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CERTIFIED PUBLIC ACCOUNTANT (CPA) (US)

CPA (Certified Public Accountant) is generally considered as the Topmost Chartered Public Accounting Designation in the world. CPA exam is a joint effort of American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), National Association of State Board of Accountancy (NASBA) and Prometric Exam Centers. AICPA is responsible for the CPA exam development; NASBA represents the 50 State Board of Accountancy and 4 districts. Exam eligibility of the candidates is decided by the individual Board of Accountancy. Different states of the US have different sets of eligibility criteria and a CPA exam prospect needs to fulfill the eligibility criteria of a given state. The relevant State Board of Accountancy releases the Exam score. Exam passed out candidates need to seek the license from the respective State Board of Accountancy. The CPA course is extensive and covers accounting topics and other topics like law, analytics, taxation, auditing, evaluation, regulatory frameworks and procedures, ethics, planning and management of finances. The CPA course makes one an expert in accountancy and opens a wide range of opportunities. Whether you work for the corporate, practice Accountancy or work for individual entities, the options are endless.

Eligibilty For CPA Students

  • Every year of university education in India is equivalent to 30 semester credits of US education.
  • Some state boards award credit for international professional qualifications like CA.
  • In case of international CPA candidates from India, generally 3-year commerce graduates from NAAC-A universities who have scored a First division are awarded and are qualified to 

take the Uniform CPA exam.

In India, every year of university education is considered equivalent to 30 semester credits of US        education. 

  Hence in India,

  • B.Com = 3 years x 30 credits = 90 credits. (Non-Eligible)
  • B.Com + M.Com/MBA = 90/120 credits + 60 credits = 150/180 credits (Eligible)
  • B.Com + CA/CS/CWA = 90/120 credits + 60 credits = 150/180 credits. (Eligible)

 

Just passing the CPA Examinations does not make you a CPA – you need to fulfill the other 4 Es for CPA License:

  • EducationIf you would like to move toward earning your license, the first step on your CPA career path is earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or a related field. The degree must include at least 150 semester hours of coursework, 24 of which should be in accounting-related subjects, although this requirement may vary by state. Many states also require a certain number of business and ethics coursework hours as well.
  • ExamThe next step on your career path is to take and pass the Uniform CPA Exam, which is the only CPA exam in the U.S. accepted for licensure in every state.
  • ExperienceAfter you take the exam, many states also require you as an accountant to gain additional experience before actually receiving your CPA license.
  • Ethics – Exam from India; no travel.

*Note that your CPA exams may lapse if you don’t get your CPA license within 3 years of passing the exams

Modules For CPA Course

Auditing and Attestation (AUD)

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

Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)

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%)

Regulation (REG)

Area I: Ethics, Professional Responsibilities and Federal Tax Procedures (10-20%)
Area II: Business Law (10-20%)
Area III: Federal Taxation of Property Transactions (12-22%)
Area IV: Federal Taxation of Individuals (15-25%)
Area V: Federal Taxation of Entities (28-38%)

Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

Area I: Corporate Governance (17-27%)

Area II: Economic Concepts and Analysis (17-27%)
Area III: Financial Management (11-21%)
Area IV: Information Technology (15-25%)
Area V: Operations Management (15-25%)

Types Of Questions In The CPA Exam

1. Multiple Choice Questions: These are one sentence to paragraph length questions with four potential answers.

2. Task-Based Simulations: These are practical questions requiring candidates to type in answers, and may include a research question, journal entries, filling out a form with multiple questions, reconciling accounts, or filling out sections of reports.

3. Written Communication Tasks: Clearly and effectively communicating information is essential in the business environment, and these are questions that test a candidate’s ability to communicate through writing. Unlike task-based simulations, written communication tasks require candidates to give a written response to a question; this might be in the form of a memo directed at a specific audience

HOW TO PASS THE CPA EXAM:

  • Candidates need a score of 75 or more on each section to pass.
  • Each section must be passed within an 18-month window, which begins as soon as the candidate passes the first exam.

5. EXAM CENTERS IN INDIA AT PROMETRIC TEST CENTERS

1. India
2. Bhutan
3. Bangladesh
4. Myanmar
5. Maldives
6. Nepal
7. Sri Lanka
8. USA

WHAT ARE THE CPA EXAM BLUEPRINTS:

It covers the content eligible for testing in each Exam section. The Blueprints are published one to two times per year. They detail the minimum level of knowledge and skills you must have to qualify for initial licensure. Within the Blueprints, you will find the following information for each Exam section:
  • Content organized by Area, Group and Topic along with score weighting
  • Sample task statements that represent what you may be asked to do when testing
  • Skill levels at which tasks are tested
  • Reference materials that support the sample task statements
  • Number of item types you must complete (multiple-choice questions, task-based simulations and written communication tasks)
  • Score weighting of each item type

PROCEDURE TO BOOK EXAM:

1. Make Sure You Are Eligible :
Each state sets different education requirements to sit for the exam, but most require at least a bachelor’s
degree in business or accounting with certain coursework and credit hour requirements. Contact your state
board to see what the requirements are in your state to see if your education qualifies.

2. Send in All Official Transcripts to Your State Board :
Before you worry about filling out the actual application, you should send in all your college transcripts to
your state board of accountancy. When I say all your transcripts, I mean ALL of them. You should send in
every transcript from every school you attended. This includes junior colleges, community colleges, and
universities that you only attended for a semester. ALL of them.
It’s good to order your transcripts from the colleges as soon as you graduate or fulfill the state requirements
and send them into your state board. Once the state board receives them, they will keep them on file and
wait for your application.
A lot of people do this backward: applying for the CPA exam first and waiting to send in their transcripts.
Then the board has to wait to review the application until the transcripts are received. It’s way easier to mail
the transcripts in first even if you aren’t planning on applying for the CPA exam for a while.

3. Submit CPA Exam Application and Fees :
Once your transcripts are successfully ordered and submitted to your state board, you can go ahead and fill
out the actual exam application. This is usually a short form that asks a bunch of personal and educational
questions.
After you have this filled out, send it in with the application fees. Each state has a slightly different app fee,
but most are around $150. After you send it in, wait for a few weeks to get your ATT.

4. Obtain Your Authorization to Test (ATT) :
Once the board has approved your application, they will issue you an authorization to test (ATT). This
document allows you to sign up for a CPA exam section in your state. It’s usually only good for 90 days, so
you’ll have to decide which section you want to take first before it expires. Once the 90 days is up, your
$150 application fee will be lost and you will have to pay it again.

After you choose which section you want to take first, you will need to log into your National Association of
State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) account and pay the exam section fees. Each state charges slightly
different exam fees, but most range $180 – $250 per section. Thus all four sections will cost $1,200 on
average.
Before you go crazy signing up for all the exam parts at once, you need to know one main thing: DON’T!
You have 6 months from receiving your NTS (step 5) to schedule your exam dates. If the time limit is
exceeded, your exam fees will be lost and you will have to pay them again.
This is probably the stupidest part of the application process because there is no reason for state boards or
NASBA to do this. Either way, only sign up and pay for the sections that you want to take in the next six
months. You can sign up for the rest later.
After you pay your fees, wait 3-6 weeks to get your NTS.

5. Obtain Your Notice to Schedule (NTS)
It takes about 4 weeks after applying for the CPA exam to receive your notice to schedule in the mail. This is
the legal document that allows you to sit for and take the CPA exam in your state.
You use this document to log onto the Prometric website to schedule your exam date. As written in step 4,
your NTS is only valid for 6 months. Thus, you will only be able to use it to schedule the section you just
paid for in the next 6 months. After that, it’s invalid and you will have to get another. I.E. pay more fees to
get another.
There are a few states that have different NTS windows.

6. Schedule Your Exam With Prometric :
Once you have your NTS in hand, you can log onto the Prometric testing center website and schedule your
exam date. You’ll need the exam section ID from your NTS and the location of the testing center that you
want to take the exam at.
If you don’t know what testing centers are closest to you, you can search for one on their system. It’s pretty
easy.
One thing worth mentioning is that all testing centers are slightly different in size. Thus, smaller ones will get
full faster. If you want a specific date, you should schedule it early or there might not be any open slots that
day. Also, don’t schedule it too early because there are pretty steep rescheduling fees if you can’t make the
date you signed up for.
A good rule of thumb is to schedule your exam about a month out. This is close enough to know your
schedule and far enough out to get the date you want.

7. Pass the Exam :
It’s important to not be surprised on your exam day by stupid things like getting lost on the way to the testing
center or not knowing what room to go to in the Prometric building. I suggest going to the Prometric testing
6
center the day before your exam, so you can get the lay of the land and a feel for where everything is. This
way you won’t be surprised on exam day.

 

On exam day, show up about an hour early and MAKE SURE to bring your NTS and two valid forms of ID. Keep in mind that your name on your IDs must match your name on your NTS exactly. They will not let you take your exam without all three of these documents. 

CHANGES MADE IN THE CPA EXAM 2021

Here are the major changes to the CPA exam which would be effective from July 1, 2021 : 1. More emphasis on business processes: AUD (Auditing and Attestation): One of the most important changes made to the audit section of the CPA exam is the increase in testing of business processes, this also includes focus on IT systems & controls with manual controls. The revised AUD section will test a lot more on “business processes and transactions that flow through them.” BEC (Business Environment and Concepts): New content regarding “business processes and transaction-level risks and controls” will be tested in the BEC section. All the questions related to this topic would be all about the various aspects of technology that helps facilitate business processes. 2. Content on data analytics and digital skill sets in depth: For both the sections which are AUD & BEC, students should be prepared for task-based simulations (TBSs) designed to evaluate a CPAs’ data analytics capabilities. AUD (Auditing and Attestation): The latest AUD blueprint will now consist of expanded testing of digital skill sets which includes testing of audit data analytics. The candidates would have to analyse the results of an audit data analytic procedure. Another point to be noted is that revised content on how to utilize “automated tools and audit data analytics in audit sampling” is now testable. BEC (Business Environment and Concepts): The BEC section will now have questions on data governance and data relationships, as well as how to extract and transform data. 3. Increased emphasis on SOC 1® reports: AUD (Auditing and Attestation): As auditors often need to “obtain and evaluate multiple SOC 1® reports on even relatively modestly sized clients,” there will be more testable content on this topic. The new AUD exam will underscore the differences between SOC 1® and SOC 2® reports, candidates need to examine the effects that these reports have on controls and the testing of controls. BEC (Business Environment and Concepts): BEC will cover “SOC 1® reports from the user entity’s perspective, which includes looking at complementary user entity controls associated with the reports and increased content on “understanding the need for SOC 1® reports for outsourced IT functions.”