At Long Last: Passing the CPA Exam

Hopefully you received all passing scores. If you didn’t, don’t panic! You have 18 months to successfully pass all four sections and most likely only six months or less have gone by so far.

Your original NTS (Notice to Schedule) has expired, so any sections that need to be taken again will require you to register and pay again. While the NTS is good for six months, and you may have gotten through the sections faster than that, you can only take each section that you paid for once.

Passing all four parts of the CPA Exam is cause for celebration! Earning this desirable credential can place you on an upwardly mobile career path in financial services. — Donna Rodgers, Financial Services Guide

If you are still waiting on results from the last section you took, but you already know you have to retake at least one of the earlier sections, don’t wait to start preparing! I would suggest waiting until all score reports are in, so you know how many sections you have to take again, before paying for another NTS. That doesn’t mean you can’t study, though! Get ready to retake the first section you need so when you finally know exactly where you stand and sign up again, you can go take it soon. This is just like when you started the test the first time – you have six months to take whatever you sign up for, but you can start studying well before that.

It’s important to not get down about having to retake a section. Use that first attempt as a learning experience. The pass rate for each section is just under 50%, so there are plenty of others in the same situation as you. You just need to put a little bit more information into your mental bank so you can pass the next time.

Eventually you will pass all four sections. Time to breathe a big sigh of relief! Not all the work is done yet, but the rest doesn’t require so much studying. You will receive a nice certificate for passing the CPA Exam, but you can’t put ‘CPA’ after your name on your business card just yet.

To hold yourself out to the public as a Certified Public Accountant, you need to obtain a license from your state. As always, www.nasba.org has you covered. On the main page, there is a link titled ‘licensure’, which lets you check what each state requires in order to obtain a CPA license. Typically the requirements include a certain number of college credits, a certain number of Accounting college credits, passing the CPA Exam (of course), and work experience. As I mentioned way back in the first post of this series, these requirements should be learned before attempting to take the exam in the first place, so at this point there should be no surprises.

When you meet all the requirements, which you now should after passing the CPA Exam, file the appropriate applications with your state to receive your license. In Illinois, I was able to file and pay for my license online, so I received my license number almost immediately. It was one of the most satisfying moments of my life, and I’m sure you will feel the same!

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