How to apply for the CPA Exam

CPA Exam application 

Applying for the CPA Exam is a process in and of itself, and you want to make sure every step is followed, and that you meet all the eligibility requirements. Here is a quick guide on how to apply for the CPA Exam.

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 and residency requirements for eligibility to take the exam.

What documents are needed to apply for the CPA Exam?

Once you’re confident you meet your state’s requirements, make sure you have the proper documents for your CPA Exam application form.

  • Personal information 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, including community colleges and junior colleges. 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 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.

How much does the CPA Exam cost?

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.

How do I schedule my CPA Exam?

After your CPA Exam application has been accepted, you’ll receive a notice to schedule (NTS) or, for some jurisdictions, 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.

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.

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.

How do I schedule my CPA Exam?

After you apply for the CPA Exam and 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.
Keep in mind -- 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.

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.

Testing window:  July 1, 2020 - December 31, 2020

If you take the CPA Exam on or before: Your target score release date is:
July 23 August 7
August 16 August 25
September 8 September 16
September 30 October 9
October 23 November 10
November 15 November 24
December 8 December 16
December 31 January 12


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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