CPA Exam day tips: what to bring to the CPA Exam and how to be prepared

4 min read
Notebook on a desk with "preparation is the key" written in bold black ink. A laptop, pencils, tablet and eye glasses are nearby.

It’s no secret that preparing for the CPA Exam can be intense, and it's easy to forget the basics - like what to take to the Prometric testing center! You definitely don't want your hard work to be wasted by a mistake, so our Becker experts are sharing a few final tips for taking the CPA Exam, including helpful advice on what to bring on CPA Exam day!

What to bring to the CPA Exam

As an accountant, there's nothing more stressful than the CPA Exam - what to bring on test day should also be high on your priority list. You should decide what to bring on CPA Exam day ahead of time. Whatever items you bring should be based on Prometric’s requirements and follow the test center’s rules. Here are the essentials for your CPA Exam day checklist:

Know how to get to the CPA Prometric testing center

The days of printed MapQuest directions are long gone. Still, make sure to have the directions to the Prometric test site readily available.  It's also a good idea to drive to the center for practice a few times to make sure you know exactly how to get there. Also, plan to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the appointment.

Have your NTS and ID

Be sure to have the correct notice to schedule (NTS) and required identification. All candidates will be scanned for security, pockets checked and personal items and bags will go in a small locker. Note, if you take a break and leave the room, you are required to repeat the full check-in process prior to re-entry.

Dress for success

In this case, you don't need to go for fancy dress! Instead, be sure to dress comfortably to avoid any distractions during the exam. You should also dress in layers, so if the room is too hot or cold, you're ready and can still be as comfortable as possible. Also, avoid outfit indecision by picking out your outfit the night before the exam. 


CPA Exam day tips

Now that we've got your CPA Exam day checklist sorted, let's dive into some general tips to help you get ready for CPA Exam day.

Learn time management

Time management will be an essential part of your test-taking strategy. When taking the CPA exam, it’s vital to budget the total exam time appropriately among the five testlets within each part of the exam and devote adequate time to each.

In addition to practice and repetition, one of the best time management tools is to write a time plan on the note board before you begin your exam in hour and minute format for each testlet. You can compare this to the exam timer to determine if you are on track, ahead, or behind. If you plan to take a break, also include the break time in the plan.

Candidates will be asked to remove any watch before entering the testing room so the timer on the computer may be your only way to keep time; writing down a time plan and checking the timer is vital.

Take a test drive

Make sure you don't go into the exam "cold," and without knowing what to expect! If you're using the Becker CPA Exam Review to prepare for the exam, you have access to simulated exams, which duplicate the exact experience of the exam including the timing. 

Prometric also offers Test Drive, a 30-minute dry-run of the test center experience. This allows you to walk through all check-in and testing procedures that will occur on test day and may help you feel even more ready on exam day.

Do a final review

Set aside two weeks before the exam for a comprehensive review. Take practice and mini-exams plus the final exams included in the Becker CPA Exam Review to gauge how you are doing. This will highlight areas where you may need some last-minute attention and give you time to refresh important concepts. 

Continued practice of exam-like questions within a simulated exam interface can help improve speed. Flashcards are an excellent tool to increase speed.

Get a good night's sleep before the exam

In the hours leading up to the exam, you can take some time to do a bit of last-minute refreshing, but resist the urge to cram or study anything new. Make sure you go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep to be well-rested when you arrive to Prometric on the day of the exam. You don't want to be sleep-deprived or exhausted.

Avoid common mistakes

Don't let a foolish exam day mistake ruin all the hard work you put into passing the exam. We've identified common CPA exam day mistakes so you know what to avoid. These include: 

  • Arriving late on the day of the CPA Exam. If you arrive to the testing center after the scheduled appointment time, Prometric is not obligated to allow you to test.
  • Forgetting the NTS. Don't forget to take the NTS with you to the testing center and check the date on it to make sure it's the current one.
  • Getting caught in a timeout. Each candidate is given 10 minutes to read and navigate through three introductory screens. If you don't complete the introductory screens before the time lapses, the exam will end and cannot be restored.

It's vital that candidates address and avoid any of these potential challenges right from the start to prevent any issues on the actual day of the CPA Exam.

Lean into the nerves

It's OK to be nervous, but trust that all your hard work and study time will pay off and, most importantly, take a positive can-do attitude with you to the exam. You've put in a lot of time and effort, so be confident.

Get a 14-day free trial of Becker's CPA Exam review

Using a comprehensive review course is the best way to get ready for the CPA Exam. For over 60 years, CPA candidates have relied on Becker, and we're here to help you pass, too. With comprehensive textbooks, lecture videos, customizable practice tests, simulated exams, and so much more, we have the resources and materials you need to learn your way. 

Try Becker free for 14 days and see how we get you Exam Day ReadySM!


Now Leaving

You are leaving the website. Once you click “continue,” you will be brought to a third-party website. Please be aware, the privacy policy may differ on the third-party website. Adtalem Global Education is not responsible for the security, contents and accuracy of any information provided on the third-party website. Note that the website may still be a third-party website even the format is similar to the website.