You probably already knew about changes happening on the 2017 CPA Exam. Many tried to pack in passing all sections of the CPA Exam last year before anything new rolled out. The thought there was to take the Exam before it changed, so you knew what you'd get, be sure the curriculum you were studying was tried at true. 2016 has come and gone and with it has this opportunity, but there is a silver lining.
The new test format was designed around the student with the goal to better prepare for and prove their competence upon entering into the profession of a CPA. With this came a focus on task-based simulations: questions that would test real life implications where you apply the information you are supposed to learn rather than regurgitation of knowledge.
"The proposed test designs in the Practice Analysis Final Report included a range for the final number of Task-based Simulations (TBS) per section as follows. AUD, FAR, REG 8 – 9 TBS, BEC 4 – 5 TBS." Stated Mike Decker, VP of Examinations of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. "A range was proposed until sufficient data on the testing time required for the new higher-order skill TBSs were accumulated to make a final, informed decision. The approved test designs had been based on estimated testing time and estimated test reliability, with the stipulation that a final decision on the number of TBS per section would be based on more complete timing data from the pretesting of new TBS during 2016."
Basically, the AICPA wanted to make sure the amount of questions matched up with the time given to answer them. Again, many of the changes implemented in 2017 were based on the student. We've written previously on the breakdown of timing during the exam, and this is just another step of quality assurance by the AICPA to make sure the implementation of the exam is testing knowledge rather than the mental stamina it takes to successfully make it through the gauntlet of a few hours of Q&A.
"As pretest data from each testing quarter has become available, we have continued to evaluate the number of TBS that can be administered along with the multiple-choice questions (and written questions in BEC) in the four hours of testing time approved for each exam section. Using test forms built during test assembly trials and known information on time taken for each question, we have continued to refine our testing time estimates." Decker went on, "Accordingly, staff currently plans to use the lower number of each proposed TBS range as the final test design for the 17Q2 launch. AUD, FAR, REG - 8 TBS, BEC – 4 TBS. This will provide adequate time for candidates to complete the new exams for all four sections. Staff also plans to continue to evaluate timing data during the first few years of the new exam."
This doesn't really change much as far as the preparation for the CPA Exam goes, but it is noteworthy because it means you'll still have plenty to focus on during the whole exam. The data from presests just showed there wasn't enough time for the extra TBS questions.