As a tax professional ready to become an Enrolled Agent, your first step is passing the IRS’s Special Enrollment Examination (or EA Exam). Congratulations – your existing tax knowledge will give you a head start. Now it’s time to familiarize yourself with the process, focus on the EA exam structure and find an exam review provider that checks all of your boxes.
Check out our tips to help you pass the exam and get on the road to your new career.
Start the process to become an enrolled agent
Before doing anything else, you should review all of the steps to become an enrolled agent. Beyond passing the EA Exam, you need to obtain a PTIN, pass a sustainability check and enroll with the IRS.
Once you have laid out all that needs to be done, you can turn your focus towards the exam.
Get familiar with the EA Exam structure
The EA Exam consists of three parts, which you can take in any order. There are also specific testing windows – since March and April are “dark months”, you’ll have to take the exam between May and February.
Visit irs.gov to get up-to-date overviews of content covered on the exam.
Find your best-match EA review course
While you can find all the information you need to know on the IRS’s website and through IRS publications, they aren’t assembled in an easily consumed format. If you want to pass the exam the first time without spending hours sifting through tax law on the IRS website, you’ll want an EA Review course. Look for a review course that’s EA Exam specific and walks through the specific exam content areas.
Ideally, your review course should fit your learning style. If you thrive on audio or visuals, look for a prep course with video lectures or flashcards. If you enjoy a hands on approach, look for a course with lots of practice questions. And if you like an individual approach, look for a course with adaptive learning technology.
Take a look at why Surgent EA Review is a top provider.
- The best time-saving features: Surgent’s proprietary A.S.A.P.® Technology creates a fully personalized study plan. Focus on your weaker areas to save time.
- Automatic content updates: Surgent offers free, automatic updates, so you know you’re studying material that is fully aligned with the exam.
- Real-time exam readiness score: Your ReadySCORE™ updates as you study and answer questions, allowing you to predict your exam score at any moment.
- Options for coaching: Similar to SAT prep, an EA Exam coach can give you tools to study smarter, help you balance your time, and increase your ability to answer questions correctly.
Schedule your exam early
Exam seats fill up fast, and the last thing you want is to be ready to take the exam and have to wait weeks for an opening. Get on the Prometric site and schedule your exam as soon as possible. This will also give you a hard date to help motivate you to study.
Start studying as soon as possible
Once you have your exam scheduled, it’s time to dive into studying. Don’t be discouraged, you can prepare for the EA Exam in as little as a few months with the right study materials.
Take your time, start early if possible, and make sure you know the fundamentals and basic tax equations before exam day.
Make sure that you are in a productive mindset each time you study. Rushing through the material and practice questions creates bad test-taking habits – you want to focus on efficiency and accuracy.
Create a study plan and stick to it
One of the hardest parts about passing an exam is settling into your new study routine. Create a schedule that ends just before exam day that covers topics in depth. Then, stick to your plan so you don’t have to worry about what you’re going to study each day.
Not the scheduling type? Surgent EA Review features an adaptive study planner that tells you what to study on each day based on your exam date, so you’re completely prepared when EA Exam day rolls around. Take the hassle out of studying.
Budget time for non-study activities
It’s important to stay mentally and physically healthy as you study for the exam. Build in fun activities, workouts or visits with family and friends into your study schedule. This will provide a much-needed break from studying and will allow you to come back to each study session feeling renewed.
Sharing your schedule with family and friends can help get them on board and only invite you to spend time together on your off days. This will reduce temptation to skip study sessions.
If you’re feeling burnt out and missing more study questions than usual, Surgent coaches recommend taking a three-day break to reset. It’s important that you don’t push through a burnt out period – your study time is wasted when you’re in the wrong frame of mind!
Take practice exams and learn how to pace yourself
Practice exams are major helpers before exam day. They help you become familiar with the format of the exam, and they teach you to budget your time. Each of your Enrolled Agent Exams has 100 multiple choice questions that need to be answered within the 3.5-hour window.
On the day of your real exam, you’ll know if you’re on track to answer all the questions and finish in time without giving it much thought. Plus, you’ll feel more confident and relaxed from your preparation.
Keep an eye out for exam changes
The tax law is notoriously dynamic; a law in place last year may not be in place this year. With tax law changes comes changes in the Special Enrollment Exam. Being aware of these changes will ensure you don’t study laws that aren’t current and won’t be tested on the exam.
Better yet, find an exam review course that offers free updates to the software whenever exam changes are rolled out so you’re sure to always have updated study materials.
Ready to start on your journey to passing the EA Exam? Start studying for free today with Surgent EA Review!