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The CPA Exam's Regulation (REG) section assesses a candidate's knowledge and skills in U.S. federal taxation, U.S. ethics and professional responsibilities related to tax practice, and U.S. business law. REG, like all other sections of the CPA Exam, is administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
According to the AICPA Blueprints, federal taxation accounts for more than 60% of the REG exam. The remaining topics tested in the REG exam include: business law, business ethics, and professional and legal responsibilities.
REG Exam Format and Structure
Before you begin your exam at the Prometric Testing Center, you will be given 2 sets of welcome screens. The first of these displays will ask for confirmation of your name, ID, exam portion, and launch code. Before moving on, you must accept the confidentiality declarations on the next screen. It's vital to remember that if you don't address these screens in under 5 minutes each, your exam will be canceled and you won't be able to continue.
The exam is organized into 5 testlets. Operational and pretest questions are included in these testlets. Pretest questions are not scored, but operational questions are. The REG exam is composed of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and task-based simulations (TBSs). There are no Written Communication (WC) questions on the REG exam. Each testlet contains questions from only one of these question types:
- Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQ) - One question with four potential answers. MCQs make up 50% of the REG exam.
- Task-Based Simulations (TBS) - Questions that require you to apply practical knowledge. This could include filling out a document or finishing a research question. The TBS make up 50% of the REG exam.
The first 2 testlets on the REG exam consist of MCQs, with 38 questions per testlet. This is a total of 76 multiple choice questions (MCQs). 64 of the 76 MCQs are operational, meaning they count toward the exam score, whereas the remaining 12 are pretested and do not count toward the exam score.
The remaining 3 testlets consist of TBSs. Each testlet contains 2-3 task-based simulation. There is a total of 8 task-based simulations on the REG Exam. Seven of the eight TBSs are operational, and one is pretested. Apart from scoring, there is no practical difference between operational and pretested questions, and there is no clear method for the applicant to distinguish between the two.
An optional 15-minute break that does not count towards the 4-hour test period is provided after the 3rd testlet.
Following the completion of the exam, you will be asked to complete a 5-minute survey requesting feedback about your exam experience.
Understanding how much time you have to complete the REG exam will help you construct a smart game plan for exam day.
- The REG exam section has a 4-hour time limit.
- Before you start the exam, you will be viewing a welcome screen, in which you must enter your launch code and confirm information within a 5-minute period.
- The next set of welcome screens includes confidentiality statements that you have to accept within 5 minutes as well.
- There are optional breaks between each testlet. However, during these optional breaks, the timer continues to run and counts toward your total exam time.
- There is a 15-minute optional standard break that occurs after you complete the third testlet. At this time, you can pause the timer on your exam. It is highly recommended that you take advantage of this break.
- Finally, there will be a 5-minute survey post exam.
Time Management for the REG Exam
|Testlet||Question Type||Suggested Time|
|Testlet 1||38 MCQ||47 Minutes|
|Testlet 2||38 MCQ||47 Minutes|
|Testlet 3||2 TBS||36 Minutes|
|15-minute break (does not count toward total exam time)|
|Testlet 4||3 TBS||54 Minutes|
|Testlet 5||3 TBS||54 Minutes|
|Extra Time||2 Minutes|
|Total Time||240 Minutes|
The total testing time for the REG exam is 4 hours. Here is the amount of time we recommend you spend on each question, based on the question type:
- 76 MCQs: 1.25 minutes each
- 8 Task-Based Simulations: 18 minutes each
It is important to understand time management systems like this to effectively complete your examon the exam day. The chart above is a sample time strategy breakdown to consider for the REG exam.
In order to ensure that you follow your time management strategy effectively, write your countdown timings as soon as you sit to take the exam to maximize your time when you arrive at the test center. We recommend:
- After Testlet 3, aim to be around halfway through your time.
- Take the scheduled 15-minute break.
- To stay on pace, keep in mind the estimated question time:
- 75–84 seconds per MCQ
- 15-20 minutes per TBS (general)
- 20-25 minutes per TBS (Complex)
- 10 minutes of research
What is Tested on the REG Exam - Content Areas & Topics
The AICPA CPA Exam Blueprint contains the knowledge, skills, and subject themes candidates will be expected to know for the CPA Exam. It also contains information about adjustments or changes that will be implemented each year. The CPA Exam Blueprints provide a detailed description of each exam section, allowing applicants to better understand what they need to study in order to pass the exam.
The Regulation section of the CPA Exam primarily focuses on federal taxation. According to the AICPA Blueprints, this overarching topic area makes up more than 60% of the REG exam. The remaining topics include: business law, business ethics, and professional and legal responsibilities.
- Federal taxation of individuals
- Federal taxation of entities
- Federal taxation of property transactions
- Business structure
- Debtor-creditor relationships
- Government regulation of business
- Ethics and responsibilities in tax practice
- Licensing and disciplinary systems
- Federal tax procedures
- Legal duties and responsibilities
Skills Tested on the REG Exam
The skills tested on the REG exam are divided between remembering & understanding, application, analysis, and evaluation.
- 25–35% Remembering & Understanding - The observation and understanding of the significance of an area utilizing knowledge gained
- 35-45% Application - The use or exhibition of knowledge, concepts, or techniques.
- 25–35% Analysis - The investigation of the interrelationships of separate areas to identify causes and find confirmation to support implications.
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How is the REG Exam Scored and Graded?
Scores for the REG exam are given on a scale of 0 to 99. Candidates need a score of 75 or higher to pass. These aren't percentages, and they shouldn't be treated as such. Scaled scores on the exam's MCQs and TBSs are determined using algorithms that take into account whether the question was successfully answered, as well as the difficulty level of each question.
For example, a candidate who answers 10 difficult questions correctly will receive a higher score than a candidate who answers 10 easy (lower value) questions correctly.
Answering 75% of the questions on the exam correctly does not translate into a score of 75. There are many factors that go into a CPA Exam Score. Learn more about How the CPA Exam is Scored here.
The first half of a candidate's REG score is made up of MCQs, while the second half is made up of TBSs. The weight of a candidate's final score will be evenly allocated between MCQs and TBSs. This means that weightage for MCQs and TBSs are 50% each.
The first REG exam MCQ testlet is set to 'medium' difficulty by default. The following MCQ testlet's difficulty level is determined by the candidate's performance on the first REG testlet. As a result, the applicant will face one of the following MCQ testlet difficulty sequences:
- Difficult - Candidate performed well on the first testlet
- Moderate - Candidate did not perform well on the first testlet
The average difficulty of the questions in an MCQ testlet is described as 'medium' or 'difficult' for the REG exam testlet. Each MCQ does not have a binary 'difficulty' or 'medium' value attached to it. Rather, each question's difficulty is measured on a quantitative scale.
Credit for REG exam MCQs is weighted by difficulty level; candidates who answer more difficult questions correctly receive more credit than answering less difficult questions correctly. As a result, a candidate with a difficult testlet is neither punished for having more difficult questions, nor is having two medium difficulty testlets advantageous.
Even with a Medium-Medium MCQ testlet sequence, it is feasible to pass the REG exam. In these circumstances, passing requires a good-to-excellent score on the second MCQ testlet and the TBS testlets.
The REG exam TBS testlets are pre-selected and have no bearing on the candidate's performance on the previous MCQ testlets, nor do the TBSs within the TBS testlets continue in accordance with the previous TBS.
While an MCQ can be answered correctly or incorrectly, non-research based TBSs receive partial credit. Research based TBSs are assessed as correct or incorrect, with no partial credit provided.
REG CPA Exam Pass Rates
Students perceive the CPA Exam's Regulation section to be difficult due to the large quantity of non-accounting content presented in the exam, which includes tax law and company law. Here’s a look at the REG CPA Exam pass rates over the years:
It's no secret that the CPA Exam is one of the most difficult professional tests to pass; success necessitates commitment, dedication, and well-designed CPA study resources. UWorld Roger CPA Review has helped over 200,000 students achieve their goals with a 94% pass rate. The AICPA publishes the average CPA Exam Pass Rates, broken down by section, every quarter. The overall pass rate varies slightly by region and quarter, but it tends to settle around 45-55%. View the pass rates for each section of the CPA Exam from prior years in CPA Exam Pass Rates.
How to Study for the REG CPA Exam Section
We estimate approximately 84-112 hours of study are required in order to pass REG, but each student is unique and has their own time requirements.
The order in which a candidate takes the four sections of the CPA Exam will vary depending on several individual factors. REG is the most standalone of all four sections and can be taken at any time during your CPA Exam process.
If you're ready to begin preparing for the REG exam right now, here’s how to study for the REG section:
- Make a study regimen and a game plan.
- Say "no" to distractions to safeguard your study time.
- Solicit help from relatives and friends.
- Get plenty of rest, eat healthy, and exercise often.
- Turn a stroll, workout, or time waiting in line into a study session by using mobile devices.
- Study more effectively by avoiding poor study approaches.
- Keep your sights set on the finish line and remember why you're on this adventure.
- Gain an understanding of the regulation process by drawing on real-world experience.
- Study about federal taxation, especially income, and estate taxation thoroughly.
- Expand your understanding of internal control.
- Actively learn while keeping the big picture in mind.
- Practice strategies for finding the correct answer.
REG CPA Exam Study Tips
We recommend using some of the study techniques listed below:
- Commit to truly understanding the REG test material.
- Make a study plan and stick to it – our Study Planners can help.
- Consider eliminating distractions during your designated study times – block Internet access, turn off notifications, tell family, friends and colleagues you will be completely unavailable.
- At the beginning of most REG sections, Roger reviews the big picture. Practice presenting the big pictures yourself, in your own words.
- Practice the REG test with the UWorld Roger CPA customizable quizzes.
- Use our digital flashcards with Spaced Repetition Technology to hone in on hard-to-grasp topics.
- Eat well, exercise, and get plenty of rest.
- To increase your mastery, practise carefully on the portions you believe are your weakest.
Whether you're a fresh college graduate or a seasoned professional, the secret to passing the CPA Exam is to assess your priorities, create a solid CPA study plan, and take the first step toward your objectives. Year after year, applicants state that procrastination and study time management are the most difficult obstacles they face in obtaining their CPA certification. Read on for our best advice on how to make your own study strategy and get started on the road to becoming a CPA here: CPA Exam Study Guide.
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How hard is the REG CPA Exam?
Students find the Regulation portion of the CPA Exam to be difficult to study due to the sheer amount of non-accounting information covered in the exam, as it incorporates tax law and business law.
In which order should I take REG among the four sections of the CPA Exam?
The sequence in which a candidate takes the four portions of the CPA Exam is determined by a variety of factors. REG is the most self-contained of the four parts, and it may be taken at any point during the CPA Exam.
How many hours do I need to study to pass the REG CPA Exam?
In order to pass the REG CPA Exam, we estimate that approximately 84-112 hours of study is required, although each student is different and has different time constraints.
What should I focus on for the REG CPA Exam?
Because tax and corporate law are challenging subjects, you should concentrate on them first. You’ll need to learn about the regulatory process by applying what you’ve learned in the real world. You should also put more attention on federal taxation, particularly income and inheritance taxation, and extensively study it. You should also broaden your knowledge of internal controls.
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