China's CPA exam is undergoing reforms

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13 Feb 2009

The Chinese CPA Examination System is undergoing reform. The finalised examination reform scheme was issued in January 2009, and the new system will run in parallel with the current system for 2009 to ensure a smooth transition.

Highlights of the reforms are as follows:

Exam structure

The CPA examinations will be transformed into a dual-level structure:

  • Level 1: Professional Stage
  • Level 2: Comprehensive Stage

There is a hierarchy in the two levels of the examinations, which means that an examinee can take the examinations of the comprehensive stage only after passing those of the professional stage

Examinations will be held once a year for both levels

Exam subjects

The Professional Stage will cover six subjects, that is, one new subject will be added to the current five subjects as follows:

  • Accounting
  • Auditing
  • Financial and Cost Management
  • Economic Law
  • Taxation Law
  • Corporate Strategies and Risk Management (the newly added subject)

Compared with the current system, the new examination is intended to give more focus on the basic theories and their application. It is the intention of the CICPA to reduce the complexity of the six subjects but broaden their scope.

The new subject, Corporate Strategies and Risk Management, combines some of the content from Financial and Cost Management under the current system supplemented with additional topics. It is aimed at assessing the required relevant knowledge about organizations and businesses as set in the Guidance on Competence of Chinese CPAs.

The Comprehensive Stage examination will require candidates to apply their knowledge to practical situations. It is aimed at assessing: professional and legal knowledge, professional values, ethics and attitudes, intellectual ability, inter-personal communication skills and skills in managing an organization/business.

Validity Period for the examination results

The examination results of each of the subjects in the Professional Stage will be valid for five years. After successfully passing all the required subjects of the Professional Stage examinations, candidates will receive a 'Certificate for Passing the Professional Stage Examination'.

The Comprehensive Stage examination has to be completed within five years after obtaining the "Certificate for Passing the Professional Stage Examination'.

After successfully passing the Comprehensive Stage examination, candidates will obtain a 'Certificate for Passing All Subjects'.

Transition plan for the Chinese CPA examination system reforms

In 2009, first-time enrolled candidates and candidates who have enrolled in previous years but have yet to pass any subject must participate in the new system.

For those who have passed one or more of the subjects under the current system, they have a choice to either (1) take the remaining examinations under the current or (2) enroll in the new system.

At the end of the 2009 examinations, those who have passed all five subjects under the current system shall be granted the 'Certificate for Passing All Subjects'.

The results obtained from 2006 to 2008 and any passes in 2009 for those who elect to take the current system will be credited towards the corresponding subjects under the new system. Please note that the result of the Financial Management and Cost Management examination shall be credited towards both the Corporate Strategies and Risk Management and Financial and Cost Management examinations under the new system.

The validity of the results of any of the subjects transferred from the current to the new system will be extended to 2013.

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