10 tips to pass the SEE Exam

7 min read
10 tips to pass the SEE Exam

Earning your Enrolled Agent (EA) designation is a major step in advancing your career. Tax representation services are in high demand, having seen 3.2% year over year growth over the past five years.1 But before you enhance your specialization by becoming an EA, you must pass the IRS Special Enrollment Examination (SEE Exam). 

Prepare for success by finding out all you need to know about the content, requirements, and 10 tips to pass the SEE Exam. 


Table of contents

  1. What's on the SEE Exam?
  2. SEE Exam requirements
  3. 10 tips to pass the SEE Exam
  4. Be the first to know about Becker's EA Exam review 


What’s on the SEE Exam? 

The IRS Special Enrollment Examination (SEE Exam, sometimes referred to as the EA Exam) is the IRS-issued, three-part exam that you must pass before earning your Enrolled Agent designation. 

Each separately taken exam part includes 100 multiple choice questions (85 scored, plus 15 experimental and non-scored questions) and covers different tax-related topics necessary to know in order to represent clients before the IRS: 

  • Part 1: Individual 
    • Preliminary Work with Taxpayer Data (14 questions) 
    • Income and Assets (17 questions) 
    • Deductions and Credits (17 questions) 
    • Taxation (15 questions) 
    • Advising the Individual Taxpayer (11 questions) 
    • Specialized Returns for Individuals (12 questions) 


  • Part 2: Business 
    • Business Entities and Considerations (30 questions) 
    • Business Tax Preparation (37 questions) 
    • Specialized Returns and Taxpayers (18 questions) 


  • Part 3: Representation, Practice, and Procedures 
    • Practices and Procedures (26 questions) 
    • Representation before the IRS (25 questions) 
    • Specific Areas of Representation (20 questions) 
    • Filing Process (14 questions) 


SEE Exam Requirements 

Before taking the SEE Exam, you must fulfill certain requirements: 

Get your PTIN. All paid tax preparers need to apply for and receive a unique, IRS-issued Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) by filling out a short online form and paying the $19.75 fee.2 
Register online. Once you’re ready to take an exam part, you must create an online account with Prometric testing services, through which you will pay for and manage your testing appointments.3 
Pay SEE Exam fees.You must pay a $259 fee for each EA Exam part.4 
Ready your SEE Exam ID.You must bring valid, government-issued identification with you on SEE exam day. This ID should include a recent photo and your first and last names, exactly as they appear on your exam registration. 

10 Tips to pass the SEE Exam 


Before Exam Day

Before you sit for the SEE Exam, these steps will help you get ready.  

1. Define your goal. 

Staying motivated is essential to long-term success. The time, effort, and money required to become an Enrolled Agent can be discouraging if you lose sight of all you'll gain with the designation and how, specifically, it will help you reach your goals. 

2. Prioritize study time. 

We know—for a busy professional already handling a full schedule and work/life balance, finding extra time to study is easier said than done. But it’s essential to be fully prepared before entering the exam room and to start studying early, so that you don’t have to cram last-minute and don’t risk needing to retake any SEE parts. 

This is where an Enrolled Agent Exam review course can help. Becker's comprehensive resources and convenient digital platform let you more easily fit study sessions into your availability, while also making strategic use of that very critical study time. 

3. Align with an EA Exam review partner. 

Studying for the SEE Exam can be the biggest hurdle to passing and can feel overwhelming. Where do I start? What do I study? How much time will I need to invest? We highly recommend using an Enrolled Agent Exam review course to guide your focus and fully prepare you for the content you’ll see on the exam. 

Becker’s soon-to-be-released EA Exam review guides you on a focused and customizable study plan with content curated for exactly what you’ll see on the exam. Plus, you’ll get unlimited multiple-choice practice questions, simulated exams, and learn important test-taking tips. 

4. Tackle one SEE Exam part at a time. 

Focusing on one exam part at a time will help lower your stress and increase your ability to succeed. While you do need to know the information on all three parts, you have three years to pass all exams. Study for one at a time to make the process smoother and avoid burnout. 

5. Practice all three multiple-choice question formats. 

All SEE Exam questions are multiple choice. However, there are three types of multiple choice questions that you should be prepared to answer:4 

  • Format 1: Direct question 
    • Which of the following entities are required to file Form 709, United States gift tax return? 
      • a. An individual 
      • b. An estate or trust 
      • c. A corporation 
      • d. All of the above 
  • Format 2: Incomplete sentence 
    • Supplemental wages are compensation paid in addition to an employee’s regular wages. They do NOT include payments for: 
      • a. Accumulated sick leave 
      • b. Moving expenses (non-military) 
      • c. Vacation pay 
      • d. Travel reimbursements paid at Federal Government per diem rate 
  • Format 3: All of the following except 
    • There are five tests which must be met for a child to be a qualifying child. Which of the following is NOT a requirement? 
      • a. Residency test 
      • b. Relationship test 
      • c. Disability test 
      • d. Join Return test 
6. Time yourself. 

You only have three and a half hours to complete all 100 questions on each SEE Exam part (plus an optional 15-minute break).4 That averages about 1.8 minutes per question, plus 30 minutes to review your answers. Time how long you are spending on each practice question and get used to being quick, but accurate. 

7. Learn about the testing environment. 

Before you enter the Prometric testing facility, make sure that you know what to expect. Read the testing facility rules and regulations so that you aren’t hit with any unexpected surprises.5 


Exam Day Success 

8. Get plenty of sleep. 

You may feel the urge to study late into the night before your exam. Resist the temptation and get a good night’s sleep so you can focus, be alert, and perform your best. Remember, adequately studying in the weeks and months before the exam will ensure that you don’t need to cram the night before! 

9. Get there early. 

Prometric advises that you arrive half an hour early for your exam appointment.4 This will give you time to present your identification, put anything you brought with you in your locker, and be ready to test without feeling rushed and stressed. 

10. Stay calm and rely on exam day confidence. 

It’s hard not to be nervous, but try to remember that stress and nerves will only hinder your performance. Plus, if you’ve prepared with Becker’s EA Exam review, you can be confident that you are fully Exam Day ReadySM


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