Becoming a licensed Certified Public Accountant is one of life’s most fulfilling achievements. While the uniform CPA test is one of the most challenging professional tests, the application process can be just as confusing and daunting at times.
There are several steps you will need to take before you can even apply to take the CPA exam. After you complete those steps, there are several more steps just to complete the application process. Yes, it is that confusing.
Don’t worry. We are here to help! The CPA exam application process varies from one state to state, but a majority of the steps are the same no matter which jurisdiction you are looking to apply in.
Let’s check out the main steps you will need to complete in order to apply for the CPA exam in your state. Plus, we have some CPA exam registration tips at the end of the article. Let’s jump in.
7 Steps to Apply for the CPA Exam
Applying to sit for the CPA exam is an involved process with several different steps. They can be confusing and can’t be done out of order.
Here are the 7 main steps to successfully complete your CPA exam application process.
- Check your eligibility
- Mail in your transcripts
- Mail in your application and fees
- Obtain your ATT
- Get Your NTS
- Schedule your exam date with Prometric
- Take the exam
Check Your CPA Exam Eligibility Requirements
The CPA examination process starts with checking out if they are eligible to sit for the CPA exam. Eligibility varies from state to state in the US. State boards set out requirements that applicants must fulfill to be allowed into a testing center.
Some of the basic requirements that applicants must fulfill in most states include:
- Have a social security number
- Have attained a specific age
- Be a US citizen
- Be a state resident
In addition to the basic requirements, each state comes with different CPA education requirements that applicants must fulfill. While most states require at least a bachelor’s degree in business or accounting, others call for at least 120 hours of college education with a heavy concentration on accounting. Also, some states require applicants to be a certain amount of hours to graduate.
Given the disparity in education requirements, it is important to contact the state board to see what conditions are needed to qualify for the exam.
Once everything checks out from the basic requirements to education requirements, the CPA exam application process can start.
Mail Your Official College Transcripts to Your State Board
If you meet the state’s entire basic eligibility requirement, the next step entails ordering and sending all education transcripts to the state board of accountancy for verification. It is important to send every school transcript, including junior colleges, to community colleges and universities.
Once the board receives the transcripts, they would keep them in the file awaiting application. While some people apply for the CPA exam, then send the education transcripts that are usually not the procedure. The board can only review an application once all the education transcripts are filed, and then an application is made.
Even if you are not planning to apply for the CPA exam, it is wise to send the transcripts much earlier as they will be filled waiting for the application in the future.
Complete Your CPA Exam Application and Pay the Fees
Once all the education transcripts are filled with the board, you can move forth and fill out the exam application form. The short-form application form comes with a bunch and personal and educational questions that must be filled out.
You can get this application form from your state board or through the NASBA website. It’s a pretty simple form.
Once everything is filled out, you can send the form, followed by the CPA application fees. While most states come with different application fees, they normally vary at around $150. Once the application form and the fees are sent, wait for the board to communicate in a few weeks.
Obtain Your Authorization to Test (ATT)
If everything checks out, once the board reviews your application, they will issue you an Authorization to Test. The ATT is simply a go-ahead to sign up for a CPA exam in the state and is usually valid for 90 days upon the date of issuance. After 90 days, you will have to pay a $150 application fee to renew the ATT.
Once a state board issues the ATT, you will have to decide which CPA section exam to take. Once you chose a section you wish to take, you will have to login into the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy account pay for the exam section fees.
While different states come with varying exam fees, they mostly range between $180 and $250. While paying the exam fees, it is important to note that you can only pay for section exams you intend to take within six months. If the limit is exceeded, the paid exam fees will be lost, and you will have to pay a fresh.
Therefore it is practically not a good idea to pay for all the section exam fees as it is impossible to sit for all four at once.
Get Your Notice to Schedule (NTS)
The NASBA takes about four weeks to issue a Notice to Schedule once everything is filled and exam fees paid. The NTS is normally sent by mail and is a legal document that gives an applicant the green light to take the exam.
The document comes with login keys that one must use to log into the Prometric website to schedule an exam date.
Schedule an Exam Date with Prometric
With the login credentials, log into the Prometric testing center website and schedule your CPA exam date. While scheduling the exam, you will need your NTS and the testing center’s location from where you wish to take the exam.
Testing centers vary in size, and the smaller ones get full faster. Therefore, if you wish to take the test in a close center, scheduling much earlier is essential.
Remember, you can schedule your exam at any Prometric testing center in any state. It doesn’t matter where you live or what state you are applying for your CPA license. Yow can take the exam at any testing center.
Take the Exam
To avoid surprises on the exam date, it is important to visit the Prometric center a day or two before the exam date. This would be the perfect time to familiarize yourself with the directions to the building, the building layout, and the examination room itself.
This is always a good idea if you are going to a testing center you have never been to before. Prometric is very strict on their punctuality rules. You do not want to be late for your exam time because of traffic or construction. Otherwise, you may forfeit your seat and have to reschedule again.
On the exam date, simply show up about an hour early to avoid any inconvenience and remember to show up at the NTS examination center and two valid forms of ID. The name on the id must match the name on the NTS. If you don’t have these three documents, they will not let you in to take the exam.
Once you get through the testing center security, take a deep breathe and ace the CPA exam.
CPA Exam Application/Registration Tips to Remember
Before you get starting applying for the CPA exam. Here are a few CPA exam application tips that will help you speed up the process.
- While scheduling a CPA exam, it is important to remember that you can schedule your testing dates at any Prometric testing center in any state regardless where you are applying for a license.
- You can only take the CPA exam in one state at a time.
- Once you take the first CPA section exam, you have 18 months to pass the remaining three sections.
- CPA exam applications can be submitted at any time of the year
It’s Study Time
Now that you have all the info you need to start your CPA exam application, you need to start studying. The sooner you start your study process, the more prepared you will be on your exam day.
Trust me. You don’t want to procrastinate. Start your CPA exam study schedule now!