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Accounting Information > CPA Guide > Exam
CPA Exam

Passing the CPA examination is a huge accomplishment. The exam is extremely extensive and comprehensive, and can be quite grueling. Many candidates must take the exam multiple times in order to pass it in its entirety.


The CPA exam is technically known as the Uniform CPA Examination. This examination must be passed before a candidate can qualify to be licensed as a certified public accountant in any of the 55 United States jurisdictions. These jurisdictions include the fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

The purpose of the CPA examination, which is stated in the CPA Examination Mission Statement, is “to admit individuals into the accounting profession only after they have demonstrated the entry-level knowledge and skills necessary to protect the public interest in a rapidly changing business and financial environment.” Three organizations work together to present the CPA exam. They are The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and Thomson Prometric. Each organization has a different responsibility. NASBA maintains the National Candidate Database. The AICPA develops and scores the exam, and Thomson Prometric delivers the exam at the various test centers.

The CPA exam is offered solely in the English language, and is in a computer-based format. The exam is offered at test sites in all of the 55 jurisdictions except for the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands. The exam is given in January, February, April, May, July, August, October, and November. During these “testing windows,” the exam is offered five or six days per week.

There are four sections in the Uniform CPA Examination. They are Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Regulation. The Auditing and Attestation section tests knowledge of audit procedures and generally accepted auditing standards. The Business Environment and Concepts section tests candidates’ knowledge of general business environment and the business concepts they will need to understand so they grasp the reasons for and the accounting implications for business transactions and decisions. The Financial Accounting and Reporting section tests knowledge of generally accepted accounting principles for different types of entities. The Regulation section tests knowledge of business law, federal taxes, ethics, and professional and legal obligations.

Candidates are not required to take all four sections of the exam at the same time. It is advisable to check with the board of accountancy for your jurisdiction regarding the rules on this. The exam includes multiple-choice questions as well as case studies or simulations. The fee to take the examination varies by jurisdiction. If a candidate has any questions about applying for or taking the CPA exam, they might want to read the Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Bulletin. The bulletin has information regarding applying to take the exam, scheduling when you will take the exam, and actually taking the exam.

Are you looking for someone to help you with your bookkeeping, accounting, or tax needs? Are you searching for a licensed certified public accountant? You have come to the right place! Try the CPA search feature on this website to find a qualified professional in your area to help you with all your tax and accounting needs.

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