Accountants live in a world of constant change. Whether it is changing demands in our companies, changes to government regulations, or changes in technology, we are consistently adapting to new rules and practices in order to better serve our clients.
The AICPA announced this month that they will be introducing new technology that they hope will enhance the testing experience for CPA candidates. A year after refreshing the content in the exam to more closely match the type of work a newly licensed CPA would perform, new software for the CPA exam will be introduced on April 1, 2018. Let’s take a look through some of the changes and how it will affect you as a CPA exam participant.
The first change of the new software is that it will enable a 16-t0-9 screen aspect ratio. The previous version of the software did not fully utilize the 23-inch HD monitors used by the Prometric test centers.
It used to look like this:
But it now expands out to fill the screen:
With this change, you will be able to access multiple screens at once, thus allowing you to look at the authoritative literature, exhibits or an Excel spreadsheet while working thought the exam. This should help save some time by not having to flip between screens while answering an exam question.
Likewise, the software has added an on-screen “workspace” which will allows a test taker to look over exhibits and other documents.
As CPAs are now using multiple monitors in their work to be able to look at multiple documents at the same time, this new feature mimics this practice, as well as helps reduce the time spent flipping between questions and exhibits.
Speaking of Excel, since Microsoft Excel is the software used by a majority of newly licensed (and potentially licensed) CPAs, Microsoft Excel has been added as a resource to be used by test takers to solve problems requiring its use.
The new software also catches up with the generation of test takers who use digital products more than previous generations. The intuitive user interface will be familiar to this generation of test takers, cutting down on the time they spend trying to figure out an outdated screen interface.
A growing trend is the preference for e-books that can be read on our digital devices, which also allows us to highlight sections as well as cut and paste text we want to use in other mediums. The new CPA exam software incorporates these features, providing a seamless cut and paste function, as seen here:
In addition, you will be able to highlight important text, as shown here:
This should prove helpful, as you don’t have to continuously search the text for the one kernel of information you need to use to answer a question.
The software will also help CPA candidates who are visually impaired; using Job Access With Speech (JAWS) technology to read what is on the screen. Contact the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy if this applies to you.
As you might expect, these changes will have an effect on when scores are available, as the psychometric experts review the results to determine if the test takers ability to pass the exam was affected by the new software. Therefore, scores on exams in the second, third and fourth quarter of 2018 will be held until this analysis is completed, with results to be released June 27th for the Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG) sections and June 29th for the Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) section. Scores for the third quarter will be released for all four parts on September 19th, and December 19th for the fourth quarter.