How to study for the Enrolled Agent Exam

The Enrolled Agent Exam (also called the IRS Special Enrollment Examination) is a 3-part process requiring careful preparation. While some exam stress is natural, it doesn’t have to feel completely overwhelming. 

Do any of these sound like you? 

  • You need to focus more on test-taking tips, and less on the tax content (which you already know). 
  • You already have some tax preparation knowledge and need help finding your starting point. 
  • You’re dreading balancing studying with a full-time job. 
  • With so many EA study options and review providers, you aren’t sure which will help you the most. 

Fear not – you can find study materials that match your learning style and make good use of your time. Let’s break down your study options to help you find the best fit. 

Study option 1: Enrolled agent course with adaptive technology

What can you expect from an enrolled agent exam course? Plenty of video lectures, MCQs, practice tests and content to help you pass. But exam review software with adaptive technology takes it a step further. 

The pros – these courses include planning tools and technology for smart and effective studying. It’s the best way to ensure you’ll pass each section on the first try. 

The cons – these courses tend to be the most expensive option. If you’re fearful of trusting the algorithm to build your custom plan, you might prefer a “study-it-all” approach. 

Be careful when researching providers. Some courses claim to be adaptive because they prioritize material needed to study at the beginning. A truly adaptive course will optimize each day, showing you exactly what you need to know and reducing overall material. 

Surgent EA Review is the top-rated adaptive provider, leading the industry with proprietary A.S.A.P.® Technology. Key features include: 

  • With Ultimate Pass, coaches work with you one-on-one, giving you the test-taking strategies needed to pass. This is especially helpful for those who know the material and just need help with taking tests. 
  • A guided, personalized study plan adapts to your knowledge in real-time. You’ll study more of the material where you need help, and less of what you already know. 
  • A ReadySCORE™ metric tells you what you’ll score if you sit for the exam that day. You can feel more confident on the day of the exam knowing that you’ll pass (and avoid over-studying for a section). 

Study option 2: Enrolled agent course with linear learning

Like an adaptive course, a linear course includes a mix of video lectures, practice questions, sample exams, textbooks and flashcards to suit your learning preferences.  

The pros – these enrolled agent review providers can be less expensive than adaptive courses. This option might appeal to exam candidates who have the time to study a full course. 

The cons – with no personalization features and adaptive technology, you’ll have to study everything and evaluate your own progress. Additionally, you might feel uneasy walking into the EA Exam without truly knowing if you’re ready to pass. 

Study option 3: EA Exam textbooks, study guides and test banks

Basic study materials include practice tests, lessons about tax law and examples to walk through. You could also purchase a standalone test bank for practice questions. 

The pros – these options are the most simplistic and least expensive exam prep. If you have full confidence in your test taking abilities, you might get by with a textbook or basic study guide. 

If you are feeling uneasy about your tax prep knowledge, you might get a boost from using these options as supplemental material. Or, choose a tax consultant course to ensure you have the baseline knowledge needed before preparing for the EA exam. 

The cons – these providers don’t include options for coaching and understanding your strengths and weaknesses. Even if you see trends in what you’re missing on your test banks, it’s up to you to craft a plan of attack.  

Furthermore, you’ll be learning in a single format, rather than a comprehensive mix of videos, lectures and questions. Do you prefer to listen to lectures while driving and read textbooks at home? You probably won’t have that variety. 

Which enrolled agent study materials suit your learning style?

When you know which ways you learn best, you can look for exam review providers that include your favorite features. Here are some of the primary learning styles and related course features. 

Visual learners and course features

A visual learner tends to close their eyes to recall information. They absorb pictures and written material, often drawing their own pictures or writing things down on scratch paper. 

Visual learners would benefit from flashcards, explanatory videos and textbooks. A well-designed interface is an added bonus. 

Auditory learners and course features

Auditory learners absorb information from hearing it. They like to listen to audio and hear themselves read out loud.  

An auditory learner would also benefit from flashcards if they read them out loud. They might also like audio lectures, podcasts and a mobile app, where they can listen to videos on the go. 

Kinesthetic learners and course features

Kinesthetic learners benefit from hands-on practice. They appreciate simulations and real-world examples. 

These types of learners should look for a provider with unlimited practice exams and plenty of MCQs. They should also consider lecture styles that walk through real scenarios and give practical applications.  

Rely on an exam coach to ensure you’ll pass the EA Exam

Exam review courses get you familiar with material, exam formats and question types. You can also see which areas you need some extra help. 

But have you considered that understanding course material is only half the battle? The EA Exam is a mental game. Often times, people fail exams due to test-taking weaknesses. These include: 

  • Losing focus and stamina  
  • Getting discouraged on a hard question, which affects performance for the following questions 
  • Not knowing when to skip or how to guess 
  • Rushing through questions due to poor habits they created while studying 

Unlike other providers who offer coaching, Surgent coaches are test-taking experts. They give you all the tips and tricks needed to boost your exam confidence and learn answering strategies. Armed with these techniques, you’ll glide through your test without burning out.  

Ready to start studying?

Surgent EA Review is a fully adaptive course including unlimited practice exams, free automatic content updates and plenty more. With a 96% pass rate, you can count on Surgent to help you pass the EA Exam on the first try.