Preparing for the 2024 CPA Exam: Core vs. Discipline Sections

Preparing for the 2024 CPA Exam Core vs. Discipline Sections1


Last Updated on March 18, 2024 by Qusai Ahmad


The accounting profession is evolving rapidly, and so is the Uniform CPA Examination (CPA Exam). In response to the changing landscape of the industry, the CPA Evolution initiative is introducing significant modifications to the CPA Exam in 2024.

One of the most notable changes is the transition to a core-plus-discipline model. In this blog post, we will explore the core and discipline sections of the new CPA Exam, helping candidates make informed decisions about their path to CPA licensure.

Understanding the 2024 CPA Exam Changes

Before we delve into the specifics of the core and discipline sections, it’s crucial to grasp the broader changes brought about by the CPA Evolution initiative.

This initiative is a response to the evolving demands of the accounting profession, ensuring that newly licensed CPAs possess the skills and knowledge required to safeguard the public interest.

The 2024 CPA Exam will consist of three core sections and one discipline section. Let’s begin by understanding what these core sections entail.

Core Sections: What to Expect

The core sections are the foundation of your CPA journey, and every candidate is required to tackle them. Let’s take a closer look at each core section:

Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)

FAR delves deep into financial accounting principles, regulations, and reporting. You’ll encounter topics such as revenue recognition, leases, business combinations, derivatives, and more. Mastering FAR is essential for understanding the intricate world of financial accounting.

Auditing and Attestation (AUD)

AUD focuses on auditing procedures, audit reports, ethics, professional responsibilities, and attestation engagements. It’s all about ensuring the accuracy and integrity of financial information—a critical function in today’s business environment.

Taxation and Regulation (REG)

REG explores taxation, business law, and ethics. You’ll learn about individual and entity taxation, business structures, tax compliance, and legal responsibilities. REG equips you with the knowledge needed to navigate the complex world of taxation.

Discipline Sections: Choosing Your Path

Now, the exciting part – choosing your discipline section! This decision should align with your career aspirations, existing knowledge, and personal interests. Here are the discipline sections to consider:

Business Analysis and Reporting (BAR)

Ideal for: Those drawn to assurance or advisory services, financial analysis, and reporting.

In-Depth Look: BAR encompasses a wide range of topics essential for financial professionals. This discipline goes beyond the basics, delving into data analytics, financial risk management, and advanced technical accounting. By choosing BAR, you’ll open doors to roles involving financial statement analysis, complex financial modeling, and strategic decision-making.

Career Opportunities: With expertise in BAR, you can pursue careers in financial analysis, risk management, financial consulting, and strategic planning. Organizations value professionals who can interpret financial data to drive informed decisions.

Information Systems and Controls (ISC)

Ideal for: Those interested in business processes, information systems, information security, and IT audits.

In-Depth Look: ISC focuses on the intersection of technology and business operations. You’ll delve into IT governance, internal control testing, and information system security. ISC prepares you for roles related to IT audit and control, where you’ll assess the effectiveness of an organization’s information systems, ensure data security, and enhance operational efficiency.

Career Opportunities: With ISC expertise, you can explore careers in IT auditing, cybersecurity, information system management, and technology consulting. Your role may involve evaluating controls, identifying vulnerabilities, and helping organizations safeguard their data assets.

Tax Compliance and Planning (TCP)

Ideal for: Those passionate about tax compliance and planning, both for individuals and entities.

In-Depth Look: TCP is the discipline for individuals who thrive in the world of taxation. This section covers a wide spectrum of topics, including personal finance planning, tax compliance, and entity tax considerations. If you aspire to be a tax expert, TCP is the path to consider. You’ll navigate complex tax codes, explore tax-saving strategies, and ensure compliance with ever-changing tax laws.

Career Opportunities: With TCP expertise, you can pursue careers as a tax consultant, tax advisor, or tax manager. You’ll assist individuals and businesses in optimizing their tax strategies, preparing tax returns, and staying compliant with tax regulations.

Making an Informed Choice

These detailed insights into each discipline section can help you make an informed decision. Consider your career goals, interests, and existing knowledge as you weigh your options. Your chosen discipline will shape your journey as a CPA and lead you toward exciting career opportunities in the dynamic field of accounting and finance.

Factors to Consider

Choosing between core and discipline sections is a significant decision. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Career Goals: Think about your long-term career aspirations. What type of CPA role are you aiming for?
  • Interests: Consider what topics genuinely interest you. Passion can drive success in your chosen section.
  • Existing Knowledge: Assess your existing knowledge in accounting, auditing, and taxation. This can guide your decision.

Balancing Core and Discipline

While mastering your chosen discipline is crucial, don’t underestimate the importance of excelling in the core sections.

A well-rounded skill set is valuable in the dynamic world of accounting. Balancing core and discipline sections can set you up for success.

Preparing Effectively

Effective preparation is key to success on the 2024 CPA Exam. Invest in quality study materials, take advantage of practice exams, and create a customized study plan that suits your learning style. The right preparation strategy can make all the difference in your CPA journey.


The CPA Evolution initiative is ushering in a new era for CPAs, and understanding the core and discipline sections of the 2024 CPA Exam is essential for candidates.

Embrace these changes as opportunities for professional growth and consider your career goals and interests when making your choice.

If you have any questions or thoughts on this topic, please share them in the comments below. Your CPA journey is evolving, and you’re well-equipped to excel in this dynamic profession.

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