How to sign up for the CPA Exam

Congratulations on starting your journey towards CPA licensure! Before taking the CPA Exam, the biggest exam of your accounting career, you need to apply. This is your quick guide on how to apply for the CPA Exam.

How to sign up for the CPA Exam in 5 steps

Registering for the CPA Exam is a process in and of itself, one you should be sure to complete accurately. Keep in mind, the application process may be different depending on your licensing state. The CPA Exam application process for a first-time candidate can take four to six weeks, so you should give yourself at least that much time to begin the application process for the sections you're planning to take. 

1. Make sure you meet the qualifications

Before you apply for the CPA Exam, make sure you’ve met all the CPA Exam requirements in the state you’ve chosen. Each state has its own age, education, experience, residency and ethics requirements for eligibility to take the exam.

2. Make sure you have the proper documents for your CPA Exam application form

After you’re confident that you meet your state’s eligibility requirements, you can start collecting documents for the CPA Exam application. Here's what you'll need:

  • Proof of identification Valid proof of identification depends on your licensing state, but some examples can include a United States passport or a valid driver's license. The name on your CPA Exam application form must exactly match the name displayed on your proof of identification. This applies both to the proof of identification submitted with your application and the ID you’ll use on the day of the test.

  • College transcripts You must submit your official college transcripts to your state board. That includes transcripts from any college or university you attended. To expedite the process, send your transcripts (or have your college or university send them) as soon as you’ve met your state board’s education requirements to sit for the CPA Exam—even if you don’t immediately plan to apply for the CPA Exam.

  • International education documents If any of your education credits come from an international university, your transcripts must be validated by an approved party. NASBA’s International Evaluation Services (NIES) is the approved provider for several jurisdictions, but many—including New York—maintain their own approving bodies. Make sure you confirm which evaluation service your state board uses prior to submitting your transcripts.

3. Pay any CPA Exam fees

As part of the CPA Exam application, you’re required to pay an application fee and the fees for each exam section you’re applying to take at the time of registration. If you’re going to apply for the CPA Exam for the first time, you’ll also have to pay an initial application fee, which varies by state (it’s $170 New York, for example, and $135 in South Carolina). 

Because returning applicants pay both examination and exam section fees, you’ll want to make sure you only apply for the CPA Exam sections you’re prepared to take, as these costs can add up quickly. Many states charge a flat registration fee for all exam sections, so applying for multiple exams at the same time can help reduce your costs. On the other hand, scheduling too many sections at once could be overwhelming. If taking all four exams in six months isn't feasible, scheduling two exam sections will still reduce your costs.

4. Apply for the exam

You'll apply for the exam through the state where you plan to be licensed. For example, in the state of Illinois, you'll apply to sit for the CPA Exam through the Illinois Board of Examiners.

Keep in mind:

  • You can apply in any state whose requirements and jurisdiction you qualify for, but can only register in one jurisdiction at a time. 

  • Applications can be submitted any time.

5. Schedule your CPA Exam

After your CPA Exam application has been accepted, you'll receive a notice to schedule (NTS) or an authorization to test (ATT) from NASBA (you will receive one NTS per application, even if you applied to multiple sections). You must bring your NTS/ATT to the CPA Exam. Along with your personal information, your NTS includes a section identification number that acts as the launch code, or password for each exam section. 

Once you have received and verified your NTS/ATT, you’re ready to schedule your CPA Exam, which you will do through Prometric’s website. It’s important to note that you do not need to sit for the CPA Exam in the state you’re applying to, nor do you need to select a testing center before you choose your testing dates.


No matter where you are in the CPA journey - even if just starting the application process - you'll need support. Becker is here to help you prepare for the biggest exam in your career.

How to apply for the CPA Exam - FAQs

What documents are needed to apply for the CPA Exam?

In order to apply, you’ll need proof of identification and college transcripts. If you’re an international student, your transcripts must be validated by an approved party.  

How much does the CPA Exam cost?

CPA Exam fees depend on your state. No matter the state, CPA candidates must pay application and section registration fees. Here’s a resource on CPA Exam costs and fees.  

How do I schedule my CPA Exam?

All CPA Exam sections are scheduled through Prometric, the exam’s testing center. 

What is my notice to schedule (NTS) and authorization to test (ATT)?

Before you can register for the CPA Exam, you will need your notice to schedule (NTS) or authorization to test (ATT). These documents show you are eligible to sit for the CPA Exam and have met all requirements, and that you can proceed with the CPA Exam application process.  

Each state’s board of accountancy determines how long its NTS/ATT is valid (typically six months, but check with your state board to be sure). You must schedule and take your exam sections within this period. If you don’t schedule and take the exam section before your NTS/ATT expires, all fees will be forfeited, and you’ll need to submit a new CPA Exam application with all applicable fees. Also note that canceling a scheduled exam does not change the NTS expiration date. 

When you receive your NTS/ATT, make sure you confirm the information is accurate. The name must exactly match the name on identification documents you will use during check-in for the CPA Exam (although your middle initial can substitute for your middle name, and vice versa). If any information is incorrect, immediately contact your state board. 

When will I get my CPA Exam results?

Now that the CPA Exam is on a continuous testing model, you can expect your scores according to the table below. You can also learn more about score releases on our CPA Exam score release page

Let the real work begin

After you apply and get your approval, you’ll need a partner who knows the experience of prepping for the exam inside and out. We know it because we’ve evolved with it and helped more than 1 million candidates prepare for the CPA Exam. 

Choose from a range of course formats tailored around your lifestyle, work schedule and preferred method of learning. No matter which one you choose, you’ll benefit from the same proven Becker study materials and comprehensive learning approach.  And we back each one with the Becker Promise so you can prepare with peace of mind.

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