Face the facts: The CPA Exam is a computer-based test comprised of four parts (courses), namely: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) and Regulation (REG). For all courses, the exam is structured in five parts (testlets). All exams contain multiple choice questions (MCQ) and task-based simulations (TBS).  However, the BEC exam also contains written communication questions. The exam for each course may can be taken separately, in any order, and in any combination – AICPA allows that flexibility – however, after you have passed the first course the clock starts ticking and you have 18 months to pass all other remaining courses.

Multiple Choice Questions: The first two testlets contain multiple choice questions. Generally these are short version questions with four possible answers and comprise about 50% of the exam.

Task-based Simulations: Task-based simulations are case studies that allow candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and skills by generating responses to questions rather than simply selecting an answer. They typically require candidates to use spreadsheets and/or research authoritative literature provided in the Examination.

Written Communication Tasks: These questions appear only in the Business Environment and Concepts exam which require a candidate’s response in either memo or letter format (usually as a CPA giving advice) based on the topic in the question.

The keys to success: 1. How much you really want to pass and 2. Practice, Practice, Practice


Exam Structure Summarized

Hours 4 hours 4 hours 4 hours 4 hours
Testlet-1 36 MCQs 31 MCQs 33 MCQs 38 MCQs
Testlet-2 36 MCQs 31 MCQs 33 MCQs 38 MCQs
Testlet-3 2 TBSs 2 TBSs 2 TBSs 2 TBSs
Testlet-4 3 TBSs 2 TBSs 3 TBSs 3 TBSs
Testlet-5 3 TBSs 3 Written 3 TBSs 3 TBSs
EXAM SUMMARY 72 MCQs 8 TBSs 62 MCQs 4 TBSs 3 Written 66 MCQs 8 TBSs 76 MCQs 8 TBSs
SCORE WEIGHTING 50% MCQs 50% TBSs 50% MCQs 35% TBSs 15% Written 50% MCQs 50% TBSs 50% MCQs 50% TBSs
SKILLS Skills Level Assessed on Each Section of the Exam
Remembering and Understanding 25-35% 15-25% 10-20% 25-35%
Application 30-40% 50-60%* 50-60% 35-45%
Analysis 20-30% 20-30% 25-35% 25-35%
Evaluation 5-15%

* Includes written communication


Skills Assessment Summary

Skills Level  
Evaluation The examination or assessment of problems, and use of judgment to draw conclusions.
Analysis The examination and study of the interrelationships of separate areas in order to identify causes and find evidence to support inferences.
Application The use or demonstration of knowledge, concepts or techniques.
Remembering and Understanding The perception and comprehension of the significance of an area utilizing knowledge gained.

More information including questions and answers about the exam structure can be access from the AICPA website at

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