Many people are surprised by how tedious and arduous the process to apply to sit for the CPA exam can be. Each state has different requirements and nuances, but the good news is the website for each state board lays out exactly what you need to do to make the process less painful. After you have selected your ideal CPA review course, you should begin the registration process. Overall, it really isn’t that bad as long as you are proactive and prepared, and aware of the various steps you have to follow.

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Step 1:

The first thing you should do is go to your state boards website. Here you will find all of the materials and documents needed to apply. I can’t speak for all boards, but the three state boards I have dealt with have been very responsive to various questions I have had. If you are confused, either email them or call them before sending in your paperwork because there is no leniency on what is required.

No matter what state you are applying to take the test in, you will need official transcripts from all schools that you have attended. This will require you to reach out to each institution and possibly pay a small fee to receive them sealed. Sending in unofficial transcripts is a sure way to get your application kicked back to you.  Additional documents that some (but not all) boards require include fingerprints, a short essay, and proof of identification. Once you send all necessary documents in along with the application fee, the process can take time, so make sure you do it right the first time so a mess up doesn’t interfere with the testing schedule you have laid out for yourself.

Step 2:

Once you have been approved to sit for the CPA exam you will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT). Unless you are absolutely confident that you will be taking all four tests within six months, do not pay for all four parts at once (see explanation below). This will require you to reapply for the additional sections when you are ready to test, but in the long run it will save you a lot of money.

After you have paid for your selected tests you will then receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS) for each test. This is essentially your golden ticket. Time is of the essence though, and you generally only have 6 months from the time you receive your NTS from the time it expires (hence my statement above to refrain from paying for all four parts at once). All you need to do is go onto the Prometric Website and find the nearest testing center to you. Here you will sign up for each test based on availability. A good thing to remember is, if you cancel/reschedule your test 5-30 days in advance you will be charged $30, and if you cancel/reschedule 1-5 days in advance you cannot receive a refund.

Step 3:

The final step is to take the test! You must remember your NTS and proof of identification or you will not be allowed to sit. My personal tip is to bring coffee in a thermal cup that you can store in your locker so you can get a quick caffeine boost between testlets. Be proactive and prepared during the application process and applying will be a breeze.