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PODCAST: The future of the CPA exam

Written on Aug 12, 2021

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager 

In just a few short years, the CPA exam will undergo a change to ensure accounting is able to compete in today’s fast-paced business environment. 

“In January 2024, we will launch a new CPA exam based on a new CPA licensure model,” said Julia Woislaw, senior manager of CPA Evolution at AICPA. 

CPA Evolution is a joint effort of NASBA and AICPA to transform the CPA licensure model to recognize the changing skills and competencies accounting requires today and will require in the future. Woislaw and Daniel Dustin, CPA, vice president of state board relations at NASBA joined the State of Business podcast to discuss the future of CPA exam and its impact on the profession. 

“We learned that between 2014 and 2018, there was a 29% decrease in the number of accounting grads being hired by accounting firms,” Dustin said. “So, there were firms hiring a lot of non-accounting grads to fill the skill sets that they needed to service clients.” 

Dustin said the decision to move to a new licensure model was based on a variety of factors, some of those being the increase of demand in data analysis information security, and risk management along with the amount of new technology entering the marketplace. 

In 2020 the AICPA Governing Council and the NASBA Board of directors voted to support CPA Evolution, and they’re now in the implementation phase of the model. 

With the new CPA exam, candidates will have opportunity to select a discipline to gain deeper knowledge in one of three specific areas: 

  • Business analysis and reporting 

  • Tax compliance and planning 

  • Information systems and controls 

            Woislaw said the focus now is on building awareness, as today’s college freshmen and sophomores will be the first candidates to take the CPA exam in 2024. She said they are also developing resources for accounting faculty, as this change will impact accounting curriculum. 

The AICPA Exam team expects to release a blueprint of the new exam for public comment in mid-2022 with a period for public comment. After that, the blueprint will be finalized in early 2023. Woislaw said this model will be well-equipped to deal with the expectations young professionals will have not just soon, but many years ahead. 

“This model will be more adaptive and flexible than our current model, because as the marketplace continues to change, we can add disciplines and take disciplines away,” Woislaw said. “As the services that CPAs are being asked to perform evolve this model will continue to evolve.” 

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