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CPA Certification




Accountingis the process of calculating, classifying, and communication ofeconomic data to allow for informed judgments and decisions by theusers of this information. It can also be defined as a way ofcommunicating the financial status of a business or an organizationto all its stakeholders. Accounting is a way of assessing the assets,liability, cash flows, and the future of the firm for its current andfuture investors. Practitioners of the profession are referred to asaccountants. They are responsible for managing, updating, correcting,and reporting the business accounts. They are the keepers of allaccounts within the company. In America, just as with many countriesin the world it is a requirement that all accountants must belicensed. This license is commonly referred to as Certified PublicAccountant or CPA. Other countries describe the license as CharteredAccountant. To achieve the status of a certified public accountantaccountants are often subjected to multiple tests and examinationsthat see them gain the permit. Changes in business operations aroundthe world have called for changes in the accounting profession makingit necessary for the test also to be modified. This essay examinesthe changes made to the examination and discusses the profession ofaccounting in detail.

TheChanges in the Exam

Asof 20th April 2017, the accounting profession will be subjected tochanges in its CPA licensing examination. The expected changes in thetest come after extensive deliberations about the altering businessenvironment around the world. Research that was done with regards tothis found out that to protect the interest of the public,individuals that seek the licensure of CPA had to demonstrate theirknowledge and skills necessary for performing more advancedaccounting task (Duchac, Warren, &amp Reeve, 2011). They also had tobe able to contribute to complex accounting projects earlier in theircareers as opposed to past epochs where they were allowed to growinto the profession. Lastly, these individuals have to possess ahigher order of intellectual skills and professional scepticism.Changes in the examinations were proposed to ensure the CPA examsremained relevant to the accounting profession with regards to thechanging business environment.

Additionally,changes in the CPA examination will not affect the subject matter ofthe exams. The primary change and most notable one will be theincrease in the degree or the skill level at which the accountantswill be tested. The purpose of these amendments was to ensure thatthe content of the examination tested the skills that new accountantsmust have to protect the public interest. These skills include:

• Efficientcommunication skills

• Well-developedresearch expertise

• Arobust understanding of the business

• Criticalthinking, problem-solving, analytical ability and professionaldistrust

• Moralsand professional responsibility

Inorder for an increase in higher order skills, the examination bodyadopted a skill level framework based on the latest Blooms Taxonomyof Educational Objectives. Currently, the exams contain contents thatare primarily designed with a structure that allows the examinee toremember, understand and apply accounting concepts (Gabre,Flesher &amp Ross, 2015).The model will see this model removed and place more emphasis onassessing higher-order skills of application, analysis, andevaluation. The higher-order skillsets will be examined within thecontext of the questions.

Theapplication will involve calculation, testing, implementing,preparing, using, representing, and executing of accounting duties.Analysis, on the other hand, will include reconciling,deconstructing, deducing, implying, distinguishing, organizing,integrating, and validating accounting processes. Finally, evaluationof the accounting procedures will involve justifying, critiquing,detecting, recommending, assessing and passing valid judgments of theaccounts.

Thechanges in the examination will see an increase of task-basedsimulation compared to the current exams. These task-basedsimulations will include the addition of TBS to the BEC section(Schreiber &amp Müller, 2013). Candidates will be required to about15-30 minutes to complete the TBS section compared the current examsthat require them to allocate only 10-20. Adding more TBS to thereviews will see a significant decrease to the MCQ section except forthe REG exams. The exam changes have also seen the introduction ofdocument review simulation, which is a new type of TBS.

Thedocument review simulation is scheduled to be tested on AUD, REG, FARexams sections (Gabre,Flesher &amp Ross, 2015).This was included at the start of July 2016 making it the onlysignificant change to the exams that comes before quarter two of2013. The document review simulation will be used to test thecandidate’s application skills and will be evolved to verify theanalytical and evaluation skills once the 2017 examination changesare placed into effect. This new simulation serves the purpose ofincreasing the authenticity of the CPA exams. It will enable thecandidate`s to be tested on real-life issues that they will have toperform in their accounting careers. This will make it compulsory forcandidates to reference documents, for example, legal letters, phoneconversations transcripts, and substantial literature to distinguishwhat is not considered as important (James, 2012). These examinationchanges will affect the scoring and time allocation to the exams.Currently, the multiple-choice questions comprise of 60 percent ofthe scoring weight in AUD, FAR, REG. In BEC it consists of 85 percentof the scoring weight with the remaining 15 percent attributed towritten communication. The increase in TBS will see the multiplechoice question share the scoring weight equally in the AUD, FAR, andREG. In BEC task-based simulation will take up 35 percent of thescoring weight while multiple choice question and writtencommunication will take 50 % and 15 % respectively.

Timeallocation will also be changed for the first time since the changesthat occurred in 2011. The Business Environments and Concepts and theRegulation section of the exams will see their time allocationincrease by one hour (Schreiber &amp Müller, 2013). This will beused to account for the growth in the task base simulations and theassessment of the higher level skills. Additionally, candidates willalso be allowed a 10-15 minute break during each exam section. Thistime will not be part of the candidate`s testing time as comparedwith the current exam regulation in which the breaks count in thecontext of the testing time. The increase in time allocation will seethe overall reviews cost increase by at least twenty dollars.

TheCPA exam is structured into four parts which must be fully completedby the candidates for them to attain the licensing. These componentsinclude:

Auditingand Attesting

Auditingand attesting which takes up 70 percent of the exams. It tests oninternal controls and audit reports and options. ProfessionalResponsibility section of this part takes up 20 percent of the paper.Finally the accounting and review services part tests on theinternational standards on auditing against the American standards ofverification. It weighs 10 percent of the total paper.

FinancialAccounting and Reporting

Financialaccounting tests on bonds, pensions, and leases. It tests candidates’preparation of consolidated financial statements and their ability toidentify and understand the difference between statements prepared onthe basis of GAAP against IFRS. This takes up 80 percent of the paperwhile the remaining 20 percent is tested on the governmental andnon-profit organization accounting (Hiltebeitel,Derstine &amp Fuller, 2016).


Managementpaper allocates 60 percent of its score weight on tax which test forindividual taxes, partnerships, and corporate taxation. 20 percent ofthe paper is allocated to business law which checks on contracts anduniform commercial codes (El-Ramly &amp Dennis, 2016). The remaining20 percent of the regulation examinations test on ethics,professional and legal responsibility.

BusinessEnvironments and Concepts

Thebusiness environments and concept analysis on financial andoperational management which weighs 35 percent of the paper. 15percent of the paper check on information systems while 30 percenttest on corporate governance (El-Ramly &amp Dennis, 2016). Theremaining 20 percent of the paper check on economic concepts andstrategic planning. This article will require the candidates todemonstrate an understanding of globalization on the businessenvironment and business strategy.

Significanceof CPA Education, Exams and License, as well as Career Opportunities

Thereare multiple reasons why one should take the CPA examination, butmany will never see the hidden reasons behind attaining a CPAcertification. The knowledge gained as a CPA holder has proven to befinancially beneficial to CPA professionals. CPA gives one theknowledge on how to properly file tax returns and furnishes one withthe latest laws and regulations (Whittington, 2013). This allows CPAholders to capitalize and save themselves the most amount of money ontaxes throughout their lives. As a CPA holder, one is given theopportunity to process an enormous number of tax returns where theyget to know the best way to claim and categorize funds. Thisknowledge can be shared with friends and family to help them savemoney which in turn earns a CPA holder respect and potential futureclients. Other professions do not allow for this.

Gettingthe CPA license is also a mandatory requirement for all accountants.The license is often a pre-requisite for a lot of organizations bothin the public domain and the private sphere. Some firms make theiranalysts pursue and earn the CPA license as part of this requirementor as an option for professional development (Fabricant, Miller, &ampStark, 2012). Earning a CPA license makes one stand out to thecurrent employers and often makes the difference in the job search.The license also positions one for leadership and management positionas well as other related promotions. Accountants who are CPA holdersare always viewed differently setting them aside from the generalpopulace giving one an advantage in all sorts of business andpersonal situation.

Thefinancial crisis that hit the world at the beginning of the 21stCentury made corporate accountability the most significant concernfor companies and their shareholders. Currently, those who hold CPA`sare indispensable as management heavily relies on them for thefinancial health of their enterprises. The financial melt-down alsomade CPA holders be in high demand as workload in the accountingdepartments of almost all corporates significantly increased leadingto a shortage of accountants on the global scale (Berlinski, Dewan, &ampDowding, 2012). Studies also reveal that 75 percent of all currentCPA holders will retire in the next 15 years creating a gap foraccountants to jump in. CPA owners globally are also paid better thantheir counterparts in similar positions. Studies show that CPA holderearns over 10 percent better than non-CPA holders with those who haveover five years` experience making more.

CPAholders can perform many highly-specialized job functions. Thesefunctions include auditing, business, and management consulting,international financial reporting and tax advisory services. Suchskills ensure that CPA holders are flexible in their workplaceenabling them to change their daily work schedule in the processmanage boredom with the workplace. With these skills, the CPA holderalso has multiple career options they would choose from apart frombeing an accountant to an organization (Hiltebeitel,Derstine &amp Fuller, 2016).CPA holders also have opportunities to demonstrate their expertiseand commitment to the accounting profession skillfully. It is one ofthe few professional certifications that carry with it a lot ofrespect and lots of prestige.

Prosof CPA

Thereare a lot of advantages of being a CPA holder. For example, a CPAholder finds themselves in a position where they have a lot of jobopportunities waiting for them. Every organization and business haveto have an accountant who will manage and balance their books.Analysts play a significant role in ensuring that agencies andbusinesses operate within their budgets (El-Ramly &amp Dennis,2016). As long as companies still exist, there will always be theneed to have an accountant and having a CPA certification gives onean advantage of becoming the organization`s accountant. CPA alsoensures job security for its holders. The ever changing tax codes andgovernment regulations coupled with the need for all businesses tohave an accountant at any particular time ensures that auditorsremain employed as long as they are doing their jobs.

HavingCPA also gives the holders a clear path of career they would want tohave. Those who decide to go for CPA have probably made the decisionthat they will be crunching numbers and analyzing cost. Unlike othercareers, CPA offers a clear career path one would follow. CPA alsoprovides potential growth to those who hold it within anorganization. After graduation, one might begin as an entry levelassociate, but within a few years, they would be promoted tosupervisors, account managers, tax directors or partner. Some holdersprogress to levels where they have their firms (Hiltebeitel,Derstine &amp Fuller, 2016).A CPA holder also can advance in their careers by taking newprofessional careers and certifications that would boost their CPAcredentials.

Anotheradvantage of CPA is it does not tie one down to a particularlocation. CPA offers one avenue to expand their careers to differentgeographical areas as the certification is recognized globally. CPAdoes not also tie one down to one career path those who look atchanging their careers are free to do so such as being a consultantto a firm or offering tax advice to organizations or individuals. Theaccounting profession alone has multiple career areas (El-Ramly &ampDennis, 2016). These include management, financial, auditing, andtaxes providing a CPA holder with options to choose from. CPA offersflexibility in working environment and enables one to hold differentjob position. For example, one can work for the government and stillconsult with the private sector or even own their accounting firmwhile still employed.

Consof CPA

Withevery advantage come the disadvantages. In CPA getting thecertification is one of the drawbacks. Not all accountants are CPAholders, and there are other certifications for accounting thatanalysts might consider. Unlike other accounting certification, CPACertification requires an advanced degree and a year or more workingexperience in a public institution or a reputable privateorganization (Simkin, Norman and Ross 2011). It also involves passingof four-part exams that take a lot of time to complete. Thisfour-part examination takes at least another six months to one yearto complete. The passing rate for this exam is often less than 50percent of those who pursue it because of the toughness in theexamination and challenging path one has to go through to get thecertification.

Anotherdisadvantage is that accounting jobs may be boring especially tothose who have a creative mind. Monotony might be considered as a proor a con depending on how one looks at it. To those who like workingwith clear cut rules and confined highly regulated industries CPA isa good option for them but those who like to innovate the accounting,the option does not suit them (Gabre,Flesher &amp Ross, 2015).Working as an accountant requires for one to be a problem solver andhave a meticulous attention to details for them to avoid accountingerrors. The job is also repetitive and accurate therefore those whoget into it must be prepared to spend a lot of time sitting at theirdesk working on their computers doing the same kind of job. Thismight result in stress as its cyclical pattern, and heavy workloaddoes not give one time for any other activity (Hiltebeitel,Derstine &amp Fuller, 2016).The accounting job is a typical 9-5 job but certain seasons like thetax returns season will require the accountants to spend more hoursat the office to them to beat deadlines.

CareerChoice Available

Theaccounting profession is a surprisingly competitive career makingmany accountants to seek advanced certifications and other ways thatcan set them apart from other and enable them to earn more. Withoutexploring additional options with CPA, one is likely one is likely tobe left behind career-wise (Gabre,Flesher &amp Ross, 2015).This serves as a disadvantage to those who feel that attaining anadvanced degree and spending another year in achieving thecertification is enough. These pros and cons go into showing that theaccounting job is not for everyone, but it can also turn out to bethe best career for those who love to play around with numbers.


Changingthe CPA examination is a good step towards revamping the directionfor the accounting profession needs to take. The changing businessenvironment in the world called for accountants to be practical intheir working environment. Having examinations that test theirability in different accounting field enables them to be prepared inwhat they expect to find in the real working environment. Thedecision to become a CPA holder and finally an accountant is one thatshould not be taken lightly. There are significant advantages to theaccounting career, but the downside to it exist as well. Consideringboth the benefits and disadvantages can go a long way in ensuringthat one makes the right decision concerning this career.


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