In what order should I take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam? It is a question that many new candidates ask themselves, and others, when starting off on their four-part CPA journey. While people will suggest many different approaches, those who have taken the exams in the past will mostly agree that you should not leave Regulation (REG) or Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR) for last. There are several reasons for this. Among them, the pass rates for FAR (47.5%) and REG (49.3%) are considerably lower than the pass rates for Audit (AUD), at 52.1%, and Business Environment & Concepts (BEC), at 55.35% (all percentages as of the most recent quarter, shown here on the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) website).
Also, the FAR and REG exams contain more information that needs to be covered during your studies. For reference, the Becker CPA Exam Review contains 10 chapters for FAR and eight chapters for REG, versus six chapters each for AUD and BEC (learn more here). Ultimately, a candidate has a total of 18 months to obtain a score of 75 on all four parts of the exam. However, this timeline does not begin as soon as a candidate sits down for their first exam; the 18 months begins once a candidate receives their first passing score. This is important because this should encourage candidates to not stress too much about the order in which they take the exams. The decision should be made carefully, but ultimately, taking FAR or REG early in the process is the sensible choice for most people.