Know the CPA exam content

The Uniform CPA Exam was reorganized significantly in April 2017, so as to ensure relevance and currency. The CPA Exam content has undergone changes every year since then. Therefore, there future annual updates will occur. The content below is based on the Uniform CPA Examination Blueprint effective July 1, 2021. For more details, please refer to the Blueprint. Candidates should ensure that they are familiar with the CPA Exam content and certainly cover all areas in their study plans.

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Auditing and Attestation (AUD)

Content Area   Allocation
Area I Ethics, Professional Responsibilities and General Principles 15–25%
Area II Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Response 25-35%
Area III Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence 30-40%
Area IV Forming Conclusions and Reporting 10-20%

CPA Exam Content: Auditing and Attestation (AUD)

Ethics, Professional Responsibilities and General Principles (Area I) (15-25%)

  1. Nature and scope
  2. Ethics, independence and professional conduct
  3. Terms of the engagement
  4. Requirements for engagement documentation
  5. Communication with management and those charged with governance
  6. A firm’s system of quality control including quality control at the engagement level

Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Response (Area II) (22-35%)

  1. Planning an engagement
  2. Understanding an entity and its environment
  3. Understanding an entity’s control environment and business processes. Also, information technology (IT) systems.
  4. Assessing risk due to fraud. Likewise, this includes discussion among the engagement team about the risk of material misstatement due to fraud or error.
  5. Identifying and assessing the risk of material misstatement, whether due to error or fraud. Also, planning further procedures responsive to identified risks.
  6. Materiality
  7. Planning for and using the work of others. Similarly, this include group audits, the internal audit function, and the work of a specialist.
  8. Specific areas of engagement risk

Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence (Area III) (30-40%)

  1. Sufficient appropriate evidence
  2. General procedures to obtain sufficient appropriate evidence
  3. Specific procedures to obtain sufficient appropriate evidence (also includes audit data analytics – new effective July 2021)
  4. Specific matters that require special consideration
  5. Misstatements and internal control deficiencies
  6. Written representations
  7. Subsequent events and subsequently discovered facts

Forming Conclusions and Reporting (Area IV) (10-20%)

  1. Reports on auditing engagements
  2. Reports on attestation engagements
  3. Accounting and review service engagements
  4. Reporting on compliance
  5. Other reporting considerations

Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

Content Area   Allocation
Area I Enterprise Risk Management, Internal Controls and Business Processes 20-30%
Area II Economics 15-25%
Area III Financial Management 10-20%
Area IV Information Technology 15-25%
Area V Operations Management 15-25%

CPA Exam Content: Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

Enterprise Risk Management, Internal Controls and Business Processes (Area I)  (20-30%)

  1. Enterprise risk management
  2. Internal control
  3. Business processes (new to BEC since July 2021 – from AUD)

Economics (Area II) (15-25%)

  1. Economics and business cycles – measures and indicators
  2. Market influences on business
  3. Financial risk management

Financial Management (Area III) (10-20%)

  1. Capital structure
  2. Working capital
  3. Financial valuation methods and decision models

Information Technology (Area IV) (15-25%) (several changes since July 2021)

  1. Understanding Information technology (IT)
  2. Risk associated with IT
  3. Controls that respond to risks associated with IT
  4. Data management and relationships

Operations Management (Area V) (15-25%)

  1. Financial and Non-financial measures of performance management
  2. Cost accounting
  3. Process management
  4. Planning techniques

Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)

Content Area   Allocation
Area I Conceptual Framework, Standard-Setting and Financial Reporting 25-35%
Area II Select Financial Statement Accounts 30-40%
Area III Select Transactions 20-30%
Area IV State and Local Governments 5-15%

CPA Exam Content: Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)

Conceptual Framework, Standard-Setting and Financial Reporting (Area I) (25-35%)

  1. Conceptual framework and standard-setting for business and non-business entities
  2. General-purpose financial statements (i.e. for-profit business entities)
  3. General-purpose financial statements (i.e. nongovernmental, not-for-profit entities)
  4. Public company reporting topics (i.e. U.S. SEC reporting requirements, earnings per share and segment reporting)
  5. Financial statements of employee benefit plans
  6. Special purpose frameworks

Select Financial Statement Accounts (Area II) (30-40%)

  1. Cash and cash equivalents
  2. Trade receivables
  3. Inventory
  4. Property, plant and equipment
  5. Investments
  6. Intangible assets – goodwill and other
  7. Payables and accrued liabilities
  8. Long-term debt (financial liabilities)
  9. Equity
  10. Revenue recognition
  11. Stock compensation (share-based payments)
  12. Income taxes

Select Transactions (Area III) (20-30%)

  1. Accounting changes and error corrections
  2. Business combinations
  3. Contingencies and commitments
  4. Derivatives and hedge accounting
  5. Foreign currency transactions and translation
  6. Leases
  7. Non-reciprocal transfers
  8. Research and development costs
  9. Software costs
  10. Subsequent events
  11. Fair value measurements

State and Local Government (Area IV) (5-15%)

  1. State and local government concepts
  2. Format and content of the financial section of the comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR)
  3. Deriving government-wide financial statements and recognition requirements
  4. Typical items and specific types of transactions and events, i.e. measurement, valuation, calculation and presentation in government entity financial statements

Regulation (REG)

Content Area   Allocation
Area I Ethics, Professional Responsibilities and Federal Tax Procedures 10-20%
Area II Business Law 10-20%
Area III Federal Taxation of Property Transactions 15-22%
Area IV Federal Taxation of Individuals 15-25%
Area V Federal Taxation of Entities 28-38%

CPA Exam Content: Regulation (REG)

Ethics, Professional Responsibilities and Federal Tax Procedures (Area I) (10-20%)

  1. Ethics and responsibilities in tax practice
  2. Licensing and disciplinary systems
  3. Federal tax procedures
  4. Legal duties and responsibilities

Business Law (Area II) (10-20%)

  1. Agency
  2. Contracts
  3. Debtor-Creditor relationships
  4. Federal laws and regulations
  5. Business structure

Federal Taxation of Property Transactions (Area III) (15-22%)

  1. Acquisition and disposition of assets
  2. Cost recovery (depreciation, depletion and amortization)
  3. Gift taxation

Federal Taxation of Individuals (Area IV) (15-25%)

  1. Gross income (i.e. inclusions and exclusions) (also includes taxation of retirement plan benefits)
  2. Reporting of items from pass-through entities
  3. Adjustments and deductions to arrive at adjusted gross income and taxable income
  4. Passive activity losses (but excluding foreign tax credit implications)
  5. Loss limitations
  6. Filing status and exemptions
  7. Computation of tax and credits

Federal Taxation of Entities (Area V) (28-38%)

  1. Tax treatment of formation and liquidation of business entities
  2. Differences between book and tax income (loss)
  3. C corporations
  4. Partnerships
  5. Limited liability companies
  6. Trusts
  7. Tax-exempt organizations

See the Content Specification Outlines (CSOs) published by the AICPA for detailed descriptions of the specific testable content of each section and also the most current content outline.

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