2024 CPA Exams: Which Section to Take First?

2024 cpa exams which one first

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Wondering which CPA exam section to take first in 2024? Or which of the new exams will be the hardest? Or the easiest? The answers are in this video.


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Episode Timestamps

  • 0:00 2024 CPA Exams Video
  • 00:41 Intro to the 2024 Changes: Core & Discipline Exams
  • 01:25 What Changed with AUD, FAR, and REG?
  • 02:15 Which Core Exam is the Hardest?
  • 04:24 Which Discipline Exam Will the Easiest/Hardest?
  • 06:25 So Which Discipline Exam Should I Take?
  • 07:57 If I’m Just Starting Which Exam Should I Take First?
  • 08:59 The Most Important Thing That Hasn’t, and Won’t Change
  • 09:40 Why Hard Work Alone Doesn’t Equal Passing Exams

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] When your study process, has some version of these six elements

or these six key ingredients. it’s honestly hard to go wrong. It’s honestly hard to fail exams,

Hi, I’m Nate with SuperfastCPA and in this video we’re going to talk about the 2024 CPA exams.

We’ll talk about what’s changed with the core exams. We’re going to talk about the discipline exams and which one of those you might want to take. We’ll talk about what order you might want to take your four exams in, and then we’ll talk about the number one thing about passing the CPA exams quickly and efficiently, why that hasn’t changed and why that will never change.

Intro to the 2024 Changes: Core & Discipline Exams

So previous to 2024, you had the four CPA exams. It was audit, BEC, FAR, and REG, and everyone had to take those four exams, no matter what. With the 2024 changes, BEC, business environment and concepts, that is going away and it’s being replaced with one of [00:01:00] three discipline exams. So the candidate gets to choose which of these three discipline exams that they want to take in place of BEC.

So that does mean that there are the three core exams that everyone has to take no matter what. Those are audit far and reg. So audit is auditing, FAR is financial accounting and reporting, and then REG is regulation, which is pretty much business law and taxation.

What Changed with AUD, FAR, and REG?

So to quickly go over what has changed with those three core exams, audit is the most unchanged. FAR and REG on the other hand, they had a lot of the deeper portions of some of their harder topics basically move to either the BAR exam or the TCP exam.

As far as the three discipline exams BAR is business analysis and reporting, ISC is information systems and controls, and TCP is tax compliance and planning.

So one of the main things we’ve been being asked is how do the core exams now stack up as [00:02:00] far as difficulty then related to that would be which of the discipline exams are the hardest, and, or which one should I take, also going along with that, do I have to take a discipline exam that’s in line with what I want to do with my career.

Which Core Exam is the Hardest?

So let’s start with which one of the core exams is now the most difficult.

So if we look at this graphic right here, for the three core exams, Audit, FAR, and REG. These are the skill areas. So remembering and understanding is largely just, you know, the memorization of a concept or a term, basically. It’s just remembering and understanding. So this is considered pretty much the easiest skill level, as far as the questions or the simulations go.

And it’s worth noting that, remembering and understanding, those will only show up as multiple choice questions. Whereas application, that can show up as either a MCQ or simulation, and then if you [00:03:00] get into analysis and evaluation, those will only be tested as simulations. Now, you only see evaluation listed on audit.

That is because audit is the only exam that includes any evaluation type tasks.

Now, one of the first things that jumps out about this is under the remembering and understanding, since we just mentioned that the more of this that there is on an exam, hypothetically, the easier it may be, we see that FAR is very low on remembering and understanding, and very, very heavy on application and analysis. So FAR is very heavy on calculation based, multiple choice questions and simulations.

REG is as well, but not as much as FAR.

So this is a generalization and your background kind of matters to make this statement. But in general, I still think that FAR will be the most difficult exam for people.

And then the difference between audit and reg [00:04:00] largely comes down to your experience. If you work in audit or you had more audit classes than tax classes in your master’s degree, or just your overall background and experience, If you’re more aligned with audit, audit is going to be much easier than reg and vice versa.

A lot of people that have never worked in audit, maybe only had one or two classes in audit. They find audit very difficult.

Which Discipline Exam Will the Easiest/Hardest?

So going on to that second question, which of the discipline exams will be the most difficult? And if we compare this same thing, We’ll see that bar is very similar to far where it has very little remembering and understanding and it’s very heavy on application and analysis and bar is very heavy on the calculation based types of multiple choice questions and simulations.

So bar is going to include a lot of the calculation based stuff that came from BEC.

So, going back to the idea of what exams will be the most [00:05:00] difficult, this is another interesting thing to look at from the blueprints, is the number of multiple choice questions for each exam. Now, you’ll notice that all of the exams, you have four hours to take each exam, no matter what section the exam is, but the number of multiple choice questions varies quite a bit depending on the exam.

So one thing to notice with this is the higher number of multiple choice questions that are included on an exam, I think you can safely assume that the majority of those questions would be slightly easier. So take audit for example, there’s 78 questions or 78 multiple choice questions. And then ISC has 82 multiple choice questions, whereas FAR and bar only have 50 multiple choice questions.

And that is because, like we already covered, most of FAR and BAR are going to be application and analysis questions or simulations, [00:06:00] but they’re going to be more difficult questions. They’re going to be calculation based where you have to walk through steps and, you know, calculate things. So that is why there are less multiple choice questions on FAR and BAR. And that’s also why I think FAR and BAR are going to be, again, a generalization, but in general, the two most difficult exams.

So Which Discipline Exam Should I Take?

So the other thing to say about the discipline exams, as far as which one you might choose, is that they’re very specific. So ISC is all IT, information technology and internal controls based on information technology. Whereas TCP is tax compliance and tax planning. So it’s very specific to tax.

So if you work in tax, The answer would be pretty clear that you would take the TCP exam.

And then of course, if you’re going into IT auditing, you would very logically take [00:07:00] the ISC exam as your discipline exam.

And if you’re going into just general accounting, you’re going to work in industry as an accountant, or you’re going into auditing, then BAR would be the one that’s left, and that is the most relevant to what you’ll be doing.

That being said, there is no requirement that you choose a discipline exam based on what you’re actually going into in your career. The only thing that matters at the end of the day is that you have passed the four CPA exams and altogether that comprises the uniform CPA exam, which of course is the big requirement to getting your CPA license. So there is the argument to be made, well, since ISC is so heavy on remembering and understanding, or in other words, just memorizing a lot of concepts and vocabulary, essentially, if you’re good at that, you might find ISC to be the easiest discipline exam.

If I’m Just Starting Which Exam Should I Take First?

So, to sum things up, if you’re just starting [00:08:00] with the CPA exams I would pretty much recommend starting with FAR just like before. The idea is you start with the most difficult exam. If your study process gets you to a passing score on FAR, then it will translate to the other exams, that’s kind of the idea.

The other way of choosing which exam to take first is to try and take the one that you think will be easiest for you based on your experience and background. The only downside to that, which is a big downside, let’s say you work in audit or you’ve worked in audit for three or four years. So you pass the audit exam with relatively no problems, but you largely did that because of your background and experience.

So it wasn’t so much about the effectiveness of your study process. So then you run into a brick wall with something like reg, for example. And, you know, I’ve heard this a thousand times where someone has passed two or three exams and then they find one or two exams nearly impossible.

The Most Important Thing That Hasn’t, and Won’t Change

[00:09:00] So that leads us into the thing I mentioned in the beginning. What’s the one thing that hasn’t changed at all about the 2024 versus the previous exams? And the thing that is the most important thing for you passing your exams, regardless of what order you take them in or what discipline exam you choose.

And I also said that this thing will never change no matter how the CPA exams change. And that of course is your daily study routine, meaning the best ways or the most effective and efficient ways of learning the information. And then taking that information with you into the exam on test day.

Why Hard Work Alone Doesn’t Equal Passing Exams

And now it sounds really obvious to say that, but so many people out there, they just assume that putting in time, whether that’s watching video lectures, reading the chapter, doing practice problems, just putting in time is the biggest indicator of whether they’ll [00:10:00] pass their exams or not. Now, unfortunately, that could not be more untrue.

Maybe you’ve experienced this or figured this out for yourself, but it is very possible for somebody to study weeks, months, maybe even years, be putting in a lot of time, be putting in a lot of effort and they still go in and just fail exam after exam. So everything comes back to the effectiveness of your daily study process.

For every hour that you spend studying. Are you actually moving closer to a passing score on test day? And there are very specific things that do that, but then there are a lot of things which most people spend 80 percent of their study time doing things that do not really meaningfully push you towards a passing score on test day.

So I won’t get into all that here, but that is what our free webinars are for. So we have a free one hour webinar that will walk you through the six key ingredients of a highly effective CPA [00:11:00] study routine. When your study process, has some version of these six elements or these six key ingredients.

It’s honestly hard to go wrong. It’s honestly hard to fail exams, as long as these six things are all present in your daily and weekly process. So the link to those trainings will be down below in the description or if you’re listening to just the podcast version of this, it’ll be down in the description of the podcast episode as well.

So the main takeaway is that there are very real factors to consider as far as which exams you’re going to take in what order, and then specifically which discipline exam you choose to take,

but by far the biggest thing to focus on and be aware of is the effectiveness of your daily study process. What you do when you sit down to study with your main review course and then be taking advantage of all the little gaps in your day using study tools from your phone. Again, I won’t get into that whole thing, but.

If you want to make sure that you don’t [00:12:00] make the big most common mistakes that leads to the 50 percent fail rates across the board on these exams, make sure to attend one of those free one hour webinars, because that is one hour that will literally save you months and months of time and frustration.

Your biggest tool in passing the exams quickly and efficiently is being strategic when you study. It is not just the amount of time put in. Do not ever just blindly put in time day after day, week after week without following a specific strategic approach on your studying.

If you have any questions about either the study process or something to do with the 2024 versions of the exams, put them down in the comments below in this video,

and if you’re just starting the CPA study process, make sure to sign up and attend one of those free one hour webinars. So, thanks for watching or listening, and we’ll see you on the next episode.[00:13:00]

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