As we have mentioned before, the CPA Exam comprises of four separate exams, each with a duration of 4 hours. These fall under Auditing & Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting & Reporting (FAR), Business Environment & Concepts (BEC) and Regulation (REG). They are notoriously difficult to pass, with two having a less than 50% pass rate and the highest pass-rate (for BEC) being 61.76%. Furthermore, they must all be passed within an 18-month timeframe, or even the ones that you passed will need to be written again. 

However, expiration applies per section and not as a whole. So, if 18 months have just passed since you passed BEC, then any courses that you passed after that still qualify, meaning that you will only need to redo the BEC. However, you should be careful to give yourself enough time to rewrite and pass it before the 18-month window expires for the next section. 

How many times can you attempt the CPA exam?

Fortunately, there is no limit to how many times you can re-take a test. However, you will need to re-apply and pay the examination fee for each attempt.

Does this also apply for the AICPA Ethics exam?

It depends on your state. For instance, California’s exam results are only valid for two years and you only get 6 attempts, whereas Virginia requires a new exam to be taken every year, and Montana’s is a once-off pass. 

The other states that require the AICPA Exam are: 

Illinois, Ohio, Texas, Colorado, Vermont, Alabama, Oklahoma, Alaska, Minnesota, Oregon, Arizona, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Nevada, Delaware, Kansas, Idaho, North Dakota, Utah, Missouri, South Dakota, Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Washington, Wyoming, Maryland, Wisconsin and New Mexico.

These states DO NOT require an AICPA Ethics exam: 

Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Is there an order in which I need to take the CPA and AICPA Ethic exams?

No. Any section can be taken in any order. Therefore, it might be worthwhile to take the sections that you struggle with most first, so as to decrease the chances of losing the 18-month window for a subject that you do not struggle with. 

Are there age restrictions for receiving a CPA license?

Again, it depends on the state. Some, such as Arkansas and Iowa have no minimum age requirement, while others have either an 18, 19 or 21 age requirement. So, if you are a highly intelligent and a real go-getter, you might be interested in attempting your license through another state, if yours has age restrictions. So far, the youngest person to receive there CPA license was Belicia Cespedes who acquired it when she was 17-year-old in August 2014. 

Are there set periods for taking the exam?

This is one of the few areas where Covid-19 improved bureaucracy. Previously, applicants could only write their exams during four window periods each year. However in 2020, in response to the requests of applicants due to the complications and unforeseen hindrances caused by the pandemic, NASBA instituted a new computer-based Uniform CPA Examination of ‘continuous testing.’ This made tests available online and year-round. The exception to this is South Carolina, where the legislation is still transitioning.

Will I be charged for rescheduling my CPA exam?

There is no fee if you choose to cancel or rescheduling your exam at least 30 days in advance. However, if you need to do so between 24 hours and 30 days prior to the exam you will need to pay a fee:

  • Six to 29 days: $35
  • 24 hours – five days: $83.76
  • Less than 24 hours: Cannot cancel. You will need to reapply and pay the full fee. 

For more information, you can review NASBA’s Candidate Bulletin

Will I be refunded if I cancel my CPA exam or application?

Unfortunately, refunds are generally not awarded for cancellations. But there are some leniencies when applicants are found to be ineligible; they may at least receive a partial reimbursement. You will also not be reimbursed if you later become ineligible to apply to take the exam due to the expiration of your Notice to Schedule (NTS).

Will I need all 150 credits before taking the CPA exam?

Again, it depends on the state. There are 29 states that only require you to have at least 120 credits at the time of writing the exam. Some states are even more lenient. For instance, Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota and Maine allow you to sit the CPA exam when you are still up to 90 away from acquiring you 120 your credits. A few states are even more lenient.

However, you will need to meet the 150 credit rule before you will actually be issued your license. An affordable and flexible way to earn your extra 30 college credits is to enroll in the CPA online courses offered by CPAcredits.

Will my CPA license expire?

All states require Licensed CPAs and PAs reregister their licenses and to meet the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirements needed to continue practicing. The reregistration period varies from state to state, but there is a standard 120 hour CPE requirement that must be fulfilled every three years. Failing to do so will not mean that you will lose their license, but that you will lose the right to practice until you reregister. For instance, in New York a CPA must reregister every three years. This entails fulfilling a number of requirements, including paying the triennial registration fee and completing their CPE. Montana, on the other hand, requires an annual renewal fee by December 31st.

The good news is that CPAs who hold multiple state licenses have CPE reciprocity within certain states. This means that you will not need to meet the CPE requirements of these states when reregistering your license there, provided that you meet the CPE requirements of their home state. 

Do you need to be a US citizen to write the CPA exam?

It again depends on the state. 

In the following states you MUST be a resident to sit for the CPA exam: 

  • District of Columbia
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • U.S Virgin Islands
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

In most states you do not have to be a US citizen to qualify to take the CPA examination. The exceptions are:

  • Alabama
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • North Carolina

Furthermore, there are certain countries who are partnered with NASBA to allow for them to write the Uniform CPA Examination online. These countries include Israel, India, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, England, Scotland, Ireland, South Korea, Brazil, Japan, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Germany. However, they will need to qualify with credits that are recognized by NASBA. Candidates who wish to apply from other countries, will need to sit in a recognized jurisdiction. These are outlined on NASBA’s website here.

Is the CPA exam multiple choice?

Two out of five testlets of each part of the CPA exam comprise of multiple choice questions (MCQs). In each part, these will count towards 50% of the overall mark. The next two testlets comprise of task based simulations (TBSs) and then the last testlet is either more TBSs or a written communication task (WCT.)

The actual breakdown of each part is as follows:

  • FAR (50% MCQ, 50% TBS)
    • Testlet 1 – 33 Multiple Choice Questions
    • Testlet 2 – 33 Multiple Choice Questions
    • Testlet 3 – 2 TBSs
    • Testlet 4 – 3 TBSs
    • Testlet 5 – 3 TBSs
  • REG (50% MCQ, 50% TBS)
    • Testlet 1 – 38 Multiple Choice Questions
    • Testlet 2 – 38 Multiple Choice Questions
    • Testlet 3 – 2 TBSs
    • Testlet 4 – 3 TBSs
    • Testlet 5 – 3 TBSs
  • AUD (50% MCQ, 50% TBS)
    • Testlet 1 – 36 Multiple Choice Questions
    • Testlet 2 – 36 Multiple Choice Questions
    • Testlet 3 – 2 TBSs
    • Testlet 4 – 3 TBSs
    • Testlet 5 – 3 TBSs
  • FAR (50% MCQ, 35% TBS, 15% WCT)
    • Testlet 1 – 31 Multiple Choice Questions
    • Testlet 2 – 31 Multiple Choice Questions
    • Testlet 3 – 2 TBSs
    • Testlet 4 – 3 TBSs
    • Testlet 5 – 3 WCTs