There are many steps that you need to meet to become a CPA. Once you’ve met the educational requirements for your state, your next step is to schedule the exam. Scheduling and taking the exam can be confusing, especially the first time that you take it. Below are some helpful hints for you to follow to take the CPA exam.
Where to Take the CPA Exam
You will take the CPA exam at a local Prometric Testing Center. Prometric is a private company that administers a variety of professional exams, including the CPA exam.
Tests are taken through their secure computer system. With 8,000 testing centers located in over 160 countries, there should be one close to you.
Applying to Take the CPA Exam
To schedule your first CPA exam, you must have completed the application process in the state (or territory) that you are planning to be licensed in. Since it can take time for your application to be approved, it’s helpful to start this process when you are close to finishing your educational requirements.
Depending upon where you plan to sit for the exam, the steps may be different. The overall process, however, is as follows;
- Verify that you’ve met the state’s requirements to sit for the exam. You can check your state’s requirements by visiting the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, or NASBA, here.
- Finish your application and send in all required documents
- Pay the application fee
What is a Notice to Schedule?
Once your application is approved, you will receive a Notice to Schedule, or NTS, from NASBA. You must have an NTS to schedule to take any section of the CPA exam. Be sure to check the NTS closely for any spelling errors in your name and to make sure that it agrees with what’s listed on your identification.
If you have any discrepancy between the NTS and your identification, you could get turned away on the exam day.
Schedule the CPA Exam
The CPA exam consists of 4 parts that are administered throughout the year based on “testing windows.” The American Institute of Public Accountants, commonly known as the AICPA, lists the testing window dates as follows;
- Q1 – January 1 – March 10
- Q2 – April 1 – June 10
- Q3 – July 1 – September 10
- Q4 – October 1 – December 10
Once you receive your NTS, you should schedule at least one section of the exam as soon as possible. There may be times when an exam day is cancelled due to bad weather. If you are scheduled early enough in the testing window, you may be able to reschedule to take the test if your exam date is cancelled.
The CPA Exam is made up of 4 parts which are:
- Business Environments and Concepts
- Auditing and Attestation
- Financial Accounting and Reporting
You are not required to take the 4 parts in any order which means you can choose which one to start with. However, not all parts are given in every testing window so it’s important to coordinate your studying to correspond with the section(s) you plan to take.
To schedule your exam date, you will visit the Prometric website. Here you will go through the following steps:
- Step 1 – Agree to the testing terms
- Step 2 – Enter your name and NTS
- Step 3 – Pick testing location and time
- Step 4 – Schedule your exam
Tips for Taking Prometric CPA Exam
There are a few things you can do to make it easier on yourself when taking the CPA exam.
Choose the Best Location
Choosing a location that is close to where you live or in an area that you are familiar with can cut down the stress of getting there on exam day. If you do take the exam in a city that is not familiar to you, take a test ride out there to see how long it takes you and to make sure you know how to get there.
Be sure to take into account traffic that you might encounter on your way to the test site. If it’s a heavily travelled area, you might want to leave earlier to ensure that you won’t be late.
Choosing When to Schedule the CPA Exam
When scheduling a day to take the exam, it’s best to do this as early in the testing window as you can. In the event your exam day is cancelled, there may still be enough time to reschedule in that window. If you miss the window, you will need to take it again in the following period.
Exams are available Monday through Friday. Choosing which day is best for you comes down to personal preference.
Bring ID to the CPA Exam
You will be required to show your NTS and 2 forms of identification. Identification must be a valid government-issued ID. The name on your NTS must agree with your ID.
Food and drink are not allowed in the testing facility, so it’s recommended that you eat before you arrive. If you are unsure about how to get to the testing facility, print out and bring directions.
You will be asked to arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of the exam. This will give you enough time to test the equipment to make sure that it’s working properly.
Reschedule the CPA Exam
If you need to reschedule the CPA exam, you can do this online. You may have to pay a fee to reschedule, so it’s best to do this as soon as possible.
|Up to 30 days before the exam||No charge|
|Up to 5 days before the exam||$35 fee|
|Between 1 and 4 days before the exam||Entire exam fee|
|Day of exam||No reschedule option|
Conclusion – Be Prepared for Your CPA Exam
Once you’ve scheduled yourself to take a section, be sure that you have enough time to fully prepare for the exam. Whether you are taking an online review course or using practice tests to study, you need to make sure that you devote your time and attention to passing the exam.