Author: Jenna Elkins, Communications and Digital Media Specialist
Posted: Aug. 12, 2020
If you’re on the journey toward becoming a certified public accountant (CPA), you know (or will find out soon) that this journey is not an easy one. One of the biggest hurdles is completing the CPA Exam. With four sections to pass, each one completely different from the other, many candidates find it overwhelming to know where to start studying or what to do next.
Recently, we asked NASBA social media followers to send us their top questions. We selected 20 questions (it’s 2020 after all) and NASBA/AICPA leaders took time to answer the below questions.
- Is it possible to give preliminary scores to candidates before they leave the testing center? Except for BEC’s written portion. Anxiously awaiting scores for weeks not knowing if we should continue studying or move onto the next Exam is a waste of time and kills motivation.
Extensive quality assurance work is required to release scores. All the systems used to generate and verify scores does not exist in the test centers.
- Can we take a section and then take it again before score release?
No, you must wait to receive a score before applying for the same section again. You cannot retake a section you have already passed.
- How often are applications/CPA Central updated?
The status is updated daily and in real time. The process of receiving and matching transcripts can take time as well as the evaluation process. You should allow at least one to two weeks to see changes to your status.
- Would it be possible to standardize or just put all the info in one place for applying for the CPA Exam by each state? I know they all have different requirements, and it was a nightmare figuring out where and when to apply and do each portion of the process.
Becoming a CPA is a multi-step process. The requirements for Examination may be less stringent than those to obtain a license. The Accountancy Licensing Library (ALL) contains comprehensive and accurate information for the different types of CPA licenses as well as information on the Examination. In addition, you can find the requirements for each state on NASBA’s website at www.nasba.org/cpaexam.
- If we don’t pass a section of the CPA Exam, could we just add it to the NTS we already have and retake it instead of taking the other section that is on the NTS, and then get another NTS and retake the section we didn’t pass?
No, you cannot add it to the NTS. You can reapply for that section and retake it. You could have up to four NTSs at a time, as long as they were all for different sections.
- If two candidates take the same test, but in different quarters, would they receive the same score assuming they had the exact same responses/MCQs/SIMS?
Candidates would not receive all the exact same questions.
- Is there an estimate of how quickly CPA Exam scores will come out now that there is continuous testing?
The projected score release timeline for July – December 2020 is available at: https://www.aicpa.org/becomeacpa/cpaexam/psychometricsandscoring/test-windows-score-release.html
- Will scores ever come out on an individual basis or will it continue to be the current batch process into the future?
Scores will continue to be released in batches.
- Once you pass all four sections of the Exam, are there any further actions the candidate must take with NASBA before applying to the state to be licensed?
Depends on the jurisdiction. Massachusetts, New Jersey, Tennessee and Utah allow candidates to sit with less than 150 hours for the Examination, but require the applicant to submit an Academic Credential Evaluation through NASBA to determine if they meet the state’s 150 semester hours education requirement before applying to the state. Most states require an ethics examination, too.
- Can the Exam be online as opposed to in person (at least during COVID-19)? International candidates are having significant difficulties scheduling and traveling due to restrictions.
No, there are many factors including consistent Exam delivery, security and fairness that need to be considered to move toward a remote testing model.
- Can the credit expiration window be extended to 24 months?
No, this is typically a part of the rules, regulations or statue in most jurisdictions. Boards have the authority to extend the credit expiration in extenuating circumstances, such as a natural disaster, hospitalization or military service.
- What is the difference between certification and license?
Depends on the jurisdiction, but in most cases, the license is what gives you the authority to use the designation by holding yourself out as a CPA and offering attest services. There are seven jurisdictions that are two-tiered accounting states. In these states, once an Exam candidate passes all sections of the CPA Exam, the individual would receive a certificate from the Board of Accountancy. After completion of the required public accounting experience within a CPA firm under the direction of a CPA, the certificate holder would be eligible for licensure as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
- What do you do after passing the Exam?
Your jurisdiction will provide you with information on next steps to obtain your license. You may need to complete more education, meet the experience requirement, and take an ethics exam.
- Why is 18 months enough time to pass all four parts of the CPA Exam? For those who work in public accounting, we cannot dedicate time to study for almost five months during the year because of the busy season, making it harder to meet the 18 months.
Originally, 18 months was equivalent to allowing candidates six (6) opportunities to take each section of the Exam because they could only take a section once in a quarter. With the launch of continuous testing, candidates will be given more opportunities to pass the Exam in the same 18-month window.
- With continuous testing, can I take the same Exam multiple times in a one testing window?
Continuous testing eliminates testing windows, so you will be able to retake the same Exam once you receive a score and reapply to your jurisdiction.
- Why is South Carolina the only state that won’t have continuous testing?
South Carolina’s examination administration rules are written into their law, and therefore, they must go through the law-making process, which can take at least two years.
- In which countries is CPA Exam testing allowed?
A comprehensive list of countries and who is allowed to test there is available at https://nasba.org/internationalexam/. As of June 2020, testing is allowed in the U.S., Japan, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Brazil, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Germany. Testing will also begin in India in June and September 2020.
- Is it worth getting a score review if scoring a 74?
The score review process involves making certain the approved answer keys were used and applied correctly in determining a score. It is not an opportunity to have alternate responses considered. It is simply an additional independent verification of your score. The AICPA ensures that scores undergo thorough quality control checks before they are released. Given all the quality control reviews already completed, it is highly unlikely your score will change due to a score review.
- Is there a possibility to write Exams in Canada as the U.S. Canada border is closed for nonessential travel?
There are currently no plans to offer the Exam in Canada. Before offering the Exam in international locations, there are several factors to be considered, including candidate volume, data privacy laws, ensuring the same security measures can be implemented, local laws and protection of the Examination.
- Would you extend our credit, which will currently be expiring in 2021? I believe we absolutely have right to extend because we couldn’t take the Exam for whole two months!
There is no plan to extend credit beyond what boards have already done. Testing was not available for CPA candidates for the month of April. Prometric reopened in May and has moved quickly in extending hours of operations to ensure adequate capacity throughout the remainder of 2020.