The very mention of CPA would bring to our mind handsome compensation. That is just one side of the picture. CPAs play a significant role in running large corporations. They are an integral part of several entrepreneurial efforts in many countries. Preparation of tax returns and audit are in their domain of activities. Wise financial planning of any business involves the application of sound accounting principles. All these indicate the exciting opportunities in the realm of CPAs. You can go for. routine jobs or start your own private practice. If you have fine initiative and an innovative mind, you may end up as a leader in business or industry. 
Look at some of the areas of operation of a CPA. 

Public practice: Auditing, Assurance Services, Environmental Accounting, Forensic Accounting, IT Services, International Accounting, Consulting Se Services, Personal Financial Planning, Tax Advisory Services 
Business and Industry: Financial Management, Financial Reporting, Internal Auditing, Management Accounting, Tax Planning, Non-Financial Positions 
Government: Performance Audit, Financial Audit, Compliance Audit, Investigative Audit 

The CPA certification opens the door even to positions like the Chief Financial Officer or Chief Executive Officer of reputed organisations. Women have been observed to do remarkably well in this profession. However, the percentage of women joining the Accounting line is low. 


The Uniform CPA Examination effective from January 1, 2011 is known as CBT-e. The examination is offered on computer at a number of test centres across the 55 states and territories (jurisdictions) of the United States. Successful completion of the examination is one of the requirements for licensure from any jurisdiction. Each jurisdiction sets its own norms for education and experience for admission to CPA Examination. 

To become a CPA, you must be declared eligible for the examination, and subsequently licensed, by the 'Board of Accountancy in one of the 55 US jurisdictions. The CPA credential, which is a license issued' a jurisdiction, authorises the holder to practise in that jurisdiction. 

NASBA (The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy): The 55 United States boards of accountancy are the members of NASBA. It serves as a common platform for interstate practice. All jurisdictions submit information on eligible candidates to NASBA. 

AICPA (The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants): The AICPA is the largest national professional organisation for CPAs, with nearly 350,000 members on its rolls. It has a tradition of more than 120 years. It decides all matters pertaining to the Uniform CPA Examination, prepares the examination questions, and determines the method of scoring. It carries out certification and ensures licensing standards. Website : 



Though there are differences among the various states, the general pattern is as follows: 
• Application to take the Examination 
• Payment of Examination Fees 
• Review of tutorial and sample tests by the candidate 
• Receiving the Notice to Schedule 
• Scheduling the Examination 
• Take the Examination 
• Receiving Score Reports 

You have to be thorough with the specific requirements of your board of accountancy. Once you file your application, either the board or its designated agent will contact you for further steps. Candidates from countries, other than US including India, should also select a jurisdiction and proceed. 

Examination Fee 
The amount of fee depends on the section of the examination and is paid either to your board of accountancy, its designated agent, or to NASBA. The Uniform CPA Examination is a 14-hour test with four sections. 
• Auditing and Attestation (AUD) — 4.5 hours 
• Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) — 2.5 hours 
• Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) — 4 hours 
• Regulation (REG) — 3 hours 

Since the rules vary by jurisdiction, follow the pattern in the board of your choice. After the board takes your fees, it will inform NASBA which sections of the examination you are eligible to take. If the board has taken only the application fee at the time of application, you will have to pay the examination fee to NASBA, as directed by the board. The application process may take 4 to 6 weeks. 

You will receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS) from NASBA. Based on this you can contact Prometric and schedule your test. The NTS may usually be valid Only for six months. In some jurisdictions, it may be less or more. It is valid for onetesting event or until the expiration date, whichever is earlier. Your NTS contains an 'examination password' that you will enter on the computer as part of the log in process. You should have y for admission to the our NTS with you test centre. 

The computer-based Uniform CPA Examination is offered in the first two months of each calendar quarter. It is available during eight months, except March, June, September, and December. The months of testing the 'testing windows': 
• January, February 
• April, May 
• July, August 
• October, November 

You may take any or all sections of the examination during any testing window and in any order. However, you may not take the same section more than once during any one testing window. Schedule your test as quickly as possible after you receive the NTS so that you do not miss the early dates. 

You will be allowed to take the examination at any authorised Prometric test centre in the US, even if it is outside your chosen 'jurisdiction'. See the full list of centres an available the Prometric site, keep your NTS ready and schedule in the site, following the instructions provided there. Take a print and keep it securely for future reference. The confirmation number for your appointment is very important. 

If you try to reschedule or cancel your appointment, you may have to pay a special fee or even forfeit the examination fee you already paid, depending on the time when you request Prometric for a change. Candidates in exceptional circumstances may request an exception from the general policy of payment through their board of accountancy. 

You should arrive at the test centre at least 30 minutes before the appointed time for fulfilling formalities, such as signing in, digital photograph, and fingerprint. You will be given an extra half hour for your entering the identification number, reading the introductory screens, and completing the survey at the end of the test. You should carry approved forms of identification documents as prescribed by the authorities. The terms of identification are enforced very strictly at the testing centres. 

Since calculators, personal digital assistants or other computer devices are not allowed in the testing room, your preparation for the examination should be in tune with this restriction. Unless you have practised addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division without using calculators, you ma y find it hard to perform even simple mental calculations quickly. You should keep in mind that there will be time constraint as well in the test. 

As mentioned the names of the four sections of the 14-hour test. Each section contains units known as 'testlets.' Testlets are groups of questions that are constructed to appear together. Each testlet comprises either a group of 24 to i0 multiple-choice questions (MCQ), or one complete case study, known as a simulation. 

Simulations are condensed case studies that test your accounting knowledge Ind skills using teal life work-related situations. Each simulation is considered one testlet and would take 30 — 50 minutes to complete. It complements the MCQ. The relative weights would be Multiple-choice 70% and Simulation 30%. Out of the 30% in simulation, the objective portion gets 20% and the written communication portion 10%. 

Composition of four sections of CPA Examination


Section Name





Auditing and Attestation

4.5 hours

MCQ testlets and 2 simulation testlets

Auditing procedures, generally and 2 simulation accepted auditing standards testlets and other standards related to attest engagements, and the skills needed to apply them in those engagements


Business Environment and Concepts

2.5 hours

3 MCQ testlets and 2 simulation testlets

General business environment Environment and business concepts that and Concepts candidates need to know in order to understand the underlying business reasons for, and accounting implications of, business transactions, and the skills needed to apply them.


Financial Accounting and Reporting

4 hours

3 MCQ testlets and 2 simulation testlets

Generally accepted accounting and 2 simulation principles for business enterprises, not-for-profit organisations, and governmental entities, and the skills needcd to apply them. 3 MCQ testlets



3 hours

3 MCQ testlets and 2 simulation testlets

Federal taxation, ethics, and 2 simulation professional and legal testlets responsibilities, and business law, and the skills needed to apply them. 

Each simulation includes a written communication exercise. You should read a situation description and then write an appropriate document relating to the situation. It may be a memo. a letter or a similar document. The script should be precise. complete. concise, and clear. Clarity is supreme,  You should satisfy the principles of writing mechanics. such as grammar, spelling word usage, punctuation. and sentence structure. The document should be professional in conformity with fine business writing principles and systematic organisation. The site gives further information on these points.

In simulations, you would use financial accounting, auditing, or taxation databases. The financial accounting database may have parts of FASB (Financial and Accounting Standard Board) and AICPA literature. The auditing database may have parts of the professional standards issued by the AICPA and the PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board). The taxation database would contain parts of the Federal Tax Code and the professional standards issued by the AICPA and the PCAOB. 

To familiarise yourself with the computer-based examination format, functions, and question and response types, you may review the examination tutorial at Sample tests will help you. You should follow the directions provided in the tutorial and sample tests. 


The CAT helps You to assess your proficiencies for effectively functioning in the accounting profession. It gives you a gap analysis that tells your current value. You can use this information for identifying your areas of weakness and planning your learning activities, so as to reach high levels of CPA work. The tool costs $49. 

It may be remembered that there are different comet as taxation, audit, fraud prevention p envy models, such , business and industry, government, and following areas can be assessed. information technology. In each competency, the level of proficiency in the 
(1) Functional specialty
 (2) Broad business perspective 
(3) Leadership qualities 
(4) Personal attributes 


(1) Regular Member (passed the CPA exam and certified to practice) 
(2) Associate Member (passed the CPA exam but not yet certified) 
(3) Non-CPA Faculty Associate (any non-CPA accounting faculty member teaching at a college or a university) 
(4) International Associate (individual who holds non-US accounting credential and regular membership of any accounting organisation approved by an AICPA)  
(5) Student Affiliate (college student who aspires to join the accounting profession) 
(6) CPA Candidate (student or recent graduate who has not yet passed the CPA Exam) 
(7) Non-CPA Section Associate (non-CPA professional employed and sponsored by a CPA firm in an Institute-approved practice-monitoring program; may enroll in any of the AICPA's four voluntary sections) 
Further, there are Voluntary Membership Sections: Information Technology (IT), Tax (TAX), Personal Financial Planning (PFP), and Forensic and Valuation Services (FVS) 


(1) You should possess a valid CPA certificate issued by the legally constituted authority of a state, District of Columbia, territory, or territorial possession of the United States. 
(2) Pass an examination in accounting and other related subjects satisfactory to the AICPA Board of Directors. Candidates who first become eligible to take this exam after the year 2012 must have obtained 150 semester hours of education at an accredited college or university. This includes a bachelor's degree or its equivalent. After 2012, a person who has passed the examination and possesses a valid CPA certificate but who has not obtained 150 hours of education, including a bachelor's degree or its equivalent, shall be eligible for membership upon enactment (regardless of the effective date) of the 150 hours education requirement by the state which granted the person's certificate. 
(3) Most states/jurisdictions require at least two years public accounting experience. 
(4) AICPA members shall complete 120 hours, or its equivalent, of continuing professional education for each three-year reporting period. continuing 
The CPA certificate is not a licence. You should also fulfil the educational and work experience requirements before entering the world of practice. 

The AICPA expects you to be endowed with skills in diverse areas: 
(1) Problem-solving, analytical and research skills 
(2) Personal skills 
(3) Good communication skills, including the ability to be a good listener 
(4) Understand emerging technologies 
(5) High ethical standards 
(6) Marketing/client focus 
(7) Project management 
(8) Broad business perspective

No testing facility in respect of CPA is now available in India. 

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