Cost Accounting

Category: Production & Objective Test
Type: Individual


Two (2) parts: a production test administered and proctored at a designated school-site prior to the NLC and a 60-minute objective test administered onsite at NLC. Competitors must complete both parts for award eligibility.

Production Test Competencies: Cost Accounting Concepts; Principles and Terminology; Measurement and Presentation; Measurement and Valuation; Realization and Recognition

Objective Test Competencies: Role of the Management Accountant & Comparing Cost, Management and Financial Accounting; Cost Accounting Concepts, Principles, Terminology; Using Accounting Information To Make Decisions; Materials and Labor Costs; Measurement, Valuation, Realization/Recognition

Skills: Cost accounting involves collecting, analyzing, summarizing, and evaluating various alternative courses of action to advise management on the most appropriate course. Cost accounting provides detailed cost information management needs to control current operations and plan for the future. This event recognizes PBL members who demonstrate an understanding and mastery of the subject.


Event Specific

  • Production test will constitute 50% of final event score.
  • Objective test will constitute 50% of final event score.
Production & Objective Test

Production Test Guidelines

  • Documents produced for this event must be prepared by the competitor without help from the adviser or any other person.
  • Administration of the production test is determined by the state chair/adviser.
  • No calculators are allowed to be used on the production test.
  • The production test score will be used to break a tie.
  • Tests must be uploaded online by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the third Friday in May.
  • Desktop Publishing—the finished product must be uploaded in PDF format by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the third Friday in May. Label all documents with the event title, competitor’s name, state, and school.

Objective Test Guidelines

  • No materials may be brought to the testing site.
  • Financial calculators may be used for accounting, finance, and analysis & decision making events; for all other events, calculators will be provided.
  • Electronic devices must be turned off and out of sight.

The general event guidelines below are applicable to all national competitive events. Please review and follow these guidelines when competing at the national level. When competing at the state level, check the state guidelines since they may differ.


  • Dues: Competitors must have paid PBL national and state dues by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 15 of the current school year.
  • NLC Registration: Participants must be registered for the NLC and pay the national conference registration fee in order to participate in competitive events.
  • Deadlines: The state chair, or designee, must register each state competitor on the official online entry forms by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the second Friday in May.
  • Each state may submit three (3) individuals in all events requiring only objective tests and two (2) individuals or teams for all events that require a pre-judged or performance component.
  • Each competitor can compete in two (2) events.
  • Each competitor must compete in all parts of an event for award eligibility.
  • A team shall consist of two or three members. Exceptions are Parliamentary Procedure which must be a team of four or five members, and LifeSmarts which must be a team of two members.

Repeat Competitors

Competitors are not permitted to compete in an event more than once at the national level unless one of the following circumstances applies:

  • Modified Events: A competitor may compete in the same event when the event is modified. Note, if the only modification is a name change, competitors may not compete in the renamed event.
  • Team Events: One (1) competitor of the team may have competed in the same event at one (1) previous NLC; however, they may not compete more than twice in the event at the national level.
  • Chapter Events: Competitors may compete in a chapter event more than once (Community Service Project).
  • Individual Entry: A competitor who competed as an individual entry in a team event at the national level may compete in the same event a second time as part of a team, but not a second time as an individual.
  • Parliamentary Procedure: Two (2) competitors of the team may have competed in this event at a previous NLC; however, they may not compete more than twice at the national level.
  • Pilot Event: Competition in a pilot event does not disqualify a competitor from competing in the same event if it becomes an official competitive event. The participant may compete in another event as well as a pilot event.

Breaking Ties

  • Objective Tests: Ties are broken by comparing the correct number of answers to the last 10 questions on the exam. If a tie remains, the competitor who completed the test in a shorter amount of time will place higher. If this does not break the tie, answers to the last 20 questions will be reviewed and determine the winner.
  • Objective and Production Tests: The production test scores will be used to break a tie.
  • Objective Tests and Performances: The objective test score will be used to break a tie based on the tie-breaking criteria of objective tests.
  • Reports/Projects and Performances: The report/project scores will be used to break a tie.
  • Performances: Judges must break ties and all judges’ decisions are final.

National Deadlines

  • State chair/adviser must register all competitors for NLC competitive events online by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the second Friday in May.
  • All prejudged components (report PDFs, resume/letter of application PDFs, and project URLs) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the second Friday in May.
  • All URLs and PDFs for prejudged projects and reports will be submitted by the state adviser via the competitive events registration form.
  • All production tests must be received at FBLA-PBL by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the third Friday in May.
  • Desktop Publishing—the finished product must be uploaded in PDF format by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the third Friday in May. Label all documents with the event title, competitor’s name, state, and school.
  • All production tests must be uploaded online.
  • State chair/adviser may make name changes only (no additional entries) by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the first Friday in June. Competitor drops are the only changes allowed after this date and onsite.

National Awards

The number of competitors will determine the number of winners. The maximum number of winners for each competitive event is 10. Only one (1) award is given to the schools competing in chapter events (Community Service Project and Local Chapter Annual Business Report).

Additional Materials

  • Financial calculators may be brought to objective testing and used for any accounting, finance, or analysis & decision making events.
  • Certain events may allow the use of additional materials. Please refer to event guidelines.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

FBLA‑PBL meets the criteria specified in the Americans with Disabilities Act for all participants who submit a special needs form.

Recording of Presentations

No unauthorized audio or video recording devices will be allowed in any competitive event. Participants in the performance events should be aware the national association reserves the right to record any performance for use in study or training materials.

Graduate Students

Graduate students may compete in all PBL events.


General Competitive Events Tips
Event Tips
Sample Practice Materials

Format Guide

Website Resources
Role of the Management Accountant & Comparing Cost, Management and Financial Accounting
1. Explain how managerial accounting applies to all types of industries (e.g., merchandising, manufacturing, nonfinancial services, financial services, government, and other nonprofit entities).
2. Discuss the need for and uses of a management control system and how accounting information facilitates control.
3. Explain and differentiate the purposes of cost accounting, management accounting, and financial accounting.
4. Explain the importance of financial and nonfinancial information for planning, control, and decision-making purposes.
5. Understand the importance of unit costs for both financial and management decision making.
6. Describe how cost accounting fits into an organization’s structure.
7. Illustrate the process of determining and setting standard costs.
8. Explain why different ways of computing product costs are appropriate for different purposes.
9. Discuss the need for professional ethics in the performance of management accounting.
Cost Accounting Concepts, Principles, Terminology
1. Describe the variety of cost units, cost centers, and profit centers.
2. Understand the nature and purpose of cost classification.
3. Describe the techniques for cost accumulation.
4. Differentiate between direct and indirect costs; fixed and variable costs; period and product costs; controllable and uncontrollable costs; avoidable and unavoidable costs; etc.
5. Identify cost classification for decision-making and planning.
6. Understand cost behavior patterns including linear and step functions.
7. Define margin of safety.
8. Demonstrate the standard cost accounting cycle.
9. Identify the key features of a standard costing system.
10. Define standard cost variances for a variety of applications.
11. Define cost behavior.
12. Define and illustrate a cost object.
13. Distinguish between direct costs and indirect costs.
14. Define cost volume profit analysis.
15. Distinguish between fixed and variable overhead costs.
16. Explain the flow and accumulation of costs when using job costing.
17. Describe the purpose and content of a job cost sheet.
18. Explain the elements that make up manufacturing costs.
Using Accounting Information To Make Decisions
1. Distinguish between fixed costs, variable costs, and mixed costs by categorizing various costs of an entity into these three categories.
2. Explain the usefulness and discuss the limitations of Cost-Volume-Profit (CVP) analysis as a decision-making tool.
3. Understand a cost volume profit (CVP) graph and explain the significance of the components illustrated.
4. Explain how pricing decisions are made, including transfer pricing decisions.
5. Identify the relevant costs in a make-or-buy decision and discuss both the qualitative and quantitative factors considered in this decision.
6. Understand how cost accounting information is used to make and communicate long-term strategic decisions needed to position the firm for competitive advantage.
7. Analyze semi-variable factory overhead costs.
8. Understand a budget of factory overhead costs.
9. Apply factory overhead to production.
10. Apply accounting rules for actual and applied factory overhead.
11. Understand the process of determining and setting standard costs
Materials and Labor Costs
1. Describe materials control and material control procedures.
2. Apply accounting principles to the accounting for materials.
3. Define what is meant by scrap, spoiled goods, and defective work.
4. Describe just-in-time materials control.
5. Describe the nature of and purposes of wages plans.
6. Explain the procedures used to control labor cost.
7. Apply cost accounting principles to the accounting for labor.
8. Discuss the need for and the procedure for payroll accrual.
9. Describe the special labor cost problems that exist and how accounting can help to solve them.
Measurement, Valuation, Realization/Recognition
1. Measure inventory valuation based on alternative valuation methods.
2. Apply the concept of present value to market value of bonds.
3. Define the future and present value of money.
4. Compute the present value and future value for a series of future cash flows.
5. Compute the premium or discount associated with a bond issue.
6. Evaluate alternatives related to a capital investment situation.
7. Determine relevant cash inflows and outflows in applying discounted cash flow methods.
8. Evaluate investments using the payback methods, the discounted rate of return, and the net present value method.
9. Explain the realization concept.
10. Assign values to a transaction and/or event.
11. Summarize the value for a specific transaction in a given time period.
12. Calculate financial strength analysis by determining current ratio of assets to liabilities, acid-test ratio, debt ratio, working capital, equity ratio, and equity and earnings per share.
13. Apply differential analysis to make decisions such as buying or making a product; leasing or buying an asset; discontinuing a department, plant, or product; replacing or repairing equipment; or offering discounted prices on special orders.
14. Use other financial analysis tools, such as trend analysis, common-size statements, etc.
15. Calculate business profitability.
16. Explain and illustrate various depreciation issues including partial year depreciation, extraordinary repairs, fully depreciated assets, and switching depreciation methods.


PBL Program of Study
Accounting & Finance


States may submit up to 2 entries.
Competitors must be registered for NLC and pay registration fee.
Competitors must pay dues by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on April 15.


Test: 1 hour
Home-site Production Test: 1 hour