CPA Exam Authoritative Literature: Free Access and Tips

There are two question types that you will find in the CPA exam: multiple choices (MCQs) and task-based simulations (TBS). In the simulation questions, candidates are asked to do an online search of professional literature databases to answer the questions.

But how exactly do you go about it? How can you get some practice before the actual CPA exam?

What is the CPA Exam Authoritative Literature?

The CPA Exam Authoritative Literature questions are designed to test your capability to look up information in the Accounting Regulations and Standards, which is a very practical skill that you will be required to possess throughout your career as a CPA.

For practice to do well in the actual exam, it is always important to test your answering ability in a simulated exam environment.

1. Free Database from AICPA

As an exam candidate, you will be given free access to the AICPA Authoritative Literature for six months. You can then practice exploring through the AICPA Professional Standards and FASB Pronouncements with the help of keywords.

Make sure you have your NTS with you. You will require the exam section ID to register and get access to the database.

2. Common Standards

You can easily look for the correct section in professional standard based on the beginning letters.

  • Auditing (Clarified): start with “AU-C”
  • Attestation: start with “AT”
  • Compilation and Review: typically start with “AR”
  • Ethics – AICPA Code of Professional Conduct
  • PCAOB 5 for Issuers

3. Use the “Search Within” Function

Remember to use “search within” tool to narrow down the paragraph within a particular topic. This is a great tool to use, especially when you already know the topic or section that covers the questions on simulation.

4. Make Complete Use of the CPA Exam Authoritative Literature Database

You can even make use of the Authoritative Literature to double-check the answers for the non-research portion of the simulation questions. This is especially useful in the AUD and FAR exams.

Any online review course will provide excellent practice questions in a simulated testing environment, but for some of them, the search function won’t work. 

Bottom Line

The more familiar you are with the exam content, the easier and faster it is for you to find the corresponding section in the Authoritative Literature. It is going to make a big difference in exam sections such as REG when candidates generally don’t have much time for simulations. 


Hope that the above article is helpful to you. Feel free to comment below if you have specific questions on your CPA exam preparation. Good luck with your exam!

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