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Everything You Need to Know About the CPA Exam Application Process

As you probably know, the fall testing period is upon us, which means many of you are preparing to finally begin testing to become a licensed CPA. If you're one of those who are about to take the exam in the next month, you've already completed the CPA exam application process, which means you are already in the loop on what a bear that process can be. That's why we decided it's a good idea to take some of the guess work out of the application process and lay it out for the rest of you who will be beginning this process in the near future. Here's the gist:

First, you must be sure you have met all the qualifications required for exam eligibility.

Once you've met all of the eligibility requirements, you can now officially begin the application process. In order to keep this process a little less complicated, follow these steps chronologically and save yourself some stress.

Send ALL Official School Transcripts

As soon as you become eligible to take the exam, gather and submit transcripts from every school you attended. Even if you only attended one semester at a particular school, you must  order a transcript for that semester. Trust us, omitting required documents makes this process a much bigger headache than it needs to be.

Next, you'll want to fill out and submit the actual exam application, along with your state's exam fee, which is typically around $100-$200. After this, you'll receive your Authorization To Test(ATT). You'll then have 90 days to decide the order in which you will complete each section of the exam. You will also need to remit payment for the actual exam, which cost between $700-$1,000 for all four sections, or around $175-$250 per section. You can make the payments directly on NASBA's website, and you must remit payment within the 90-day period or your application fee will be forfeited.

Now it's time to wait for your Notice to Schedule, the official document that allows you to enter the exam facility and take the test. For many states, this takes about three to six weeks to receive after you've paid your exam fees, however some states do offer same day notices if you apply online.

Get ready for the clincher—once you receive your NTS, you must schedule your exam dates within the validation period given on the Notice, otherwise all that money you just paid for each section of the exam will also be forfeited. YIKES. Most CPAs will advise you to only pay for the sections you think you are ready to take during that test period. This means, if you only feel prepared to take two sections of the exam, you only need to pay for those two sections. The good news is, all states offer at least a six-month validation period, with a few that offer a nine-month and even a 12-month period.

Once you've decided on what sections and when you would like to test, go to the Prometric website to schedule your exam. You will need the exam section ID number for each section you intend to schedule. Then, you login to the system using the section ID and the first four letters of your last name to schedule the date, location, and section of the exam.

If for some unforeseen reason you must reschedule your exam date, try to do it at least more than 30 days before your scheduled date in order to avoid a rescheduling fee. If you wait until you have less than five days before the exam to reschedule, you'll be forced to pay FULL  price for that section.

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