Applying for the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam is a significant step in an accounting professional’s career, marking the beginning of a journey towards becoming a licensed CPA. This comprehensive guide outlines the process to apply for the CPA exam, tailored to help candidates navigate through the requirements and procedures efficiently.


Understand the Requirements

Firstly, familiarize yourself with the specific requirements of the state board of accountancy in the state where you plan to become licensed. Each state has its own set of rules regarding education, residency, and age. Generally, you’ll need:

– A bachelor’s degree at minimum, with a specific number of credit hours in accounting and business courses.

– To be at least 18 years old.

Visit the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) website for a detailed list of state boards and their requirements.


Obtain Your Transcripts

Before applying, you need to have official transcripts from all educational institutions you’ve attended. These documents must demonstrate that you meet the educational requirements set by your state board. Some states require these transcripts to be sent directly from the institution to the board.


Apply for the Exam

Once you’re confident you meet the eligibility requirements, you can begin the application process, which generally involves:

  1. Submitting an Application to Your State Board: Go to your state board’s website and complete the application for the CPA exam. This will likely involve filling out personal information, educational background, and any other required details.
  2. Paying the Application Fee: There will be an application fee, which varies by state. Ensure you know the fee amount in advance and are prepared to pay it when you submit your application.
  3. Receiving Your Notice to Schedule (NTS): After your application is reviewed and approved, you’ll receive a Notice to Schedule (NTS) by email from NASBA. This document is crucial as it allows you to schedule your exam parts. The NTS is typically valid for six months to a year, depending on your state.


Schedule Your Exam

With your NTS in hand, you can schedule your exam parts through the Prometric website. The CPA exam is divided into four sections, and you can choose to take them individually and in any order. However, planning is essential, as you must pass all four sections within 18 months of passing the first one.


Prepare for the Exam

While waiting for your NTS or even before, start preparing for the exam. The CPA exam is rigorous, and thorough preparation is key to success. Consider:

– Enrolling in a CPA review course.

– Setting up a study schedule.

– Practicing with review materials and past exam questions.


Take the Exam

On the day of the exam, arrive at the testing center early with your NTS and two forms of identification. Be prepared for a strict security process. The exam parts are challenging, but with adequate preparation, you can succeed.


After the Exam

After completing the exam sections, you’ll receive your scores via the NASBA website or through your state board. If you pass all four sections, congratulations! You’re on your way to becoming a CPA. The next steps typically involve fulfilling experience requirements and applying for licensure.


Tips for Success

– Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with any changes in the application process or exam structure by regularly checking the NASBA and your state board’s website.

– Be Organized: Keep track of deadlines, requirements, and documents. This will help ensure a smooth application process.

– Prepare Thoroughly: Don’t underestimate the exam. Use all available resources to prepare effectively.

Applying for the CPA exam is a detailed process that requires careful planning and preparation. By following these steps and dedicating yourself to thorough study, you can embark on a successful career as a CPA. Remember, the effort you put in now will pay dividends throughout your professional life.