How difficult is the CPA exam

I pass the CPA exam!

The CPA application process doesn't have to be intimidating. With proper planning and an understanding of the steps involved, you can sit for the CPA exam sooner. Becoming a chartered accountant is already difficult and expensive, to avoid further costs and wasted time, check out each of these steps!

What follows is a detailed overview of the uniform CPA exam application process, and what to do after your application is approved.,

Please note that each state has a slightly different process, but using the roadmap below, you should be moving towards studying for your exam within 4-6 weeks.

Fortunately, almost all CPA exam courts now have online CPA applications, so you can skip printing paperwork.

Now, let's go through the CPA process and get started on becoming a CPA!

Understand the CPA process and the players

The CPA exam application process is not difficult, but you need to understand the players., The Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, or CPA exam for short, is jointly administered by several partners, each with a specific role in the CPA registration process.

55 jurisdictions

You may already know that the United States has 55 accounting bodies, one in each state and territory. The boards implement the accounting laws and regulations established in each state or territory. Additionally, they set out the specific requirements to obtain your CPA license in that jurisdiction.

The Boards of Accountancy are the actual bodies that issue the CPA license. We often refer to them as "government bodies."


The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is the largest affiliate for professional CPAs. The AICPA determines the content that the CPA exam will cover, writes the questions, and develops the assessment methods.


NASBA, or the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, serves 55 countries. The organization works to establish common accounting practices and helps process a candidate's CPA application form. In addition, while NASBA does not score the exam, it receives scores from many government bodies and publishes and analyzes them.


You will take your CPA exam at a Prometric Testing Center. Prometric has an international network of websites that manage professional exams in a number of areas, including accounting. Prometric has offices in the United States and in over 160 countries. So it's likely that there is a website near you — visit Prometric CPA to find out.

Determine if you are eligible to take the CPA exam

Each Board of Accountancy has slightly different CPA exam requirements. So you need to select the jurisdiction in which you are applying for CPA exam sections based on a few different factors that I will review.

However, you need to know:

  • At the very least, you need a bachelor's degree to take the exam.
  • Many states require you to have completed certain accounting classes.

Many candidates fail to meet the minimum requirements when applying and lose money as a result, so you need to make sure you very carefully review the CPA requirements of the state you intend to sit in.

Once you determine that you are qualified for the exam, you typically fall into one of two scenarios:

First scenario

You know where to register for the CPA license because (1) you lived or worked there, or (2) you plan to live or work there in the near future.

Second scenario

You don't know which state or jurisdiction to apply, in which case you want to discover the popular states for international candidates, non-accounting majors, and mature students.

Choose a credential assessment agency

Note: This step only applies to international candidates.

You are considered an international candidate if you have completed at least one course at a non-US university. Therefore, your status as an international candidate will depend on where you took your courses instead of your nationality.

For example, if you are a German citizen studying in the US, you are considered a “US / domestic” candidate. However, if you are a US citizen who has spent a semester in Singapore, the credits earned from this exchange program must be assessed by the evaluation agency.

Once you've chosen a state or jurisdiction, check out the list of approved credential evaluation agencies. The Boards of Accountancy require a third party agency to "translate" your transcript into something that conforms to the US system.

You can choose an agency based on:

  • Adoption by the board (most important!)
  • Pricing
  • speed

Service (e.g., online status updates provided, turnaround time request)

If it is difficult for you to get the original transcript required for the evaluation, you can choose an agency that is willing to accept a photocopy and verify the authenticity on your behalf. This service costs considerably more, but it can save you a lot of time and hassle.

Find out which evaluation agencies offer this additional service; I have listed several agencies in my full length article discussing foreign credential ratings for CPA.,

You should also note that the NASBA Advisory Evaluation Service (NIES) provides academic evaluation services for students who received their education outside of the United States. A NASBA CPA assessment may be required before taking the exam to ensure that your coursework meets standards.

Submit your CPA application to your state board or NASBA

Before you are ready to sit for any section of the CPA exam, you must first submit an application, some required documents, and application fees.,

Depending on your jurisdiction, apply for the CPA exam either with your Board of Accountancy (or its designated agent) or with NASBA. In principle, the application confirms that you are entitled to take the examination. NASBA will review your application and notify you of the results.

US applicant jurisdictions that address state bodies directly

In some states and territories, CPA candidates must begin the CPA application process by applying for the CPA exam with their Board of Accountancy. If you live in the following regions, contact your board for an application:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • District of Columbia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Dakota

  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • U.S., Virgin Islands
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

Complete the CPA exam form online or submit a hard copy of the form to the State Board. Remember to contact your school and request a transcript which will be sent directly to the State Board., I>

  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • new York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • South carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Also, you need to contact your undergraduate and graduate school (s) and request to get your transcripts directly to your state board.,

    International applicants

    Once you are absolutely certain that the assessment process in Step 2 went smoothly, you can send the CPA exam request to the State Board first. The agency will send the assessment report directly to the state body.

    If you are not sure, wait to get the evaluation report. If the result is not favorable, you can take care of the missing credits before you apply.

    Wait for the result

    Be patient while you wait for the results of your application., Depending on your state and time of year, state boards may take 1 to 12 weeks to process your application and return your results. Large states like California and Illinois take the longest time.

    Once your application is approved, you will receive an email notification from NASBA that your NTS is ready. Simply put, an NTS is a Notice to Schedule, which means that your Board of Accountancy has notified NASBA that you are eligible to take this section of the CPA exam.,

    After receiving the email from NASBA, you can go to the NASBA CPA Candidate website and find, view and print your NTS. You need to print your NTS. And you need to take it to the testing site on your testing day.

    Research CPA study materials

    One of the most important steps in applying for the CPA exam sections is to study!

    Now is a good time to review the CPA Review courses and choose one that fits your background, learning style, and budget.

    Once you've selected a review provider, be sure to research the CPA exam plans as well., The AICPA publishes this document once or twice a year to outline the minimum level of content knowledge required to become a CPA. Therefore, this material is likely to be covered by the CPA exam. However, don't spend too much time researching the blueprints (just get familiar with them) as an excellent CPA review course will cover the blueprints completely.

    It is also important to research the layout of the exam and the type of software used. You want to enroll in a CPA review course that has sample CPA tests because you need to understand how the exam works., You also need to be in control of the various tools and resources that you have access to.

    The AICPA also has sample tests, MCQs, simulations, and written notices for each section on its website. Please note, however, that the AICPA's resources are incredibly limited - you will need a full review course to pass the actual exam.

    7. Check your NTS

    Once your application has been approved and you receive your NTS, you will need to review it. Check very carefully that the name and other information on your NTS matches at least two sets of IDs.,

    There can be only one exception: your middle initial may appear in place of your full middle name. For example, if your NTS reads Stephanie A. Ng but your ID reads Stephanie A. Ng (or vice versa), you're still well on your way.

    You need to bring these IDs to the test center for review; At least one form of ID requires a recent photo (such as a driver's license or government issued ID).

    What if the name on your NTS doesn't match your ID? What if you've changed your name or if your NTS is just wrong? Don't worry — you can contact NASBA and request a corrected reprint.,

    Schedule the CPA exam

    Once you have your NTS in hand, you are ready to start planning your exam. Your NTS is usually good for 6 months, although some jurisdictions give you 9-12 months.

    still don't, put this off before you diligently and forget! You can always go to the Prometric website and schedule your exam before your NTS expires. If you do not have internet access, you can call the Prometric Candidate Services Center directly at 800-580-9648.

    Technically, you can schedule your exam date at the Prometric site up to 5 days before your exam date, but I don't advise you to do so - you'll feel rushed. Instead, try to schedule your exam at least 30-45 days in advance to ensure good dates. That way, you're more likely to secure the test date, time, and location that works best for you.

    Take your exam at an authorized Prometric test center in the United States or a designated international location. You don't necessarily have to take the exam in the jurisdiction where you are applying for a license.

    After you have successfully made an appointment with Prometric, you will receive an email confirmation.,

    CPA exam accommodations

    Some CPA candidates require certain accommodations, e.g. B. ADA related accommodations to take the CPA exam. If you need accommodation it should be approved by your Board of Accountancy first. Once approved, your board will send that approval with the description of the accommodations you need for NASBA. This information will be reflected on your NTS and Prometric will be notified.

    This is crucial: if you have been admitted to the CPA exam with accommodation, do not try to make your prometric appointment online, instead call Prometric directly. The appropriate phone numbers for UN and international locations are listed in NASBA's CPA Candidate Bulletin. (Note that some international locations may not be able to meet certain accommodation requirements.)

    New for 2020: Continuous testing

    If you've come across any old information about the CPA exam, you may notice some references to “testing.” ”Ignore that old information. In the past, you could only take the exam during certain windows of each quarter, but as of July 1, 2020, AICPA and NASBA will switch to "continuous testing," which means you will take the exam all year round.

    However, there are a few exceptions:

    If you take a section of the exam but think you have failed, you will need to wait for your results to be published before you can reschedule that section.

    From time to time, the AICPA will announce plans to make material changes to the content of the CPA exam. In this case, the continuous test may be paused briefly.
    After all, South Carolina won't start offering continuous testing until 2021.,

    Create your study plan

    An excellent curriculum will track your progress and make sure you don't fall behind.

    I'm not going to lie — the CPA exam isn't easy and covers a lot of important materials.

    You have to study. And the only way to make sure you have all of the content covered before your big exam day is to get a study planner. Without these tools, our human tendencies lead us to focus on what is comfortable and that is usually the material you are already familiar with.,

    CPA study materials contain platforms that allow you to create personalized study plans to ensure you have all the skills you need to pass the exam.

    Triple check

    Before the exam day, triple-check your IDs. They must be valid and the name on your ID must match the record on your NTS. And remember that one of your IDs must have a recent photo (like a driver's license or government issued ID).

    Also, if you can, be sure to visit the test center before the day of the exam to estimate driving time, understand traffic conditions and find good parking spaces.,

    And remember- some large metropolitan areas have multiple prometric locations. Confirm that you are going to the test center where you should take your exam. If you show up in the wrong place, you have to go and travel to the right place.

    Sleep early the night before

    Remind yourself that you are ready. Trust is the key! Determine the materials you need to bring to the Prometric site (your IDs and NTS), sleep well, and wake up ready for the exam!

    This is so important that it calls for Caps Lock: DON'T FORGET TO BRING YOUR NTS WITH YOU !, 🙂

    Questions about the CPA exam procedure?

    You can drop me a note on Facebook. However, the best way to get information about the CPA exam is to sign up for my free CPA-E course, which completely covers the CPA process.

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