Tips on preparing employees for the new CPA exam; both employers and staff candidates can benefit from getting ready.

Author:Snyder, Adam

This article explores the new, computerized Uniform CPA Examination, which in April 2004 will replace the paper-and-pencil version. The computer-based CPA exam is a joint effort by the AICPA, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and Prometric, a developer of computer-based testing services.

The webcast discussed in this article is available at org/cpa/webcast_Archived.htm.


A panel of accounting professionals recently offered advice to employers on how to prepare themselves and their CPA candidates for the new, computerized CPA exam in a November 12 webcast, archived and still available by registering at

In the webcast, moderator John F. Hudson, CPA, of the Hudson Consulting Group, begins by summing up the purpose: The format and the content of the CPA exam are about to change; consequently the process for preparing CPAs to pass the exam needs to change as well. "The changes are more than just turning in your pencil and paper for a keyboard, so the webcast informs candidates of the differences between the two formats, discusses best practices from other professions and motivates both employers and employees to adequately prepare for the new exam," says Hudson.


The new exam reflects the enormous growth that has taken place in the accounting profession during the past 20 years, says Diane Rubin, CPA, partner of Novogradac & Co. LLP, San Francisco. Arleen R. Thomas, CPA, AICPA vice-president of professional standards and services, spearheaded the transition to the computerized exam that had as one of its milestones a practice analysis that queried supervisors on the kinds of work skills entry-level CPAs use so that an exam could test their knowledge and skills. One was the ability to communicate, specifically in writing; others were a "higher order of skills," which included researching an issue or problem, analysis, judgment, understanding, conducting an analytical review and preparing solutions to current business problems.

"In this day and age, no one can memorize the volume of accounting literature that's out there," says Thomas. "The practice analysis told us to move away from testing that kind of memorization and move toward evaluating a higher order of skills."


The panelists emphasize that the extraordinary flexibility of the new exam is a great benefit to both employers and...

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