September 18, 2018

All About the Audit Section of the CPA Exam

Editor’s note: Since I’m guest editing this week, we decided to do a 5-part feature on – what else – the CPA exam. I’ll be covering tips and tricks for each section and ethics on Friday so check in with us this week for the full breakdown. – JDA

So you’re taking Audit? Great.

Good news: traditionally, Audit tends to have a higher national pass rate than the other sections (only by a half a percentage point or so on average so don’t go getting excited that you can pass this one if you don’t study at all) and doesn’t require nearly as much effort as, say, FAR.

Bad news: chances are you didn’t take Auditing in college unless you’re planning on being an auditor so you have no idea what any of this stuff is about but like the rest of the exam, you don’t need to be an expert, you just need to know enough to get a 75. Yay!


Audit is the most expensive section as it is the longest at 4.5 hours and Prometric charges by the minute. Despite its length, you will still probably run out of time so time management is especially important with AUD. Do not spend more than 2 minutes on each MCQ, you’ve got 90 of them to get through and will need at least 45 minutes for each simulation.

The AICPA BoE has set the following target weights for skills testing:

Communication (10% – 20%)
Research (6% – 16%)
Analysis (12% – 22%)
Judgment (12% – 22%)
Understanding (35% – 45%)

Based on the Content Specification Outlines, Audit covers the following areas:

Planning the engagement (22% – 28%) Determine scope and nature of engagement, Generally Accepted Audit Standards, assessing engagement risk, communications, formulating audit objectives, etc.

Internal controls (12% – 18%) Understanding of business processes and information flows, limitations of internal control, tests of controls and control risk.

Obtain and document information (32% – 38%) Performing planned procedures, audit sampling, substantive tests, contingencies, identifying control deficiencies, attestation engagements.

Review engagement and evaluate information (8% – 12%) Performing analytical procedures, evaluation of audit evidences, work reviews and reasonable assurance.

Prepare communications (12% – 18%) Reports, reports, reports! This section covers all kinds of reports, footnotes, disclosures, as well as required communications based on discovery of illegal acts, errors and fraud, and communications with audit committees.

Studying for AUD should take between 60 and 90 hours depending on what review course you are using and whether or not you have experience in this area. Obviously if you took Auditing in school you will need less time to review some of these areas.

Good luck and see you tomorrow with Regulation!

Editor’s note: Since I’m guest editing this week, we decided to do a 5-part feature on – what else – the CPA exam. I’ll be covering tips and tricks for each section and ethics on Friday so check in with us this week for the full breakdown. – JDA

So you’re taking Audit? Great.

Good news: traditionally, Audit tends to have a higher national pass rate than the other sections (only by a half a percentage point or so on average so don’t go getting excited that you can pass this one if you don’t study at all) and doesn’t require nearly as much effort as, say, FAR.

Bad news: chances are you didn’t take Auditing in college unless you’re planning on being an auditor so you have no idea what any of this stuff is about but like the rest of the exam, you don’t need to be an expert, you just need to know enough to get a 75. Yay!


Audit is the most expensive section as it is the longest at 4.5 hours and Prometric charges by the minute. Despite its length, you will still probably run out of time so time management is especially important with AUD. Do not spend more than 2 minutes on each MCQ, you’ve got 90 of them to get through and will need at least 45 minutes for each simulation.

The AICPA BoE has set the following target weights for skills testing:

Communication (10% – 20%)
Research (6% – 16%)
Analysis (12% – 22%)
Judgment (12% – 22%)
Understanding (35% – 45%)

Based on the Content Specification Outlines, Audit covers the following areas:

Planning the engagement (22% – 28%) Determine scope and nature of engagement, Generally Accepted Audit Standards, assessing engagement risk, communications, formulating audit objectives, etc.

Internal controls (12% – 18%) Understanding of business processes and information flows, limitations of internal control, tests of controls and control risk.

Obtain and document information (32% – 38%) Performing planned procedures, audit sampling, substantive tests, contingencies, identifying control deficiencies, attestation engagements.

Review engagement and evaluate information (8% – 12%) Performing analytical procedures, evaluation of audit evidences, work reviews and reasonable assurance.

Prepare communications (12% – 18%) Reports, reports, reports! This section covers all kinds of reports, footnotes, disclosures, as well as required communications based on discovery of illegal acts, errors and fraud, and communications with audit committees.

Studying for AUD should take between 60 and 90 hours depending on what review course you are using and whether or not you have experience in this area. Obviously if you took Auditing in school you will need less time to review some of these areas.

Good luck and see you tomorrow with Regulation!

Related articles

Review Comments | 07.22.09

beer.jpgAmazon to Acquire Zappos.com for $847 Million – “Amazon says it is paying for the acquisition with 10 million shares of stock worth approximately $807 million. In addition, Amazon said it will provide Zappos employees with $40 million in cash and restricted stock units.” [Bits/NYT]
UK ‘is losing 52 pubs each week’ – Where will the UK accountants go for lunch? [BBC]
Who needs audit? [Accountancy Age]
Chrysler says dealer legislation could force liquidation – “Chrysler Group could again face the prospect of liquidation if legislation aimed at reversing its decision to terminate contracts with 789 dealers becomes law, a company executive said on Wednesday.” [Reuters]
Goldman Sachs Payments to U.S. Give 23% Return to Taxpayers – LB says “you’re welcome” [Bloomberg]

Elijah Watt Sells Award Recipients Make the Rest of Us Want to Puke

The AICPA announced the winners of the Elijah Watt Sells awards yesterday. For you mere mortals, this is an award for the 10 highest cumulative scorers on the CPA exam.
Glancing over the recipients we notice that two Big 4 firms (KPMG and Deloitte) enslave employ five of the recipients. A couple of recipients work in industry and a few more work for smaller, local firms.
This leads to the obvious question of why the hell P. Dubya and E&Y were totally shut out? Grant Thornton and BDO were also blanked. Are the honchos at the Radio Station and Big D giving the worker bees more time to study? Are P. Dubs, E&Y, et al. cutting out the bonuses for passing and thus destroying anyone’s motivation for passing? Are those of you looking to pass already choosing between eating and sleeping (and maybe sex) so studying just isn’t happening? Sells was a Big D founder so maybe the whole thing is rigged? Thoughts anyone?
Oh and congratulate the recipients while you’re at it (without vomiting on them).
AICPA-HONORS-TOP-CPA-EXAMINATION-PERFORMERS.pdf