This is will be a very quick, possibly even slightly humorous romp through the key terms in CPA Land. Academic Credentials Evaluation: Are you applying to sit for the CPA Exam for the first time? If you are, you may wish to have your credentials evaluated BEFORE you apply to sit for the exam. Why? There is a blogger who stated that it took seven months just to get approved to sit for the exam because there were eligibility questions. If his transcript had been evaluated before he applied, he probably would have saved himself some time.
What is the evaluator looking for? Each state has its own requirements to sit for the exam. Some states are very specific about the number of semester hours needed in accounting, business, business law, and ethics which are needed before you can sit for the exam. The evaluator makes certain that you have the required hours. If you were educated outside the U.S., the evaluator will research the academic rigorousness of your college program and if the classes you took meet the state’s requirements.
If you would like a free evaluation of your academic credentials, contact: Leslie-Anne (L.A.) Rogers firstname.lastname@example.org. She has evaluated transcripts for over 14 years and helped countless students around the world through the state application process and then prepare and pass the exam.
AICPA: American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (www.aicpa.org and www.cpa-exam.org). AICPA writes and scores the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Exam (CPA Exam). AICPA works with National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and Prometric Test Centers to create, deliver, and score the CPA Exam. ATT (not AT & T): Authorization to Test is a form sent electronically by the State Board of Accountancy to NASBA’s National Candidate Database. The process is this:
1. You apply (either online or fill out a paper and pencil application) to a State Board of Accountancy for permission to test for 1-4 parts of the CPA Exam. You send in the state application and credential evaluation fees. 2. When you are approved, the State Board sends an approval letter to you and the ATT to NASBA. The ATT is valid for 90 days. If you do not complete all the steps within 90 days, you have to start over. 3. NASBA sends you the Payment Coupon for your exam fees. (See “Payment Coupon” for a complete list of fees.)
4. About 24-72 hours after you send in your NASBA fees, NASBA sends you the Notice to Schedule (NTS), which is valid for 6 months. If you do not complete all the steps within 6 months, you have to start over. 5. The NTS allows you to call or e-mail Prometric to select a test center location, day, and time to sit for the exam.
6. It is suggested that you contact Prometric at least 45 days before you want to sit for the exam because the seats fill up quickly. Plan ahead! 7. You sit for the exam at a computer workstation in a Prometric Test Center. 8. Prometric sends your testing data to AICPA. 9. AICPA scores your exam.
10. AICPA releases your score to NASBA. NASBA will act in one of two ways. a. If you are approved to sit for the exam in a non-NASBA state (such as California, Illinois or Virginia), NASBA will release your scores to your state. Your state will post your scores on their website. Using your user ID and password, you can look up your scores. OR b. Up to 48 hours after this, if you are in a NASBA state, NASBA will release your scores to your State Board of Accountancy, which shares the information with you. c. Some states, like Texas, never post scores on a weekend. d. If you are approved to sit for the exam in a NASBA state but physically sit for the test in California, Illinois or Virginia, this does not mean that you will get your scores earlier like the non-NASBA states. e. About 5-7 days after your scores are posted, your state will mail you a paper notice which contains the performance diagnostic information for any part(s) you did not pass. This is not available online. f. A passing score is 75. g. There are three situations in which you would submit the application and fees to your state board to retest: i. if you failed the section, ii. if you did not schedule your test day at Prometric, or iii. if you scheduled your test day but did not attend. h. When your state re-authorizes you, you can schedule a test day.
11. The timing of the score releases is rather interesting. a. Wave 1 covers the first day of the testing window up to the 7th or 8th day of the second month of the testing window. This could be Jan. 1-Feb. 7th. Wave 2 covers Feb. 8th. -28th. or in a Leap Year, Feb. 29th. b. Scores from Wave 1 wander in the 3rd. week of the 2nd month or Feb. 15th. c. BUT if you were the lucky person who got a new simulation, you are bumped to Wave 2. d. Wave 2 scores start appearing the third week after the close of the testing window, or in this case, March 15. e. BEC comes out first. The other sections come one at a time, a day a part so it can take a week between the first scores and the last within that wave.
12. Once you pass all four parts, take the “Professional Ethics: The AICPA’s Comprehensive Course.” For more info, go to www.cpa2biz.com. You can get a free demo CD before you purchase the course. Key in “Professional Ethics” in the “Search” window. This will take you to info about the course’s content and how you can buy the course.
13. After you pass this open book test with a score of 90% or higher, AICPA will send written notice to your state board.
14. When your state is notified that you passed the ethics course and you have fulfilled all your state’s requirements, your state will send you your CPA certificate and the date of issue.
CBT: Computer-Based Testing. Until 2004, the CPA Exam was given in a paper and pencil format. Starting in 2004, the exam was delivered via computer workstation at a Prometric Test Center.
CBT-e: Computer-Based Testing-evolution. According to Darwin, man evolved from monkeys and was an entirely new creature with extensively grander capabilities and possibilities than the apes. AICPA anticipates a similar evolution in January 2011 when the CPA Exam will undergo a technical evolution, and is expected to be far grander and be enhanced with more possibilities than mere CBT. There are those who scoff at evolution so we will wait to see how much of an advancement CBT-e is. NASBA: National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.
There are 54 U.S. jurisdictions (the 50 U.S. States, Washington, D.C., U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Guam) which offer the CPA Exam. Each jurisdiction has its own requirements to sit for the CPA Exam so it is very possible to qualify in one state but not another. NASBA maintains a database of the requirements for each jurisdiction, a National Candidate Database of those sitting for the CPA Exam, and releases the exam scores to the states.
NTS: Notice to Schedule. After your state approves you to sit for the exam, your state sends the ATT to NASBA. NASBA then sends you the NTS so you can contact Prometric to schedule your testing location, day and time.
Be aware of: 1. Because the CPA Exam is uniform, you can be approved to sit for the exam in Maine but actually sit in a Prometric center in Utah and take the test. Any combination of states is fine.
2. While Prometric has thousands of test centers around the world, only about 300 centers in the U.S. offer the CPA Exam. Don’t assume that just because there is a Prometric test center in your neighborhood that it gives the CPA Exam. Check and make sure.
3. You can go online to www.prometric.com or call them to schedule when you would like to sit for the exam. Because seats fill quickly, you probably need to pick a test date that is at least 45 days in the future.
4. The NTS has an expiration date: the NTS is valid for 6 months AFTER you pay your exam fees to NASBA. When you finally get your NTS, you may actually have less than 6 months to sit for the exam.
5. Your name on your NTS must match your photo ID exactly: you cannot be “Ty” on one and “Tyson” on the other. If the two do not match, correct this BEFORE test day or you may not be allowed to enter.
Payment Coupon: After your state approves your application, your state contacts NASBA. NASBA, being a capitalist institution, sends you a Payment Coupon which requests that you send NASBA additional fees for scoring the exam (well, that would be helpful), the time to take the test on the Prometric computer, a processing fee, a fee for a digital photo of your smiling face and a biometric thumb print, which are all part of ID scanning at the Prometric test center. NASBA issues the Payment Coupon 48-72 hours after state approval.
Prometric Centers: Prometric is a set of computer-based testing centers located around the world which offer various academic and professional certification tests.
There are over 10,000 Prometric test centers in over 160 nations but out of those, only 300 in the U.S. offer the CPA Exam. Because of the dangers of academic pilfering (a.k.a., cheating), Prometric conducts the tests in an environment only slightly less secure than Fort Knox. Uniform Certified Public Accountant Exam (CPA Exam): a four part test written and scored by the AICPA and delivered to students at 300 of Prometric’s U.S. test centers. It is only given in English. The four sections or parts of the CPA Exam are:
* Auditing and Attestation (AUD): To pass, you need to know how to apply knowledge of auditing procedures, generally accepted auditing procedures, generally accepted auditing standards and other standards related to attest engagements. (4.5 hours)
* Business Environment and Concepts (BEC): To pass, you need to understand how to apply knowledge of business concepts for and accounting implications of business transactions. (2.5 hours)
* Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): To pass, you need to know the skills to apply knowledge of generally accepted accounting principles for business entities, not-for-profit organizations, and governmental entities. (4 hours)
* Regulation (REG): To pass, you need to know how to apply knowledge of federal taxation, ethics, professional and legal responsibilities and business law. (3 hours) Window: Yes, it something you open on a warm day and shut on a cold one and it can be the singular of the latest offering from Microsoft but in the world of accounting it is so much more: it is the time in which you can sit for the CPA Exam.
In every quarter, you are allowed to sit in the first two months of any window: January-February, April-May, etc. This 60 day period (or something relatively close) is called a “testing window.” During the third month of every quarter, you may not sit for the exam because it is not offered.