CPA - Frequently Asked Questions

CPA (Certified Public Accountant) is a globally-recognized public accounting qualification. AICPA (American Institute of CPAs) certifies CPAs to be trusted financial advisors to help businesses, individuals and other organizations to reach their financial goals. Candidates can earn this certification as a part of Career Growth. CPA comprises 4 exam parts which can be cleared by candidates (most of whom are working professionals) within 12 months. The minimum eligibility criteria for CPA exams are university graduation. In India, CPAs have career opportunities with all of the Big 4 and most MNCs.

Is US CPA valid in India?

CPA exams are conducted by AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountant) whereas CA exams are conducted by ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India). CPA gives broader recognition compared to CA.CPA is recognized in USA, India & around the world compared to CA, which is recognized only in India.

What is the Scope of CPA in India?

There are many US firms worldwide, and more and more accountancy related assignments are being out sourced to India . We have many US companies now in India, so the job scope is good. Companies like Deloitte, EY, Amazon, Synchrony, Invesco and so many more frequently hire in India.

Important Read: CPA- Career Alternative for Commerce Students

 What Does a CPA do?

Certified Public Accountants work in a wide range of professions. You can find them in banking, financial services, government jobs, and education. However, most CPAs are employed in public accounting or corporate accounting.

What are the four parts tested on the CPA Exam? 

    • Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
    • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
    • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
    • Regulation (REG)

What are the eligibility requirements for US CPA?

To be eligible to appear for the US CPA exam one must have 120 credits, each graduation is converted into 30 years of credits thereby adding 90 credits for 3 years, if your NAAC A, the first division you will get 30 additional credits. To apply for the license one must have 150 credits. Although certain other requirements vary by jurisdiction. Each jurisdiction has specific requirements about education, experience, and residency. Refer to your jurisdiction's application materials for additional information.

What is NTS? Who issues the NTS for the CPA Exam?

A Notice to Schedule (NTS) is the authorization sent out by National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) for an applicant to make an appointment with the testing provider once the examination fees is paid. Once the CPA Exam application has been processed, and a candidate is determined eligible to take one or more sections of the CPA Exam, the NASBA will issue a Notice to Schedule (NTS) to the candidate. The NTS will list the section(s) of the Exam the candidate is approved to take, which will allow him/her to contact the Prometric to begin the scheduling process. Scheduling instructions will be included on the NTS.

Why does the CPA require graduation as an eligibility Criterion?

US Professional qualifications "Complement" University Education - e.g. to be a CPA, CMA or CFA, a university degree is mandatory. Therefore the content and focus is only on skill-gaps that are needed to be a F&A professional. Hence, graduation is mandatory to be eligible to appear for the CPA exams.

What are the exemptions available to US CPA in Indian CA?

There are no exemptions in any of the subjects as ICAI currently don't have MOU with AICPA, so you will need to write four sections in order to pass the CPA exam. 

Important Read: CPA - Eligibility | Exam Pattern | Fees | Jobs

How many papers are there in the CPA?

CPA US is a 4 paper exam.- Online 50% MCQ, 50% SIMS ( Case Law based questions)

    • FAR- Financial accounting and reporting-
    • AUD – Audit
    • BEC- Business environment
    • REG- Regulation or US taxation

Exam format: MCQs, simulations, and written communications.
Exam mode: online.
The student will have access to Authoritative literature when he is answering Simulations part in all the 4 papers. Authoritative literature comprises GAAP, IRS, GAAS where a student can use it to answer, but it requires a lot of practice to locate the exact answer as it is too vast to search.

How is the CPA exam scored?

You need a score of 75 or higher to pass the CPA exam. Specifically, you must earn a 75 or higher on each of the four tests that make up the CPA exam.

How many times can you take CPA?

The AICPA does not have a limit on the number of times you may take the CPA Exam. And with a pass rate of ~50%, steep examination requirements, and regularly updating materials, many candidates will find themselves taking one or more sections multiple times on their path to the CPA certification.

Is there a time limit to complete all the 4 parts of the CPA Exam?

A candidate is required to pass all four sections of the CPA Exam within a rolling 18-month period. The sections can be taken individually and in any order. Credit for any section passed shall be valid for 18 months from the actual date the examination sections were taken. Examination credit expires by section. The candidate will lose credit for each section passed outside the 18-month period, and will have to retake those sections. The score notice will contain any relevant expiration dates.

I have passed all four sections. Do my credits expire?

If you are appearing for exams in any country other than the US you will have to take the license within 3 years of passing the CPA exam else your credits will lapse. If you appear for the exam in the US you have to apply for a license within 10 years.

What happens if you fail CPA exam?

If you did not pass a section of the CPA Examyou have to wait until the next testing window to retake that section. There are four testing windows each year. The testing window is the first two months of each quarter and the first 10 days of the third month of each quarter.

Can I do CPA after completing B.Com?

B.Com gives you a total of 90 credits and to qualify for CPA exam you need 120 but there are certain states which allow you to sit for CPA exam even with 90 credits provided you sign an undertaking that you will meet the balance credits within 18 months of appearing for the first paper. Yes, you can do CPA but you need to sign an undertaking and we will help you with a bridge course to meet the balance credits. Additionally, B. Com with NAAC A- First division is also an eligibility criterion.

Are the CPA USA exams in an open book format?

No, the exam is NOT open book. You are not allowed any resources in the testing center while taking the exam.

Who Needs a CPA?

Certified Public Accountants provide a range of services across different types of organizations.

    • Public accounting firms: CPAs are involved in the preparation, review, and auditing of their clients' financial statements. Their expert knowledge in the fields of accounting, taxes, and related areas helps them to fulfill this role.
    • Large corporations: Big companies need the services of CPAs. In these organizations, CPAs work in accounting, internal auditing, and tax accounting. They play a crucial role in preparing the corporation's financial statements and ensuring that these adhere to the required regulatory norms.
    • Small businesses: CPAs can play an important role in small companies as well. They provide financial advice and can help with the firm's accounting records. Many small businesses use CPAs to assist them with their taxes and to represent them before the IRS.
    • You can also find CPAs working in government organizations and the educational sector. If you choose to work in public accounting, you could join one of the "Big 4" accounting firms – Deloitte, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Ernst & Young, or KPMG. These firms, as well as their smaller counterparts, provide accounting, auditing, tax, and consulting services. Many CPAs also opt to work in corporations and government entities. Their job could involve managerial or tax accounting, internal auditing, or financial analysis.

Does having a CPA guarantee a job?

No certification really guarantees success. You can get a CPA, but you still have to convince others that you're worth hiring. To differentiate from other CPAsaccountants that start their own firms often have a specialization. Just like a college degree, the CPA license will open doors.

What are the requirements for the CPA license?

The CPA credential is a license issued by one of the 55 states or territories of the U.S. that authorizes the holder to practice as a CPA in that jurisdiction. Licensing of CPAs helps to protect the public interest because only those individuals who have met prescribed requirements are permitted to identify themselves to the public as CPAs. One component of the licensing requirement designed to ensure only qualified individuals become licensed as CPAs is the Uniform CPA Examination. Also most states/jurisdictions require at least two years public accounting experience.

Why do 55 different State Boards of Accountancy issue the CPA license?

The 55 Jurisdictions: The CPA license is issued at the jurisdiction level. To become a CPA, you must be declared eligible for the examination, and subsequently licensed, by the Board of Accountancy in one of the 55 U.S. jurisdictions. The Constitution of the U.S. grants each state or territory the power to regulate the practice of the professions within that jurisdiction’s borders. In most jurisdictions, these powers are carried out by a “Board of Accountancy.” These Boards of Accountancy are made up of appointed individuals and staff (many of whom are CPAs) who are charged with the responsibility of carrying out the laws promulgated by the legislatures and providing an appropriate examination for licensure. 

What are the requirements for maintaining the CPA license?

Upon completion of the CPA exam, CPAs must meet requirements defined by their licensing state board of accountancy to maintain the license. For dedicated professional accountants, earning a CPA license is just the beginning.

Many state licensing boards require that CPAs maintain and improve their skills through continuing professional education (CPE) courses and other opportunities for professional development.

CPA Career Opportunities

What are the roles for CPAs in Public accounting and in the industry?

Following are the role played by CPAs in a corporation/industry:

- Subsidiaries of US-based MNCs in India [i.e., MNCs based out of US or US SEC-registrants]

  • Need to convert Indian GAAP financials to US GAAP for consolidation with the US parent. US GAAP financials – that’s the job of CPAs!
  • US regulations & compliances apply. E.g., SOX, FCPA

- Few Indian MNCs who have raised $ from US capital markets

  • These are US SEC-registrants; hence, have reporting requirements with the SEC - in US GAAP or IFRS. E.g., Tata Motors, Tata Steel, HDFC, ICICI,Infosys.

- Auditors of these MNCs

  • For audits, the partner on the audit for a US SEC-registrant needs to be a CPA, and they always prefer to have CPAs on the engagement team.
  • Especially Big 4 – Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PwC

- F&A companies

  • CPAs play an important role as analysts and financial accounting. Includes Accenture, Genpact, Capgemini, IBM, HP, Infosys, Arvato, Wipro, Xerox, TCS,    Cognizant, WXL, Steria and others

What are the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) courses for CPAs?

Continued Professional Education (CPE) is required for CPAs to maintain their professional competence and provide quality professional services. CPAs are responsible for complying with all applicable CPE requirements, rules and regulations of state boards of accountancy, as well as those of membership associations and other professional organizations. 

There are several online websites that provide CPE courses. Make sure the course provider is registered with the National registry of CPE sponsors. Miles Education has a special tie-up with AICPA to provide CPE express to Indian candidates at discounted prices.


CPA Exams in India

When is the CPA Exam being conducted in India?

AICPA, NASBA and Prometric have launched the CPA exams in India for the months of June and September 2020 only. This means that candidates may now schedule to take any section of the U.S. CPA Exam section in India during these months. We are hopeful that testing in India will become a reality in the near future and that the period of testing will be extended. We shall keep you informed of any further developments in this area.

Is testing for CPA Exam in India Permanent?

Due to the troubled times with COVID-19 pandemic, CPA exams in India will be held only for the months of June and September 2020. Though, we are hopeful that testing in India will become a reality in the near future and that the period of testing will be extended. We shall keep you informed of any further developments in this area.

How to change the testing location to India, if you have scheduled exams in the USA?

Taking the exams in any other international testing regions requires you to pay an international administration fee. Accordingly, to switch exams to International location (India), login to your NASBA SSO account and pay International Administration fee and later schedule your exams with a prometric center.


What are the differences between a CFA and CPA?

Although the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Certified Public Accountant (CPA) qualifications are both related to finance, there are significant differences  between the two. A CFA's expertise is focused on the investment industry. Consequently, CFAs work as portfolio managers, investment advisors, and research analysts.
A CPA, on the other hand, is a specialist in accounting and taxes. You can find CPAs working in public accounting and the finance departments of small and large businesses.


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