Scheduling the CPA Exam - dummies

Scheduling the CPA Exam

By Kenneth W. Boyd

Your Notice to Schedule (NTS) allows you to choose when and where you’ll take your test. You use your NTS to contact Prometric, a firm that runs computer-based testing centers for many professional exams, including the CPA exam.

You can call the firm’s Candidate Services Call Center at 800-580-9648 to schedule an appointment. The AICPA suggests, however, that scheduling your exam online by using the Prometric website may be more efficient. When you sign up online, you see a Program Identifier Screen.

Enter your examination section identification number from your NTS. That number is the also the launch code (password) you’ll use to log in to your computer at the test center.

After you finish setting up your test, Prometric will provide a confirmation number by e-mail. If you call Prometric to schedule a test, the firm will still e-mail the confirmation number so you have it in writing. Keep that number for your reference and bring it to the test center.

Where to take the CPA exam

Candidates can take the tests at any Prometric facility that administers the CPA exam. Foreign nationals may be able to take the exam overseas at a Prometric location.

To find a location, head to the Prometric website. When you go online to make an appointment, keep these factors in mind:

  • Prometric will ask you to indicate your first, second, and third choices for a given test. Your choice includes your desired test time, date, and location. For example, your first choice may be 9 a.m. EST, February 20 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

  • The test centers don’t allow walk-ins. Everyone must schedule an exam in advance.

  • You must set up your test at least five days prior to the desired test date. If you need special accommodations (for physical or other reasons), you must set up your test at least ten days prior to your desired test date.

When to take the CPA exam

The CPA exam offers testing windows — time periods during a calendar year when the exam is offered to candidates. You can take the exam during the first two months of each calendar quarter:

  • January 1 to February 28 (or 29, in a leap year)

  • April 1 to May 31

  • July 1 to August 31

  • October 1 to November 30

You can take any or all four tests during the same two-month period. However, exam candidates can’t take the same test more than once during the same two-month period.

To have the best chance of getting the date, time, and location you want for your test, schedule at least 45 days prior to your desired test date.

Your State Board sets a time limit for each Notice to Schedule (NTS). Your NTS allows you to take the approved test before the deadline stated on the form. If you don’t, you must reapply and pay additional fees. You’ll lose the fees you paid for the test that expired.

Check the deadline on each NTS you receive from your State Board. You must take the test and receive a score — or let the NTS expire — before applying to take the same test again.

Canceling and rescheduling your CPA exam test date

If you need to cancel and reschedule your test, you can do it by using the Prometric website or calling the Candidate Services Call Center at 800-580-9648. Candidates needing testing accommodations need to reschedule by phone. If you choose to cancel a test — or cancel and reschedule — keep these points in mind:

  • You may not be able to recover the fees that you paid for the original test date. In addition, you’ll have to pay a fee to schedule the new test date.

  • If you don’t cancel and simply don’t show up at the test site, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) considers it no-show attendance. The NASBA needs three to five business days to process the no-show and allow you to reschedule your test.

  • A no-show attendance may mean that you can’t reschedule your exam in the same test window. You may have to wait a month or longer to reschedule your test, which will obviously affect your plan of study. Carefully consider the potential impact of a no-show attendance.

    To avoid this issue, contact Prometric and reschedule. No cancellations are allowed less than 24 hours from your appointment time. If less than 24 hours remain before your appointment, you are treated in the same way as a no-show.