CPA Exam vs the Bar

CPA Exam vs the Bar Exam, AKA CPA vs Lawyer career path. Which exam should I take? For some of you who are the adventurous type the answer may be both. What are the differences? Read on to find out the major differences between the CPA Exam and the Bar.

CPA Exam vs the Bar: CPA Exam

The Uniform CPA Exam is a computerized set of exams that test the same content areas to ensure aspiring CPA candidates have the necessary educational competencies to protect the public through the practice of public accounting.

The Uniform CPA Exam is not one exam but instead is a compilation of four unique exams: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Regulation (FAR), and Regulation (REG).

Each section of the exam is then composed of a certain number of multiple choice questions and task-based simulations or written communication tasks. Moreover, the CPA Exam, unlike the ACT, SAT, LSAT, GMAT, GRE, etc., is a competency exam and not an entrance exam. The table below outlines the timing of each section, the number of questions in each section, and the grading evaluation of each section.

Section Timing Multiple Choice Questions Task-Based Simulations or Written Communication Tasks
AUD 4 hours 90 MC (60%) 7 TBS (40%)
BEC 3 hours 72 MC (85%) 3 WCT (15%)
FAR 4 hours 90 MC (60%) 7 TBS (40%)
REG 3 hours 72 MC (60%) 6 TBS (40%)

For more information about the CPA Exam, check out AICPA’s Uniform CPA Examination FAQs.

CPA Exam vs the Bar: The Bar Exam

Now the Bar Exam tends to vary for different jurisdictions, and the Bar Exam is a test of competency, not an entrance exam for law students AKA the LSAT. Generally speaking, the Bar Exam is made up of three major parts in addition to state specific multiple choice questions and essays. These three parts include: (1) The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), (2) The Multistate Performance Test (MPT), and (3) The Multistate Essay Examination (MEE).

For some jurisdictions, these three parts are combined into one uniformed exam known as the Uniform Bar Examination. Please note that not all jurisdictions accept the Uniform Bar Examination. To figure out what your jurisdiction accepts, contact your state’s bar.

Section Timing Questions
MBE 6 hours 200 Multiple Choice
MPT 4.5 hours 3 Skills Questions
MEE 3 hours 6 Essays

For more information about the Bar Exam, check out the American Bar Association’s Bar Admission Basic Overview.

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One Response to CPA Exam vs the Bar

  1. Agatha July 19, 2016 at 11:02 pm #

    I know someone who has taken both – and said the CPA Exam is much harder than the Bar!

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