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How the CPA Exam breaks down

Knowing the differences between the sections can help you schedule them in a way that maximizes your odds of success.

You probably already know that the CPA Exam is a four-part affair. You take one section at a time and then move on to the next one, all over the course of 18 months. There’s more to enjoy that way, right? At least we give you the option of taking the exams in whatever order suits you.

When you’re going into battle, you need to know what you’re up against. Knowing the differences between the sections can also help you schedule them in a way that maximizes your odds of success. So here’s a closer look at each of the four sections.

For more specific information on each of the exam sections, review the Exam Blueprints.

Audit and Attestation (AUD) 

Everything from planning the engagement to internal controls, AUD weighs in at 4 hours of fun. It covers:

  • Ethics, Professional Responsibilities and General Principles (15-25%)
  • Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Response (20-30%)
  • Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence (30-40%)
  • Forming Conclusions and Reporting (15-25%)
Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)

Covers the typical items in financial statements, as well as the not-so-typical details in governmental and not-for-profit reporting. Some say it’s the hardest. 4 hours.

  • Conceptual Framework, Standard Setting & Financial Reporting (25-35%)
  • Select Financial Statement Accounts (30-40%)
  • Select Transactions (20-30%)
  • State and Local Governments (5-15%)
Regulation (REG)

Ethics. Something you want to be known for. REG gives you 4 hours to prove yourself in that department.

  • Ethics, Professional Responsibilities and Federal Tax Procedures (10-20%)
  • Business Law (10-20%)
  • Federal Taxation of Property Transactions (12-22%)
  • Federal Taxation of Individuals (15-25%)
  • Federal Taxation of Entities (28-38%)
Business Environment & Concepts (BEC)

This four-hour section tests your knowledge in five diverse areas. Get the break-downs of each.

  • Corporate Governance (17-27%)
  • Economic Concepts & Analysis (17-27%)
  • Financial Management (11-21%)
  • Information Technology (15-25%)
  • Operations Management (15-25%)

Now that you know how the exam breaks down, get some free tools to help you with the challenge.

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