How the Exam Works

About the Exam

Anyone wishing to become a U.S. Certified Public Accountant must take and pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. The CPA Exam is developed, maintained and scored by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and administered at Prometric test centers in partnership with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).

There are over 10,000 Prometric test sites in 160 countries.

The 14-hour exam consists of four separate exams that you must pass within 18 months:

  • Auditing and Attestation (4 hours)
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (4 hours)
  • Regulation (3 hours)
  • Business Environment and Concepts (3 hours)

The CPA Exam usually includes 72 to 90 multiple-choice questions as well as simulation questions that replicate workplace situations and require your knowledge and experience to answer.

The CPA Exam is Changing: Learn More by Viewing Our New Infographic

When Is the CPA Exam Offered?

Exams are held the first two months of each calendar quarter. These are often referred to as “testing windows”:

  • January 1 – February 28 (or 29, if it is a leap year)
  • April 1 – May 31
  • July 1 – August 31
  • October 1 – November 30

NASBA recommends you schedule the test 45 days in advance to ensure your space. Scheduling must be done at least 5 days before a test. You may take any or all of the sections on your scheduled test day. However, you may not repeat a section more than once each quarter. If you do not pass a part, you have to schedule to retake the exam in the next testing window.

To register for the exam, contact your State Board of Accountancy. Once your application has been processed, you will receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS). At that time, you may contact Prometric to schedule your exam session. Learn more about the CPA Exam application process.

Passing Scores

To pass the exam, you must score at least a 75 in each of the four sections of the exam.

The AICPA grades each exam and send the results to your State Board of Accountancy. The State Board will send you your results.

Typically, the AICPA will process test results and release scores within 30 days of your test date. Results are then sent to your State Board of Accountancy. Most individuals receive their results from NASBA within a week or so. Click here to learn more about CPA Exam scoring.

For International Students

Are you an international student interested in taking the Uniform CPA Exam? Or, perhaps you’re an American citizen living abroad or going to school in a foreign country. NASBA (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy) now provides the opportunity for international administration to take the Uniform CPA Examination in Japan, Brazil, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. In order to sit for the exam, you’ll have to meet certain criteria.

In order to qualify to take the CPA Examination outside the United States, you will have to establish your eligibility through a State Board participating in the International CPA Examination Administration program.

First, select the participating U.S. jurisdiction you wish to apply to. Then, contact the Board of Accountancy in that jurisdiction to obtain application materials, submit completed applications and pay required fees. Once you are deemed qualified, you can register for the examination. After receiving the Notice to Schedule, you may then register to take the examination in an international location through a participating state board. Your other option is to take the exam in the United States.

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With bite-sized lectures that can be viewed on-demand and software that offers thousands of practice questions and simulations, you can feel confident for the CPA Exam.
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