CPA Exam: There are new changes made in the US CPA examination 2021 and for all those who are planning to write the Uniform CPA Exam in 2021, knowing regarding these changes becomes very essential. The field of Finance and Accounting is a profession that is always changing with time and due to which there are changes made to the exam, the AICPA regularly updates all the content on CPA exam so that it become easier for all the CPA aspirants to be up-to-date with the new concepts etc.

These changes are outlined in the AICPA’s CPA Exam Blueprints which basically give an overview of the concepts that the candidates need to know in order to pass the exam successfully.

Why are these changes made?

The changes made in the CPA exam is mainly to ensure that newly licensed CPAs continue to possess the knowledge and skills that is required to protect the public interest. Basically, the intent is to make sure that future CPAs will have the competencies they need to meet tomorrow’s accounting challenges. 

Till date what we can takeaway from the main changes made to the exam is that a CPA should have a digital and data driven mindset and also with proper understanding of business processes to be successful in the field of accounting. 

When would these changes take place?

The AICPA recently released an updated CPA Exam Blueprint. The concepts outlined in the new Blueprint will be tested starting on July 1, 2021. The CPA Exam continues to assess higher-order skills, including critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical ability. There are no changes to score weighting, testing time, or the number of CPA Exam questions.

Here are the major changes to the CPA exam:

  1. More emphasis on business processes:

AUD (Auditing and Attestation): One of the most important changes made to the audit section of the CPA exam is the increase in testing of business processes, this also includes focus on IT systems & controls with manual controls. The revised AUD section will test a lot more on “business processes and transactions that flow through them.”

BEC (Business Environment and Concepts): New content regarding “business processes and transaction-level risks and controls” will be tested in the BEC section. All the questions related to this topic would be all about the various aspects of technology that helps facilitate business processes. 

  1. Content on data analytics and digital skillsets in depth:

For both the sections which are AUD & BEC, students should be prepared for task-based simulations (TBSs) designed to evaluate a CPAs’ data analytics capabilities.

AUD (Auditing and Attestation): The latest AUD blueprint will now consist of expanded testing of digital skill sets which includes testing of audit data analytics. The candidates would have to analyse the results of an audit data analytic procedure. Another point to be noted is that revised content on how to utilize “automated tools and audit data analytics in audit sampling” is now testable. 

BEC (Business Environment and Concepts): The BEC section will now have questions on data governance and data relationships, as well as how to extract and transform data. 

  1. Increased emphasis on SOC 1® reports:

AUD (Auditing and Attestation): As auditors often need to “obtain and evaluate multiple SOC 1® reports on even relatively modestly sized clients,” there will be more testable content on this topic. The new AUD exam will underscore the differences between SOC 1® and SOC 2® reports, candidates need to examine the effects that these reports have on controls and the testing of controls. 

BEC (Business Environment and Concepts): BEC will cover “SOC 1® reports from the user entity’s perspective, which includes looking at complementary user entity controls associated with the reports and increased content on “understanding the need for SOC 1® reports for outsourced IT functions.”


Content Removal:

While there has been content added to the exam sections, there has been certain content that has been removed as well since the Practice Analysis Final Report found this content to be less important to CPAs. One of the most important changes made is that the differences between IFRS and US GAAP is now removed because the AICPA determined that IFRS is client-specific and it isn’t suitable for new CPAs. 

Another thing that would be removed from the FAR section is testing of defined benefit pension plans and derivative journal entries & testing of the alternative minimum tax and estate taxation will be removed from the REG exam.


It is essential for all CPA aspirants to be properly up-to-date regarding the CPA examination changes made for 2021 which would be effective from July 1, 2021. The AICPA and NASBA met with CPA providers and discussed the major changes to be made to the exam to ensure that the future CPAs are successful in their job. This article covers all the changes that were made. Hope this has clarified all the basic queries but  in case you have any other doubts, you may comment below.


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