File this one under first world problems.
I’m starting to think about post-Big 4 opportunities and I am wondering how people maintain their CPE credits after leaving the Big 4. Since we need to take 80 hours of CPE credits every 2 years to maintain a CPA, do most employers offer trainings that give CPE credits? If not, will they give you time off and pay for the classes? I’d be very interested in hearing from you, and from the Going Concern community.
Well considering so many of the country’s employable CPAs somehow manage to meet their board of accountancy’s CPE requirements year after year, there’s got to be a trick to stay current that doesn’t involve firms forking out the cash for “experts” to school their staff on all things billable to the CPE time code. Are you telling me you have somehow escaped the wrath of NASBA and don’t get emailed weekly with new CPE offers? Congratulations.
I spoke to one of my favorite HR people at a reasonably-sized but definitely not Big 4 firm to find out what their CPE policy is and found out that most firms above 50 people pay for CPE in one way or another. According to a national survey conducted by the AICPA and the Texas Society of CPAs, 42 percent of the smallest firms paid for CPE in 2010. So unless you end up working out of some ancient CPA’s basement, you will probably not be expected to pay your own way.
Obviously, smaller firms will not be able to provide in-house CPE but you can likely get your online CPE comped, or get reimbursed for any travel associated with in-person CPE you attend. But seriously?! In-person CPE? Get with the times, man.
If you do end up needing to pay your own way (again, totally unlikely as long as you stay gainfully employed by a real accounting firm, even a tiny one), your state society of CPAs can probably provide information on their CPE offerings, or there is always NASBA (as anyone on their email list will tell you) or the AICPA.
Remember too that if you are attending conferences like AICPA Council, you get CPE for doing so, so maybe those dumb meetings aren’t so pointless after all.
If you have a CPA exam related question that you’re dying to have answered, please get in touch. Note: bribes will not make me answer your question any sooner.
Hey Adrienne, I was reading an article on GC about sitting for the exam in another state (with less requirements) then transferring it to the state you want to work in. I was wondering if there was a site for this information. If it matters I will be transferring it to Georgia or Texas. My adviser told me they usually do it through Tennessee in the spring of the MACC program so that once you are done with the 150 hours you should already have your CPA.. Just wondering y’alls thoughts. Thanks!
Is there one site that has this information? Oh dear, you’re obviously new to this whole CPA exam nonsense. While the Internet has done a great job of aggregating publicly-available information in the last few years to make searching for answers a tad easier for candidates, it’s still sort of a crapshoot. If you’re good with Google, you might be able to find a few references but other than that, I can’t think of one place that explains this particular trick.
That said, NASBA’s Accountancy Licensing Library can probably help. Plug in your educational experience and you can figure out which states you can sit in.
Because the CPA exam is uniform meaning every state’s candidates take the exact same CPA exam as other states, you’re able to sit for any other state’s exam in your state. You can use this to your advantage if you’re in a 150 state but want to finish the exam while you are still working on your degree by taking the exam in a 120 state that allows non-residents to sit for the exam and then transferring your scores once you meet your state’s requirements.
The best source to go to for more information on this option would be your own state board. Hopefully they are somewhat helpful and can give you a little guidance. You could also try calling NASBA but I doubt they’re very supportive of folks trying to bypass the system.
Keep in mind that your plan sounds like you will be transferring scores, not the actual license. Since most states have experience requirements and many require that experience to be gained under the supervision of a CPA licensed it that state, it is unlikely that you will actually be licensed as a CPA in the state in which you apply for the CPA exam. But you can transfer passing CPA exam scores, usually with just a simple form.
If you’re prepared for the work involved with sitting for the CPA exam while finishing up your degree, I say go for it. Surely there are some Going Concern readers out there who have done exactly this?
Remember the guy who told NASBA its website looked like it had been hacked by the 1990s, given its design a rating of “Corey Feldman with a crayon” on a scale of Caveman to Picasso? Ouch.
Obviously NASBA listened to this and other criticism, as they’ve since updated their website from the drab, Geocities-esque throwback to a slightly slicker, more modern design. Hats off to them for that bold decision.
And now, they’ve promised to make CPA exam candidates’ experience with the NASBA website more streamlined, easy to follow and organized. CPA exam candidates already got this email from NASBA last week but if you are not a current candidate or in the habit of ignoring NASBA emails because you aren’t interested in exclusive CPE deals, read on:
NASBA is excited to announce the upcoming launch of the new Uniform CPA Examination Online Application System. Through this new system, at cpacentral.nasba.org, candidates will not only be able to apply online to take the CPA Examination, but also access application information including status and payment history, import prior application data and even view examination scores.
Upon first visit to the site, users will create an online account with a unique username and password. This includes anyone who has previously applied for the exam via the old online application process or through the mail. Creating an online account will give users more freedom to access exam information, thereby improving the experience throughout the process of becoming a Certified Public Accountant.
Don’t try to click on the link, it isn’t ready yet, but will be available Wednesday according to NASBA. The new system is only available to candidates in any of the 32 jurisdictions served by NASBA, so California candidates can go back to lounging at the dispensary and relaxing by the beach.
So… uhh… how exactly is this any different from clicking on the “EXAMS” tab and following the prompts to access the information or applications you need? We aren’t really sure. Presumably, the difference will be that you will have one central account to log into, versus menus to navigate on the current page. But most of you (even those of you that aren’t considered the brightest crayons in the box) can figure out how to get what you need from NASBA’s website as is, especially after a few exam sections.
We’ll go check it out when it goes live later this week but probably won’t have anything new to report unless it’s a really slow news day.
BEC scores have been released so it won’t be long until you’re doing a happy dance or sobbing in a bathroom stall.
Either way, it’s your God-given right to react with euphoria or complete rage. Since most places of employment aren’t too keen on streaking through the cube farms or kicking over chairs, we invite you to let loose in the comments. We’ll update this post as the scores are released.
UPDATE: If you took the exam at an international location, NASBA just tweeted out a friendly reminder that you’ll have to wait a bit longer.
UPDATE 2: Yesterday afternoon while I was out playing, NASBA announced they got a boatload of AUD scores. Hopefully this doesn’t ruin your weekend.
UPDATE 3: More BEC scores were released yesterday. At 5 pm on a Friday, no less.
While most of you are either in the process of getting licensed as a CPA or perfectly content to stick around in the state in which you are already licensed, NASBA reminds everyone that those of you with licenses in different states should not simply let them expire now that mobility (mostly) allows you to hold one license but work in multiple states.
From the NASBA blog (which I didn’t even know existed until now):
Mobility has meant that many CPAs no longer need to keep an active license in a state in order to practice there. But even if the license is no longer needed, there’s more involved than just letting it expire. If you don’t file the proper paperwork to let the board know that you’re voluntarily relinquishing that license, you could face disciplinary action. Without communication from you, the board may assume that you’ve allowed your license to lapse.
The distinction between reciprocity and mobility is an important one, which is why NASBA is enhancing ALL in this regard. If your work in a state were likely to be short-term, then the state’s mobility guidelines would likely cover you for the project’s duration. But if you are licensed in one state and plan to relocate to another, then you’ll need a secondary or reciprocal license from that state’s board. Most states, even with mobility, are requesting that CPAs obtain reciprocal licenses if they are making such a permanent move. Either way, if you find yourself with redundant licenses, ALL can help you relinquish them properly.
Now, NASBA wants to use their Accountancy Licensing Library tool to figure out the rules in your state for relinquishing your license, which is fine. But you can also check with your state board directly for rules on this.
Keep in mind if you relinquish your license in any state you may have to re-apply and retake the exam all over again, assuming you somehow also relinquish your other licenses in other states and have no license to transfer to that state. But who is going to do that?!
The key word here is redundancy. In this day and age, it no longer makes sense to carry multiple licenses, even if your work means you need practice privilege in states other than your own.
The AICPA, NASBA and Prometric yesterday announced the successful launch of the U.S, CPA Examination in international locations – the first time in history it has been administered outside of the United States and its territories.
On August 1, the first candidates took the exam in Japan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. Throughout the remainder of the month, 1,165 candidates will sit for 2,065 examination sections. Future month-long testing windows will take place in November, February, May, and every third month thereafter.
The U.S. CPA exam is offered internationally as a service to foreign nationals in response to escalating international demand for U.S. CPA licensure. In 2010, more than 10,000 international candidates traveled to the U.S. to take the U.S. CPA exam, a 22 percent increase from 2009. Nearly one-third of international candidates came from Japan.
The international exam, offered in English, is the same as the U.S. exam administered by the AICPA, NASBA, and Prometric in the United States. Licensure requirements for international candidates are the same as for U.S. CPA candidates, meaning candidates must meet the qualifications of the jurisdiction in which they apply.. Along with passing the Uniform CPA Examination, international candidates must meet educational and experience requirements as mandated by U.S. state boards of accountancy.
In the United States, state boards have the governmental legal authority to award the U.S. CPA license. Applications may be made through certain U.S. state boards of accountancy offering eligibility for international candidates. A list of participating state boards and information about fees is posted on the NASBA website at www.nasba.org.
Testing in the new international locations is open to citizens and long-term residents of the countries in which the exam is being administered. In the Middle East, citizens of Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia may take the exam in one of the Middle East locations. U.S. citizens living abroad are eligible to test at any location.
Practice mobility has always been a big issue for CPAs, more so in these turbulent times when qualified individuals have to pack up and go a la Tom Joad just to find paying work in a reasonable market sometimes. So it makes sense that the AICPA and NASBA have jointly released a new online tool to help CPAs do what they do best from state to state.
Until all 55 jurisdictions can truly band together and agree on a uniform requirement across the board for all CPAs (never going to happen), this is the next best option.
The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants today announced the launch of CPAmobility.org – an online tool designed to help Certified Public Accountants navigate the new practice privilege requirements that allow CPAs to more easily practice across state borders.
A joint project of the AICPA and NASBA, the new CPAmobility.org website provides helpful information, updated regularly, on state practice privilege requirements for CPAs, commonly referred to as “mobility” laws, for all 50 states and 5 U.S jurisdictions. In four simple clicks online, CPAs can learn whether their existing home state registration is mobile and allows them to work in other jurisdictions without additional notice, or whether further paperwork is required. In most cases, additional registration is no longer required because mobility statutes recognizing CPA licenses granted by other states and jurisdictions have been enacted in 47 of the 55 U.S. jurisdictions.
“CPAmobility.org is a valuable service that allows CPAs to take advantage of the benefits associated with state mobility laws with confidence. We are happy to offer a free tool that will assist CPAs in determining whether or not they can exercise mobility in a particular jurisdiction at the click of a button, on their laptop or mobile device,” said Ken L. Bishop, executive vice president and COO of NASBA.
“Mobility has become a reality for CPAs and accounting firms from coast-to-coast and it is now time to open the system for business,” said Barry Melancon, president and CEO of the AICPA. “We are very pleased to be able to offer this free service to CPA firms together with NASBA, which was a key partner in developing the technology and information to power the website, CPAmobility.org.”
The site works by posing three targeted questions to CPAs interested in exercising cross-border practice privileges. Those are:
Where is your principal place of business?
Where are you going to perform services (target state)?
What type of services will you perform?
Information on licensing and registration requirements is then produced allowing CPAs to move quickly to address new business opportunities. CPAmobility.org offers immediate access to the site through a mobile application, an attractive benefit for CPAs needing to confirm eligibility requirements while they are on the road or away from their offices.
NASBA and the AICPA have been longtime advocates of mobility, providing support and resources to state boards and state CPA societies seeking changes to current rules. As additional states continue to embrace mobility, the need to educate CPAs on the requirements is growing.
CPAmobility.org will feature useful links to NASBA and AICPA resources. To learn more about mobility or to research cross-border practice privilege requirements, visit www.CPAmobility.org.
At first glance, the new site features a slick interface (if you ignore the obnoxious Helvetica header) that asks you three simple questions: where do you practice normally, where do you plan to practice and what type of services will you perform? Once you answer those, it will tell you the rules for individuals and firms based on your responses.
Note: I am choosing not to spell or grammar check this letter A) because last time Braddock dared to do the same, you guys slaughtered him for being a dick and B) as much as I hate truly awful grammar (a few steps below the typo-filled crap Caleb we writes here), I think the point is sufficiently expressed if you can simply ignore some of the obvious errors. In fewer words: we get it.
The following rant is presented without comment. Please note that its publication here does not constitute an endorsement ssed therein. Caleb took the exam back in the day with stone tablet and cave drawings of journal entries and I, as we all know, have not and will not sit for the CPA exam so neither of us have the experience to draw from here to form an opinion. Over the years, I have heard of issues at Prometric but usually along the lines of minor software failures that did not really impact the candidates’ experiences. I would be curious to get feedback from you all, the dedicated capital market servants, who have had examination snafus seriously impact your momentum.
For this guy, it was enough to get him to quit.
I remind you all here that a lot has changed since 2007. The AICPA and NASBA are getting better at communicating and always looking for ways to improve that process.
May 19, 2011
Subject: Uniform CPA Exam (glitches & bugs in exam software)
To Whom This May Concern,
My name is Matthew Grosso, former C.P.A. exam candidate back in 2007 who had experienced tremendous difficulties with the software that powers the Uniform Certified Public Accountant exam (or “C.P.A. exam”) as well as various communications with NASBA (National State Board of Accountancy). My hardship has been well documented in a section below, titled “Timeline”….however, first, I would like to explain the nature and intent of this letter. In short, this letter is a call to action — a voice if you will — of many frustrated C.P.A candidates who have studied long and hard to attain the prestigious C.P.A designation, but have tragically fallen short because of undocumented barriers to entry into the profession; specifically, “software glitches and bugs” in the C.P.A. testing software package as well communication hurdles with NASBA.
Although I withdrew my candidacy a couple years ago, I continue to read and hear about candidates’ exam hardships (and, I’m not referring to passing difficulties). The fact is, candidates adversely affected by C.P.A. software issues are focused more on passing the exam rather that drafting grievance letters. Moreover, many distressed candidates are uncertain to who exactly they should contact regarding the nature of a testing issue…..is it NASBA, the State Board, the AICPA, Becker Convisor, or the Prometric Testing Center? The C.P.A. is daunting enough on a stand-alone basis, but for a candidate to experience a computer failure and have to blindly navigate a maze of reporting lines, in hope of finding answers to complex questions, is something entirely different. Because candidates are more concerned with “candidacy” and long busy season hours (as they should) and less so with detective work and grievance letters, is in my opinion, the reason difficulties with the software powering the Uniform C.P.A. exam has been grossly understated. Still, even if a handful of grievance letters had indeed made its way upstream to NASBA, The State Board Committee (SBC), The AICPA Board of Examiners (BOE), I’m curious why the C.P.A exam governors failed to address the software glitch/communication issues in an expeditious manner……or have decided to pull the plug on computerized testing altogether? Even if these issues were still in the discovery phase, I would have expected NASBA/AICPA to have contacted current and former candidates regarding the pervasiveness of the issue; the quality control time needed to correct the issue; and more importantly — a remedy.
Given consideration of the facts mentioned above – as a former (unlicensed) candidate, I’m left wondering whether the BOE has specific controls in place to detect issues with the software powering the C.P.A?, If so, whether the controls are working as designed with issues being sufficiently and timely communicated up the reporting hierarchy? I’m certainly aware of the pervasiveness of the exam software issue (and have facts to support it!), but perhaps the BOE isn’t! Perhaps the BOE is aware of the software issue, and has considered the issue to be statistically, De minimus. Even if the later was true, why weren’t candidates (like myself) notified of the shortcomings of the computerized testing approach and the potential for its effect on licensure?
Given my understanding of the imperfections of the Uniform C.P.A. exam and the organizational structure of The AICPA, NASBA and its affiliates, I’m under the impression the COE and its working cabinet has grossly underestimated the frequency of the glitches and bugs in the C.P.A. software – specifically the essay portion. Having made a significant time and financial investment in the program, I firmly believe my experience would have been different had the operational deficiencies in exam software been attended to, and NASBA – Candidate communications (via “NASBA Candidate Care”) fostered stronger ties.
In closing, as a friendly recommendation I would appoint a “Director of Customer Support” to research candidate concerns and help implement corrective action. This appointment would certainly enhance communications inside and outside the organization, thereby protecting the interests of candidates and prevent undue hardships in the C.P.A. community.
Matthew M. Grosso
So? Would anyone else care to share their “undue hardship” with the class?
With just three months before international CPA exam testing is scheduled to debut, let’s hope the state boards can get to it and have everyone rolling in time.
In March 2011, in conjunction with the AICPA and Prometric, NASBA announced the opportunity for international administration of the Uniform CPA Examination to be offered in Japan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.
The CPA Examination application process is basically the same for U.S. and international candidates. In order to qualify to take the CPA E he U.S., candidates will have to establish their eligibility through a State Board participating in the International CPA Examination Administration program. Click the following link for the list of participating State Boards.
Before applying to sit internationally, please read the Candidate Bulletin and the International Examination Informed Consent. Candidates should then visit the Jurisdiction Map in the CPA Exam section of the NASBA website for information about eligibility requirements and the examination application process for the jurisdiction in which they wish to apply. Prospective candidates must select the U.S. jurisdiction to which they will apply, contact the Board of Accountancy (or its designee) in that jurisdiction to obtain application materials, submit completed applications and required fees as instructed, and once deemed qualified, schedule the examination. After receiving the Notice to Schedule, you may then register to take the examination in an international location through the NASBA website.
Note: After the registration process is complete for each examination section, you will need to wait at least 24 hours before you schedule your appointment. Initially, the examination will be offered internationally during a one-month testing window per calendar year quarter.
Regardless of which Board of Accountancy has declared you eligible for the examination, in addition to paying any domestic testing fees, you must pay additional fees for each examination section you plan to take internationally. Those fees per examination section are:
Certain jurisdictions have specific rules and requirements to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination, as well as qualifying for CPA licensure after passing the examination. Before applying in any jurisdiction to take the CPA Examination in an international location, be sure to read the jurisdiction’s Information for Applicants on the website. It may also help to visit the Board of Accountancy’s website of the jurisdiction where you wish to apply. Further details about international administration of the examination can also be found on the international testing FAQ sheet that is available on the AICPA Uniform CPA Examination website.
For candidate convenience, NASBA has recently extended call center hours and created an international number. The hours of operation and contact phone numbers are as follows:
• Call 1-800-CPA-EXAM Days and hours of operation: Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., Eastern Time, and Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Eastern Time (UTC -5).
• Call 1-855-CPA-GUAM or 671-300-7441 (international candidates). Days and hours of operation: Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Japan Standard Time (UTC + 9).
Well let’s see, let’s pretend we’re an international CPA exam applicant in Ohio testing for the first time. If we want to sit in Japan, we can look forward to spending $140 for the application and $500 for each section of the exam. Assuming we pass the first time through, that’s $2140. I guess it’s cheaper than flying to the U.S. to test with plane tickets and hotels and all that stress.
We’re sure no one wants to see a repeat of the first quarter’s scoring debacle but since we didn’t enjoy being called lots of names last time we dared to bring it up, we’re not going to discuss that.
Instead, let’s see the email NASBA sent out to candidates last week. It’s good to see them making the effort exactly as the AICPA told us they would, and we hope that this will cut down on any confusion/insults/whining in the two quarters left before the new, faster scoring system is in place.
Score Release Reminder, April/May 2011
Dear CPA Examination Candidate:
This message is to remind candidates of the score release timeline for 2011.
Because of the significant changes made to the content and structure of the Uniform CPA Examination in 2011, there have been comparable changes to the scoring process, all of which require more extensive psychometric analyses of both test questions and candidate performance for the first three windows of this year. Sufficient data needs to be aggregated for the required additional analyses and the data must come from actual, operational exam results. For each testing window, we have to acquire a sufficient sample size of exam results in order to perform the required analyses and score the exams properly. This process takes time. Therefore, for the first three testing windows of 2011, scores will only be released after the end of each window.
For candidates who have tested in the April/May 2011 testing window, barring unforeseen circumstances, the AICPA will release the scores to NASBA within a 7-10 day period beginning the third week of June 2011.
We anticipate that by the October/November 2011 testing window, we will have aggregated enough data so that the additional analyses won’t be necessary, and scores can be processed on a rolling basis, and hence more frequently. We encourage candidates to visit the Psychometrics and Scoring page on the Exams Web site for reliable information about score release and the scoring process. The AICPA does not endorse or support any other Web site or forum for disseminating information about the Uniform CPA Examination.
We won’t take that last bit personally since we are pretty sure it was not a dig at us; we try our best to keep you guys informed and always pointed towards the AICPA’s own material on any CPA exam subject we cover here. Well, except on the subject of drugs, there’s no candidate bulletin on getting hopped up on doctor dope to study for the CPA exam (rightfully so).
By disasters, we don’t mean that thing that happened with scoring.
When Katrina hit in 2004, NASBA granted affected CPA exam candidates an automatic extension. This time around, they are asking Japanese CPA exam candidates directly affected by the earthquake and tsunami disasters to contact them for assistance.
Here’s the official word from NASBA:
Our hearts go out to those in the Japan area who are dealing with rebuilding their lives and communities after the recent earthquake and tsunami disasters in that region. Japanese candidates who are scheduled to test in the near future, (United States or at our Guam Testing Center) and who may not be able to do so now due to the logistical issues that the disaster caused, should know that we are here to assist during this time of uncertainty.
Japanese candidates who may need to request an NTS extension and/or rescheduling, should contact NASBA’s Candidate Care department by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we will handle each concern on a case by case basis as we receive requests.
We recommend that all concerns of this type be directed to NASBA’s Candidate Care department. For this particular issue, only those affected by the earthquake/tsunami disaster should email us at email@example.com.
We assume that last line means “please don’t use the Candidate Care department to yell at us about scores” but did not ask to be sure. Let’s just pretend it did just to be safe.
Commence to partying (or reapplying with your state board/CPAES)!
Since the last time I dared to bring this issue up I was insulted personally and professionally, I’m going to approach this very carefully. Starting with a few statements of my position:
First, I have the utmost respect for those who first suffer through a college accounting education and then decide to pursue a CPA. It’s not an easy thing to do and the experience only gets worse when you add kids, work and a life to the mix. I get that. I’ve suffered through it at the side of thousands of CPAs in the last four years and, empathetic jerk that I am, I absolutely feel their pain. I’ve been the crying shoulder and the therapist as well as th aring that with CPA exam candidates has been a real joy in my life. Mostly because I’m not the one who actually has to go through it.
Second, I believe 18 months is plenty of time to get through the exam. For those who have struggled 2, 3, even 5 years with this thing, it is not at all unreasonable for me to suggest that perhaps you should find another line of work. That doesn’t mean struggling candidates shouldn’t be offered support but at some point, you have to ask yourself if the Universe is trying to send you a very strong hint. That’s fine, the AICPA is doing their job if not everyone can pass. This isn’t a kindergarten playground exercise in how everyone deserves a trophy no matter how bad their performance, this is a professional license and it is a privilege, not a right.
That being said, I was not expecting the floodgates of CPA exam candidate hell to come bursting forth on Monday when I addressed a note the AICPA wrote to candidates. In trolling NASBA’s Facebook page and getting additional feedback from candidates (beyond the “screw you, AG, you’re not a CPA” comments), it’s clear candidates are livid about this whole scoring thing. There’s no other explanation for otherwise reasonable future CPAs lashing out like they did, since we all know professionals aren’t prone to that kind of behavior out of habit.
So the first thing candidates should be doing instead of snapping at NASBA, the AICPA and me is to write down their thoughts and send them to the AICPA and NASBA. The first three quarters of 2011 are basically practice for a new, improved scoring process the AICPA hopes to debut at the end of the year and if candidates stick to yelling at accounting bloggers, the important people who can really make a change aren’t hearing them. Be clear, be concise and be honest. What would you like to see changed? What do you feel is unfair? How do you feel about this entire process? Try to keep emotion out of it (save that for your therapist, your spouse or your best friend) but be explicit about the stress this has put on you if you feel it is necessary. Remember that complaints are easy but offering solutions or feedback that can help them improve stands the best chance to change things. I assure you all that the AICPA and NASBA are listening, they just might need to block it out if it’s mostly profane vitriol and hardly any common sense. I highly doubt that either agency planned for this to get so ugly, and if they are at all like me, probably didn’t expect it would be the meltdown it was. So keep that in mind when you are yelling at them like the intelligent professional I’m sure you are.
Speaking of which, we caught up with a real live intelligent professional who asked to keep her firm name out of this but wanted to weigh in regardless. A seasoned professional when it comes to the CPA exam from her work as an HR manager for a mid-sized Bay Area accounting firm, she is also a CPA exam candidate and has been vocal in expressing her dissatisfaction with this scoring debacle.
To her, the issue is customer service and communication, or rather lack thereof. She told us:
I advise candidates on everything about licensure (e.g. application process, review courses, changes to the exam, score releases, and serve as the unofficial firm “nag” reminding people they need to get or stay on the licensure path). In both roles, it is my duty to stay informed and I really try my very best to do so. To that end, this is why I felt so frustrated with NASBA’s recent post on Facebook. I didn’t receive the AICPA memo about the delay of scores for Q1-Q3 back in October of 2010. I went through my emails and see I have only received 3 email messages from NASBA and nothing from the AICPA. One was a 11/18/10 email from Prometric and NASBA about adding additional time slots in Q4 of 2010 to accommodate the high volume of candidates scrambling to avoid IFRS, and one on 1/4/11 announcing CBT-e was launched on 1/1/11. The last message contained 6 links, including sample tests, a tutorial, and a link to their October 21, 2010 message [a letter to the state boards that explained the new scoring process]. Obviously, I didn’t click on all the links until today. I was more focused on the tutorials.
Nowhere in the body of the message does it read the scores would be delayed. My bad for not reading the ‘footnotes’ but, in my humble opinion, later scores is a material item that should be separately stated in the ‘financial statements’/email message.
The communications from NASBA need more empathy. These candidates are overachievers who are probably failing at something for the first time in their life; emotions are automatically running high. Candidates are spending a lot of time, money and now even more money because they had to go out and buy brand new materials to be ready for the 2011 exam. We were sold on the idea that these changes would result in faster score reporting – God knows we were already at our wits end that it took so long for a machine to grade the old CBT- and here we are slapped with another round of delays. And they have the audacity to say they told us this back in October. Really?
The issue continues and we will happily continue covering it here so long as you all care. Any and all input (including gripes and general bellyaching but not insults towards the author or this website) is welcome in the comments.
It’s been two days since they released FAR so at this rate, all scores should be out by Tuesday. Who wants to bet unforeseen circumstances delay BEC a tad longer? Just a guess.
Anyhoo, you’ve waited weeks (or months) for ’em, here they are.
All 32 CPAES states should have scores posted online within 24 hours (though preliminary candidate feedback is that this process is faster than it used to be). The only CPAES states which may take 24-48 hours to release online are Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska & Puerto Rico. Check with your state board of accountancy if you are in a non-CPAES state.
Rejoice! Despair! Whatever.
According to the NASBA Twitter feed, they’ll have scores for 32 states up with a few others taking 24-48 hours to appear.
The AICPA shared a note on Facebook the other day that was also shared by NASBA and brought up an interesting conversation full of frustration, anger and misunderstanding. The comments by candidates show how important it is to take information at face value and be sure you are not reading too much into what is shared by those who don’t have all the answers.
Before we get to that, let’s get to the note:
Thanks again to everyone who has been asking about the score release timelines. It’s an important topic and we appreciate the feedback. As a reminder, for anyone who hasn’t had the chance to visit our website, over the past year we ��������������������to state boards, scoring timeline FAQs, and provided an in-depth white paper describing how the Exam is scored, all available at the CPA Exam website. And if you’re interested in a refresher about the eligibility requirements, including the 18 month timeline and instructions for scheduling your Exam, the updated Candidate Bulletin from NASBA contains the information you need.
It also appears that there is some confusion about what it means to administer a “high stakes” test. For those of you who don’t know, the Uniform CPA Examination is a high stakes test. That means that there is a direct consequence of passing (or failing) the Exam – in our case, that consequence is meeting one of the requirements to obtain your CPA license. Becoming a licensed CPA carries with it legal authority, and an obligation to protect the public interest. That’s why the Exam must make valid, accurate assessments of examinees. The outcomes are too important.
Making those valid, accurate assessments is what this scoring process is really about. In high-stakes testing, any time an exam undergoes a major revision (as with the introduction of CBT-e), best practices dictate that scoring must be revised as well. That means that sufficient data needs to be aggregated for the required additional analyses (of both test questions and candidate performance) that must take place. This data must be taken from actual, operational exam results.
To our candidates, like you, this means that we have to acquire a sufficient sample size of actual exam results in order to perform the required analyses and score the exams properly. This process takes time and that’s why we are only able to release scores at the end of each window, for the time being. After three windows, we will have aggregated enough data so that additional analyses won’t be necessary, and scores can be processed on a rolling basis, and hence more frequently.
We hope this information provides the clarity that many of you are looking for. Thanks again for engaging in this conversation.
The AICPA was very clear long before the beginning of 2011 that scoring would be changing this year and has let us all in on its plan to accelerate the scoring process for the last window of the year. This information is freely available on the AICPA’s website and is digested here on Going Concern for those of you “too busy” to check for yourselves. But for many, this simply isn’t enough. Candidates who cut the 18 month window too close feel cheated and some are even expecting some sort of accommodation by the AICPA. What they seem to be missing is that even if they get their scores at the end of this month, they are not getting them any earlier or later than they could have under the Wave 1/Wave 2 scoring rules.
While many of us are in the business of helping candidates make sense of the wealth of CPA exam information out there, it is imperative to remember that some of what we do involves making educated guesses. Case in point, earlier this month Jeff Elliott at Another71 predicted scores would be out March 17th. Up until now, he’s been pretty dead on about score release dates so while there is no reason to believe he’d be wrong this time, it’s important to keep in mind that his score predictions are just that, predictions. He isn’t privy to information the rest of us aren’t, he has simply been doing this long enough to have a good sense of what to expect.
When March 17th came and went, candidates were outraged that they still didn’t have their scores. Some even took to NASBA’s Facebook page to complain. Said one candidate “A piece of advice for next time, don’t come out with this statement and expect us CPA candidates not to be frustrated and angry when you yourselves stated ALL SCORES would be released March 17th when you obviously knew that was never going to happen!”
But the AICPA never said that.
As of this morning, scores still haven’t been released and candidates are likely still pissed off that they were told March 17th but that isn’t the AICPA’s fault and it isn’t Jeff’s fault either. Such is the nature of the beast and surely candidates know going into this that anything can and will happen.
For those of you interested in taking the CPA exam in wild locales such as Bahrain or Kuwait, wait no longer, the CPA exam is officially international beginning August of 2011.
Initially announced along with CBT-e, international testing appeared to be slated to begin in January but security issues and further testing necessitated the delay.
So far Bahrain, Kuwait, Japan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are the only countries in which the exam will be administered. After a long two year analysis, NASBA, AICPA and Prometric determined those areas to meet their stringent safety and security guidelines.
We know what you’re thinking. Bahrain?! According to the three agencies, candidate volume demand as demonstrated by candidates from those countries taking the exam in the United States was a huge factor in deciding where to administrate the exam. Sure, Japan seems like a no-brainer but up until now, international candidates have been forced to obtain a visa to physically appear in the United States for their exams, often for marathon sessions of more than one test in a two or three day period.
Other factors in deciding which countries included:
• The ability to deliver the Exam without legal obstacles.
• Security threat to the Exam (both physical security at test center and intellectual property security of Exam content) assessed at levels equivalent to those presented domestically.
• Existence of established Prometric test centers.
Other countries were analyzed ahead of this announcement but I know of at least a handful that were determined unfit for test administration based solely on security issues in those countries. Being proprietary and more heavily guarded than Colonel Sanders’ 11 herbs and spices, protecting CPA exam content was likely one of the largest concerns involved in taking the exam international.
While candidate volume and interest in the exam is also high in countries like India and Korea, security concerns are equally as high (if not higher), therefore excluding these areas for the time being. My understanding is that the AICPA is open to expanding international testing in the future and just with CBT-e, will be monitoring the situation closely after launch, ready to adjust based on results. International candidates will still have to apply with the state board of their choice and are invited to use NASBA’s Accounting Licensing Library to search for a jurisdiction in which to apply.
David A. Costello, CPA, President & CEO and Michael R. Bryant, CPA, CFO of NASBA jointly and severally stated that NASBA’s 2010 financial statements did not contain any untrue material statements and their auditors, Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain, PC seconded that so obviously the following is all accurate. We looked ourselves. Not being professional financial statement ninjas, however, we invite you to take a peek for yourself here.
The good news for NASBA is that total consolidated revenue in Fiscal 2010 was $33.7 million compared to $31.4 million in Fiscal 2009, an increase of 7.3%. There were more CPA exam candidates as well as a new state added to NASBA’s CPAES program, which does the work of state boards of accountancy by processing CPA exam applications.
Interestingly, though my grandparents have been eating Alpo for the last two years thanks to Ben Bernanke and I’m earning a little under half a percent on my savings, NASBA must have a good investment banker because they did pretty well for themselves in FY 10. The annual report states that revenue from escrow management fees related to the CPA exam increased over the prior year and that higher interest rates, on average, during FY 10 were earned on these funds which are held in fully-insured securities or interest-bearing accounts. Can someone please let me know where these accounts are?! I want in.
But the most interesting part of NASBA’s mostly dull financial statements is the $300,000 “fine” Prometric paid them for violating its CPA exam agreement. Yes, the same agreement that was just renewed through 2024 with much fanfare last year.
The item is reported as “Income from Contract Issue” on NASBA’s consolidated financial statements and buried in note 12 thusly:
Note 12. Income from Contract Issue
As a part of the initial CBT Services Agreement effective May 31, 2002, Prometric was required to obtain and maintain insurance policies for certain specific perils, coverage amounts, terms and conditions naming the Association and its member boards as additional insureds. During fiscal 2010, the Association asserted that Prometric failed to comply with certain applicable insurance requirements. Prometric denied the assertions but, in resolution of the matter, provided evidence that it had come into compliance, agreed to indemnify, hold harmless and defend for any coverage lapses, and paid $300,000 to the Association. In addition, Prometric reimbursed the Association for certain legal and administrative expenses related to the resolution.
It doesn’t appear that NASBA declared the legal and admin expenses it also received so we’re assuming they were either immaterial or just embarrassing. Any financial statement detectives are welcome to come to their own conclusions.
Even though only two testing days passed from the time CBT-e launched and the time the press release came out, the AICPA, NASBA and Prometric are very excited to announce the successful launch of the new CPA exam.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, and Prometric today launched the new Uniform CPA Examination, called CBT-e, which includes for the first time questions on International Financial Reporting Standards among other sweeping and significant changes.
Changes were approved by the AICPA Board of Examiners based on input from state boards of accountancy in response to an Invitation to Comment, and a Practice Analysis designed to ensure the exam tests the modern knowledge and skills that are relevant for today’s entry-level CPAs. The new IFRS questions and other changes to the exam are the first major revisions since the CPA exam was computerized in 2004.
Overall, more emphasis is being placed on skills assessment using case study-based questions known as Task-Based Simulations. Authoritative literature in the CPA exam incorporates use of new Financial Accounting Standards Board codifications of U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Professional responsibilities including ethics and independence have been added to the Auditing and Attestation section.
“The testing of IFRS knowledge and other international standards is a response to change in the business world in which new CPAs operate,” said Craig Mills, vice president of examinations for the AICPA. “We are proud and excited to be introducing innovations in this evolution of the computer-based test that both validate and update the content of the exam and improve the experience for candidates. The exam is one of three key requirements, along with education and experience, that help state boards and the profession maintain the highest standards and protect the public interest.”
In related news, I will be speaking with the AICPA this afternoon about the new exam and thanks to your input, will be interrogating them on score releases, potential changes to passing scores, the integrity of the exam (since the old timer paper and pencil folks continue to rag on the new exam as too easy) and the continued evolution of exam content beyond 2011. I’d like to ask them when the hell BEC is going to be more than a junk drawer but having seen some of the new 2011 content on that section, I have to say it looks like they are working on consolidating the most random CPA exam section into a more streamlined piece of psychometric awesomeness. It isn’t too late to get me your questions for the AICPA’s exam unit so if you have one that you haven’t gotten to me yet, get on that or drop it in the comments and I’ll try to sneak it in.
I’ve also spoken to at least a handful of candidates who tested last week and so far feedback is positive on the new format as I suspected it would be. For the love of Excel, please don’t get stressed out over international standards as you shouldn’t expect to receive an exam made up of 70% new content. Try 5 – 10% max.
Update to come on Friday.
Since I’m sick of writing about 2011 CPA exam changes and none of you asked any CPA exam questions this week, I’ve decided to be nice and offer you five excellent resources for CPA exam candidates, ranked in no particular order of importance.
CPAnet: The CPAnet forums offer a sense of community, suggestions and that all-too-important sense that you are not alone on your journey. Get tips on passing tricky parts, share your misery or get a kick out of helping other candidates by sharing your knowledge. The forums are a must for any candidate wishing to connect with others on the CPA exam adventure.
The AICPA: The AICPA has revamped its website and put together a comprehensive collection of CPA exam information, extensive tutorials and plenty of FAQs for your reading pleasure so you better be using them. Their “Become a CPA” section is jam-packed with useful info for international candidates, students interested in the CPA career path along with salary and career info.
NASBAtools: Access NASBA’s Accounting Licensing Library or use CredentialNet to do all the applying for you so you can focus on taking the exam and not worry about being buried in four pounds of paperwork. You can also find more information on licensure from NASBA’s website here.
Me: Wow, what a narcissist right?! In all seriousness, if you aren’t sending in your CPA exam questions or reading previous columns we’ve done on the exam covering everything from simulations to time management, you aren’t using the resources correctly. I don’t write for my own good, I do it so you guys can be informed and prepared for what’s ahead so do me the favor of not making me feel like I’m writing to a wall.
For those of you that aren’t already aware, we implore you to check out NASBA’s incredibly useful Accounting Licensing Library – a comprehensive, continually-updated database that can help future CPAs find a state in which to be licensed and offers accounting firms access to important state data to assist in their efforts across state lines. In other words, the tool’s main goal is to facilitate mobility by bringing all 55 jurisdictions together in one easy-to-use area while offering a one-stop shop for those considering CPA licensure.
We recently got a chance to chat with NASBA General Counsel and Director of Business Development Maria Caldwell about the new ALL.
The new ALL tool features a new section for accounting students, an enhanced state requirement comparison research tool and expanded product information. The refreshed ALL website offers the same features and benefits as the previous site in a more user-friendly format. Users can find detailed licensing information and even use their research tool to determine if their educational requirements meet any state’s licensure requirements without having to click through each state board’s website individually. This is huge for candidates and for NASBA, as it allows them to spend more time dealing with candidate issues and less time pointing candidates in the right direction.
The birth of the ALL actually began within NASBA four years ago as they wanted a single resource for internal use that would take each state board’s requirements and aggregate them into one place. “There really wasn’t one source to go to and look up all these different rules, so that was the impetus for putting the tool together,” Caldwell told us. “We wanted to offer it to firms at first but once it was out there we realized there were several different audiences using it. Students use it as a licensing tool and international candidates use it as well.”
With over 700 candidates accessing the tool per year (before the makeover) and a significant leap in CPA exam applications since the first whispers of an economic downturn in 2008, interest in the tool and CPA licensure does not appear to be waning any time soon.
Beyond the licensure aspect of the tool, the ALL gives both individuals and firms a way to improve their own economic outlooks by reaching across state lines to find clients. “In this kind of environment, the firms are looking to neighboring states if their state is suffering from a lack of business,” Caldwell said. The tool allows for mobility without firms wasting countless hours combing through state requirements and allows CPAs in a specialty practice to meet the needs of clients who may be in areas that lack qualified accountants who offer their specialized services.
As the CPA exam prepares to go international, NASBA is counting on increased interest in not only the ALL but the all-important CPA designation. Let’s face it, not every industry can say it has weathered the economic downturn as well as CPAs have and passing the exam is still considered a prestigious accomplishment across the globe.
Great job, NASBA, we definitely approve!