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Calculating Self-Study Credits in Accounting Education for CPAs

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Participating in on-demand continuing professional education (CPE) webcasts is a convenient way to stay up-to-date with CPE requirements. Webcasts can be viewed anytime, anywhere, making it easy to incorporate continuing education into packed schedules. CPE providers determine how many credits you earn for each completed presentation based on criteria outlined by the NASBA and the AICPA. There are two options for calculating credits when it comes to accounting education for CPAs: pilot testing and word count.

The Pilot Test Method for Calculating CPE Credits

CPE providers who elect to use the pilot test method begin by enlisting three or more qualified people to go through the webinar presentation. These testers, referred to as the sample group, are considered qualified if they are licensed CPAs in good standing, they hold an active CPA license in the United States and they have basic foundational knowledge appropriate for the type of information being presented. The sample group cannot include anyone who participated in development of the course.

The testers are timed as they go through the course, and the average amount of time it takes them to finish the entire presentation, along with required knowledge assessments, is used to determine how many credits will be awarded for the course. The total time does not include any pre-program assessments or post-course feedback surveys.

If the testers vary too much in the amount of time needed to finish the program, webcast developers typically run the pilot test again with a larger group. If any significant changes are made to the course, CPE providers usually do the pilot test again to ensure that the amount of time needed to finish the program hasn’t changed.

Calculating CPE Credits Using the Prescribed Word Count Formula

Some providers of accounting education for CPAs prefer to use the alternative word count method of calculating credits. Instead of measuring the amount of time it takes a sample group to complete the course, CPE credits are calculated based on the number of words in the reading materials associated with the program. CPE providers only include the words in sections participants must read to meet learning objectives. Introductions, exercises and review questions are examples of items that are not included in the word count. 

Using a formula that takes the average reading speed of adults, the amount of video and audio information included in the program and the number of assessment questions participants must complete into consideration, providers can determine the average time needed to complete the course. This information makes it possible for CPE providers like Surgent to determine the appropriate number of credits to award participants for completing the webcast.

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