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Exam Code: ABFM Family Medicine Board Certification test Study Guide November 2023 by team

ABFM Family Medicine Board Certification Exam

Number of questions: 200 questions Percent

01. Basic science aspects of vascular neurology 4-6%

02. Risk factors and epidemiology 8-12%

03. Clinical features of cerebrovascular diseases 8-12%

04. Evaluation of the patient with cerebrovascular disease 13-17%

05. Causes of stroke 18-22%

06. Complications of stroke 4-6%

07. Treatment of patients with stroke 28-32%

08. Recovery, regenerative approaches, and rehabilitation 4-6%

TOTAL 100%

Content Areas

01. Basic science aspects of vascular neurology

A. Vascular neuroanatomy

1. Extracranial arterial anatomy

2. Intracranial arterial anatomy

3. Collaterals

4. Alterations of vascular anatomy

5. Venous anatomy

6. Spinal cord vascular anatomy

7. Specific vascular-brain anatomic correlations

8. End vessel syndromes

B. Stroke pathophysiology

1. Cerebral blood flow

a. Vascular smooth muscle control

b. Vasodilation and vasoconstriction

c. Autoregulation

d. Vasospasm

e. Rheology

f. Blood flow in stroke

2. Blood-brain barrier in stroke

3. Coagulation cascade

a. Clotting factors

b. Platelet function

c. Endothelium function

d. Biochemical factors

4. Metabolic and cellular consequences of ischemia

a. Ischemic cascade

b. Reperfusion changes

c. Electrophysiology

d. Gene regulation

5. Inflammation and stroke

6. Brain edema and increased ICP

a. Secondary effects

7. Restoration and recovery following stroke

8. Secondary consequences from intracranial bleeding

C. Neuropathology of stroke

1. Vascular neuropathology

2. Atherosclerosis and atherosclerotic plaque

3. Brain and meningeal biopsy

a. Indications

4. Pathological/imaging/clinical correlations

02. Prevention, risk factors, and epidemiology

A. Populations at risk for stroke

1. Non-modifiable risk factors

2. Age, gender, ethnicity, geography, family history

B. Modifiable risk factors for stroke

1. Hypertension

2. Diabetes mellitus

3. Cholesterol

4. Homocysteine

5. Obesity

6. Alcohol abuse

7. Tobacco use

8. Drug abuse

9. Exercise and other lifestyle factors

C. Infections predisposing to stroke

D. Genetic factors predicting stroke

E. Stroke as a complication of other medical illness

F. Special populations at risk for stroke

1. Children and adolescents

2. Young adults

3. Pregnancy

G. Stroke education programs and regional health services

1. Screening

2. Medical economics

3. Primary versus high risk prevention

4. National stroke programs

H. Concepts of clinical research

1. Use and interpretation of statistics

2. Clinical trial design and methodology

3. Understanding the medical literature

4. Rules of evidence and guidelines

5. Rating instruments and stroke scales

I. Outcomes

1. Prognosis

2. Mortality and morbidity of stroke subtypes

03. Clinical features of cerebrovascular diseases

A. Neuro-otology

1. Head and neck pathology

2. Vertigo and hearing loss in stroke

B. Neuro-ophthalmology

1. Retinal changes of vascular disease, including arterial hypertension

and retinal embolism

2. Other ocular manifestations of vascular disease

a. Ischemic oculopathy

b. Horner syndrome

c. Cavernous sinus syndrome

3. Disorders of ocular motility

4. Visual field defects

C. Transient ischemic attack (TIA)

1. General features of TIA

2. Carotid circulation TIA including amaurosis fugax

3. Vertebrobasilar circulation TIA

4. Asymptomatic carotid bruit or stenosis

5. Differential diagnosis of TIA

D. Ischemic stroke syndromes—cerebral hemispheres

1. Cortical stroke syndromes

a. Branch cortical artery syndromes

b. Watershed syndromes

2. Subcortical stroke syndromes

a. Lacunar strokes

b. Striatocapsular infarctions

c. Multiple lacunar infarcts

3. Major hemispheric syndromes

a. Internal carotid artery occlusion

b. Middle cerebral, anterior cerebral, or posterior cerebral artery

4. Behavioral and cognitive impairments following stroke

5. Bi-hemispheric stroke, including hypotensive events

6. Multifocal or diffuse disease

E. Ischemic stroke syndromes—brainstem and cerebellum

1. Basilar artery occlusion

a. Locked-in syndrome

b. Major brainstem strokes

2. Vertebral artery occlusion

3. Branch brainstem stroke syndromes

4. Syndromes from cerebellar arteries (brainstem/cerebellum)

5. Top-of-the-basilar syndromes

6. Thalamic syndromes

F. Ischemic stroke syndromes of the spinal cord

G. Vascular dementia (vascular cognitive impairment) and vascular cognitive


1. Multi-infarction (multiple subcortical infarctions)

2. White matter disease (leukoaraiosis, Binswanger subcortical


H. Features differentiating hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke

I. Intracerebral hemorrhage

1. Hypertension

2. Cerebral amyloid angiopathy

3. Coagulopathy/bleeding diatheses

4. Locations

a. Putamen

b. Thalamus

c. Lobar and white matter

d. Brainstem

e. Cerebellum

J. Subarachnoid hemorrhage

1. Saccular aneurysms

2. Other aneurysms

3. Unruptured aneurysm

4. Trauma

K. Vascular malformations

1. Hemorrhage

2. Other presentations

L. Primary intraventricular hemorrhage

M. Subdural or epidural hematoma

N. Venous thrombosis

1. Cavernous sinus

2. Superior sagittal sinus

3. Other sinus

4. Cortical thrombophlebitis

5. Deep cerebral veins

O. Carotid cavernous or dural fistulas

P. Pituitary apoplexy

Q. Hypertensive encephalopathy and eclampsia

R. Clinical presentations of primary and multisystem vasculitides

S. Hypoxia-ischemia

1. Cardiac arrest

2. Carbon monoxide poisoning

3. Cortical laminar necrosis

4. Other

T. Brain death

U. MELAS and metabolic disorders causing neurologic symptoms

V. Nonstroke presentations of vascular disease

W. Cardiovascular diseases

1. Heart disease, including coronary artery disease

2. Cardiac complications of stroke

3. Peripheral arterial disease

4. Aortic disease

5. Venous disease

X. Vascular presentations of other diseases of the central nervous system

Y. Infectious diseases and stroke

Z. Migraine

04. Evaluation of the patient with cerebrovascular disease

A. Evaluation of the brain and spinal cord

1. Computed tomography of brain

a. Acute changes of ischemic stroke

b. Acute changes of hemorrhagic stroke

c. Chronic changes of stroke

d. Complications of stroke

e. Vascular imaging by CT

f. Differential diagnosis by CT

g. CT perfusion

h. MR perfusion

2. Computed tomography of spine and spinal cord

3. Magnetic resonance imaging of brain

a. MRI sequences—T1, T2, FLAIR, DWI, PWI, gradient echo

b. MR spectroscopy

c. Acute changes of ischemic stroke

d. Acute changes of hemorrhagic stroke

i. Changes affected by time

e. Functional MRI

f. Vascular imaging by CT

g. Vascular imaging by MRI

4. PET and SPECT

5. EEG and evoked potentials—stroke

a. Changes in stroke

b. Complications of stroke

c. Monitoring

6. Examination of the CSF

7. ICP monitoring

B. Evaluation of the vasculature—occlusive or non-occlusive

1. Arteriography and venography

a. Cerebral

b. Spinal cord

2. Extracranial ultrasonography

a. Duplex and other imaging

b. Collateral flow challenges

c. Monitoring

3. Intracranial ultrasonography

a. Collateral flow changes

b. Contrast enhancement

c. Monitoring

4. CT angiography and CT venography

5. MR angiography and MR venography

C. Evaluation of the heart and great vessels

1. Electrocardiography

a. Monitoring

b. Holter and event monitors

2. TTE and TEE

a. Contrast-enhanced studies

3. Other chest imaging studies

a. Chest x-ray

b. Chest CT

c. Chest MRI

4. Other studies

a. Blood pressure monitoring

b. Blood cultures

c. Testing for ischemic heart disease

d. Peripheral artery disease

D. Other diagnostic studies

1. Hematologic studies

a. Blood count

b. Platelet count

c. Special coagulation studies

d. Antiplatelet (aspirin, clopidogrel) resistance studies

2. Immunological studies

a. Inflammatory markers

b. Other autoimmune studies (multisystem)

c. Serologic studies

3. Biochemical studies

a. Glucose

b. Cholesterol

c. Blood gases

d. Hepatic and renal tests

4. Urine tests

5. Biopsies

6. Evaluation for the complications of stroke

7. Evaluation for the consequences of stroke

a. Swallowing

b. Orthopedic

c. Other

8. Genetic testing

05. Causes of stroke

A. Atherosclerosis—ischemic stroke

1. Evaluation of patients prior to non-cerebrovascular operations

2. Asymptomatic bruit or stenosis

3. Aortic atherosclerosis

B. Non-atherosclerotic vasculopathies—ischemic stroke

1. Non-inflammatory

a. Dissection

b. Moyamoya disease

c. Fibromuscular dysplasia

d. Trauma

e. Radiation-induced vasculopathy

f. Saccular aneurysm

g. Other

2. Infectious

a. Syphilis

b. Herpes zoster


d. Cysticercosis

e. Bacterial meningitis

f. Aspergillosis

g. Mucormycosis

h. Cat-scratch disease

i. Behçet syndrome

j. Other

3. Inflammatory, non-infectious (angiitis)

a. Isolated CNS vasculitis

b. Multisystem vasculitis

c. Cogan syndrome

d. Eales disease

e. Polyarteritis nodosa

f. Wegener granulomatosis with polyangiitis

g. Eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Churg-Strauss


h. Takayasu disease

i. Systemic lupus erythematosus

j. Scleroderma

k. Rheumatoid arthritis

l. Mixed connective tissue disease

m. Ulcerative colitis and regional enteritis

n. Sarcoidosis

o. Other

C. Migraine

D. Other causes of ischemic stroke

1. Kawasaki disease

2. Lyme disease

3. Susac syndrome

E. Genetic and metabolic causes of stroke



3. Fabry-Anderson disease

4. Homocystinuria

5. Kearns-Sayre syndrome

6. Myoclonus epilepsy with ragged red fibers

7. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, type IV

8. Marfan syndrome


10. Other monogenetic small vessel brain diseases

11. Other

F. Drugs that cause stroke, including drugs of abuse

G. Cerebral amyloid angiopathy—infarction or hemorrhage

H. Cardioembolic causes of stroke

1. Atrial fibrillation

2. Cardiovascular procedures and operations

3. Acute myocardial infarction

4. Dilated cardiomyopathy

5. Rheumatic mitral or aortic stenosis

6. Infective endocarditis

7. Libman-Sacks endocarditis

8. Non-bacterial thrombotic endocarditis

9. Mechanical or bioprosthetic valves

10. Atrial myxoma

11. Sick sinus syndrome

12. Mitral valve prolapse

13. Patent foramen ovale, including atrial septal aneurysm

14. Congenital heart diseases, including cyanotic heart disease

15. Other

I. Prothrombotic causes of stroke

1. Inherited

a. Sickle cell disease

b. Factor V Leiden—activated protein C resistance

c. Prothrombin gene mutation

d. Protein S, C, antithrombin

e. Thalassemia

f. Iron deficiency anemia

g. Others

2. Acquired

a. Pregnancy

b. Cancer

c. Dehydration

d. Thrombocytosis

e. Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura

f. Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia and thrombosis (HITT)

g. Leukemia

h. Disseminated intravascular coagulation

i. Nephrotic syndrome

j. Hemolytic uremic syndrome

k. Sepsis and inflammation

l. Other

3. Autoimmune causes of thrombosis

a. Lupus and lupus anticoagulant, Sneddon syndrome and

antiphospholipid antibodies

b. Others

4. Iatrogenic/drugs/toxins

a. Antineoplastic

b. Prothrombotic agents

c. Others

J. Bleeding diatheses

1. Inherited

a. Hemophilia

b. Sickle cell disease

c. Thalassemia

d. von Willebrands disease

e. Others

2. Acquired

a. Leukemia

b. Thrombocytopenia

c. Disseminated intravascular coagulation

d. Others

3. Systemic diseases

4. Iatrogenic/drugs/toxins

a. Anticoagulants

b. Antiplatelet aggregating agents

c. Thrombolytic agents

d. Drugs of abuse

e. Others

K. Aneurysms

1. Saccular

2. Infected

3. Traumatic

4. Neoplastic

5. Dolichoectatic

6. Dissecting

L. Vascular malformations

1. Arteriovenous

2. Developmental venous anomaly

3. Cavernous

4. Telangiectasia

5. Dural arteriovenous fistula

M. Trauma and intracranial bleeding

N. Moyamoya disease and syndrome

O. Hypertensive hemorrhage

P. Other causes of hemorrhage

1. Vasculitis

2. Tumors

a. Primary

b. Metastatic

3. Iatrogenic

Q. Genetic diseases causing hemorrhagic stroke

06. Complications of stroke

A. Early neurologic complications

1. Brain edema, increased ICP, and herniation

2. Hydrocephalus

3. Seizures

4. Hemorrhagic transformation

5. Recurrent infarction

6. Recurrent hemorrhage

7. Other

B. Early medical complications

1. Cardiac

2. Gastrointestinal

3. Pulmonary

4. Electrolyte

5. Other

C. Chronic neurologic sequelae

D. Chronic medical sequelae

07. Treatment of patients with stroke

A. Outpatient management

1. Patient educational materials

B. Medical therapies to prevent stroke

1. Antiplatelet agents

a. Aspirin

b. Clopidogrel

c. Ticlodipine

d. Dipyridamole

e. Cilostazol

f. Prasugrel

g. Ticagrelor

h. Others

2. Anticoagulant agents

a. Warfarin

b. Heparin

c. LMW heparins

d. Direct thrombin inhibitors

e. Factor X inhibitors

3. Thrombolytic agents

4. Neuroprotective agents and other acute treatments

5. Cardioactive agents

6. Medications to prevent stroke by treating risk factors

a. Hyperlipidemia

b. Diabetes mellitus

c. Hypertension

d. Smoking

e. Hyperhomocysteinemia

f. Antiinflammatory

g. Alcohol dependence and detoxification

7. Medications to treat autoimmune diseases and vasculitis

8. Medications to treat complications of stroke

a. Anticonvulsants

b. Antidepressants

c. Brain edema and increased ICP

i. Hypertonic saline

ii. Mannitol

9. Medications to Strengthen or restore neurologic function or to

augment rehabilitation

10. Medications to prevent rebleeding or vasospasm following a


a. Aminocaproic acid

b. Tranexamic acid

c. Nimodipine

11. Antimigraine medications

12. Vitamins

13. Interactions between medications

C. Hyperacute treatment of ischemic stroke

1. Emergency department

a. Intravenous thrombolytics

b. Intra-arterial thrombolytics

c. Mechanical thrombectomy

d. Anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents

e. Antihypertensives

f. Anticonvulsants

g. Other

2. Hospitalization – general management

a. Prevention of recurrent stroke

b. Prevention of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary


c. Blood pressure management

d. Treatment of complications

e. Treatment of comorbid diseases

f. Treatment of risk factors for stroke

g. Other

3. Intensive care unit

a. Osmotic agents

b. Steroids

c. Sedation

d. Blood products

e. Anti-vasospasm therapy

f. Management of ventriculostomy

g. Temperature control

h. Antiarrhythmics

i. Ventilator management

j. Pressors

k. Antibiotics

l. Other

4. Neurosurgical management

a. Hemorrhage

i. Evacuation

ii. Ventriculostomy

b. Ruptured aneurysms

i. Management of vasospasm

c. Vascular malformations

d. Surgical treatment of brain edema – decompressive


e. Other

D. Chronic care

1. Antidepressants

2. Sedatives

3. Stimulants

E. Treatment of venous thrombosis

F. Treatment of spinal cord vascular disease

G. Treatment of pituitary apoplexy

H. Professionalism, ethics, systems-based practice

1. Palliative care

2. End-of-life decisions

3. Advanced directives, informed consent, regulations

4. Other

08. Recovery, regenerative approaches, and rehabilitation

A. Functional assessment

B. Regeneration and plasticity

C. Predicting outcomes

D. Pharmacologic effects on recovery

E. Rehabilitation principles

F. Emerging approaches
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Family Medicine Board Certification Exam
Question: 1189
Which of the following is not a covered service under theMedicare hospice benefit?
A. Home health aide services
B. Homemaker services
C. Physical therapy
D. Laboratory testing
E. Transportation for physician office visits
Answer: E
The hospice benefit covers all testing, treatment, medications, and home-based support services necessary for
palliative care of the terminal illness. Transportation costs are not covered.
Question: 1190
history of cigarette smoking who presents to your officefor a routine physical examination. Ordering a chest x-ray
towhich of the following?
A. Primary prevention; supported by U.S. Preventive Services
B. Primary prevention; not supported by USPSTF guidelines
C. Secondary prevention; supported by USPSTF guidelines
D. Secondary prevention; not supported by USPSTF guidelines
F. screen for lung cancer for Mr. would be best described as
Answer: D
Numerous studies have shown routine chest x-rays to not be beneficial in screening for lung cancer. Screening for
asymptomatic disease is considered secondary prevention.
Question: 1191
The ability of a test to detect disease when the disease istruly present is a description of which of the following?
A. Sensitivity
B. Specificity
C. Positive predictive value
D. Negative predictive value
E. Selection bias
Answer: A
The sensitivity of a test reflects its ability to detect disease when the disease is present. For example, if a rapid
strep test is positive in 80 out of 100 patients with culture-proven streptococcal pharyngitis, the sensitivity of the
rapid test is 80/100 or 80%.
Question: 1192
In a study to determine the accuracy of fecal occult bloodtesting (FOBT) to detect polyps in the colon, 1,100 adults
olderthan age 65 completed a six-card FOBT screening, followed by afull colonoscopy 1 week later to detect
polyps. From the resultslisted in Table 8.1, which of the following is true?
A. Sensitivity of FOBT equals 60/60 (50%).
B. Specificity of FOBT equals 40/60 (67%).
C. Positive predictive value of FOBT equals 60/940 (6%).
D. Negative predictive value of FOBT equals 940/980 (96%).
E. The prevalence of polyps cannot be determined.
Answer: D
Colonoscopy is considered a gold standard test for colonic polyps and determines the prevalence of polyps in the
study group (100/1,100). Sensitivity, the ability of FOBT to detect polyps when they are present, is 60/100 or 60%.
Specificity, the ability of FOBT to indicate nondisease when no polyps are present, is 940/1,000 or 94%. Positive
predictive value indicates what proportion of patients with positive FOBT actually have polyps, 60/120 or 50%.
The only correct answer is for negative predictive value, the proportion of patients with a negative FOBT who do
not have polyps, 940/980 or 96%.
Question: 1193
Which of the following procedures is an indication forsubacute bacterial endocarditis prophylaxis in a
A. Routine dental filling
B. Circumcision
C. Cardiac catheterization
D. Root canal
E. Tympanostomy tube insertion
Answer: D
Subacute bacterial endocarditis (SBE) prophylaxis is recommended in patients at increased risk for bacterial
endocarditis undergoing many common procedures. Patients at highest risk include those with complex cardiac
abnormalities (e.g., tetralogy of Fallot), prosthetic valves, and surgically constructed shunts. Patients with problems
such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, mitral valve regurgitation, and rheumatic heart disease are at moderate risk.
Procedures likely to cause bacteremia include dental procedures (including routine cleaning and root canal) and
surgery of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and genitourinary tracts. SBE prophylaxis is not required for routine
dental filling, x-rays, or fluoride treatments; cardiac catheterization; circumcision; intubation; flexible
bronchoscopy; or pressure equalization tube insertion.
Question: 1194
The Goldman scale helps determine the cardiac risk ofnoncardiac procedures. All of the following are risk
A. Age older than 70 years
B. Signs of congestive heart failure
C. Aortic operation
D. Premature atrial contractions
E. latest myocardial infarction (less than 6 months ago)
Answer: D
The Goldman scale is a multifactorial index of cardiac risk in noncardiac surgical procedures. Risk is increased
most with latest myocardial infarction, signs of congestive heart failure, more than five premature ventricular
contractions per minute, and rhythm other than sinus or premature atrial contractions. Risk is increased somewhat
less dramatically with age older than 70 years, significant aortic stenosis, general debilitation, major surgery, or an
emergency operation.
Question: 1195
Appropriate perioperative medication management includeswhich of the following?
A. For patients with well-controlled diabetes, administer the full
B. Never augment the dose of a corticosteroid in a patient on
C. Continue beta-blockers the morning of surgery with a sip of
D. Unless a patient quits smoking for 1 year, there is no
E. Discontinue aspirin use the day before surgery to diminish the
Answer: C
Patients with well-controlled diabetes should typically hold shortacting insulin and take one-half to two-thirds of
their intermediate or long-acting insulin on the morning of surgery. Corticosteroids should be increased to reflect
the stress of surgery, both perioperatively and postoperatively. Cardiac and antihypertensive medications can be
given with a sip of water on the morning of surgery. Smoking cessation is valuable, even if it is only 6 weeks prior
to surgery (and although less well proven, many authorities would recommend cessation if only for shorter periods).
Aspirin and nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs ideally should be stopped 1 week prior to surgery.
Question: 1196
The Public Health Service recommends five steps tois not one of the recommended steps?
A. Asking a patient about tobacco use at every visit
B. Advising all tobacco users to quit
C. Assessing readiness to quit
D. Administering the Fagerstrom nicotine dependence assessment
E. Arranging follow-up
G. effective smoking cessation counselinWhich of the following
Answer: D
Although assessing nicotine dependence may play a role in smoking cessation, it is not part of the routine steps
suggested by the Public Health Service. The other step is assisting the patient in quitting.
Question: 1197
Which of the following is true regarding transmission oftuberculosis?
A. D. patient is only considered infectious if three consecutive
B. More than 1,000 bacilli are required to initiate a primary
C. Infection is not possible without coming into direct contact
D. E. PPwill turn positive within 48 hours of initial exposure.
E. PPD will turn positive within 48 hours of initial exposure.
Answer: A
Transmission of tuberculosis occurs primarily through inhalation of aerosolized bacilli. These bacilli can exist in
droplet nuclei that can remain suspended in a room even if the patient is no longer present. As few as 1 to 10 bacilli
entering an alveolus can cause infection. A single sputum demo containing acid-fast bacilli is diagnostic of active
or recurrent tuberculosis.
Question: 1198
A 29-year-old construction worker seeks a disability opinionfrom you regarding low back pain from a recent
accident. Yourexamination is normal and you believe the patient isthe following?
A. D. referral to a pain clinic
B. Refusal to complete the disability form
C. Discussion with the patient and family to explore job
D. A referral to a pain clinic
E. Prescription of an SSRI
G. malingerinAn appropriate response might include which of
Answer: C
Developing rapport with a patient seeking disability or workers compensation can be challenging. However,
overzealous referral, inappropriate medicalization through overuse of tests and medications, and inadequate
attention to job satisfaction and psychosocial issues can jeopardize longer term functional outcomes. Job
satisfaction is highly associated with return to work and functional outcomes. Exploration of the psychosocial
aspects of the patient's life, including family relationships, substance use, and psychiatric symptoms, is important.
The physician should emphasize functional outcomes and address underlying problems.
Question: 1199
When considering a living will or a durable power ofattorney for health care, which of the following is true?
A. D. living will takes precedence over the durable power of
B. A living will allows the patient to choose a health care proxy
C. Either one can be easily revoked by the patient, either orally
D. A living will takes precedence over the durable power of
E. Both a living will and a durable power of attorney must be
Answer: C
The content of advance directives documents is regulated by state laws. The durable power of attorney for health
care allows patients to choose someone they trust to make health care decisions for them if they are unable to do so.
A patient can easily and immediately revoke either document with a simple oral statement. The two documents
serve different purposes in health care decisions, and one does not take precedence over the other.
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Certification-Board Certification Study Guide - BingNews Search results Certification-Board Certification Study Guide - BingNews Microsoft Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths

Microsoft is best known for its Windows operating systems and Office software. But the company has a much broader product portfolio that includes online services (Bing, MSN, advertising), gaming (Xbox 360), hardware (tablets, PCs, keyboards and mice) and more. The company also has a sizable certification program that turns out qualified administrators and technicians to support its system and application products.

Achieving IT certifications through the Microsoft Certification Program shows a person’s competence in a specific IT role, and it can result in all kinds of work-related and personal benefits. For example, studies show that IT certifications increase the chances of landing a job (or getting a promotion), and over 80 percent of hiring managers report IT certifications are medium to high priority in hiring decisions.

Microsoft certification program overview

Currently, the Microsoft Certification Program is divided into seven main categories:

  • Cloud Platform and Infrastructure: This category encompasses business intelligence, Windows Server 2016, Microsoft Azure, machine learning, cloud data platform solutions, data analytics and big data, software-defined data centers, server infrastructures, private and hybrid clouds, DevOps, and more. This is the “new mainstream” for Microsoft certification.
  • Mobility: This category is for end-user and desktop topics, including Windows 10, desktop and enterprise applications, working with System Center Configuration Manager and Intune, and planning for and managing devices in an enterprise setting.
  • Data Management and Analytics: This arena now incorporates machine learning, business intelligence, business applications, and data management and analytics, along with Microsoft SQL Server 2016 and other Microsoft database technologies. Database development is also important and includes working with Transact-SQL and developing SQL databases. Business applications include extensive coverage of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Dynamics AX. Data management and analytics cover a range of topics, including cloud data platform solutions, big data analytics solutions, database solutions, implementing data models and reports, and various aspects of business intelligence solutions.
  • Productivity: This category brings the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) credentials together with those related to Microsoft productivity offerings, such as Exchange Server, SharePoint Server and Skype for Business, as well as Office 365 identities, requirements and services.
  • App Builder: This is a development-oriented category that covers the ins and outs of using Microsoft solutions and platforms to build compatible software. syllabus in this category include architecting, designing, testing and building solutions around Azure, programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3, developing ASP.NET MVC Web apps, managing development throughout the entire software lifecycle, and more
  • Business Applications: This category focuses on Microsoft Dynamics 365 platforms and technologies, including Dynamics 365 for Sales, Customer Service, Marketing, Distribution and Trade, Trade, financial management (Finance and Operations), Retail, Talent, and Field Service and other focused applications.
  • Core Infrastructure: Core Infrastructure focuses on virtualization, storage, networking, system management, identity management, and modern data centers.

Certifications within the Microsoft Certification Program include the following credentials:

  • Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
  • Microsoft Solutions Developer (MCSD)
  • Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS)

After you pass your first qualifying Microsoft certification exam, you are deemed a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP). MCP status provides access to a benefits and exams dashboard, with certificates and transcripts, downloadable certification logos, promotional offers and lots more. You also get the MCP designation on your Microsoft transcript. It’s important to understand that only the MCSA, MCSD and MCSE qualify as MCP certifications. Neither MTA nor MOS certifications qualify for MCP status, and none of those exams are prerequisites for MCSA, MCSE or MCSD certifications.

In addition to the certifications outlined above, Microsoft offers its MCT: Microsoft Certified Trainer and MCE: Microsoft Certified Educator credentials to those interested in teaching others about Microsoft technologies and products.

Microsoft recently released a new set of role-based certifications focused on Azure and Microsoft 365 developers, administrators, and solution architects.

Microsoft Cloud certifications

The Microsoft Cloud certification track includes MTA and MCSA credentials. Within the MTA program, there is one relevant certification: Cloud Fundamentals. To earn the MTA: Cloud Fundamentals credentials, candidates must pass a single test that validates knowledge and skills using basic Microsoft cloud services. Candidates should have experience using firewalls, network ports, Office 365, network topologies and devices, and Microsoft Intune.

The MCSA Cloud track includes BI Reporting, SQL 2016 BI Development certs, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2016 credentials. The Windows Server certifications require three exams each while BI Reporting and SQL 2016 BI Development require only two exams.

Microsoft Mobility certifications

The Microsoft Mobility certification track includes MTA, MCSA and MCSE certifications. The MTA program has just one relevant certification – MTA: Mobility and Device Fundamentals. —The MTA: Mobility and Device Fundamentals certification is earned by passing a single test that attests to a candidate’s knowledge of mobility and Windows devices. Candidates should possess practical experience with Active Directory, Windows devices, Windows-based networking, network topologies and ports, firewalls, and antimalware products.

MCSA: Windows 10 is the only MCSA Mobility track credential available. Earning the MCSA: Windows 10 requires passing two exams.

The remaining credential in this track is the MCSE: Mobility. This requires earning the MCSA: Windows 10 plus passing one more exam, from a list of two possibilities that deal with Windows desktops and enterprise applications, or administering System Center Configuration Manager and Cloud Services Integration.

Both the MCSA: Mobility and MCSE: Mobility credentials retire on March 31, 2019. If earned prior to the retirement date, the credentials will continue to show as “active” certifications on your transcript. The MCSA: Windows 10 will be replaced by a new role-based credential – the Microsoft Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate. Two exams are required to earn this credential. At present, no announcement has been made regarding whether the Modern Desktop Administrator Associate credential will become a prereq to the MCSE: Mobility. There’s a lot of ongoing ferment in MS certification programs right now. We expect 2019 to see major changes in MS’s cert programs and offerings. Next year’s update should be a big one!

Microsoft Data certifications

Microsoft’s Data certification track includes the MTA, MCSA and MCSE. (To see the Data track, go to the Microsoft Certification page and click Data from the Category dropdown menu.) The MTA program requires one test on database fundamentals. There are six certifications in the MCSA Data track– namely, Data Engineering with Azure, Machine Learning, SQL 2016 BI Development, SQL 2016 Database Administration, SQL 2016 Database Development, and SQL Server 2012/2014. All certs require two exams except for SQL Server 2012/2014, which requires three. The Data Engineering with Azure and Machine Learning certifications both retire on June 30, 2019.   

The MCSE Data category includes a single certification, the MCSE: Data Management and Analytics.

The prerequisite MCSAs that qualify for MCSE: Data Management and Analytics are SQL Server 2012/2014, SQL 2016 Database Administration, Database Development, BI Development, Machine Learning, BI Reporting, or Data Engineering with Azure. One additional test from a list of 13 possibilities must be passed to earn this credential. syllabus covered include cloud data platform solutions, big data analytics solutions, developing or designing SQL Server databases, implementing data models and reports, designing business intelligence solutions, implementing a data warehouse, developing SQL data models, analyzing big data with Microsoft R, cloud data science with Azure machine learning, data engineering with Azure HDInsight, and implementing with Azure Cosmos DB solutions.

Microsoft Productivity certifications

Certifications in the Microsoft Productivity category vary widely, from proving competency in using a single Office product to managing Office 365 services and user login credentials. This track is also fairly large; it includes an MCSA and MCSE certification as well as Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) offerings.

The MCSA Productivity track includes a single certification – the MCSA: Office 365. Two exams are required to obtain the credential. This credential is targeted to retire on Mach 30, 2019. The MCSE: Productivity certification requires candidates possess either the MCSA Office 365, Windows Server 2012, or Windows Server 2016 credential as a prerequisite. Candidates must also pass one additional exam, from a list of eight possibilities. syllabus covered include Exchange Server, SharePoint Server and Skype for Business, for multiple versions of these platforms.  

Microsoft offers a MOS Office 2016 certification for each Office application (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, and Outlook). Office 2013 credentials are still available, but unless you have a specific reason for achieving them, focus on Office 2016.

The MOS 2016 Expert certification identifies individuals with advanced Office skills and requires candidates to pass two exams. The MOS 2016 Master certification is the pinnacle of the MOS Certification Program and requires successful completion of six exams.

Microsoft App Builder certifications

The Microsoft Developer certification path includes MTA, MCSA and MCSD certifications. The MTA program recognizes individuals who are entry-level software developers. The certification requires candidates to pass one of five exams. Possible syllabus include software development fundamentals, HTML5 app development fundamentals, and intro to programming using block-based languages, Python or JavaScript, and using HTML and CSS.

There are two credentials in the Microsoft App Builder MSCA track. The MCSA: Universal Windows Platform (UWP) credential prepares candidates to tackle professional development projects. They must pass two exams, one on programming in C#, the other on developing mobile apps. The MCSA: Web Applications credential prepares candidates for building web-based applications. They must pass two exams, one of which is required while candidates may choose from two possibilities for the second exam. All candidates must take the test relating to developing ASP.NET MVC Web applications. syllabus for the second test include programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3 or programming in C#.

The MCSD Developer track consists of the MCSD: App Builder certification. It requires earning either the MSCA: Web Applications or MCSA: UWP as its prerequisite, followed by your choice of one test from a list of five possible options. syllabus covered in include architecting and developing Azure solutions, developing Azure and web services, developing mobile apps, programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3, programming in C#, developing ASP.NET MVC Web apps, or developing MS Azure and Web services.

Microsoft Business Applications certifications

The Microsoft Business Applications certifications include MCSA and MCSE certifications. There are two MCSA options: MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365 and MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations. Each requires passing two exams. The plain vanilla Dynamics 365 certification draws from a list of two exams, both of which are needed to meet its requirements. One test covers Dynamics 365 customer engagement online deployment, while the other covers Dynamics 365 customization and configuration. The MCSA: Microsoft Dynamics 365 credential retires on April 30, 2019.

The Dynamics 365 for Operations draws from a list of three exams, one of which is required while candidates may choose the course for the second exam. syllabus covered include administering a Microsoft SQL database infrastructure, provisioning SQL databases, and development, extensions and deployment for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (required).

The MSCE: Business Applications credential is the sole MCSE item for this certification track. It takes either of the Microsoft Dynamics MCSAs covered in the preceding paragraph as its prerequisite, then requires candidates to pass another test drawn from a list of eight possibilities. syllabus covered include Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, customer service, marketing, distribution and trade, trade, financial management (finance and operations), retail, talent, and field service.

Core Infrastructure

Microsoft offers a single credential focused on core infrastructure – MCSE: Core Infrastructure. The MCSE: Core Infrastructure certification validates a candidate’s knowledge and skills related to data centers, virtualization, systems management, storage, networking and identity management. The credential requires either the MCSA: Windows Server 2016 or MCSA: Windows Server 2012 as a prerequisite. In addition to the MCSA, candidates must pass a single test from seven topics. test syllabus include designing and implementing Cloud Data Platform solutions, designing and implementing Big Data Analytics solutions, securing Windows Server 2016, implementing software-defined datacenters, designing and implementing server infrastructures, implementing advanced server infrastructures, and configuring and operating a hybrid cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack.

Microsoft Trainer and Educator certifications

MCT: Microsoft Certified Trainer

Folks who teach others about Microsoft technologies and products should consider (and are often required to have) the Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) certification. The MCT can be obtained by submitting an application to Microsoft that proves that you hold a current Microsoft certification, one year of instruction experience (supporting reference required), plus verifiable instructional skills in the form of an acceptable instructor certification (such as CompTIA CTT+, Microsoft Certified Trainer Instructional Skills Certification (MCT-ISC) or IAMCT Approved Technical Trainer).

To renew, credential holders must possess at least one current Microsoft credential, meet the minimum instruction requirements of teaching at least one class, and maintain a Metrics that Matter quality score of at least seven. (Check the MCT website for a list of qualifying certifications and instructor certifications.)

As an MCT, you have access to the MCP benefits and exams dashboard, prep kits, the MCT community, Microsoft Online Labs and much more.

MCE: Microsoft Certified Educator

The Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE) credential is aimed at educators in academia, such as colleges, universities and training facilities. To become an MCE, you must demonstrate technology literacy by passing at least one exam.

The literacy competency is mapped to the UNESCO ITC Competency Framework for Teachers, Technology Literacy and includes education policy, curriculum and assessment, pedagogy, ICT/technology tools, organization and administration, and professional development.

Training and certification preparation materials

Microsoft offers training to candidates directly, both in the classroom and online. The company’s Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) is a great place to start poking around: it offers a huge range of free training courses, many of them at least relevant to various certification syllabus if not directly focused on such topics.

There’s also a huge aftermarket for Microsoft training, self-study and certification preparation. Pearson operates Microsoft Press on Microsoft’s behalf, where you can find self-study guides for all the popular Microsoft cert exams (and many of the not-so-popular exams as well). Pearson’s IT Certification imprint (online at also offers study guides, test crams (a series I invented), practice tests, video training materials and much more for Microsoft certification candidates. Wiley/Sybex and Osborne/McGraw-Hill also offer certification focused imprints, book series and generally provide good coverage of major cert syllabus as well, also including most popular Microsoft certifications and related exams. Pearson’s mindhub online store also offers “official” practice exams approved by Microsoft.

There’s a wealth of excellent material available to help candidates prepare. Look to online and peer reviews, study groups and rating sites to separate the wheat from the chaff.

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Red Hat Certification Guide: Overview and Career Paths

Red Hat Inc. provides open source software solutions to more than 90% of the Fortune 500 companies, including internet service providers, airlines, healthcare companies and commercial banks. The company has been around for more than two decades and is well known for its Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) distribution. Red Hat provides a fully open technology stack, which you can alter to suit your needs – you’re not locked into the vendor’s vision of the software or stack components. Red Hat’s portfolio of products and services also include JBoss middleware, cross-platform virtualization, cloud computing (CloudForms and OpenStack) and much more.

Red Hat offers numerous professional certifications based on its software products, including operating systems, virtualization, storage and cloud-based solutions.

Red Hat certification program overview

The Red Hat certification program aims at system administrators, engineers, architects, enterprise developers, and application administrators, as well as cloud and virtualization administrators, who use RHEL in their IT infrastructures. The certification program aims to ensure that candidates are proficient in RHEL by requiring them to pass performance-based certification exams. Whereas many certification exams ask multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank questions about specific technologies, Red Hat requires you to perform and complete real-world tasks using Red Hat technologies to pass its exams.

Red Hat traditionally offered certification exams only upon completion of a training course. Now you can take a Red Hat test on your own schedule, outside of training, if you like. Each test session is performed on a secured system in a professionally proctored testing center. These centers are located in select cities throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.

Once you earn a Red Hat certification, you become a Red Hat Certified Professional. This gives you access to Red Hat Certification Central, which allows you to connect with potential employers, join the Red Hat community, create study groups and collaborate on projects. In addition, you can explore Red Hat’s training options and easily schedule individual test sessions. Discounts on recertification exams are offered there as well.

Red Hat Administrator, Engineer and Architect certifications

The largest group of Red Hat certifications is geared toward system administrators, engineers and architects. Some of the most popular and sought-after Red Hat certifications reside in this category, such as the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA), Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) and Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA).

The RHCA is probably Red Hat’s most versatile credential. In 2018, Red Hat implemented several changes to the RHCA program. The most notable change is that Red Hat now offers two separate RHCA credentials: the Red Hat Certified Architect in Enterprise Applications and the Red Hat Certified Architect in Infrastructure. Over the past year, Red Hat has retired a great many of its credentials, as you can see from the long list of “Retired Certifications” on the company’s All Certifications page. Candidates who have previously passed certification exams that are now retired may still be able to apply those retired certifications to current certification tracks. Check the certification overview page for each certification to find more details.

RHCSA: Red Hat Certified System Administrator

The RHCSA certification is designed for experienced Red Hat administrators and is required by some organizations to meet U.S. Department of Defense Directive 8570. It’s also a prerequisite credential for the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE).

Red Hat recommends three training classes to prepare for the RHCSA certification. The Windows admin classes are Red Hat System Administration I (RH124) and Red Hat System Administration II (RH134). Candidates may also take a Linux/UNIX admin class – RHCSA Rapid Track Course RH199 – to prepare for the RHCSA exam.

To obtain RHCSA certification, candidates must pass the 2.5 hour RHCSA test (EX200).

RHCE: Red Hat Certified Engineer

The RHCE certification is geared toward experienced senior system administrators and fulfills requirements of U.S. Department of Defense Directive 8570.

To obtain the RHCE certification, you must first become RHCSA certified. The recommended training for the RHCE certification is based on your skill level. Windows admins with minimal Linux experience should take the Red Hat System Administration I and II (RH124 and RH134) courses, along with the Red Hat System Administration III (RH254) course to prepare for the exam.

Linux or UNIX admins with one to three years of experience should take both the RHCSA Rapid Track Course (RH199) and the Red Hat System Administration III (RH254) courses to prepare for the exam. RHCEs looking to recertify, or candidates who’d like the opportunity to engage in a lab-based review before taking the RHCE exam, should take the RHCE Certification lab (RH299). The certification lab is a four-day, instructor-led opportunity to work through all of the labs from the Red Hat System Administration I, II and III courses, along with the Rapid Track course.

To complete the RHCE certification, you must pass the 3.5-hour RHCE test (EX300), which is currently based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.

RHCA: Red Hat Certified Architect

The RHCA certification is the pinnacle cert in the Red Hat Certification program. Red Hat has changed the RHCA program to be more flexible that previous incarnations of the program, depending on the candidate’s particular areas of interest and expertise. Currently, Red Hat offers two RHCA credentials:

  • RHCA in Infrastructure for Red Hat Certified Engineers (RHCE); and
  • RHCA in Enterprise Applications for Red Hat Certified Enterprise Microservices Developer (RHCEMD) or Red Hat Certified JBoss Developers (RHCJD)

Red Hat recommends certain specific certification combinations to achieve the RHCA in Infrastructure or RHCA in Enterprise Applications. Candidates are free to follow the recommended path or select their own certifications based on their professional interests and requirements.

The RHCA in Enterprise Applications has three recommended certifications combinations: application acceleration, and integration; application automation; or DevOps, containers, and OpenShift. While not required, Red Hat recommends that all candidates obtain the Red Hat Certified Specialist in OpenShift Application Development and Red Hat Certified Specialist in Enterprise Application Server Administrations.

There are four recommended certification combinations for the RHCA in Infrastructure: open hybrid cloud; DevOps, containers, and OpenShift; Red Hat OpenStack Platform; and Linux mastery.

RHCA Exams

Certification No. of Req’d Certifications Qualifying Certifcations List
RHCA in Infrastructure 5 Complete five certifications  from the following (listed by recommended combinations):

Open Hybrid Cloud

  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in Hybrid Cloud Management
  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in Gluster Storage Administration
  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in Virtualization
  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in OpenShift Administration
  • Red Hat Certified System Administrator in Red Hat OpenStack
  • Red Hat certified Specialist in Deployment and Systems Management

DevOps, Containers and OpenShift

Red Hat OpenStack Platform

Linux Mastery

  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in Linux Diagnostics and Troubleshooting
  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in Linux Performance Tuning
  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in Server Security and Hardening
  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in Identity Management
  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in High Availability Clustering
  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in Deployment and Systems Management
RHCA in Enterprise Applications 5 Complete five certifications exams from the following (listed by certification combinations):

Recommended certifications regardless of certification combination:

  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in OpenShift Application Development
  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in Enterprise Application Server Administration

Application, Acceleration and Integration

  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in Fast-Cache Application Development
  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in Camel Development
  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in Data Virtualization
  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in Messaging Administration

Application Automation

  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in Business Process Design
  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in Business Rules

DevOps, Containers and OpenShift

  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in Ansible Automation
  • Red Hat Certified Specialist in Configuration Management

The number of recommended training courses varies for each RHCA concentration (RHCS means “Red Hat Certified Specialist” in the preceding table). At present only candidates who’ve already taken the retired exams in the DevOps category can earn RHCA: DevOps (hopefully, Red Hat will rectify this situation, or retire the credential). There is also some overlap in training course recommendations as shown in the table below.

Red Hat Cloud and Virtualization Administrator certifications

Formerly, Red Hat offered certifications geared toward IT professionals familiar with Red Hat virtualization and cloud technologies. In addition to the RHCA: Cloud (mentioned previously in this article), one could find the Red Hat Certified Virtualization Administrator, Red Hat Certified System Administrator in Red Hat OpenStack and the Red Hat Certified Engineer in Red Hat OpenStack. Today, that last item – namely, RHCE in Red Hat OpenStack – is the only remaining member of this category still available.

The Red Hat Certified Engineer in Red Hat OpenStack focuses on IT professionals who possess the skills necessary to install, deploy, and work with Red Hat Ceph Storage, including creation of block devices for Ceph and integration of services with Ceph Storage devices. In addition, Certified Engineers in Red Hat OpenStack can create and manage devices for virtual networks and use the OpenStack Neutron Service. Candidates must possess the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) in Red Hat OpenStack Platform 8 to qualify for the credential. In addition to the RHCSA test (EX210), candidates must also pass Red Hat Certified System Engineer in Red Hat OpenStack (EX310), a three-hour performance-based exam. Red Hat recommends that candidates take the Red Hat OpenStack System Administration Red Hat OpenStack Administration I (CL 110), II (CL210) and III (CL310) courses to prepare.

Red Hat training and resources

Red Hat offers an extensive training program: in-classroom, online, virtual, remote classroom, onsite team and online learning lab formats are available. Most courses are three to five days in length, depending on delivery format. A remarkably helpful resource is the Red Hat Training Resource Center, which contains links to online tools, references, student guides, a skills assessment and more.

Red Hat now offers the Red Hat Learning Subscription, which gives certification candidates access to a multitude of online, on-demand classes and test prep videos for an annual subscription fee that varies depending on the specific certification you seek. In addition, Red Hat offers multiple ways for you or your company to save on certification and training costs. Browse the Red Hat Ways to Save page for training bundles and success packs.

You can also find lots of third-party study guidebooks to prepare for certification exams. Just search for “Red Hat Certification” on Amazon and be prepared for a lot of results.

Thu, 09 Nov 2023 10:01:00 -0600 en text/html
CPA test Guide: Everything You Need To Know About the New test In 2024

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.

If you’re on your way to becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), you might be losing some sleep over the Uniform CPA Examination®.

We don’t blame you. After all, the pass rates for each test section range from about 40% to 60%, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA®)—not the best prognosis. The CPA test is difficult and time-consuming, but passing it is the most important step of CPA licensure. And at the end of the day, becoming a CPA is worth it to many professionals.

Earning the CPA credential opens doors to high-paying, advanced accounting careers in numerous industries. The 2024 CPA test comes with a few changes compared to previous years, so make sure to stay in the know if you plan to sit for the test in or after 2024. We’ve outlined the new test here to help you research and prepare.

What Is the CPA Exam?

The Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, also known as the Uniform CPA test or CPA Exam, is for accountants pursuing CPA licensure. Many employers seeking highly trained accountants require a CPA license, which involves rigorous coursework and skill testing to earn.

AICPA develops the CPA exam, and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and its included state boards of accountancy assist with reviewing applications, administering the test and reporting scores.

The CPA test consists of four sections, testing candidates on syllabus like taxation, financial planning, auditing and accounting technology.

What’s New About the CPA test in 2024?

The 2024 CPA test introduces a new “discipline” section, including three options:

  • Business analysis and reporting (BAR)
  • Information systems and controls (ISC)
  • Tax compliance and planning (TCP)

Candidates choose one of the three disciplines to test on. Candidates must also test within the three required Core sections:

  • Auditing and attestation (AUD)
  • Financial accounting and reporting (FAR)
  • Taxation and regulation (REG)

The 2024 version of the CPA test eliminates the business environment and concepts (BEC) section and transitions some portions of FAR and REG into the new disciplines. Since the BEC section was the only one to include a written essay, the essay portion is eliminated from the 2024 CPA exam.

Additional changes include replacing an Excel spreadsheet with a JavaScript-based spreadsheet, implementing new task-based research simulations and eliminating multistage adaptive testing.

CPA test Requirements

Each state board of accountancy within NASBA sets its own requirements to sit for the CPA exam, so criteria may vary among states. However, many state boards require at least the following from candidates before they’re eligible to take the CPA exam:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a 120-credit bachelor’s degree in accounting or a bachelor’s degree with a certain number of credits in non-introductory accounting courses and business courses
  • Submit official school transcripts, a credit evaluation application and proof of residency

Education requirements vary the most among state boards of accountancy. For instance, Georgia only requires test candidates to have a bachelor’s degree with 20 semester hours in non-introductory accounting courses. However, Rhode Island sets more specific stipulations for CPA test applicants who don’t have a graduate degree in accounting, including at least 24 accounting semester hours covering distinct subjects like auditing and tax accounting.

CPA test Structure

The three cores and three disciplines of the CPA test each include both multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations. The test lasts 16 hours in total—four hours per section—and candidates can take different sections of the test on different days rather than in one sitting.

Still, test takers must complete and pass all four sections within 18 months—usually beginning on the day a candidate takes their first passed section—to pass the exam. We explore the four sections in detail below.

Auditing and Attestation

The AUD section tests a candidate’s understanding of the technical and ethical aspects of auditing for public and private entities. AUD also covers reporting requirements, risk assessment strategies, obtaining evidence and ethical responsibilities for CPAs.

AUD is divided into four content areas:

  • Area I: Ethics, professional responsibilities and general principles
  • Area II: Assessing risk and developing a planned response
  • Area III: Performing further procedures and obtaining evidence
  • Area IV: Forming conclusions and reporting

Financial Accounting and Reporting

The questions and tasks in the FAR section target three content areas:

  • Area I: Financial reporting
  • Area II: Select balance sheet accounts
  • Area III: Select transactions

Within these sections, candidates prove their ability to prepare and analyze financial statements, balance sheets with various types of income and expenses, correct accounting errors, and navigate the differences in financial accounting and reporting for for-profit and nonprofit companies.

Taxation and Regulation

The REG section explores tax laws for businesses and individuals within the United States, ensuring that CPA candidates understand the significance of and procedures for compliance. Candidates work with taxation technology and resources to analyze data and determine the correct processes for accuracy and completeness.

This section includes five content areas:

  • Area I: Ethics, professional responsibilities, and federal tax procedures
  • Area II: Business law
  • Area III: Federal taxation of property transactions
  • Area III: Federal taxation of individuals
  • Area III: Federal taxation of entities


CPA candidates must choose one of three disciplines as the fourth section of the CPA exam.

Previous versions of the CPA test included the BEC section, which explored corporate governance, information technology, financial and operations management, and economic concepts. The discipline section replaces BEC, allowing candidates to test in an area of interest or advanced skill.

This section offers the following testing areas:

  • Business analysis and reporting: BAR expands on several concepts in FAR, including data collection sourcing, financial analysis and reporting, while closely examining business analysis and local and state governmental accounting.
  • Information systems and controls: ISC focuses on secure and accurate data collection, storage and analysis procedures used in accounting. Candidates must demonstrate knowledge of information technology audits, security threats and mitigation, and security regulations.
  • Tax Compliance and Planning: TCP digs deep into taxation for individuals and entities beyond what’s included in REG. TCP syllabus and tasks include calculating estimated tax payments, reviewing shareholder debts and investments, and distinguishing types of business entities for tax purposes.

How Is the CPA test Scored?

CPA test scoring weighs the scaled scores of multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations of each section equally at 50% of the total score. The only exception is the ISC discipline, in which multiple-choice questions make up 60% of the score and task-based simulations account for 40%.

Each test goes through a multi-step review process to ensure scoring accuracy.

How Hard Is the CPA Exam?

If AICPA’s pass rate data is any indication, this is a hard test. During the first two quarters of 2023, these were the pass rates for each section of the CPA exam:

  • REG: 59.22%
  • AUD: 47.68%
  • FAR: 42.30%
  • BEC (eliminated from the 2024 exam): 58.25%

How To Study for the CPA Exam

The CPA test process is long and rigorous, so planning can be the key to passing each section. Before you begin studying, plan your timeline carefully.

In what order do you want to take each section? How will you space out the various sections to give yourself ample study time? Keep track of test application deadlines, and think about when you should schedule study sessions. Also, consider whether you’ll need to take some time off work.

AICPA’s test Blueprints offer an excellent starting point for your test prep. The blueprints walk you through each section of the CPA exam, filling you in on what to expect and what to study.

CPA test Study Resources

AICPA offers official resources for continuing education for practicing accountants. Though you aren’t yet a CPA, you might find these materials helpful while studying for your CPA exam. They are categorized into many of the same syllabus you’ll work with on the exam, like auditing and financial reporting, and many are free or discounted for AICPA members.

You can also practice with a shortened sample test from AICPA, which familiarizes you with the CPA test software.

Several other online resources are available to help you study for the CPA exam, although it’s important to ensure courses and materials are up to date and designed or taught by credentialed instructors. AICPA hosts a database of CPA test preparation resources, including costs and user ratings for each to help you narrow your options.

CPA test Study Methods

Preparing for the CPA test takes significant motivation and focus, and studying with other CPA test candidates could help you stay on track. Consider looking for study group participants at work, through your local professional organization or from your graduating class. You might also find nearby candidates through social media groups.

Collaborate with your study group members to decide which materials you’ll use, whether you’ll host meetings in person or online, and how often you’ll study so everyone can stay on track.

If you’d like to study solo, find a quiet, dedicated space for sessions and make room in your schedule for several hours of test preparation each week. Consider getting support from a trusted colleague or mentor when necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the CPA Exam

Is the CPA harder than the bar?

The CPA test and bar test are both known for their challenging content. However, based on the passing rates for each, the CPA test generally appears more difficult to pass than the bar. Depending on the jurisdiction, the July 2023 bar test saw pass rates ranging from 58% to 92%, according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The highest cumulative passing rate for any section of the CPA test during the first two quarters of 2023 was 59.22%.

How many questions are in the CPA exam?

The CPA test comprises between 250 and 282 multiple-choice questions, plus 28 or 29 task-based simulations, depending on the discipline section you choose. ISC has the most questions and simulations in total, followed by TCP and BAR.

Tue, 31 Oct 2023 02:14:00 -0500 Amy Boyington en-US text/html
How To Become A Phlebotomist: A Complete Guide

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.

Phlebotomists serve an essential, life-saving role in the healthcare system: collecting and processing blood samples from patients and donors. This in-demand role holds significant value on its own, but it’s also a great starting point for a more advanced career in healthcare.

It takes less than a year to become a phlebotomist, as it’s one of the many allied health professions that don’t require a bachelor’s degree. Phlebotomist requirements typically include a high school diploma and completion of a training program.

In turn, you gain valuable experience interacting with patients and working alongside a medical team. As you learn more about working in healthcare, you may discover related careers that match your interests.

Read on to learn how to become a phlebotomist and whether this role suits your interests.

What Is a Phlebotomist?

Phlebotomists draw blood to use for testing, donations, research or lifesaving procedures such as transfusions. Blood tests are a vital part of healthcare. Doctors order blood tests to diagnose and monitor medical conditions such as diabetes, allergies, cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Phlebotomists receive instructions on the type and quantity of samples to collect, which may include urine or other biological specimens. Before the procedure, they prepare patients and help calm any nerves. Afterward, they monitor patients for adverse effects such as bruising, dizziness or nausea.

Important Skills for Phlebotomists

Phlebotomist technicians employ different collection techniques for different patients. Most tests require venipuncture, or drawing blood from a vein. Other tests may only need a finger stick, while infants typically have blood drawn by a heel stick.

Phlebotomists should be gentle and efficient, especially if patients express discomfort about getting their blood drawn or if their veins are hard to find. They should also be methodical and organized, understanding the purpose of each demo and ensuring they collect the correct quantity.

Each demo must be clearly labeled, correctly stored and accurately entered into a database. To prevent contamination, phlebotomists sanitize their equipment and workspace. They may also update patients’ medical files.

Phlebotomist Work Environment

Most phlebotomists work full time, but their schedules depend on their employer. Some have night or weekend shifts. Phlebotomists typically work in hospitals or medical and diagnostic laboratories, but many work in ambulatory healthcare services, physician offices and outpatient care centers. They might travel between centers or visit patients’ homes.

How To Become a Phlebotomist

It takes less than a year to become a phlebotomist. While requirements vary by state, the process is generally straightforward.

Earn a High School Diploma

You can begin a career in phlebotomy with a high school diploma or the equivalent. It helps to take relevant courses in math, science, anatomy and physiology, and health.

Some phlebotomists begin working right away with on-the-job training. However, most employers prefer or require candidates to earn a phlebotomy certificate.

Complete a Phlebotomy Training Program

Phlebotomist training typically takes one to three months, depending on your program’s scope and your schedule. You can enroll in phlebotomy training classes at a community college, technical school or vocational school, and many offer flexible weekend and evening class times.

Programs incorporate classroom and hands-on education, covering medical terminology, collection techniques and safety protocol.

Some states require phlebotomists to complete their training through an approved, accredited program. Phlebotomy programs receive accreditation from professional organizations, including the American Society for Clinical Pathology and the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).

Consider Professional Certification

Earning professional certification cements your skills and commitment to excellence. While you can choose from several certifying organizations, most require certification candidates to hold a high school diploma or GED® certificate, complete an accredited training program, demonstrate clinical experience and pass an exam.

Certified phlebotomists maintain their credentials by paying renewal dues and completing continued education credits. Keep practicing to learn about different certification opportunities.

Determine State Requirements

Only four states—California, Louisiana, Nevada and Washington—require certification for phlebotomists. Other states may still stipulate that phlebotomists complete an accredited program to practice.

In California, for example, phlebotomists can pursue three levels of certification, each of which qualifies holders to perform a different collection technique.

Phlebotomist Salary and Job Outlook

Blood testing already serves an essential role in diagnosis and treatment, but demand for medical services is expected to increase as the U.S. population grows and ages. In turn, phlebotomists benefit from a steady job market.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 8% growth in phlebotomist employment from 2022 to 2032, much higher than the 3% predicted growth across all occupations.

Phlebotomists earned a median annual wage of $38,350 in May 2022, according to the BLS. Those working in scientific research and development services reported the highest average earnings—a mean of $47,770 per year—followed closely by those in outpatient care centers and state government organizations.

Certifications for Phlebotomists

Even if your state or employer doesn’t require a professional certification, earning one can make you more marketable by demonstrating and enhancing your skills. Review the requirements for three common certifications below.

Phlebotomy Technician (PBT)

The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) offers several paths to PBT certification. Applicants must have completed an approved phlebotomy program within the past five years or have one year of full-time clinical experience. Programs may carry accreditation from NAACLS or approval by the California Department of Public Health, or they must meet minimum instruction requirements.

Applicants must pass an 80-question test and pay a $145 application fee.

Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT)

To earn the National Healthcareer Association’s CPT distinction, applicants must complete a phlebotomy training program or one to two years of supervised phlebotomy technician experience.

The two-hour certification test covers safety and compliance, patient preparation and blood collection. You can purchase a study guide or practice test to prepare, and the test itself costs $125.

CPTs must renew their certification every two years by completing continuing education credits and paying $179.

Phlebotomy Technician (RPT)

In addition to meeting phlebotomy education or experience requirements, RPT applicants need to complete 50 successful venipunctures and 10 skin punctures.

The American Medical Technologists (AMT) certification test covers broad medical skills, including time management, clerical duties, legal and ethical concerns and specimen collection. The test costs $125.

Professional Organizations for Phlebotomists

While professional organizations usually require a membership fee, joining one can pay off in the form of long-term career success. These groups provide a path to certification, create networking opportunities and help you stay abreast of new techniques or laws.

National Phlebotomy Association (NPA)

NPA supports continuing education through workshops, training programs and professional certifications, including a credential for phlebotomy instructors. The organization hosts a job board for full- and part-time positions in phlebotomy and other allied health professions.

American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians, Inc. (ASPT)

ASPT offers certification for working phlebotomy technicians and graduates of accredited programs. The organization extends its benefits to members of NHA, ASCP and AMT. Members gain access to cross-training workshops, continued education opportunities and nonprofit events. ASPT also hosts a phlebotomy refresher program and an EKG basic skills program.

Phlebotomy technicians pay a $65 test fee and a $35 membership fee.

National Healthcareer Association (NHA)

In addition to its professional certification, NHA creates immersive learning experiences for phlebotomy technicians. Available resources, geared toward students and educators, include practice drills, interactive games and quizzes.

NHA provides a job board, résumé review services and career planning advice for allied health professionals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Becoming a Phlebotomist

How long does it take to become a phlebotomist?

Because becoming a phlebotomist generally does not require a college degree, you can start this career in less than a year. However, earning certification may take longer.

What is required to be a phlebotomist?

Phlebotomists need to earn a high school diploma or the equivalent. Some receive on-the-job training, but most complete a short-term phlebotomy training program. Many pursue professional certification.

How long is phlebotomy school?

Phlebotomy school takes less than a year to complete—often one to three months. The duration depends on your schedule and the program’s curriculum. Some programs incorporate more robust training or additional clinical hours.

How much does a phlebotomist get paid?

Phlebotomists made a median annual salary of $38,350 as of May 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. The highest 10% of workers earned more than $51,610.

Wed, 15 Nov 2023 19:42:00 -0600 Kayla Missman en-US text/html
Burn nursing specialty certification is now available

After years of study and program development, the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) has launched its new Certified Burn Registered Nurse (CBRN) specialty certification.

To earn the certification, eligible RNs and APRNs must pass a national test that covers the burn nursing continuum.

“Patients with burn injuries and their families need, and deserve, specialized care,” the BCEN wrote on its website. The Certified Burn Registered Nurse (CBRN) validates advanced knowledge and expertise across the burn care continuum — including pre-hospital and initial management, critical and acute care, patient and family support, rehabilitation and reintegration, and injury prevention education.”

The test is described as rigorous. Details of the certification and practice exams are available on the BCEN Learn site.

According to Daily Nurse, the syllabus include:

  • Prehospital care and initial management
  • Acute and critical care
  • Post-acute rehabilitation
  • Outpatient and community care
  • Aftercare and reintegration
  • Injury prevention, education, and psychosocial patient and family support

“Nurses educated or licensed outside the U.S., Canada, or Australia must first go through BCEN’s international credential evaluation process,” noted Daily Nurse. “BCEN offers test discounts to ABA members, U.S. military active-duty service members, reservists, and veterans.”

If you meet the standards for the certification, you can apply for the exam here.

Tue, 14 Nov 2023 06:25:00 -0600 en text/html
Outdoor Guide Certification

Students must obtain (or have) and maintain a current First Aid and CPR or greater (e.g., Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder, etc.) certification after successful completion of the outdoor guide course. Courses are offered four or more times annually, typically in the fall and spring. 

Upcoming dates/registration links:

September 8-October 22, 2023

January 12-February 9, 2024

April 5-May 17, 2024 (link will become available after enrollment ends for previous course)

June 28--August 4, 2024

- Max enrollment: 30
- Price: $325

For additional dates, please contact Dr. Dan McCoy --


“The Outdoor Guide Certification course developed by the University of Wyoming is a significant step toward professionalizing the outdoor guiding industry in Wyoming and beyond. It gives the next generation of guides the tools and qualifications needed to share, interpret, and help conserve National Parks and public lands everywhere.” Katy Canetta, Grand Teton National Park Concessions Office.

Sat, 21 Oct 2023 12:00:00 -0500 en text/html
Tech-forward advisors serve clients better: Study

In an age where everyone relies on technology, some prefer to do without. A latest eMoney study found that’s going to be a problem for advisors who aren’t down with tech.

The study found that clients who work with tech-forward advisors — those who rate technology or client portals as very o

Fri, 10 Nov 2023 08:29:00 -0600 en-US text/html
New Harvard study finds COVID cut life expectancy but women continue to live longer

Study: COVID cut life expectancy but women continue to live longer than men

Study: COVID cut life expectancy but women continue to live longer than men 01:07

BOSTON - When it comes to life expectancy, the gender gap is widening even further.

A new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the University of California, San Francisco finds that the average American was projected to live about three fewer years in 2021 than in 2019, and the life expectancy gap between women and men grew.

Women are now estimated to live nearly six years longer than men, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Men spent more time in risky environments such as work, jails, and homeless shelters. They were less likely to seek medical care and were more likely to suffer complications. But so-called "deaths of despair" also are playing a role, namely alcoholism, overdoses, and suicide, which affect more men than women, suggesting men could benefit from additional mental health and substance abuse outreach.

Now as the burden of COVID-19 eases, researchers want to reassess life expectancy trends post-pandemic.

Wed, 15 Nov 2023 08:34:00 -0600 en-US text/html
Ghana Halal Certification Board Gets Endorsement

Prominent Ghanaian Imams used last Friday's sermons (Jumah) to call on Ghanaians in general and Muslims in particular to be mindful of what they eat, consume and use as cosmetics on their bodies and hairs.

This is part of what they say "is a wake up call on all Imams and Islamic leaders to encourage the usage and patronage of only Halal products".

According to the Imams "there are many products in the Ghanaian markets that are not halal but majority of the populace do not know and so they consume it thinking it is halal or lawful for Muslims to consume.

The Qur'an in Chapter 2:172 says "O you who believe, eat of the good things we have provided to you and be grateful to Allah, if it is He whom you worship," while one of the Hadiths says "O people! Allah is Pure and, therefore, accepts only that which is pure. Allah has commanded the believers as He has commanded His messengers by saying: 'O Messengers! Eat of the good things, and do good deeds.'

Zaeem Sheikh Abdul Wadudi Haruna, the National President of the Tijjaniya Muslims Movement of Ghana (TMMG), who helped in the establishment of the Ghana Halal Certification Board (GHCB), called on the government and the Ghana Standards Authority to encourage pharmaceutical companies, food vendors, the beverage industry, restaurants and hotels in Ghana to adhere to Halal requirements and obtain Halal certification from the Ghana Halal Certification Board (GHCB).

He said the Halal board had qualified and well trained conductors and inspectors who supervise the issuance of Halal certification in Ghana which is also recognised globally.

Imam Muhammad Awal Alhassan Shuaib, the Takoradi Metropolitan Imam, who doubles as one of the deputy Imams at the National Mosque of Ghana at Kanda, Accra said "Islam is a complete way of life and has set of principles and values to be respected and adhered to, and they are very simple and easy. You only need to ask and check when buying a drink or cosmetic whether it contains alcohol or pork related products, and in relation to food, whether the animal was slaughtered by a Muslim who knows how to slaughter an animal".

Chief Mohammed Osman Nuhu, who leads Friday prayers at the National Chief Imam's Mosque at Kasoa Nyanyanyo and Sheikh Ahmed Tijjani Sharubutu, who also leads Friday prayers at the Ablekuma-Jorma Central Mosque, in their sermons called on Ghanaian Muslims to always check the preservatives used in the manufacturing and production of food, drinks and cosmetics and even pharmaceutical products.

They said "some of the preservatives used in the manufacturing of some consumables are not halal, and therefore renders the final products haram or unlawful for Muslims to consume".

The Ghana Immigration Service Imam, Ustaz Hafiz, urged and encouraged poultry and cattle farmers to adhere to the Islamic tradition of farming and slaughtering farm produce because Muslims constitute large part of their clients and buyer base.

Other Imams who made the call were Sultan Alhaji Ahmed Nii Nortey, the Ameer and President of the Gadangbe Muslim Council, Sheikh Mustapha Yaa Jalal, the Greater Accra Regional Coordinator of the Tijjaniya Muslims Movement of Ghana (TMMG), Sheikh Anas Sandho, the General Secretary of the Shia Muslim Community in Ghana, and Sheikh Alhaji Aminu Kassim, the Imam of Accra Newtown Chicago Mosque.

Tue, 07 Nov 2023 10:00:00 -0600 en text/html

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