Select Page

What is Included on the CPA Exam?

CPA ExamAn aspiring public accountant must meet specified educational, experience and examination requirements to obtain a certified public accountant (CPA) license, and most pay particular attention to topic areas included on the CPA exam. Most university accounting degree programs help students to meet their state’s education requirements for CPAs, and they facilitate internship opportunities that allow students to earn educational credit and gain relevant work experience. However, the Uniform CPA Examination is the license requirement that tends to produce the most anxiety among future accountants, according to the American Institute of CPAs. Here are the topics covered on the comprehensive test.

Business Environment and Concepts

All accountants must apply accounting principles within the context of a business environment. This business environment that includes areas like management, economics, business law, strategy development and information technology is covered within the CPA exam. These business concepts are usually taught within business administration curricula, but they are typically broader topics than the ones normally taught within accounting specific degree programs. The current exam format for this section requires that test takers complete 90 multiple choice questions and three written simulations within a three hour time frame.

Auditing and Attestation

The Auditing and Attestation section of the CPA exam requires students to demonstrate their knowledge of audit procedures and the industry standards used in the audit process. The audit process is used to gather information to make a determination about accounting compliance issues. However, the methodical procedures that auditors use to gain this insight are the items mainly covered on the CPA exam. For example, test takers are often required to answer questions about the content of audit reports. Questions within this section also cover internal control. The Auditing and Attestation section consists of 90 multiple choice questions and seven written simulations that must be completed within four hours.

Financial Accounting and Reporting

The Financial Accounting and Reporting section of the CPA exam is often thought of as the most straight forward of all the sections, because it is so directly aligned with most university accounting degree curricula. This section covers cost, financial and managerial accounting topics. Test takers are often asked to demonstrate knowledge of financial statement content and reporting standards for private, public and non-profit entities. This test section has 90 multiple choice questions and seven task based simulation questions that must be completed within four hours.


The Regulation section of the CPA exam mainly covers taxation rules and statutes. General business law and ethics issues account for less than half of the questions covered within the Regulation portion of the CPA exam. Test takers must successfully complete 72 multiple choice questions and six task based simulation questions within three hours to master the Regulation section of the CPA exam.

Related Resource: Certifications Needed To Become an Accountant


Good university degree programs and reputable test preparatory guides like Becker CPA Exam Review help most accountants to get ready for the test. After preparing for this comprehensive exam, most students wonder when is the best time to take the CPA exam. Nearly all states require students to have 150 semester credit hours of accounting related education before they receive their license. While specific requirements vary by state, future public accountants can sit for the CPA exam before achieving those 150 semester credit hours in states like Massachussetts, and they have up to three years to fulfill the education requirement after they successfully pass all sections included on the CPA exam.