For any aspiring certified public accountant, passing the CPA exam is one of the biggest hurdles you can face. If you are not aware of the necessary prerequisites required to secure a pass, then even applying for this essential exam can seem overwhelming. However, things do not have to be this way. Let’s discover 3 important things to consider when applying for your CPA exam, that can make the process easier.
In order to apply for the CPA exam, it is important to first check that you are qualified to do so. Depending on your location, there are a number of state requirements that must be met. CPA certificates and licenses are granted by the individual state accounting boards, so the rules can seem confusing at first. You must register and apply for your CPA exam and license in the state you plan to work in. With this in mind, if you meet the following basic qualifications, then you are unlikely to encounter any difficulties in the process of registering for your CPA exam.
Firstly, you must be a US citizen, over the age of 18. Secondly, you must have attended, or currently attend, a US accredited college or university with a concentration in accounting. Thirdly you must have, or currently be working towards, a 150-semester hour degree such as a master’s degree in accounting or business. Finally, you must work, or plan on working, in the accounting industry. There are also some additional state specific requirements, so it is advisable to read more about these if necessary.
2. Complete Your Application Documents
Once you are certain that you meet all eligibility criteria in your state, you must then order and send in all official school transcripts. Once this is complete, you can submit your CPA exam application and pay the application fee. In most states, you will then receive your Authorization to Test (ATT) from your State Board which gives you 90 days to decide which sections of the exam you want to take.
After 3-6 weeks, you should then receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS). An NTS is typically valid for 6 months, but state specific exceptions can sometimes apply. Now is the time to schedule your exam(s). Simply follow the onscreen instructions to choose the date, location, and section(s) of the exam(s) you wish to sit. Aim to schedule CPA exam dates carefully so that you have plenty of time to prepare.
3. Begin Preparations
Once you have made your exam booking, beginning your preparations is crucial. After passing your first section of the CPA exam, you have 18 months to pass the remaining 3 sections. With this in mind, there is no reason why you cannot start preparing early. Aspiring accountants sometimes fall into the trap of waiting for their NTS to arrive before beginning their revision, but this can waste valuable study time that could be used to get ahead on less familiar topics.
Not sure where to begin? Some people find that CPA exam review courses are a useful resource. CPA exam review courses typically contain all the material you need to know to pass and can even use adaptive learning technology to tailor your study sessions to a schedule that not only meets your needs, but allows you to work on any gaps in your understanding. In the long run, this can even save you time that would otherwise be spent on topics you already understand. Above all, there are a broad selection of CPA exam review courses available, so before you decide on any particular course, make sure to do some research beforehand.
Ultimately, understanding how the CPA exam process works is an important part of ensuring your test days go smoothly. Double check your details when completing any necessary documents and forms and remember to always plan your study schedule with exam dates in mind.
If you are fascinated by all things accounting and finance, check out this article about the importance of additional qualifications for accountants.