The CPA (certified public accountant's) exam is a series of four tests that take on average 14 hours to complete. Each test is designed around a specific accounting fundamental. These fundamentals include auditing, reporting, regulations and business concepts. Individuals are given a window of 18 months within which to take all four sections of the exam. There are pre-exam courses you can take to be more prepared for the test, but they are not required.
The 4 Sections of the Exam
Each section of the CPA Exam is identified by a three-letter code. This code is usually an abbreviation of the test's title. Each test needs to be completed within a set amount of time. This time varies per section depending on the amount of information and the depth of the concepts being tested.
- AUD (Auditing & attestation)
- FAR (Financial Accounting & Reporting)
- REG (Regulation)
- BEC (Business Environment & Concepts)
Every state sets its own eligibility requirements for CPA Exams. In general, testers should have a bachelors degree in accounting with at least 150 semester hours. Most states want to see a minimum of 25 semester hours specifically focused in accounting as well as additional semester hours of business-related courses.
You do not need to be a U.S. citizen to take the CPA Exam. In fact, for most states you do not need to reside in that state to take the CPA Exam. You do need to take the exam for the state(s) you plan to work in.
On average the CPA exam will cost just under $1,000 to take.
Retaking One or More Tests
Some states will allow you to retake one or more of the CPA tests for a fee if you are still within the 18 month window. Other states require you to retake the entire exam. Before you begin taking the CPA exam it is a good idea to find out what your state's exam rulings are.
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