[2024] Ultimate Format Guide – BEC CPA Exam in 2023


The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam is comprised of 4 challenging sections that test accounting students’ knowledge and skills. The sections are Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Regulation (REG) and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC). In order to become a licensed CPA, candidates must pass all 4 exam sections. This article will focus specifically on the BEC section – from the exam format and structure to the content covered and tips for passing this section of the cpa exam in 2023.

Table of Contents

Overview of the BEC CPA Exam Section

The Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) section assesses a cpa candidate’s understanding of general business environments and business concepts. Of the 4 exam sections, BEC has the broadest content that encompasses several disciplines. The BEC section tests non-accounting business topics like corporate governance, economics, information technology, financial management and operations management.

On the actual exam day, the BEC section is 3 hours long and comprised of 3 testlets. Testlet 1 contains 36 multiple-choice questions. Testlet 2 contains 3 task-based simulations that are focused on financial management, information systems and operation management scenarios. The 3rd testlet contains 3 written communication prompts that evaluate a candidate’s analytical writing skills.

BEC Exam Format and Structure

Let’s look at the format and structure of the BEC cpa exam section in a bit more detail:

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Testlet 1 – Multiple-Choice Questions

  • 36 independent questions
  • Covers all section topics
  • 90 minutes to complete

Testlet 2 – Task-Based Simulations

  • 3 tasks based on financial management, information systems and operations management scenarios
  • Evaluates research skills using doc review, calculations, journal entries etc.
  • 60 minutes to complete

Testlet 3 – Written Communication

  • 3 written communication prompts
  • Assesses analytical writing skills
  • 30 minutes to complete

The cpa exam blueprints provide guidance on how much time candidates should spend on each testlet. It is important to manage your time appropriately and not get stuck on any single simulation or writing prompt.

BEC Exam Content

The BEC section blueprints outline the key content areas that will be covered on the exam:

  • Corporate Governance (17–27%)
  • Economics (8–18%)
  • Financial Management (11–21%)
  • Information Technology (15–25%)
  • Operations Management (14–24%)

Let’s look at the core concepts tested in each content area:

Corporate Governance – corporate structure, agency relationships, regulations, compliance, ethical practices

Economics – market influences, monetary policy, fiscal policy, international trade

Financial Management – financial analysis, budgeting, asset valuation, capital structure

Information Technology – systems design, IT controls, cybersecurity

Operations Management – project management, process management, quality control

Tips for Passing BEC

Here are some key tips and strategies to keep in mind when preparing for the BEC section:

  • Use the CPA exam blueprints to guide your study plan. Focus on highly tested concepts.
  • Practice outlining and writing responses to sample written communication prompts. Work on being concise.
  • Become very familiar with using spreadsheets and financial calculators, especially for the simulations.
  • Brush up on key vocabulary and terminology that may appear across all topic areas.
  • Keep close track of time during your practice exams. Replicate real testing conditions.
  • Leverage books, online courses, flashcards and other cpa review course materials.
  • Schedule your BEC exam once you are consistently scoring 75-80% on practice exams.
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BEC Pass Rates and Exam Difficulty

The BEC section has historically had higher pass rates compared to the other 3 sections of the cpa exam. The average BEC pass rate ranges from 50-60%. Pass rates are impacted by the breadth of content and the written communication component. Strong writing skills are essential. With diligent preparation using cpa exam blueprints and review materials, cpa candidates can overcome the hurdles posed by BEC.


In summary, the key to BEC exam success lies in comprehending the format and structure across 3 testlets, understanding the variety of concepts covered, and adequately preparing through practice questions, simulations and writing activities. Use the guidance in this article to optimize your BEC study plan as you work towards becoming a Certified Public Accountant. Best of luck!

Please share any other BEC exam questions below in the comments. And be sure to check back on the blog next month as we dive into the FAR section – the longest exam that candidates typically start with.

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