Changes to the FAR CPA Exam in 2016

Op, op, op, op, oppa Gangnam Style 🙂 Do you remember back in 2012 when the world of pop culture changed?

Besides being extremely awesome, what does Gangnam Style have to do with anything, especially to the announced changes to the FAR CPA Exam in 2016 for 2017? Well, similar to how Gangnam Style tapped into the zeitgeist of 2012, the new CPA Exam will be a defining change for aspiring test goers. Although not as catchy, there is most certainly the time before the new CPA Exam and the time after the new CPA Exam.

The goal of this post is to inform you about the critical changes to FAR that are captured in the Practice Analysis Final Report and the Exposure Draft: Maintaining the Relevance of the Uniform CPA Examination. Before we get into the specifics, let’s discuss some of the burning questions you may have. First, the new CPA Exam will be released on April 1, 2017. This means that if you do not want to take the new CPA Exam you should go ahead and take the current version before April 1, 2017. Second, in order to pass the CPA Exam, you need to pass all four sections. Whether these sections come from the current version, new version, or some combination of both, it does not matter. However, you need to make sure you pass all four parts within the 18 month window. Lastly, there is a minor increase in testing fees for BEC and REG. The testing fees will stay the same for AUD and FAR.

Announced Changes: Focus on Higher Order Skills

To make the CPA Exam more relevant, the AICPA has adapted the new version of the CPA Exam to focus on higher order skills. The idea is that by testing higher order skills you will be tested on content and skills that are reflective of working in the “real world.” To see the breakdown of skills tested and their associated weights, check out the table below.

FAR Skill Levels

Skill Level


Remembering and Understanding10-20%


Announced Changes: Updated Content Specification Outline and Skill Specification Outline

In addition to focusing on higher order skills, the new CPA Exam comes along with a new Content Specification Outline and a new Skill Specification Outline. So that you can have a better understanding of what areas will be tested on the new version of FAR, check out the table below.

FAR Content Area Allocation

Content Area


I. Conceptual Framework, Standard-Setting and Financial Reporting25–35%
II. Select Financial Statement Accounts30–40%
III. Select Transactions20–30%
IV. State and Local Governments5–15%


For information about the current Content Specification Outline and Skill Specification Outline, check out Most Tested Topics on CPA FAR Exam.

Announced Changes: Structure

Lastly, perhaps most interesting to you are the structural changes to FAR. Although not as drastic of a change as BEC and REG, the makeup of FAR will be slightly different. See below to see how FAR will be different before and after the change to the CPA Exam.

FAR Structure Changes

Current Version

Multiple Choice Questions90 questions
Multiple Choice Questions Weight60 percent
Task Based Simulations7 simulations
Task Based Simulations Weight 40 percent
Written Communication TasksN/A
Written Communication Tasks WeightN/A
Time4 hours

New Version

Multiple Choice Questions66 questions
Multiple Choice Questions Weight50 percent
Task Based Simulations8-9 simulations
Task Based Simulations Weight 50 percent
Written Communication TasksN/A
Written Communication Tasks WeightN/A
Time4 hours


For information about the current structure of the CPA Exam, check out What is the Uniform CPA Exam and FAR CPA exam duration – How long is the test.

Now that you are an informed test goer, pick which version of FAR you would like to take and plan accordingly. As always, remember to breathe.

By the way, sign up for our 1 Week Free Trial to try out Magoosh GMAT Prep!

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