before taking this exam, it is very much pertinent to know your expectation on the basis of a clear-cut idea on the structural component of the US CPA exam. Since the tasks provided in each section of the US CPA exam are grouped into both skill levels and question types, comprehensive coverage of the skill levels in US CPA exam is of immense importance for a US CPA exam taker. Let’s discuss:
Structural Pattern of US CPA Exam
The US CPA Exam has following four sections which tests different knowledge domain of a CPA candidate
- 1. Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
- 2. Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
- 3. Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and
- 4. Regulation (REG)
Components Pertinent to Each Section
1. Task-Based Simulations (TBS)
TBS intends to estimate the potential to apply accounting, auditing, taxes, or regulatory knowledge in a real time business scenario. These tasks demand your ability to execute research, analysis, and recommendation for performing required action in addressing an open-ended situation in a realistic manner.
2. Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ)
MCQs quantitate the ability to apprehend the concepts of accounting, auditing, taxes, or regulatory affairs. These questions are set to receive your response on the selection of the best fit answer from the given set of options.
3. Written Communications (WC)
WC are the tasks provided to analyze your potential of communicative writing skill in relation to business concepts, financial accounting and reporting, or regulation. WC needs to write an essay in reply to an open-ended question.
Need to know the US CPA Exam Blueprint
The US CPA exam blueprint is released and updated by AICPA every year: It contains documents that outline the content of each section of the exam with detailed presentation of the testing format of questions and weightage given to tasks and topic for each CPA exam sections.
Skill Levels in US CPA Exam
As mentioned in the blueprint, each and every task provided is linked to a particular grade of skill set which have similar patterns used to measure cognitive skills. For the US CPA exam, there are four levels of skill which are as follows.
1. Remembering and Understanding (R&U)
Tasks at the R&U level need the candidate to remember or understand specific informative facts. Contingent to the particular section, the R&U chore consists of 10-40% of the US CPA exam. Examples of R&U tasks involve:
- 1. Definition of terminologies
- 2. Narrating a concept
- 3. Expressing a principle
- 4. Identifying link between two concepts.
Understanding of concepts and problem-solving abilities in new situations are required to perform tasks at this level. Application comprises between 30-60% of the US CPA exam. Examples of application include:
- 1. Application of a concept to a new scenario
- 2. Calculation of amounts based on given information
- 3. To find out the right procedure to use in a given situation
Tasks at this level need to identify conceptual patterns and relationships which comprises between 15-35% of the US CPA exam. Examples include:
- 1. Elucidating data to detect trends
- 2. Comparison of multiple sets of information
- 3. Arranging information to observe relationships
Evaluation level tasks require judging ideas or materials and comprise between 0-15% of the AUD exam. Examples of the tasks include:
- 1. Assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of a justification
- 2. Weighing up two or more alternatives
- 3. Opting the best remedial action
Knowledge and understanding of different skill levels in the US CPA exam will help one to apply a strength -weakness analysis to sort out the areas which need more attention in study. Concept clearing or memorizing certain areas can be done by the marking of strong or weak areas through identified skill level to provide more appropriate inputs into the designated section/areas of the US CPA exam.
Once you are familiar with the skill levels, you have to focus on 3 major areas, namely, understanding the material, practicing questions, and taking practice exams. It is to be noted that mere memorizing without clearing the concepts will not help in the exam. In addition, practicing questions and writing mock tests in a regular and dedicated manner will provide the door for you to crack the CPA US exam. So, wish you all a happy US CPA journey at its best.
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