It comes as no surprise that for most candidates, the biggest obstacle to becoming a certified public accountant is passing the Uniform CPA Examination. But, before you can even step foot in Prometric to take the test, candidates must complete a thorough CPA Exam application process. To make that a little easier, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to apply for the CPA Exam.
1. Apply Through NASBA Or Your State Board
NASBA stands for the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. CPA candidates from 32 jurisdictions must apply for the CPA Exam through NASBA, whereas others apply directly through their state’s Board of Accountancy. Be sure to visit your state’s Board of Accountancy site to confirm which application process you should follow.
Each exam section will have its own fee and there will be a separate application fee anytime you apply to sit for a section. Make sure to only apply for exam sections you can reasonably prepare for before your Notice To Schedule (NTS) expires (expiration is different for each jurisdiction).
Note: The application process varies as state requirements vary. We recommend checking with your state’s Board of Accountancy and NASBA’s candidate bulletin to ensure you’re staying fully up-to-date.
2. Obtain the Necessary Documentation
You will need to submit an official transcript from each school you attended to prove you have completed your education requirements. Transcripts will need to come from your school’s Registrar’s office. A paper copy may be mailed or an electronic version can be sent from the Registrar’s office to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once you submit your CPA Exam application, you have a deadline to send your transcript(s) or your application will be denied and you will forfeit all fees paid. The deadline varies by jurisdiction, so be sure to check NASBA or your State Board of Accountancy.
3. Receive Your Notice To Sit
Once NASBA has determined you are eligible to take the CPA exam, you will receive your NTS, an authorization to test. It can take up to eight weeks to process your application and determine your eligibility, but candidates are usually notified sooner especially if they have previously applied for the exam.
When you receive your NTS, verify that the information listed is correct. If any of that information does not match your personal identification, contact NASBA immediately. Your NTS will have a section ID number. This number is used to identify you and the section you are sitting for. You will need this to schedule your exam date and time, to begin your exam on your test date, and to retrieve your score once it is released by the AICPA.
4. Schedule Your Exam Date
The CPA exam is administered at Prometric Testing Center. To schedule your exam, have your NTS handy and visit prometric.com. You can choose the testing center most convenient for you by using the location tool provided during scheduling. The exam is typically not administered during the last month of every quarter, so be sure to plan accordingly.
You can take any section of the exam, however, you may not sit for the same section more than once during any testing window. It is recommended that you schedule your exam early, as time slots tend to fill up quickly! If you reschedule your exam date/time, you may be subject to a reschedule fee. If you do not cancel or reschedule your exam 5 days before your exam and you fail to show up, you will forfeit all fees.
On your exam date, make sure to bring valid identification and do not forget to bring your NTS to the test center. You will not be allowed to sit for your exam without it. To be safe, plan to arrive at Prometric 15 minutes prior to your appointment time. If you are late for your appointment, you may not be allowed to test.
Being adequately prepared for your exam is the most important part of the process. Make sure to choose the right CPA Review course for your needs and learning style! Good luck!
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Liz Kolar, CPA, CGMA, has been teaching CPA Review for more than 25 years in the United States, has personally taught more than 2,500 live sessions, and has helped thousands of candidates pass the CPA Exam. She founded Pinnacle CPA Review and co-founded Surgent Kolar CPA Review.