Which CPA Exam is the Hardest?


“Which CPA exam is the hardest?” is a question I get asked all the time.

There are some individual factors that will come into play, but the immediate answer is that FAR and REG are much harder than BEC and AUD. I think anyone that’s taken all 4 would agree with that statement.

Why are FAR and REG harder?

First of all, the amount of stuff you can potentially be tested on in FAR is massive. Ask anyone who has studied or tried studying for FAR how overwhelming it is.

You can start your study plan and study diligently for 2-3 months several hours a day, and by the time you get to the last topic so much time has gone by that you’ve forgotten the things you studied in the beginning. This is why I started studying much differently than the recommended “study plan”.

I know multiple people who have taken and failed FAR 4 and 5 times.

FAR is tough. For me, FAR was the hardest – I failed it once.

REG is almost just as hard. If you’re a tax person and have taken more tax classes than regular accounting classes, then it might not be as tough. But for me, REG is the one that I feel like was a miracle that I passed.

The amount of information you can potentially be tested on for REG is also huge. I think what makes REG slightly easier than FAR is that a good portion of it isn’t that complicated. REG has a lot of business law, which is just conceptual stuff. So if you’ve practiced the questions and understand the concepts, half of REG really isn’t that tough.

Why are AUD and BEC easier?

In their own right, AUD and BEC are not easy exams. Out of the two, I think BEC is much more difficult than AUD.

Granted, I work in AUD but even still I had only worked as an auditor for a few months before I took AUD. To me, AUD seemed very common-sense, meaning that if you just read the question and thought about it, most of the time you’d be right.

BEC encompasses economics, planning and management, managerial accounting, and information systems. BEC was kind of like a detailed final exam of all the business management classes I took through college.

So, that’s my personal opinion on which CPA exam section is the hardest.

In order of difficulty, I’d say it goes like this:

  1. FAR- hardest
  2. REG
  3. BEC
  4. AUD- easiest

Which one was the hardest for you?

Other CPA Exam Articles You Might Like:

How I Passed All 4 Sections of the CPA Exam in 3 Months…

Are Watching CPA Review Lectures Worth Your Time?

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