CPA Exam updates: Prometric, NASBA, AICPA
On April 30, Becker met (virtually) with the AICPA, Prometric and NASBA to get answers to some of your most-asked questions about COVID implications to the CPA Exam -- how testing center procedures are affected, when testing centers will reopen, what to do about expiring NTS and credits, and more.
Here’s a recap of what we learned from:
When does CPA exam testing resume?
Prometric has resumed CPA Exam testing as of May 1 – however, some centers regionally – for example, New York City – may still be closed per government restrictions. Please visit Prometric’s website regularly, as they will be making continuous updates as additional testing centers become available.
What will the environment inside testing centers be like?
To comply with social distancing guidelines, Prometric will be using every other seat in its testing centers. This will be in effect at least through June, however, Prometric said they may start adding back those seats as COVID restrictions are loosened. Again, please make regular visits to Prometric’s website for the latest updates. If you were scheduled in a seat that became closed for social distancing, you should have gotten an email to reschedule.
Also, all candidates will be required to wear a mask while testing. Any mask will do – the mask does not need to be medical grade. Testing centers will not be providing masks and will turn away any candidate who arrives without a mask.
How do I schedule/reschedule?
You need to schedule or reschedule your testing date as soon as possible, as availability will be restricted at least through the summer.
To accommodate the expected influx in scheduling, Prometric will be extending their days and hours of operation. Even with half of their testing seats removed due to social distancing, with the adjusted hours of operation, they expect to be running at about 80% by the end of June. Again, please always refer to Prometric’s website for the most current updates.
Will Prometric be opening more contact lines so students can get through with their questions?
Like many work places, Prometric is working as hard as they can to keep up with the increased calls. Please know they are doing everything they can to get your questions answered.
Will Prometric be posting a list of open testing centers?
Yes – you can see all open testing centers on the Prometric website.
When does Prometric expect to have all testing centers reopened?
Since accounting has been designated as an essential industry, Prometric has resumed CPA exam testing in the US and Canada effective May 1.
Prometric says they will make bi-weekly evaluations of which cities and markets to reopen based on local government recommendations. If you do not see your local testing center listed as reopened for May 1, do not worry. As time passes, more and more testing centers will be added to the open list.
How is the decision being made to reopen testing centers? Is it on a state by state basis or a location-by-location basis?
It is on a location-by-location basis, made in conjunction with recommended guidelines from local governments, in some cases, down to the county level.
How is Prometric prioritizing students for rescheduling of exams?
There is no prioritization. Candidates are able to reschedule on the Prometric website on a first-come, first-served basis.
How will the need for social distancing impact the number of seats available for testing in each testing center?
Prometric is using every other test station at its testing centers, placing extra distance between each test taker. This will reduce available seats, even with the compensating increases in testing days and hours, so please schedule as early as possible.
Do you expect it to be difficult to schedule exam dates/times for the next three to six months?
It will be more difficult simply due to supply and demand. With half of their testing seats unavailable until at least the end of June, as you can imagine, there will be fewer seats available. However, Prometric says they are working to extend their days and hours of operation to help alleviate the backlog.
NASBA, NTS, CPA exam scheduling
Will NASBA be posting about the impact of COVID on international CPA Exam testing?
Information on open international testing centers is available on the Prometric website. NASBA is currently assessing the situation in India and will announce soon whether testing will be available in June. Please check the NASBA website regularly for India testing updates.
Should I schedule my exam now with all the closures? I don’t want my NTS to start if I can’t take the test?
It is currently taking four to six weeks to process CPA Exam applications. If you apply now, you will most likely have your NTS in mid to late June. This timing is good because more testing center capacity is expected to open in June, July and beyond as more testing centers are able to open.
Are there currently any delays in the processing of CPA Exam applications? When should I expect to receive my NTS?
There are no significant delays and applications are currently taking four to six weeks to process.
What if my NTS expires on July 1, instead of June 30? Can I still get an extension? Are further extensions being considered?
Currently, NTS that expire between April 1 and June 30 have been extended through September 30. NASBA expects that additional extensions will be added. Please check the NASBA website regularly for information on additional extensions.
Why hasn’t CPA Central been updated to reflect my extended credit?
Updating CPA Central is a manual process, and as you can imagine, there are thousands of updates to be entered. NASBA thanks you for your continued patience as they continue making these important updates, and asks that you continually check CPA Central, as update information is posted.
How will score release dates be affected by the emergency testing period and the continuous testing model?
The AICPA has added one additional score release date for those who test during the emergency testing period (June 11 – June 30):
Under the continuous testing model, there will be four score releases each quarter. The AICPA will be posting the continuous testing score release timelines to their website in June.
Will all states have continuous testing in place by July 1?
Each state has had to make changes to statues or rules to allow continuous testing. Referring to the map below (provided by NASBA), states indicated in green on the map are good to go and have already met its legislative hurdles. Yellow states are in a good place but may have another hurdle or two to go through, but are working on it as we speak. Again, keep in mind with the current environment, many states have not held regular committee meetings, so it may just take them some extra time to get caught up.
Image courtesy of NASBA. Per NASBA, forty jurisdictions have completed the transition to offer continuous testing. Fourteen additional boards are in the process of completing the steps necessary for transition and are expected to complete the transition to offer continuous testing prior to July 1, 2020. One board is not currently expected to be able to offer continuous testing until 2021. Please visit NASBA for continual updates.
Why is South Carolina unable to implement continuous testing until 2021?
South Carolina simply has some extra steps to take in order to change their legislation to allow for continuous testing. However, you can take the exam in any state – it doesn’t have to be in the state in which you are applying for your CPA license. For folks in South Carolina, you could always go to a neighboring state to take advantage of continuous testing until the legislation is updated.
Under continuous testing, if I find out I failed an exam, how soon will I be able to retake the exam, and what is the reapplication process?
Under continuous testing (starting on July 1), you can reapply for any part of a failed exam as soon as you receive your score. You do not need to wait until the next quarter. The application process only takes about 72 hours, but keep in mind you still have to wait for an available seat to come open.
Will there ever be black-out dates under the continuous testing model?
There will only be black-out dates if the AICPA needs to make software upgrades. Any needed blackout dates will be limited to the last week of a quarter.