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What to Expect From the CPA Exam

Set yourself up for a successful career in accounting by learning what you can expect from the CPA exam and how to adequately prepare ahead of time.

If you want the best chance of succeeding as an accountant, you’ll want to become a CPA. But you probably knew that. What you might not know is what it’s like to take the CPA exam.

For full details on the exam and how it works, you can check out the American Institute of CPAs’ exam blueprint, which the organization keeps updated with the latest information. For a quick overview, we’ve got you covered here.


The Basics of the CPA Exam

The CPA exam is divided into four sections, each of which takes 4 hours to complete. The sections cover the topics of:

  • Auditing and Attestation
  • Business Environment and Concepts
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • Regulation

Types of Questions

Each section of the exam includes two or three different formats of questions. As of July 1, 2018, the sections are broken down as such:

Auditing and Attestation

  • 72 multiple-choice questions
  • 8 task-based simulations

Business Environment and Concepts

  • 62 multiple-choice questions
  • 4 task-based simulations
  • 3 written communications

Financial Accounting and Reporting

  • 66 multiple-choice questions
  • 8 task-based simulations


  • 76 multiple-choice questions
  • 8 task-based simulations

What Do CPA Exam Questions Test?

In order to assess your knowledge of accounting and your ability to apply that knowledge to real-world situations, the CPA exam measures four types of skills, adapted from Bloom’s Taxonomy. The four types of skills measured, from most basic to most complex, are:

  • Remembering and Understanding: The perception and comprehension of the significance of an area utilizing knowledge gained
  • Application: The use or demonstration of knowledge, concepts, or techniques
  • Analysis: The examination and study of the interrelationships of separate areas in order to identify causes and find evidence to support inferences
  • Evaluation: The examination or assessment of problems, and the use of judgement to draw conclusions

How Much Does the CPA Exam Cost?

The cost of the exam varies by jurisdiction. You should check with your state board of accountancy for exact costs. In general, you will be expected to pay a registration fee plus a fee to take each of the four sections of the exam.

How Can You Prepare for the CPA Exam?

Many people planning to take the CPA exam complete a review course. Most also complete an accounting degree program, such as the BS in Accounting program offered at Walden University. The Walden program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and has earned the organization’s Specialized Accounting Accreditation. It’s a particularly useful program if you plan on becoming a CPA, since it’s designed to let you focus on the content critical to sitting for the CPA exam.

Prepare for a Successful Accounting Career When You Earn Your Degree at Walden University

If you are interested in obtaining your bachelor’s in accounting, Walden’s ACBSP-accredited BS in Accounting program may be right for you. With rigorous coursework and academic guidance, Walden can help you position yourself for a successful accounting career. What’s more is that the program is offered on a flexible online platform that enables you to earn your degree from the convenience of your home or from wherever you have internet access. If you’re looking to enter the accounting field and advance your career, pursue your accounting degree at Walden.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a BS in Accounting degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

Walden’s BS in Business Administration, Master of Business Administration (MBA), Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), and PhD in Management programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). The MS in Accounting and BS in Accounting programs are also accredited by the ACBSP and have earned the organization’s Specialized Accounting Accreditation.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,