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UI Accounting Students Pre-Test New Computer-based CPA Exam

Twenty-five accounting students in the University of Iowa's Henry B. Tippie College of Business pre-tested a new computer-based version of the Uniform CPA Examination April 19 and 20, giving them a valuable learning experience in preparing for their future profession.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is revising the exam from paper-and-pencil test to a computer-based test, and the UI was chosen as one of a handful of university sites to pre-test the exam. Beginning in November 2003, students will be confronted with this new computerized exam when they sit for the CPA exam, said Lynn Pringle, clinical assistant professor of accounting and director of the master of accountancy program at the Tippie College.

The Uniform CPA Examination is seen by accountants and regulators as a useful tool in protecting the public, as the exam assesses candidates' entry-level knowledge and skills. Pringle explained that the AICPA is revising the exam to ensure that it continues to meet its public protection mandate by reflecting the changes in work performed by entry-level CPAs, by acknowledging the need for higher-order skills, and by recognizing the increasingly integral role of technology in the work of entry-level CPAs.

"This is a unique opportunity for students to experience first-hand what the new exam will be like, and at the same time students can assist the AICPA in developing the computerized exam format," he said. "It will also help the accounting faculty determine how well our current curriculum prepares students for the new exam format and feedback from students who participate in the pre-test will also help us better advise students in preparing for the CPA exam."

The new exam will have four parts -- auditing and attestation; financial accounting and reporting; regulation; and business environment and concepts. About 40 percent of the content in the business environment and concepts section was not previously tested on the CPA exam. This new section will test concepts underlying business reasons for and accounting implications of business transactions, Pringle said.

Students will receive their scores from the pre-test, giving them important feedback to help them prepare for the actual exam, which beginning in November 2003 can be taken four times a year. In addition, students will have up to 200 different days on which to take the exam. Presently, the exam is only offered over a two-day period in May and in November of each year. The AICPA's goal is to offer the exam on a continuous basis.


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