July 2003

Website of the Month: The Uniform CPA Examination

By Susan B. Anders, PhD, CPA, St. Bonaventure University

The Uniform CPA Examination website at www.cpa-exam.org is a must-read for anyone planning to take the exam as well as anyone who works with or advises potential CPAs. The website is a joint effort of the computerized exam’s creators: the AICPA, NASBA, and the Thomson Corporation.

Three outstanding features of the site are short videos about the new computerized exam and simulation questions; a “tutorial” on the new exam; and links to other sites and documents that CPA candidates will need. The website is easy to navigate and most of its features can be accessed from multiple locations. Two horizontal menu bars appear at the top of the main pages. The connecting screens, links, and downloads are quite fast, and the website appears to be updated regularly, although certain links did not work.

Primary Features

Computerized exam video. This 10-minute video requires Real Player or Windows Media Player. It covers the reasons for changes in the exam, when and where to take it, the time limit, its structure and content, and the treatment of previously passed parts. The video would be ideal for classroom viewing.

Simulations video. This short video addresses different aspects of the new simulation questions, including spreadsheets, word processing, tax forms, online calculators, and online research activities. Without showing actual exam questions, the video provides a quick look at two types of simulation questions and the skills required to address them. This video moves very quickly and may not be suitable for classroom projection; however, exam candidates would benefit from it.

Tutorial. The website offers a close-up look at the new exam’s format via a “tutorial,” a somewhat misleading title because the program permits no interaction or practice on the part of the user; nor does it cover actual exam questions. What it does is let the viewer see what the new exam will look like and what computer skills will be needed. The tutorial addresses background information, computer tools, multiple-choice questions, simulations, and the use of authoritative literature. The user can view each part of the tutorial as needed.


The website offers links to the AICPA, the NASBA, and the state boards’ websites via multiple routes. The AICPA, NASBA, and boards of accountancy have their own buttons on the top horizontal menu. Direct web and e-mail links are available for the AICPA and NASBA; individual state boards can be accessed through NASBA’s site. Users can access the local requirements to become a CPA while checking out the new exam format.

Other Features

The “CPA Examination Links” button offers links to webpages on the computer-based exam, the pencil-and-paper exam page, licensing information, and the International Uniform Certified Public Accountant Qualification Examination (IQEX). The “CPA Licensing Information” section offers downloadable .pdf files containing “The Uniform CPA Candidate Brochure” and “Revised Uniform CPA Examination Content Specification Outlines,” which are vital readings for exam candidates.

The “Learning Resource Center” button offers access to briefing papers and exposure drafts, and another connection to the tutorial. A survey on academic institutions’ preparations for the computerized CPA exam is available for download in PowerPoint format. A study of practicing CPAs’ activities is available in .pdf format. Both reports should be of interest to practicing CPAs and educators.

The frequently asked questions (FAQ) can be accessed via a button in the top horizontal index, with topics split between the computer-based exam and the paper-and-pencil exam. Most websites’ FAQs are a bit slim, but the CPA-Exam.org designers loaded a lot of good material into their FAQ. The many links to the rest of the website’s content make the FAQs a good place for new users to start.

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