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To save money or just out of convenience, many CPA exam candidates use older review materials or college textbooks to study for the exam. This is a mistake for three reasons.
First, accounting pronouncements, auditing standards, and IRS regulations change frequently. New standards can be tested six months after their effective date or, if early adoption is permitted, six months after issuance. As an aside, questions on IRS regulations may also cover rules that were in effect six months prior to your testing window.
While recent experience of many candidates has shown that new topics are tested lightly when they are first eligible for testing, they are often tested heavily after a little time has passed, especially if they relate to a heavily-tested area from the Content Specification Outlines.
Second, updated review materials give you insight into testing trends and help to focus you on the important areas. One of the major benefits of a CPA exam review course is the instructor gets updates from the AICPA on what areas are likely to be important. Using old review materials will send you down the wrong path and have you focus on the wrong topics.
Third, major updates take place on a fairly frequent basis. The AICPA made major changes to the content and format of the exam in 2011. 2012 was a quiet year in terms of changes, if you used 2011 materials in 2012, you missed out on changes to the Conceptual Framework. 2013 saw major changes to the AUD exam with the Clarity Project.
Any money you might save on buying old materials or using old textbooks is more than offset by what you stand to lose by not being well prepared for the exam. The high risk you are taking is likely to result in more study time, retakes and extra exam fees.