Wonder Wheels Glossary Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is a title granted to United States accountants who have qualified by passing the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (UCPAE). The UCPAE is created and scored by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. In most states, a CPA is the only one who is licensed and permitted to provide to clients attestation (including auditing) opinions on financial statements. In Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina and Ohio, while the CPA designation is restricted and can only be used by those who passed the UCPAE, any accountant can audit. If a person who has passed the UCPAE * has not finished the on-the-job experience requirement or * has previously met that requirement but since then has not completed their continuing professional education that person is designated “CPA Inactive.” The majority of states allow only a person licensed as a CPA in their state to use the designation. Therefore, a CPA from California is not called a CPA in Illinois until that person meets the state requirements of Illinois for a license or certificate. Texas is even more restrictive. Only a CPA in Texas can be addressed by the designations “auditor” and “accountant.” The only exceptions are: * a non-resident of Texas who is a CPA in another state AND * meets the requirements to practice in Texas as an out-of-state member of the CPA firm or practitioner.
Exam: The Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (UCPAE) is often referred to by this abbreviated title of “the CPA Exam.” To become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a candidate must pass the CPA Exam. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) constructed the exam to be rigorous enough to protect the public interest by ensuring that only very qualified people can become licensed as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Failure rate is high (54%). While the test is written by the national organization, it is given in multiple cities within each of the 54 U.S. jurisdictions (the 50 U.S. states and four U.S. territories). (See “Jurisdictions.”) Since the test is exactly the same, a candidate for sitting for the exam at any location for which they are approved. Thus, a college candidate from Rhode Island who meets the qualifications for the CPA Exam in Texas (where their employment is and where he/she wishes to be licensed) can take the test in Rhode Island. The scores are sent to Texas and then on to the candidate. Each jurisdiction has its own requirements a candidate must meet before they can sit for the exam. For more information, see “CPA Exam Application Process.”
Exams: The CPA Exam is divided into four parts, also called four sections. The sections are: * Auditing and Attestation * Business Environment and Concepts * Financial Accounting and Reporting and * Regulation. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) constructed the exam so that at maximum all four parts take 14 hours to complete. (There are candidates who finish in less time.) A candidate does not have to sit for all four parts at the same time but does have to pass all four parts within 18 months. The exams are given at Prometric centers during the months of January, February, April, May, July, August, October and November. Exam Prep: This is an abbreviated term for “CPA Exam Preparation.” Preparation entails studying for the exam with a combination of study tools and materials which fit the candidate’s learning style and budget. Study materials may include online textbooks, printed textbooks, video lectures by university professors with printable lecture slides, electronic flash cards, printed flash cards, professor mentoring, candidate discussion groups, private discussion groups, diagnostic tests and an electronic test bank of 5,100 past CPA Exam questions with answers and rationales. For more information, see CPA Exam Preparation. Exam Preparation: According to AICPA, only 46% of those who take the CPA Exam each year pass it. Thus it behooves a candidate to use CPA Exam Preparation materials to learn the scope and complexity of the topics which are tested on the exam. Study materials include but are not limited to: professor mentoring, professor video lectures with printable slides, professor-authored textbooks, Personalized Exam Planning, Course Manager, Private Study Groups, Proficiency Questions, Past Exam Questions; Simulations, Electronic Flash Cards, Exam Tutor, Diagnostic Exams, Performance Metrics, Simulated CPA Exams, Online Library and CPAexcel Final Review. Exam Preparations: CPA Exam Preparations consist of two separate categories: * Study Materials: According to AICPA, only 46% of those who take the CPA Exam each year pass it. Thus it behooves a candidate to use CPA Exam Preparation materials to learn the content, scope, and complexity of the topics which are tested on the exam format as well as the manner in which the test is delivered. Study materials include but are not limited to: professor mentoring, professor video lectures with printable slides, professor-authored textbooks, Personalized Exam Planning, Course Manager, Private Study Groups, Proficiency Questions, Past Exam Questions; Simulations, Electronic Flash Cards, Exam Tutor, Diagnostic Exams, Performance Metrics, Simulated CPA Exams, Online Library and CPAexcel Final Review. * Steps to complete the administrative application process: This is a multi-step process in which the candidate must be very careful to read carefully while filling out the application documentation. The steps are: * Do you have questions about the application process, the documents you need to submit, the fees you must pay, or your jurisdiction’s eligibility requirements? Contact the organization to which you submitted your application – either the Board of Accountancy in your jurisdiction or an organization representing the Board. 1. If the candidate has questions about * the documents needed during submission * the fees to be paid and to whom * eligibility requirements for that jurisdiction, the candidate should contact the Board of Accountancy (or the agency representing that Board) in which they wish to practice as a CPA. 2. Send in a Completed Application and Documents along with the Application Fees. Make certain that the name on the application matches the identification which will be presented on test day. If the application is in the name of “Cindy Jones” but her driver’s license states her name as “Cynthia Jones,” she may not be allowed to test. 3. Pay attention to details: in certain states, a candidate will send their application materials to the Board of Accountancy in that state but in other jurisdictions, all applications are sent to an organization designated by that Board and to the central processing location to that organization. For instance, a candidate who wishes to be a California CPA will send their application directly to the California Board of Accountancy in Sacramento while a candidate who wishes to become a Connecticut CPA will send their application to central processing organization in Tennessee. Fees differ: a wise candidate rereads the fee schedule to make certain that they are sending in the correct fees. 4. Send in your official college transcript if you are a first time candidate. If you were educated outside the US, the Board may require that your transcripts be evaluated by an agency which the Board has approved. There is a list on the Board’s website. 5. IF the candidate needs special accommodations for mental or physical challenge as covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the candidate must ask for accommodations at the time of the application. The Board must approve special accommodations. 6. After the Board of Accountancy or its agency representing it approves the application to sit for the exam, the Board or agency will send the candidate a Notice to Schedule (NTS). The NTS tells the candidate that they are eligible to take the exam parts for which they applied. The candidate needs the NTS to: * Contact Prometric to schedule the exam. * To present on test day at the test center as part of the identification verification process. Name on the NTS must match the identification presented exactly or the candidate risks not being admitted on test day. 7. If the candidate’s name on the NTS and the identification do not match, contact the Board of Accountancy or its agency to correct this before test day. 8. The NTS has an expiration date. After that point, the candidate must reapply and potentially pay additional fees. Be aware of this expiration and schedule the test ahead of that date. 9. Once the candidate has the correct NTS, the candidate should contact Prometric to select the best test day and testing center location. 10. When the exam is offered: The CPA Exam is given during testing windows, the first two months of every quarter. These months are: January, February, April, May, July, August, October and November. 11. Where the exam is offered: Since the same CPA Exam is given at every testing center, the candidate does not have to physically sit in a testing center in the jurisdiction in which they desire to become a CPA. For instance, a university candidate in Illinois who has been hired by a Texas CPA firm can apply to Texas and when approved, sit for the test in Illinois as a Texas candidate. When the candidate passes all four sections of the exam, the candidate is then a Texas CPA after licensure. 12. Who administers the CPA Exam? Prometric administers the giving of the CPA Exam in all 54 jurisdictions. Contact the Prometric Candidate Services Call Center at 800-696-2722 or www. Prometric.com to schedule the exam. 13. For Guam, refer to the NASBA testing center. If you applying to the Guam test center, read the directions in the Candidate Bulletin. On Test Day: * Arrive at least 30 minutes early at the test center to complete the sign-in process and the survey. By completing these steps before the examination, this does not infringe on the allotted examination time. * Bring the NTS and two forms of identification. See the Candidate Bulletin to ascertain acceptable forms of identification. Test centers may have different rules so do not assume that everything is the same from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon. * Know the rules about the launch of the examination and do not violate them. For instance, the candidate has 10 minutes to complete the first steps of the test. If the candidate does not complete the steps in those 10 minutes, the candidate may be barred from continuing the test. * Understand what is considered acceptable behavior.
Exam Study: There are four sections or parts of the CPA Exam: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG). According to AICPA, only 46% of those who sit for the CPA Exam pass it so it benefits a candidate to study for the exam. With a study tool such as CPAexcel’s Exam Planner, a candidate can quickly determine how much time he/she will need to study to be prepared to pass by a certain date OR by entering the number of hours per week they can study, they will quickly see when they will be prepared to sit for and pass that exam section. CPAexcel’s software designers collated the actual study hours logged by those CPAexcel candidates who have passed the exam and created formulas which can predict the intersection of study hours with exam success. With Exam Planner, a candidate can learn how much time studying is suggested to pass any given section of the exam. Exam Study Materials: Ideally, study materials should break down large blocks of knowledge into small, Bite-Sized LessonsSM which can be completed in about 30 minutes. A lesson should include study materials which address the needs of various learning styles: professors video lectures will appeal to auditory learners while professor-authored study texts will appeal to visual learners. A candidate should select those study materials which support the candidate’s learning style. Study materials include but are not limited to: professor mentoring, professor video lectures with printable slides, professor-authored textbooks, Personalized Exam Planning, Course Manager, Private Study Groups, Proficiency Questions, Past Exam Questions; Simulations, Electronic Flash Cards, Exam Tutor, Diagnostic Exams, Performance Metrics, Simulated CPA Exams, Online Library and CPAexcel Final Review.
Exam Study Course: A CPA Exam Study Course should prepare the candidate to pass the CPA Exam. The study course can be as non-technical as simply studying from a textbook or can be interactive and high tech by featuring daily contact with a mentoring accounting professor who responds quickly to the candidate’s posted questions and comments on a specific lesson. While certain study courses expire in 12 months (such as Becker) or 18 months (Roger CPA Exam), CPAexcel never expires: CPAexcel sends unlimited course updates and allows unlimited course repeats until the candidate passes the CPA Exam. Exam Testing Window:-when, where 1. When the exam is offered: The CPA Exam is given during testing windows, the first two months of every quarter. These months are: January, February, April, May, July, August, October and November. 2. Where the exam is offered: Since the same CPA Exam is given at every testing center, the candidate does not have to physically sit in a testing center in the jurisdiction in which they desire to become a CPA. For instance, a university candidate in Illinois who has been hired by a Texas CPA firm can apply to Texas and when approved, sit for the test in Illinois as a Texas candidate. When the candidate passes all four sections of the exam, the candidate is then a Texas CPA after licensure. 3. Number of cities in which the exam is offered often depends on the size and population of the state. For instance, Connecticut has three testing centers: Glastonbury, Hamden, and Norwalk. California has 19 testing centers from Alameda to Van Nuys, San Diego to Santa Rosa. Texas has 17 testing centers but four are in Houston and three are in San Antonio.
Review Course: “CPA Review Course” is synonymous with “CPA Exam Study Course” and several other terms. It is a method of organizing and teaching the information which will be covered on the CPA Exam in a manner which encourages retention and application by the candidate. In CPA Review Course, the candidate will review information learned in the college classroom as well as concepts learned on the job. In addition, material will be presented and taught which may not have been covered in either venue, thus giving the candidate a full appreciation of all the information which will be covered on the CPA Exam.
Review Courses: CPAexcel offers six different courses which meet the learning styles and the budgets of candidates. Each course is structured to appeal to a particular learning style with multiple study tools which present and then reinforce key concepts within a lesson lasting about 30 minutes. Review Course Comparison: When comparing CPA Review Courses, the consumer should consider the following: * Does the course give free updates and free course retakes? If not or if there are a number of qualifications before getting a free course retake, the consumer should the potential for added costs for these additional services. For instance, the cost of a Becker course nearly doubles when four course retakes. * Does the course provider clearly post their passing rates? CPAexcel does: 87% of CPAexcel’s students pass the CPA Exam-nearly double the national average! Other courses, like Becker, simply state that their passing rates are twice the national average but they are not specific about what that is. * What is the retail price for a complete top-of-the-line course? CPAexcel’s best course retails for $1690 and it includes a final review; Becker charges $2890 and makes the candidate pay extra for Final Review. * Is there a student discount? CPAexcel discounts their courses 20% to college students on the undergraduate or graduate level. A top-of-the-line course with Professor Mentoring has a student price of $1352. * Does the provider offer a choice in the elements included in each course? CPAexcel offers six different courses, combining their study tools in various ways, making the course adaptable to the candidate’s budgetary needs and learning styles. Becker offers only one set of course content, which is delivered either live or online. * Does the course offer both online and off-line learning? Is there are charge for both? CPAexcel offers both online and off-line learning at no additional cost. Becker makes the candidate select either online OR off-line-or pay more to get both! * How long is the course accessible? Becker: 12 months Roger: 18 months CPAexcel: Until the candidate passes the exam, however long that takes. * Who writes and delivers the instructional materials? CPAexcel has a faculty to top US accounting professors. Becker has national instructors, who may not be professors but simply grad students. * How many past CPA Exam questions are there for studying? CPAexcel: 5,100 Becker: 3,400 * Are online student discussion groups offered: CPAexcel: yes Becker: no * Are Simulated CPA Exams offered: CPAexcel lets the candidate take an unlimited number of simulated exams. Becker only allows 2. * Who sets the schedule? CPAexcel lets the candidate pick the start date and pace of the course. Becker has a fixed schedule to which the candidate must adhere. * Average duration of a video lecture/longest video lecture: CPAexcel: 7 minutes average 35 min. (the longest) Becker: 2+ hours 4 hours (240 minutes!) * Does a lesson incorporate all the study tools to present a concept? CPAexcel: Yes, lessons are completely integrated, Becker: No. * Is there a free demo? CPAexcel: Yes Becker: No Roger: Yes
Becker, Bisk, Gleim, Yeager in definition
Exam Requirement: The main requirement to becoming a CPA is passing the CPA Exam. Each jurisdiction has different regulations which must be met before the candidate is allowed to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam. Exam Requirements: Each of the 54 jurisdictions has its own set of requirements which a candidate must meet before being given permission to sit for the exam. As of March 2010, most jurisdictions required that the candidate complete 150 academic hours (or about five years of college or university academic work) prior to sitting for the exam. One state, Connecticut, allowed candidates to sit for the exam having completed 120 hours (a bachelor’s degree) but required that the person complete the additional 30 semester hours before the person was granted a license to practice. One state will allow years of work to suffice for a college degree. Only a few states allow for testing and licensure with only a bachelor’s degree. Most states require a work component as well in terms of number of years of work experience in the accounting field.
Exam Review: This is a study course to prepare and pass the CPA Exam. An exam review may be divided into four sections to mirror the CPA Exam itself so that there is a section for AUD, BEC, FAR and REG. An excellent review course will include study tools which support the student’s learning style, whether it is a visual learning style, auditory learning style, kinetic learning style or any combination thereof. Exam Reviews: There are a number of providers for CPA Exam Reviews. Some, like CPAexcel, hire university professors to mentor and author their study materials while other companies simply hire instructors who hit “Play” and let the lecture play out. CPAexcel publishes new textbooks twice a year while another course updates their books only once each year, which means those students are possibly paying for textbooks which are not up-to-date enough to study for the exam. Exam Review Questions: There are several categories of questions on the CPA Exam. These are: Multiple Choice Questions Task-Based Simulations (long format in 2010) Task-Based Simulations (short format in 2011) Written Communications in AUD, FAR and REG in 2010 but none in 2011 Written Communications in BEC in 2011 (There are none in 2010.) Research Question in 2011 in AUD, FAR and REG. (There are none in 2010.) The weight of the questions will change from 2010 to 2011 with multiple choice questions in 2010 carrying less weight in 2011 in AUD, FAR and RED, dropping from 70% of the score to 60% and Simulations doubling to 40%.
Public Accountant: Certain states offer a designation which not so rigorous in its qualifications. This is called the Public Accountant (PA). Many states no longer accept new applicants for this designation. As of 2010, only 10 states continue to offer the designation to new qualified members. The National Society of Public Accountants is their national association.
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