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Posted: May 1, 2013

Applying for the Uniform CPA Examination can be a confusing and daunting process. From making sure all education requirements are met to understanding the Notice To Schedule (NTS), NASBA staff helps a multitude of Exam candidates daily with their questions about all facets of the application process.

To help candidates along the path of applying for and completing the Exam, here are some of the most frequently asked application questions received by NASBA staff, with answers that should prove useful:

Question: Where can I find a jurisdiction’s educational requirements?

Answer: There is only one Uniform CPA Examination offered via a network of test centers across the United States and its territories, as well as Japan, Latin America and the Middle East. However, there are different requirements to sit depending on the state/jurisdiction through which you apply.

NASBA’s CPA Examination Services (CPAES) provides a comprehensive array of services to 32 Boards of Accountancy related to the Uniform CPA Examination. Some of these include application processing, credential evaluations and score reporting. A list of participating CPAES jurisdictions can be found here. If you plan on taking the Exam through one of these 32 jurisdictions, then you can find that jurisdiction’s educational requirements, as well as the option to apply online to take the Exam, through NASBA.org.

Otherwise, you will need to research the board’s website of the jurisdiction through which you want to test for educational requirements and application instructions.

More information can be found in the CPA Exam section of this website.

Question: I have completed some of my education outside the U.S. How do I know if I qualify to take the CPA Exam?

Answer: If you have completed educational requirements at institutions outside the U.S., you must have your educational credentials evaluated to determine if you meet the educational requirements of the jurisdiction for which you want to sit for the Exam.
In order to serve you, NASBA International Evaluation Services provides a listing of accepted international evaluation services, organized by jurisdiction.

Question: I will not be able to make my test as originally scheduled. Can my NTS be extended?

Answer: There is no provision for withdrawing from the examination and/or requesting an extension of your current NTS. Application and/or examination fees are not refundable. If you have an extreme circumstance (such as military deployment or medical emergency), you may apply for an NTS extension or a partial refund of your examination fees under specific circumstances.

If you registered to test through one of the 32 jurisdictions represented by CPAES, complete the Exception to Policy Form no later than 30 days from the date of the extreme circumstance. Your request will then be submitted to a review committee.

Otherwise, you will need to contact your jurisdiction’s Board of Accountancy directly regarding NTS extensions.

Question: Is it possible to have more than one NTS at the same time?

Answer: Yes, you may have up to four separate NTS’s – one for each section. However, you are not allowed to have multiple NTS’s for the same section. In other words, if you fail any section of the Exam, you may retake that section in a future testing window. You may not repeat any section within the same testing window.

You are able to apply for one or more sections of the Exam at a time; however, you are advised to only apply for a section of the Exam if you are ready to take it within the timeframe that your NTS is valid.

It is imperative that you take the correct NTS with you to the test center. You will not be admitted into the test center without the correct NTS and you will forfeit all examination fees for that section.

Question: Exam credit is good for a “rolling” 18 months. How does that work?

Answer: You may take sections individually and in any order, but are required to pass all four sections of the CPA Exam within a rolling 18-month period. Credit for any section passed shall be valid for 18 months from the actual date the examination sections were taken. Examination credit expires by section. You will lose credit for each section passed outside the 18-month period, and will have to retake those sections. Your score notice will contain any relevant expiration dates.

For example: Let’s say you passed AUD on your first try. After a couple months, you successfully complete BEC, and then pass FAR. If you were to sit for the REG section on the last day before your credit for AUD expires, and you fail REG, you now have to sit for and pass AUD and REG by the time your credit for BEC expires.

Question: Who scores the CPA Exam?

Answer: The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is responsible for the scoring of the CPA Exam and then releases the scores to NASBA for distribution to candidates. Please be advised that some Boards of Accountancy require at least one day beyond the published target dates to process and release Exam scores. For more information on how the CPA Exam is scored, visit the AICPA website.

Question: When can I expect to receive my Exam score?

Answer: Please refer to the table below:

Day in Testing Window*

Target Release Date Timeline

Day 1 – 20

11 business days following day 20 of the testing window

Day 21 – 45

6 business days following day 45 of the testing window

Day 46 – Close of window

6 business days following the close of the testing window

After Close of Window

6 business days after receiving all scoring data for the testing window

* Day that the test results are received by the AICPA

Question: What’s the best way to prepare for the Exam? Can you recommend a Review Course Provider?

Answer: When preparing for the Exam, make sure to familiarize yourself with the content specification outlines (CSOs) and the CPA Examination Tutorial and sample tests, all available on the AICPA website.

Another useful tool to help you prepare for test day is the “Test Drive” program offered by Prometric, the agency that operates the test centers that administer the Exam. “Test Drive” allows you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with what to expect on test day by letting you walk through, on a practice basis, all check-in and testing procedures that occur at the test center on test day.

NASBA cannot make recommendations regarding specific review course providers. However, there are several CPA websites and forums from which you might be able to ask questions directly to candidates who have used certain review course providers.

For more information about the CPA Exam application process, please be sure to consult the Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Bulletin.

Other Suggested Reading


CPA Exam Candidate Bulletin

"Preparing for the CPA Exam" Series

CPA Exam FAQ