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REG Exam Overview & Insights

The Regulation (REG) section of the CPA Exam tests a CPA candidate’s knowledge and skill level on federal taxation, business law, business ethics and professional and legal responsibilities. As laid out in the AICPA Blueprints, more than 60% of the REG exam focuses on federal taxation.

REG Exam Content

55-85% Federal Taxation

  • Federal taxation of individuals
  • Federal taxation of entities
  • Federal taxation of property transactions

10-20% Business Law

  • Contracts
  • Agency
  • Business structure
  • Debtor-creditor relationships
  • Government regulation of business

10-20% Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, and Federal Tax Procedures

  • Ethics and responsibilities in tax practice
  • Licensing and disciplinary systems
  • Federal tax procedures
  • Legal duties and responsibilities

REG Exam Structure & Format

The REG Exam is 4 hours long, though the candidate is not required to use all the allotted time, and consists of 76 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and 8 Task-Based Simulations (TBSs).

Of the 76 MCQs, 64 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 REG Exam is organized into five testlets – two 38-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.The candidate proceeds at his or her own pace through the testlets. Once a testlet has been submitted, it cannot be revisited.

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

REG Exam Structure & Format

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 REG section of the CPA Exam tests a CPA candidate’s knowledge on federal taxation, business law, business ethics and professional and legal responsibilities. You’ll be well prepared for the REG Exam with our Interactive Practice Questions, which contains 6,200+ Multiple Choice Questions and Task-Based Simulations, including AICPA-Released Questions.


CPA candidates are given 4 hours to complete the REG 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 REG 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 most REG sections, Roger reviews the big picture. Practice presenting the big pictures 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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