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The Auditing & Attestation (AUD) section of the CPA Exam covers the entire auditing process, including auditing procedures, generally accepted auditing standards, standards related to attest engagements and the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct. It’s important to remember that the AUD exam tests on how well a CPA candidate applies their audit and attestation knowledge when solving problems and performing specific tasks laid out in the AICPA Blueprints, not how well they are able to memorize auditing concepts.


15-25% Ethics, Professional Responsibilities and General Principles

  • Nature and Scope of Audit and Non-Audit Engagements
  • Ethics, Independence and Professional Conduct
  • Terms of Engagement for Audit and Non-Audit Engagements
  • Requirements for Engagements Documentation
  • Communication with Management and Those Charged with Governance
  • Communication with Component Auditors and Parties Other Than Management and Those Charge with Governance
  •  A Firm’s System of Quality Control, Including Quality Control at the Engagement Level

20-30% Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Response

  • Planning an Engagement
  • Understanding an Entity and Its Environment
  • Understanding an Entity’s Internal Control
  • Assessing Risks Due to Fraud
  • Identifying and Assessing the Risk of Material Misstatement and Planning Further Procedures Responsive to Identified Risks
  • Materiality
  • Planning for and using the Work of Others, Including Group Audits, the Internal Audit Function and the Work of a Specialist
  • Specific Areas of Audit Risk

15-25% Forming Conclusions and Reporting

  • Reports On Auditing Engagements
  • Reports On Attestation Engagements
  • Accounting and Review Service Engagements
  • Reporting On Compliance
  • Other Reporting Considerations

30-40% Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence

  • Understanding Sufficient Appropriate Audit Evidence
  • Sampling Techniques
  • Performing Specific Procedures to Obtain Evidence
  • Specific Matters that Require Individual Attention
  • Misstatements and Internal Control Deficiencies
  • Written Representations
  • Subsequent Events and Subsequently Discovered Facts


The AUD Exam is 4 hours long, though the candidate is not required to use all the allotted time, and consists of 72 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and 8 Task-Based Simulations (TBSs).

Of the 72 MCQs, 60 are operational, meaning they count toward the exam score, while 12 are pretested and do not count toward the exam score. Of the 8 TBSs, 7 are operational and 1 pretested. Other than scoring, there is no functional difference between operational and pretested questions and no sure way for the candidate to tell the difference between an operational and pretested question.

The AUD Exam is organized into five testlets – two 36-question MCQ testlets followed by a 2-question TBS testlet, then an optional 15-minute break that does not count against the 4-hour test time, then two additional TBS testlets of three questions each. Once a testlet has been submitted, it cannot be revisited.

AUD Exam Structure & Format

The operational MCQs count 50% toward a candidate’s exam score. The operational TBSs count 50% toward a candidate’s exam score.

By default the first MCQ testlet is of ‘Medium’ difficulty. The difficulty level of the next MCQ testlet depends on the candidate’s performance on the first testlet. The candidate will therefore experience one of the following MCQ testlet difficulty sequences:

  • Medium – Difficult (candidate performed well on first testlet)
  • Medium – Medium (candidate did not perform well on first testlet)

Characterizing a testlet as ‘medium’ or ‘difficult’ refers to the average difficulty of the questions in an MCQ testlet. There is not a binary ‘medium’ or ‘difficult’ value assigned to each MCQ. Rather, the difficulty level of each question exists on a numeric scale.

Credit awarded for MCQs is weighted by difficulty level, meaning more credit is awarded for getting a more difficult question correct than for getting a less difficult question correct. Therefore, a candidate with a difficult testlet is not penalized for having harder questions, nor is there any advantage in having two Medium testlets.

It is still possible to pass the exam even with a Medium-Medium MCQ testlet sequence. In these cases, good-to-excellent performance on the second MCQ testlet and the TBS testlets is key to passing.

The assigned TBS testlets are pre-selected and have nothing to do with the candidate’s performance on the preceding MCQ testlets, nor do the TBSs within the TBS testlet proceed according to performance on the previous TBS.

While an MCQ is either right or wrong, there appears to be partial credit awarded for non-Research TBSs. Research TBSs are graded as either right or wrong with no partial credit awarded.


4 Hours


The AUD section of the CPA Exam covers the entire auditing process and requires a strong technical knowledge of the auditing process. Practice your AUD skills using our Interactive Practice Questions, which contains 6,200+ Questions and Task-Based Simulations, including AICPA-Released Questions.


CPA candidates are given 4 hours to complete the AUD Exam and are required to receive an overall scale score of 75 or higher in order to pass. Download our infographic for an easy guide on how the AUD section of the CPA Exam’s structure and test administration play key factors in how the exam is scored overall.



  • Commit to truly understanding the material.
  • Make a 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 each AUD section, Roger reviews the big picture. Practice presenting the big picture to yourself, in your own words.
  • Practice the mnemonics not merely to memorize, but to understand – recite them while explaining, in your own words, what each element means and how it fits into the big picture.
  • For quick answers, use the 24/7 Homework Help Center, which includes over 17,000 student-submitted questions already answered by expert CPA moderator responses.
  • Eat well, exercise, and get plenty of rest.



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