CPA FAQs

CPA Exam: Frequently Asked Questions
Source: www.nasba.org (as of July 2010) Those interested in taking the CPA exam should refer to the NASBA website for updates)

How much does the Uniform CPA Examination cost?
The total cost includes application and administration fees in addition to the examination fees. The cost varies for each jurisdiction. Refer to your jurisdiction's application materials for additional information.

Is there a deadline for applying to take the examination?
There is no deadline for submitting your application. Some test centers fill quickly - especially at the end of a testing window. Allow plenty of time for your application/registration to be processed. You cannot schedule your examination until you receive your NTS. You must schedule your appointment at least 5 days in advance; however, it is recommended that you schedule your examination 45 days in advance.

Do I have to apply as a candidate of the jurisdiction in which I live?
No. You can apply to any jurisdiction provided you meet the eligibility requirements. Some jurisdictions have a residency requirement. Refer to the jurisdiction's application materials for additional information.

To which jurisdiction should I apply?
There are many factors that affect this decision. In which jurisdictions are you eligible for the examination? In which jurisdiction do you want to be licensed? In which jurisdiction(s) do you want to practice? If you take the examination in one jurisdiction but want to be licensed in another jurisdiction, are there additional requirements that you will need to meet?

The answers to these questions vary by jurisdiction. In order to make an informed decision, you need to review the license requirements for the jurisdiction in which you want to practice.

What are the eligibility requirements for the examination?
The eligibility requirements vary by jurisdiction. Each jurisdiction has specific requirements regarding education, experience and residency. Please, refer to your jurisdiction's application materials for additional information.

Will the eligibility requirements change when the examination content changes in 2011?
Changes in examination content by the AICPA have no affect on eligibility requirements which are jurisdiction specific and are determined by the board of accountancy in each jurisdiction.

What is a "testing window?"
The computer-based examination is available during specific periods called testing windows. The first two months of each calendar quarter is an open testing window. The third month of each calendar quarter is closed for testing.

How many testing windows are there in a year?
There is one testing window in each calendar quarter for a total of four testing windows each year.

How often can I take the examination?
You may take each section up to one time per testing window. Candidates will not be permitted to take the same section more than once during any given testing window.

Am I required to take the sections in any particular order?
No. You may take each section in any order.

Am I required to pass one section prior to applying to take another?
No. You may take any section in any order.

How long will my Notice To Schedule be valid?
Your NTS will be valid for a specific amount of time. This time varies by jurisdiction. Please, refer to the Candidate Bulletin or your jurisdiction's application materials for additional information.

You must sit for the examination before your NTS expires. If you do not sit for the examination within the established time frame, your NTS will be invalid and you will need to submit a new application and/or registration to receive a new NTS. The NTS expiration date is included on the NTS.

What is a "Notice To Schedule" and when will I receive mine?
The Notice To Schedule (NTS), is your notification that you may begin scheduling your examination with Prometric. The NTS includes your examination identification number and a "password" you will need to launch the examination. You will also be required to present your NTS at the testing center before beginning your examination. You will not be admitted to the testing center without your NTS.

After your application has been completely processed, your NTS will be sent to you by your preferred contact method (as requested on your application). All fees must be paid prior to the release of your NTS.

Do I have to sit for all 4 sections in the same window?
No. There is no minimum number of sections that must be completed in a testing window. You may take any section in any order.

I lost my Notice To Schedule. What do I do?
If you received your NTS via e-mail and still have your original message, you can print another copy. If you received your NTS via U.S. mail, contact NASBA to request a reprint. You will not be permitted to enter the test center without a valid NTS.

Remember, NASBA personnel may not be available evenings, weekends or holidays.

Where can I find information on the content of the examination?
The AICPA has provided a tutorial and sample questions which are available at www.cpa-exam.org. A Content Specification Outline is also available on the "How to Prepare" page at www.cpa-exam.org.

I heard the examination content will be changing. When will that happen?
The examination content changes on January 1, 2011. Beginning on that date, all candidates will be tested on the new content; there is no transition period.

There are no changes to the credit rules. If you pass a section prior to January 1, 2011 and have valid credit, you will not have to retake that section unless the credit expires before you pass all four sections.

Changes in examination content by the AICPA have no affect on eligibility requirements which are jurisdiction specific and are determined by the board of accountancy in each jurisdiction.

Where can I find information on the content of the 2011 examination?
The Content Specification Outline is available on the "How to Prepare" page at www.cpa-exam.org.

How long do I have to pass all four sections of the examination?
This varies for each jurisdiction. Your State Accountancy Board determines if credit is granted and the length of time credit is valid. Most jurisdictions allow a maximum of 18 months to pass all remaining sections in order to retain credit on the passed section(s).

My conditional credit expires soon. What is the last day I can sit without losing credit?
You have until the end of testing on the day your credit expires. When scheduling your examination, remember some testing centers are not open on weekends or holidays. For some jurisdictions, the expiration date for conditional credit may fall in a non-testing month.

I have conditional credit. What happens when the examination content changes in 2011?
There are no changes to the credit rules. If you pass a section prior to January 1, 2011 and have valid credit, you will not have to retake that section unless your credit expires before you pass all four sections.

What if a conflict arises after I have scheduled an appointment to take the examination?
You may cancel or reschedule your appointment by contacting Prometric. There is no fee for canceling or rescheduling an appointment at least 30 days in advance.

If you cancel or reschedule between 5 and 30 days before your appointment, you must pay a fee directly to Prometric. If you reschedule within 5 days of your appointment, you will be required to pay the full Prometric testing fee for the section you are rescheduling. See the Candidate Bulletin for additional information regarding these fees.

You can NOT make any changes to your appointment less than 24 hours in advance. You will have to contact the Board/agency to which you applied originally to register again.

May I take the examination outside of my jurisdiction?
Yes. You may schedule your examination at any Prometric site in any of the 54 jurisdictions.

Are there any restrictions on taking the examination outside of my jurisdiction?
There are no restrictions on taking the examination outside of your jurisdiction.

However, a person may not be a candidate for more than one jurisdiction at the same time and will not be able to bypass a jurisdiction's educational or licensing requirements by taking the examination outside of the jurisdiction in which he or she is seeking to become licensed.

What is the cost of taking the examination outside my jurisdiction?
There is an additional surcharge for candidates testing at the Guam Test Center. Refer to the Candidate Bulletin for additional information.

There are no additional fees for testing at any other test center outside your jurisdiction.

How do I arrange to sit?
After you receive your Notice To Schedule (NTS), you need to contact Prometric through their web site and arrange for a seat at the examination site of your choice. You should schedule as far in advance as possible and must schedule at least 5 days in advance. To increase the likelihood that you will receive your first choice for site location and time, you should schedule your examination 45 days in advance.

Your NTS is valid for a specific amount of time which varies by state. If you do not sit by the expiration date on the NTS, that NTS is invalid and cannot be used. Each NTS covers more than one testing window and includes dates that are not open for testing. Plan your examination schedule carefully.

We strongly recommend that you read the Candidate Bulletin and take the candidate tutorial. These are both located on the NASBA website.

What if I have an emergency and cannot attend my examination appointment?
If the emergency occurs more than 24 hours prior to your examination appointment, contact Prometric to cancel or reschedule your appointment. If you have a hardship or medical situation that precludes you from sitting, please, contact NASBA immediately and request an extension. Extensions are determined on a case by case basis and require documentation.

Do I have to sit in the same state to which I applied?
No. You can sit at any testing center.

I received my Notice To Schedule but my information is incorrect or has changed. What do I do?
Contact the office/agency to which you submitted your application. You must have a corrected NTS to be admitted to the examination. No changes can be made to your NTS less than 5 days prior to your appointment.

When should I expect to receive my scores?
Scores are released by the AICPA to NASBA in two waves each testing window. The first wave is typically in the middle of the second month of the testing window. All scores are released by the AICPA by the first week of the next window.

Score reporting in waves means that candidates who test in the first month of a testing window MAY qualify for an earlier release of scores, depending on the examination content administered to them, the examination volume and the distribution of examinees within the testing window. Given these factors, it is impossible to tell in advance which candidates and how many will qualify for early score release.

After the AICPA releases scores to NASBA, they are forwarded to boards of accountancy for approval and release to candidates. Boards of accountancy determine the actual score release schedule. Candidates should note, however, that all scores may not be released at the same time. Additionally, candidates who test on the same day may receive scores at different times due to differences in necessary quality control procedures.

Where can I find more information on the Diagnostic Report I received with my score notice?
Refer to the FAQs available at www.cap-exam.org.

Where can I find the pass rate for the examination?
This information is available at www.cpa-exam.org.

I believe an error was made in scoring my examination. What are my options?
There is a Score Review and Score Appeal process available in many jurisdictions. For additional information, refer to the FAQs available at www.cpa-exam.org.

I have not received my score but I know someone who sat after me and has received his score. What is the problem?
There are many factors that determine when scores are released. These factors include: the examination content included in your administration, the examination volume and the distribution of examinees in the testing window.

NASBA releases scores to the jurisdictional boards when they are received from the AICPA. The individual boards ultimately determine the score release schedule for their jurisdiction.

Where is the examination administered?
The examination is administered at Prometric test centers in 54 U.S. jurisdictions, which include the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

There is a surcharge for testing in Guam. For additional information, refer to the Candidate Bulletin.

Is the examination offered outside the U.S.?
The AICPA and NASBA are currently considering making the U.S. (America) CPA Examination available at test sites overseas through our current computerized test site vendor, Prometric. The decisions to do so and the location of test centers are expected to be made in 2010. When the decision is made, it will be announced on the Exams website at www.cpa-exam.org well ahead of the implementation date.

Until then, the examination is available at test centers in the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.