CPA Exam, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

The Prometric Testing Centers are closed until at least April 16th due the Coronavirus. In response to numerous candidate requests, NASBA, AICPA and Prometric are pleased to announce continuous testing for CPA Exam Candidates will begin July 1, 2020. Under the continuous testing model, candidates will have the ability to take the exam year round without restriction, other than waiting to receive scores from prior attempts of the same section or when there is a major change to the exam. Continuous testing will replace the current CPA Exam “Window” Model. Darius wishes to thank Brenda from the fabulous CPA Exam Club and Alaa Abu Dayyeh from My CPA Excellence for their updates.

The 55 US Boards of Accountancy enthusiastically support the move to Continuous testing while it positions candidates to re-take sections while information is current and not have to wait until the next “testing window”. This should shorten the time needed to complete FAR Audit BEC and REG. Candidates are asked to visit NASBA’s website to confirm that they can indeed take the exam “on demand”. NASBA, AICPA and Prometric support exam candidates on their CPA Exam journey and this latest improvement would not have been possible without cooperation between all 3.

The old “Testing Window” model is outdated (in place since 2003) and needed to be opened. Offering the CPA Exam on demand is going to help candidates, but it will put pressure on the AICPA initially. Up to now, the AICPA would get a reprieve, a break, when the window closes and no one is taking the exam. The AICPA used that time to catch up on releasing and reporting CPA Exam scores. Without a window that closes, CPA candidates will continue to test and scores will need to be released. While “Exam on Demand” is the better method for candidates, this will likely result in delays in score releases in the second half of 2020 as the AICPA adapts to their new policy.

Once upon a time, Schools, Barns and Warehouses hosted the CPA Exam. Each May and November, CPA candidates would herd in to these (not so friendly) confines to receive a test booklet, pencil and paper. A proctor would count down from ten, and the test would begin for everyone at the same moment. Those seated nearest you would be answering the exact same questions although their scan tron sheet would be shaped differently than yours to prevent cheating. 20 minutes after the test began, the outside door would be locked and any candidate who arrived late would be unable to crash, turned away and told to come back in six months! The proctor would announce when time was up and begin to collect several hundred scan tron sheets. You could keep the test booklet as you exited and you waited three months for your score to arrive (US Mail). The old “paper and pencil” CPA Exam ended in 2003 when the AICPA made Prometric the new sheriff and this immediately improved the exam experience. As of July 1, 2020, the latest AICPA improvement will be rolled out and candidates will be able to take FAR, Audit, BEC, and REG on demand. While this is great news, I don’t know if I am ready to hear people say “Back in My Day, we could only take the CPA Exam until the window closed” 

While Tomorrow’s “Exam on Demand” policy will put some pressure on the AICPA in 2020, leaving open the testing window is better for the AICPA than their nightmare scenario. The nightmare scenario for the AICPA would be to have to extend your 18 month window. They want to avoid that at all costs. However, if COVID19 drags on much longer and the Prometric testing centers have to remain closed, the AICPA will have no choice but to extend the 18 Month Window for those who have earned partial credit. The AICPA does not want to extend that window and have shown no interest in doing so at the present time.

Stay Healthy, Stay focused, Stay Tuned.

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