How Many Times Can You Take The CPA Exam

Last Updated on September 9, 2022

How many times can you take the CPA exam? The short answer is each state board of accountancy has a different limit for how many times someone can take the exam. In general, most state boards allow you to take the exam 3 times in one 18 month period or 5 times in your life. 

Can you take the CPA exam more than once? Find out how many times you can retake the CPA exam. Learn strategies on how to prepare for each section such as AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG. In addition, here is our article that discusses the most common reasons why candidates fail the CPA exam. And you can also learn how hard the CPA exam can be here.

If you pass the CPA Exam and register, you can take it again in one year. If you pass, then you have to wait 60 days before retaking the exam again. After you’ve passed the exam, you can take it 6 more times within 4 years. The CPA Exam consists of 4 test parts. You can take each part multiple times . And after the exam, you must complete 300 hours of relevant work experience before taking the exam again. Take advantage of our free study resources with free CPA Exam practice exams!

The CPA exam is a grueling process that consists of 4 sections (Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, Regulation) that are taken sequentially over a two day period. Recently I spoke with someone who was taking the exam for the 3rd time. She told me about how she studied for over 1000 hours for her first 2 attempts. She then explained how she went to so many review classes that she swore off from ever taking another class again. No matter what she did though, she passed none of those 3 exams. None of them!

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When the average person takes the CPA exam, they want to get it done and over with within one sitting. However, taking the CPA exam is no short test, and you can only take it three times in a 18 month period. But thanks to our method, you can take it as many times as you’d like. To see for yourself how you can extend your eligibility for the CPA exam, click on the following article link:

How Hard is the
CPA Exam in 2022?

What you’ll learn here:

How hard is the CPA Exam, really?

• How many times can you take the CPA Exam?

What makes the CPA Exam so hard?

• What is the hardest part of the CPA Exam?

• What is the hardest section of the CPA Exam?

• Sample CPA Exam questions

• What is the hardest type of question on the CPA Exam?

How time makes the CPA Exam hard

• What if I don’t pass in 18 months?

• How long is the CPA Exam?

• How long does it take to pass the CPA Exam?

Why is the CPA Exam so hard?

• History of the CPA Exam

• Purpose of the CPA Exam

• Changes in the field of accounting

Yes, the CPA Exam is hard. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pass it!

How hard is the CPA Exam, really?


Hard may be an understatement. CPA Exam pass rates hover slightly below 50%. This makes passing the CPA Exam a difficult, but achievable, goal—an accomplishment to be proud of. You’ll need to study wisely, set a strategy for managing your time, and call on your support network. Red more about How hard is the CPA Exam, here?

The CPA Exam is hard, but with the right plan and good study materials, you will conquer it.

How many times can you take the CPA Exam?

The AICPA does not have a limit on the number of times you may take the CPA Exam. And with a pass rate of ~50%, steep examination requirements, and regularly updating materials, many candidates will find themselves taking one or more sections multiple times on their path to the CPA certification.

What makes the CPA Exam so hard?


The CPA Exam is so difficult because:

 The exam covers a variety of topics at different skill levels.
 It tests the topics using multiple question types, including some question types that simulate real-world tasks CPAs are expected to do.
 Each section is timed.
 You have a limited amount of time (18 months from when you pass your first section) to pass all four sections.

What is the hardest part of the CPA Exam?

The hardest topic on the CPA Exam is going to vary depending on your background. While many candidates find government accounting to be the most difficult, you may consider property transactions or consolidated entities to be the most challenging, for example.

Ultimately, it isn’t any one topic that makes the CPA Exam difficult—it’s the sheer scope of the exam in its entirety. The CPA Exam has 18 content areas divided into four sections. Within those content areas are approximately 600 representative tasks. Each task represents a key knowledge or skill required of CPAs, and these tasks are judged at different difficulties.

Complex structure

The CPA Exam is divided into the following four sections:

 Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
 Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)

 Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
 Regulation (REG)

The four sections have their own content areas, and each content area makes up a different percentage of that section’s exam. While some sections have more content areas than others, the number of content areas does not directly match the number of topics a section covers. For instance, BEC has 5 content areas but only around 70 tasks, whereas FAR has 4 content areas and nearly 200 tasks.

THE  SOLUTION 


Gleim CPA Review takes all the guess work out of the representative tasks.

Each question and simulation in our test bank has been crafted to test different tasks at their respective knowledge levels. And our SmartAdapt™ technology will monitor your progress on each of these content areas and ensure you see the materials you need to see to be prepared on exam day.

The content areas for each section are:

AUD Content
around 160 Representative Tasks
AREAPERCENTAGETASKS*
Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, and General Principles15-25%40
Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Response20-30%45
Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence30-40%40
Forming Conclusions and Reporting15-25%35
FAR Content
around 195 Representative Tasks
AREAPERCENTAGETASKS*
Conceptual Framework, Standard-Setting, and Financial Reporting25-35%55
Select Financial Statement Accounts30-40%60
Select Transactions20-30%40
State and Local Governments5-15%40
BEC Content
around 75 Representative Tasks
AREAPERCENTAGETASKS*
Corporate Governance17-27%15
Economic Concepts and Analysis17-27%10
Financial Management11-21%20
Information Technology15-25%15
Operations Management15-25%15
REG Content
around 185 Representative Tasks
AREAPERCENTAGETASKS*
Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, and Federal Tax Procedures10-20%20
Business Law10-20%35
Federal Taxation of Property Transactions12-22%30
Federal Taxation of Individuals15-25%20
Federal Taxation of Entities28-38%80

*Task counts are approximate.

What is the hardest section of the CPA Exam?

Every candidate is going to bring his or her own background and skills to the exam, so each candidate’s experience will be different.

That said, FAR is the section that usually causes candidates the most trouble. And with nearly 200 Representative Tasks, the breadth of FAR will require you to learn the most information in order to be prepared.

Tested skill levels

While memorization may have been enough for passing CPA Exam versions in the past, the modern CPA Exam expects more from candidates. The current exam version will compel you to reach a greater comprehension of accounting topics by featuring questions that assess you for higher levels of knowledge and skill.

The CPA Exam Blueprint, an outline of the topics that can appear on the CPA Exam, includes representative tasks that the AICPA has determined are critical for newly licensed CPAs to understand. The CPA Exam incorporates these tasks into its questions, and the AICPA has assigned one of the following four skill levels to each of the tasks.

Remembering and Understanding requires the lowest amount of skill, while Evaluation requires the highest amount.

To reach the Analysis and Evaluation levels, you must answer the “so what” questions: explain why something is important or not important. CPA Exam questions that ask you to reconcile, conclude, or evaluate scenarios address the higher skill levels.

Skills levels on the CPA Exam

Sample CPA Exam questions

These CPA Exam sample questions demonstrate some of the range in difficulty that these skill levels test

Only AUD will test you at the Evaluation level, but all of the exam sections will test you at the Analysis level.

While each section of the CPA Exam has its own content areas and topics, they are divided into similar testlets. The 5 testlets are made up of multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations. BEC contains written communications in addition to task-based simulations.

SectionRemembering and UnderstandingApplicationAnalysisEvaluation
AUD30%-40%30%-40%15%-25%5%-15%
BEC15%-25%50%-60%*20%-30%
FAR10%-20%50%-60%25%-35%
REG25%-35%35%-45%25%-35%

 
*Includes written communication

Different types of questions

The AICPA uses different types of questions to test its material. To ensure your success on the CPA Exam, you’ll need to have experience with each type of question prior to sitting for the exam.

Multiple-choice questions (MCQs)

On the CPA Exam, multiple-choice questions contain a question stem and four answer choices. Three of the answer choices are known as distractors. These are tricky because they are based on common errors or misconceptions. The correct answer will be the best response to the question stem.

Task-based simulations (TBSs)

Task-based simulations are designed to mimic common tasks that accountants face. These include preparing journal entries, correcting memos or emails, researching regulations and laws, and collecting data from different sources.

Many TBSs will require you to use different exhibits provided in the simulation to collect the data needed to complete a given task.

Taking the CPA exam is not just about knowing accounting terms and learning how to apply them correctly. It’s also about knowing how the exam works, what makes you smarter in regard to the test, and how to manage your time.

THE  SOLUTION


Gleim CPA Review ensures you will face no surprises on exam day. With 10,000 multiple-choice questions modeled after actual AICPA questions and with over 1,300 simulations just like those you’ll see on the exam, you can be certain that you’ll be well prepared for even the most difficult questions on the CPA Exam.

Written communications (WCs)

Completing a written communication involves writing a response to a scenario in the form of a business memo that addresses the needs and concerns of the designated party in the manner that a CPA in the field would do. These tasks are graded on writing skill as well as the content and legality of your answer.

At first glance, WCs may seem intimidating, but successful candidates report that these questions are fairly straightforward to answer. The key is managing your time on the exam and ensuring you have enough of it when you get to this testlet.

Since only the final testlet of BEC has WCs, you’ll need to plan your time allocation around the increased time these questions can require.

Question Types on the CPA Exam
SectionAUDBECFARREG
Testlet 136 MCQs31 MCQs33 MCQs38 MCQs
Testlet 23 MCQs31 MCQs33 MCQs38 MCQs
Testlet 32 TBSs2 TBSs2 TBSs2 TBSs
Testlet 43 TBSs2 TBSs3 TBSs3 TBSs
Testlet 53 TBSs3 WCs3 TBSs3 TBSs
Total MCQs72626676
Total TBSs8488
Total WCs0300

What is the hardest type of question on the CPA Exam?

The task-based simulations are the most difficult part of the exam for most candidates. These questions require candidates to interpret information from multiple sources and complete multiple tasks using that information. Additionally, the fact that they come after both MCQ testlets means you’re already well into your exam time and mental fatigue may have begun to set in.

How time makes the CPA Exam hard


The CPA Exam has two time limits, and both affect the difficulty of the exam. The first time limit you will face is the four-hour duration of each section’s exam. After you pass your first section, you’ll encounter the second time limit: the 18 months your passing score remains valid for.

The first time limit: beating the exam clock

When you sit down for the CPA Exam, you’ll see a small countdown clock in the top-left corner of your screen.

Once you are through the five-minute introductory screens, your exam will begin and the timer will begin to countdown from four hours. This countdown will be one of your greatest enemies during the exam. You have to really manage your time well if you want to finish within the allotted time and pass the exam.

The longest exam, REG, has 76 MCQs and 8 TBSs, and the shortest, BEC, has 62 MCQs, 4 TBSs, and 3 WCs.

Your task is to answer each of these questions to the best of your ability. But having a time limit means you’ll need to prioritize answering every question over scrutinizing each question individually.

To make matters worse, during the CPA Exam, you will not be able to return to testlets once you have completed them. It is vital to plan your time in each testlet because any extra time you have at the end of the exam is wasted.

THE  SOLUTION


Because the CPA Exam’s time limit is not divided between testlets for you, it is important to plan your test time before you sit for the exam.

The Gleim Time Management System sets time goals for each testlet of the CPA Exam. By following our time allocation recommendations, you can ensure you have enough time for each question in every testlet.

The second time limit: passing all 4 sections within 18 months

Once you have passed your first section of the CPA Exam, a new timer begins counting down. You have 18 months to pass the remaining three sections of the CPA Exam; if you do not pass them all, you’ll lose credit for the first section you passed.

This adds additional stress to every stage of your exam process. Managing this stress, creating a study plan, and adjusting your plans for setbacks is part of passing the CPA Exam.

Time-management and project management are key skills for accountants to possess. By including multiple time limits on the CPA Exam, the AICPA tests your ability to manage time and maintain accuracy and focus.

THE  SOLUTION


The CPA Exam’s 18-month time limit makes it critical to plan ahead.

With Gleim’s Study Planner and Personal Counselors, you’ll have the tools you need to plan your exam schedule. An ideal schedule will be flexible enough for emergencies and additional hurdles—but firm enough for goal setting.

Gleim’s Personal Counselors have helped candidates pass over a million CPA Exams, so you can rely on their expertise.

What if I don’t pass in 18 months?

Within 18 months of passing your first CPA Exam section, you must have passed all four sections or you will lose credit for that first section.Then, you must pass any remaining sections and any section(s) you lost credit for within 18 months of the oldest section you still have credit for.

EXAMPLE: On November 2, you take BEC and pass. Subsequently, you take and pass FAR on February 23, and REG on April 4. If you fail to pass AUD by May 1 the following year, you will lose credit for BEC, and on August 23, if you have not yet passed AUD and re-passed your first BEC, you will lose credit for FAR.

How long is the CPA Exam?

The CPA Exam is made up of four sections and each section includes four hours of testing time and one hour of time for administration and security. The exam is offered in multiple testing windows around the year, and scores only remain valid for 18 months.

In other words, the CPA Exam is a long exam, and this time investment makes every aspect of it that much harder.

The time invested into the CPA Exam will come in two main chunks: studying for the exam and taking the exam.

Time spent studying for the CPA Exam

Studying for the CPA Exam is a time-consuming process. Every candidate’s experience will be different. We’ve seen candidates pass with as little as 80 hours of study time per section, and we’ve seen others need 180. The study time you need can be influenced by factors such as how familiar you are with the material, how long it’s been since you earned your degree, and how long ago you last studied for a serious exam. Ultimately, planning your study schedule is just another aspect of the difficulty of the CPA Exam. If you invest too little time, you risk poorly covering key topics. Invest too much, and you could begin forgetting topics covered near the beginning of your studies.

How long does it take to pass the CPA Exam?

The average CPA candidate may need 6-12 months to pass the entire CPA Exam. This could vary depending on:

  • How familiar you are with the material.
  • How much time has passed since you earned your degree.
  • How many relevant skills you apply in your day to day work.
  • How much time you have to study.
  • How long you can concentrate in one sitting.
Testing windows

The CPA Exam is offered in multiple testing periods, or windows. You will only be able to sit for exam sections during the four annual testing windows, but you can take more than one exam in any given window.

Each testing window includes the first two months of the quarter and the first ten days of the third month.

Q1  January 1 ‑ March 10

Q2  April 1 ‑ June 10

Q3  July 1 ‑ September 10

Q4  October 1 ‑ December 10

Time spent taking the CPA Exam

You will likely spend more time taking the exam than you imagined, once you consider the additional time spent traveling, scheduling, and signing in.

According to Prometric’s Candidate Bulletin, you will need to arrive to the testing site 30 minutes before your appointment time. This time is spent verifying your identity and reviewing the testing center policies. If you do not arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled time, you may forgo your appointment and will receive no refund!

In addition, while the CPA Exam is four hours, your appointment will be scheduled for four and a half hours to include time for the survey and optional break. Do not confuse this time with the 30 minutes required by Prometric. With each exam taking five hours, the CPA Exam will require a minimum of 20 hours of examination time!

Scheduling concerns for international candidates

If you’re an international candidate, the travel time can be especially difficult if the CPA Exam is not offered in your home country.

It is not unheard of for international candidates to schedule all of their exams within a week of each other in order to minimize what may otherwise be one of the largest hurdles between you and the CPA certification.

CPA Exam Time
total 5 hours
Prometric Sign-inCPA Exam Introductory ScreensTestlets 1,2, & 3BreakTestlets 4 & 5CPA Survey
30 minutes5 minutes144 minutes15 minutes (optional)96 minutes10 minutes

Between this and any travel or accommodation time that may be required based on the testing center of your choice, it is clear that time plays a significant role in test-day stress.

We repeat: Time-management skills are vital to overcoming the CPA Exam!

How to shave off time? Pass on the first take!

The CPA Exam is a time-consuming exam, so it is important to make sure it only eats as much of your time as it absolutely has to. You will spend approximately 30 times as long studying for the exam as you will actually spend taking it, so it can be tempting to shave that study time down to sit for the exam faster.

See the list below for some tips on how to and how NOT to save time on the CPA Exam.

CPA Exam Time-Saving Tips

 Spend most of your time on topics you’re struggling with

 Set aside time specifically to study—and set study objectives

 Practice all of the question types

 Use the CPA Blueprint as a guide on study topics

 Take the Exam when you are consistently scoring 80% on your practice tests

 Completely ignore topics you’re comfortable with

 Plan to study all day, every day

 Memorize the individual questions

 Ignore topics you don’t think will be tested

 Wait until you are scoring 100% on all of your practice tests

As you can see from our tips, the key is to study smart. Under preparing will result in poor performance, and failure means more time spent registering, traveling, and testing. Over preparing will consume your time and can cause information to become dated as the CPA Exam changes.

Our biggest suggestion is this: Find a CPA review provider that will lighten the burden of the CPA Exam. The time you spend deciphering exam blueprints, content areas, and representative tasks can be better spent studying the materials and passing the CPA Exam.

Why is the CPA Exam so hard?


There’s no doubt the CPA Exam is hard, but this difficulty is by design and thanks to three main factors:

1. The history of the CPA Exam

2. The purpose of the CPA Exam

3. Changes in the field of accounting

Understanding why this exam is so difficult can help motivate you to get through it.

History of the CPA Exam

When the AICPA was formed in 1957, the CPA Exam had already existed for 40 years.

The CPA Exam was originally designed in 1917 as a test for membership to the Institute of Public Accountants (the organization that would eventually become the AICPA). Prior to this test, each state would issue its own exam, a practice that many states continued until 1952 when the CPA Exam became the universal standard.

The exam has changed many times over the years. Originally, the 19.5-hour-long exam was administered in five sittings over two and a half days, only twice per year. It wasn’t until the paper-and-pencil exam was discontinued in 2004 that the exam began to look like it does today.

From the very beginning the CPA Exam needed to be hard because it served as the standard for what an accountant needed to know. In those days, passing the CPA Exam might have been the only signifier accountants had to prove their mastery of accountancy!

Purpose of the CPA Exam

The CPA Exam has two primary purposes: to provide reasonable assurance of a candidate’s skills and to retain the value of the CPA certification.

Providing assurance of a candidate’s skills will always be the most important role of the CPA Exam, and accomplishing that task is the main reason the CPA Exam is hard even today.

This requires that the CPA Exam constantly adjust to new laws, regulations, and industry standards and continually push the difficulty of the exam to match the expectations of companies and law makers.

Every time the AICPA updates the CPA Exam, it has to ensure the content does the following:

•  Measure professional competence in
          ◦  Auditing
          ◦  Business Law
          ◦  Taxation
          ◦  Accounting
•  Test related business skills to assess your knowledge and judgment
•  Verify your understanding of professional responsibilities and ethics

In addition, the CPA Exam’s difficulty ensures that it continues to be the gold-standard for accountants. The exam’s difficulty is one of the reasons why the certification is sought after by so many aspiring accountants.

It’s also why CPAs make 10-15% higher salaries than non-certified accountants.

Changes in the field of accounting

The modern economy has changed the expectations and responsibilities of accountants. The ability to interpret and apply laws and regulations has become an expected and crucial part of the accounting profession. As a result, the CPA Exam must continually adapt to include the new and higher standards demanded of accountants.

Yes, the CPA Exam is hard. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pass it!


Understanding the difficulty lets you plan ways to overcome the hurdles and gives you perspective on the skills that the AICPA considers most valuable in the modern CPA candidate: excellent time- and project-management skills, a thorough understanding of accounting, and the ability to communicate and use knowledge and experience.

Gleim is here to help. Read more about the features and tools that Gleim offers at our CPA Exam Resource Center and start your journey to passing the CPA Exam today!

CPA Exam Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

These FAQs will provide you with answers to the most common questions related to the Uniform CPA Examination®. You can also find information about applications, accommodations, eligibility, Exam credit, fees, jurisdictions, licensing, and other general administration topics on NASBA’s CPA Central. For questions related to Exam scheduling and testing centers, you can visit  the Prometric website. If you cannot find an answer to your question, contact the AICPA or NASBA directly.

Browse FAQs by topic:

  • General Information
  • Exam Content
  • CPA Exam Sample Tests
  • Exam Scoring
  • Score Review and Appeal
  • International Testing

General Information

What is the Uniform CPA Examination® (Exam)?

The Exam is a 16-hour, four-part assessment that you must pass in order to qualify for a CPA license. It is designed to test the minimum knowledge and skills required of a CPA. The Exam is managed by three main partners:

  • The AICPA develops, maintains, and scores the Exam
  • The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) manages the National Candidate Database
  • Prometric is the company that delivers the Exam at its authorized test centers

The Exam is provided on behalf of Boards of Accountancy, which issue CPA licenses.

Where can I take the Exam?

You can take the Exam at authorized Prometric test centers throughout the 55 U.S. jurisdictions as well as select international locations. See “International FAQs” for  testing countries.

Is the Exam available in a language other than English?

No. You must take the Exam in English.

Is there a time limit for passing the Exam?

You must pass all four sections of the Exam within 18 months. The calculation of when the 18-month timeframe begins varies by jurisdiction. Check with your specific Board of Accountancy for details.

What are the requirements to take the Exam?

Exam requirements depend upon the jurisdiction where you choose to become licensed. You can find details by referring to your specific Board of Accountancy.

How much does it cost to take the Exam?

Exam fees depend upon the jurisdiction where you choose to become licensed. You can find details by referring to your specific Board of Accountancy.

How do I apply for the Exam?

You must first decide on the jurisdiction to which you will apply. After selecting your jurisdiction, you can obtain application materials and submit your completed applications as directed.

Is there one central organization where can I apply to take the Exam?

No. You can take the Exam (and qualify as a CPA) only if you meet the requirements of a Board of Accountancy in one of the 55 U.S. jurisdictions.

What is the structure and format of the Exam?

Review the Exam Structure to learn more about the number and types of questions in each section, breaks, testing time and other related topics.

Will I take the same Exam as other candidates?

You will take a different but equivalent Exam. The questions presented to you are drawn from a pool of test questions according to defined specifications. Although you take different Exams, the specifications ensure that the results are comparable.

Are some administrations of the Exam more difficult than others?

There may be minor differences among different administrations but these differences are accounted for during scoring. The AICPA enhances test security by creating multiple forms of the Exam with different questions for different administrations. Each form is comparable but not identical.

Great care is taken to match the forms in terms of content and item difficulty. Remember, you may be given questions of varying difficulty depending on your performance. Question difficulty is accounted for during scoring. Therefore, it does not mean that it is easier to get a higher score simply because you receive easier questions.

What computer skills do I need to take the Exam?

You only need basic computer skills to take the Exam. You are expected to be familiar with the use of a mouse and keyboard, and with basic spreadsheet and word processing functions. You must also be able to use a four-function online calculator.

In order to respond to Exam questions, you may need to:

  • Select a response from available options by clicking on a radio button
  • Perform standard financial calculations utilizing a Microsoft® Excel spreadsheet or four-function online calculator
  • Type a memorandum or letter in the written communication tasks
  • Perform an Authoritative Literature search in the research portion of simulations
  • Copy and paste text using the standard shortcut keys
  • Use scrollbars
  • Resize or move windows
  • Highlight excerpts in exhibits that you would like to remember

To learn more about the Exam’s functionality, check out the sample tests and the help tool in the sample tests for tutorial topics.

Does the Exam use Microsoft® Word and Microsoft® Excel?

You will have access to a version of Excel with certain functions unavailable. You will not be tested on your ability to use Excel. The program is available only as a tool to use during the Exam. The Exam uses a word processing application that is similar but not identical to Word.

To learn more about the Exam’s functionality, check out the sample tests and the “Help” tool in the sample tests for tutorial topics.

Can I take the Exam on paper?

No. This is a computer-based Exam.

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Exam Content

What topics are tested on the Exam?

You can find each Exam section’s topics in the CPA Exam Blueprints. The Blueprints show you the content allocation, skill and score weighting, and references. They also provide representative tasks for the content areas.

What are the rules for new accounting and auditing pronouncements?

You can find the Policy on New Pronouncements in the Exam Study Materials section.

What informational materials/databases are available to me during the Exam?

For all simulations, you have access to Authoritative Literature, which includes some sections of the AICPA Professional Standards (in the Auditing and Attestation section), FASB Codification (in the Financial Accounting and Reporting section) and Tax Code (in the Regulation section).

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Exam Sample Tests

What are the sample tests?

The sample tests let you practice with the format and functionality of the Exam as it will appear in a Prometric test center so that you are prepared prior to your test day. There is one sample test for each of the four sections of the Exam. No live content is used in the sample tests. Although an answer key is provided, you should not consider correct answers reflective of your readiness to take the Exam.

What is included in the sample test?

The sample tests include two multiple-choice testlets and three task-based simulation testlets for each of the three sections of the Exam: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) and Regulation (REG). The Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) section of the Exam sample test includes two multiple-choice testlets, two task-based simulation testlets and one written communication testlet. You will also have access to tutorial topics found by selecting the “Help” button in each sample test.

What kind of computer do I need to use the sample tests?

Sample tests are web-based and require an Internet connection. They will work on most devices and operating systems. You should use a 23-inch HD (1920×1080) monitor for an experience similar to an actual test center.

The sample tests are optimized for Microsoft® Internet Explorer 11, which is used in the Prometric centers. Our testing shows that it also works well in Microsoft® Edge, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox. We do not recommend Apple Safari at this time.

Since the Exam software uses high-definition (HD) monitors, do I need an HD monitor to practice with the sample tests?

No. However, if you want a realistic picture of how the text will appear in a Prometric test center, we recommend using an HD monitor.

Why do I see scrollbars on the right or bottom when I view the sample tests?

The sample tests can run on monitors with less than the minimum suggested resolution. If you do, you will see scroll bars.

You can eliminate the scrollbars on monitors with less than the suggested resolution by using the browser zoom shortcut keys:

  • PC: Ctrl-[minus sign] and Ctrl-[plus sign]
  • Mac: Command-[minus sign] and Command-[plus sign]

Zooming out will resize the Exam to fit on your screen without scrollbars, but you may find that the smaller text is more difficult to read.

Will the mouse right-click button work when I test in Prometric test centers?

When taking a sample test, a context menu appears when you click the right mouse button. It will allow you to copy, paste, and perform other operations. Note: This feature is not available at Prometric test centers.

What if I have trouble running the sample test?

Make sure that your device meets the minimum technical requirements. If you are still having trouble launching the sample tests, please contact the AICPA for assistance.

Complete this survey to leave feedback about your sample test experience.

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Exam Scoring

What is the passing score?

The passing score is 75 on a 0-99 scale. Scores are not curved. Find out how your score is determined by reading about Exam Scoring.

Who sets the passing score for the Exam?

The passing score is determined by the AICPA Board of Examiners (BOE), which considers many factors, including standard-setting study results, historical trends, and Exam content changes. The BOE also receives input from NASBA, consultant psychometricians, the academic community, and licensed CPAs. The passing score is the basis of the pass or fail decision recommended to Boards of Accountancy on the advisory score report.

Is scoring an automated process?

Scoring is fully automated for all Exam components except the written communication tasks. Most written communication responses are scored by a computer grading program, which is calibrated using human scorers. In some cases, responses are scored by a network of human graders (all CPAs). If your score is close to the passing score, your written communication tasks will be automatically re-graded by human graders. When there is more than one grader for a response, the average of the scores is used as the final grade.

The AICPA uses Item Response Theory (IRT) for the objective portion of the Exam. IRT is a well-established psychometric approach to scoring used by licensing and certification examinations that administer many different test forms.

All scoring routines, whether automated or not, are verified at various stages of the scoring process.

When are scores released?

Score release dates are posted here.

How does the Exam test my knowledge and skills?

The Exam uses a multistage adaptive test delivery model for all multiple-choice testlets. Your first testlet will be given at a level of moderate difficulty. The next testlet will be the same level or slightly more difficult based on your performance. The adaptive model is not used for task-based simulations or written communication tasks.

Is multistage testing fair? Why are you using it?

Yes, it is fair. Since the characteristics of the test questions are taken into account in the scoring, there is no advantage or disadvantage to being assigned testlets of different difficulty. The AICPA uses multi-stage testing because the test questions are matched to proficiency levels, and therefore fewer questions are needed to obtain accurate estimates of proficiency.

How do you decide which questions are difficult and which are medium?

The difficulty levels of the test questions (and other statistics that are used to describe each test question) are determined through statistical analysis of candidate responses. At the question level, difficulty is not quantified as a category (e.g., moderate or difficult), but as a numeric value along a scale. Testlets are classified as either medium or difficult based on the average difficulty of the questions within that testlet. All testlets have questions ranging in difficulty. Questions in difficult testlets just have a higher average level of difficulty than those in medium testlets.

What are pretest questions and are they scored?

Pretest questions are included in every Exam (they may be multiple-choice questions, task-based simulations, or written communication tasks) only for the purpose of collecting data. The data are needed to assess the quality of the questions, and to collect scoring information for later use when the questions become operational items. They are not part of your score calculation.

Are scoring adjustments made for candidates who experience difficulties during testing?

No. Your results are scored using the same process and method to ensure uniformity and the validity of the pass or fail decision. In the rare instances when serious technical problems occur during testing, NASBA may offer you a free retest.

Can I get a passing score by only doing well on the multiple-choice questions?

No. Your results are scored using the same process and method to ensure uniformity and the validity of the pass or fail decision.

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Score Review and Appeal

What is score review?

The score review process involves making certain that the approved answer keys were used and applied correctly in determining a candidate’s score and is not an opportunity to have alternate responses considered. It is simply an additional independent verification of your Exam score. Please keep in mind that all scores undergo thorough quality control checks before they are released.

Given all the quality control reviews already completed, it is highly unlikely that your score will change due to a score review. 

How and when should I request a score review?

You can contact your Board of Accountancy, or its designated agent, for instructions on requesting a score review, required fees, and meeting the score review request deadline. If you apply after the deadline date, your request will not be processed. The option to apply for a score review is available only for a short period of time after your score has been reported to you. It may take up to eight weeks for the score review to be processed and released.

How will the score review results be communicated?

After NASBA submits your request to the AICPA, the AICPA reviews your score and reports the result through NASBA to your Board of Accountancy, or its designee. NASBA, the board, or its designee, will then transmit the result to you.

What is an appeal?

In the jurisdictions that allow appeals, the process provides you with the opportunity to appeal a failing score. Where available, the appeal option enables you to view the multiple-choice test questions or objective simulation problems that you answered incorrectly together with their responses, and to submit comments online. The appeal does not include the written communication tasks.

The confidentiality of the Exam requires that such viewing sessions take place only in authorized locations, under highly secure conditions, and in the presence of a representative of your Board of Accountancy or its designee.

Why should I consider requesting an appeal?

You should consider requesting an appeal only if you want to review your incorrect responses because you believe that there is a question or simulation problem that you would like to challenge.

When you review the questions or simulation problems that you have answered incorrectly, you may decide to challenge the validity of one or more items. If you decide to do so, you must be prepared to present a cogent, vigorous, and compelling defense of your incorrect responses.

Please note that you will not be able to submit new responses during an appeal. However, you will have the opportunity to challenge multiple-choice test question(s) or simulation(s) and defend the response(s) you provided at the examination.

How do I request an appeal?

Contact your Board of Accountancy, or its designee, to determine whether the appeal option is available in your jurisdiction.

What is the fee for an appeal?

You should contact your Board of Accountancy, or its designee, for the exact amounts of these fees. You will be charged a separate fee for each item (multiple-choice test question or simulation problem) that you decide to challenge.

How will my appeal be processed and the result be communicated to me?

If your Board of Accountancy determines that you qualify for an appeal, the board will submit your request to the AICPA through NASBA. The board, or its designee, will schedule your viewing session for you. Your online comments during this session will be transmitted to the AICPA through NASBA.

After the session, the AICPA will review your responses on the section you are appealing, consider the online comments you submitted, verify your score, and forward the result to NASBA. (Note: You will not receive detailed information about the question(s) you challenge because of the need to preserve the confidentiality of Exam content.) NASBA will report the result to your board, or its designee, and the result will be transmitted to you.

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International Testing

What is international testing?

International testing allows U.S. citizens as well as eligible international candidates to take the Uniform CPA Examination® (Exam) in select countries. If you’re a non-U.S. citizen, this process allows you to purse the U.S. CPA license. The AICPA, NASBA and Prometric provide the same services for international testing as they do for U.S.-based testing. The Exam and licensure process is the same for international candidates as it is for candidates within U.S. jurisdictions.

If I’m not a U.S. citizen, how do I know if I’m eligible to take the Exam?

The NASBA website provides information for international candidates. You might also consider using NASBA’s International Evaluation Services. Contact NASBA for international candidate requirements.

When can I test internationally?

Testing windows* for international candidates are the same as those for U.S. candidates

How do I schedule my Exam at an international testing location?

Once you complete the international registration process, visit the Prometric website to schedule your Exam.

Where can I test internationally?

Eligible international candidates can take the Exam at Prometric testing centers in Bahrain, Brazil, England, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). To determine if you can take the Exam in one of these countries, review the specific FAQ below.

Who can take the Exam in Japan?

If you are a citizen or resident of Japan or the U.S., you can take the Exam in Japan.

Who can take the Exam in India?

If you are a citizen or resident of India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, or the U.S., you can take the Exam in India.

Note: Initially, testing will only be offered in June and September 2020.

Who can take the Exam in Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)?

If you are a citizen or resident of any of the following countries, you can take the Exam in Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates (UAE):

  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • India
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • UAE
  • U.S.
  • Yemen

Who can take the Exam in Brazil?

If you are a citizen or resident of any of the following countries, you can take the Exam in Brazil:

  • Argentina
  • Antigua/Barbuda
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Cayman Islands
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Domenica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • French Guiana
  • Guatemala
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • St. Kitts/Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent/Grenadines
  • Suriname
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Uruguay
  • U.S.
  • Venezuela

Who can test in England, Germany, Ireland and Scotland?

Any eligible CPA candidate can take the Exam in these countries.

Can I take the Exam if I’m a resident of an international testing country but do not have a passport?

No. You must present your passport as a primary form of identification. This includes U.S. citizens living abroad.

I am a citizen of a country that has international testing. I have been granted eligibility by a Board of Accountancy to sit for the Exam, yet according to your policy, I am unable to test internationally and must travel to the U.S. If I’m eligible, why can’t I test anywhere I want to?

The AICPA, NASBA, and Prometric operate testing centers under the strictest of security measures, guarantee data integrity and security, and protect candidates’ privacy. The three Exam partners decided that citizenship and residency requirements, and the integrity of certain kinds of proof of identification, provide a needed layer of security and allow us to better serve Exam candidates.

How do you determine international testing locations?

International testing locations are evaluated based on a set of criteria, including:

  • Demand volume for the Exam from candidates in those countries
  • Ability to deliver the Exam without legal obstacles
  • Security threat to the Exam (both physical security and intellectual property security) assessed at levels equal to those presented domestically
  • Existence of established Prometric test centers

Countries that do not meet these criteria to the combined satisfaction of NASBA, the AICPA and Prometric are not considered as testing locations. We appreciate the desire for additional international testing locations and regularly review new locations for possible expansion.

Where can I test if my jurisdiction doesn’t participate in international testing?

If you register through a non-participating jurisdiction, you can take the Exam only at approved testing centers in the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands. Please check with NASBA to see if your jurisdiction participates in the international program.

Where can I apply for International testing?

Please visit the NASBA website for application information.

Can I use my international Notice to Schedule (NTS) to schedule at a U.S. test site?

No. Once you get an NTS for one of the international testing centers, it cannot be interchanged with an NTS for any of the U.S. testing centers. You must notify NASBA to change back to a domestic NTS.

Can I apply for a refund or an extension of my present NTS in order to schedule at one of the international test sites?

There is no provision for withdrawing from the Exam and/or requesting an extension of your current NTS. Application and/or Exam fees are not refundable. If your NTS expires prior to taking the Exam, or you miss a scheduled testing appointment, you will not be able to reschedule or receive a refund on any of the fees paid. You will have to reapply for the Exam and pay the appropriate application/registration and fees.

If I test internationally, when will I get my scores?

Please review the score release dates for details.

Where can I find additional international testing information when it becomes available?

The AICPA provides information through Exam Announcements and also updates these International FAQs when new information is available. You can also find information on the NASBA website.

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