About the Enrolled Agent (EA) Exam
The IRS Enrolled Agent exam, or the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE), is a three-part exam that individuals must pass to become Enrolled Agents (EAs). Upon passing the EA exam and earning the EA credential, enrolled agents are granted unlimited practice rights to represent any taxpayer before the IRS.
What's on the EA Exam?
Exam Question Count
100 Multiple Choice
1. Preliminary Work, Taxpayer Data (17)
2. Income and Assets (21)
3. Deductions and Credits (21)
4. Taxation and Advice (14)
5. Specialized Individual Returns (12)
Exam Question Count
100 Multiple Choice
1. Business Entities (28)
2. Business Financial Information (39)
3. Specialized Returns and Taxpayers (18)
Representation, Practices and Procedures
Exam Question Count
100 Multiple Choice
1. Practices and Procedures (25)
2. Representation before the IRS (24)
3. Specific Types of Representation (19)
4. Completion of the Filing Process (17)
Requirements to Become an Enrolled Agent
Unlike the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential and most other professional designations, you can become an Enrolled Agent (EA) without earning a college degree. Plus, once you become an EA, your credential is valid in all 50 states.
Whether you have decades of experience in tax or recently decided to make a career change from something completely unrelated, you are eligible to take the Enrolled Agent Examination (referred to as the Special Enrollment Examination, or SEE, by the Internal Revenue Service). A background in taxation helps make the process easier, but there have been students with zero tax experience who studied and passed the Enrolled Agent Exam – on their FIRST attempt! Here’s are the requirements to become an EA:
You must be at least 18 years old
You must have an active Personal Tax Identification Number (PTIN) from the IRS
You must pass all three parts of the Enrolled Agent Exam
You must be in compliance with U.S. Tax laws
Candidates who have five years of previous IRS work experience may be exempt from the exam altogether.
What Experience Do I Need to Sit for the Exam, and How Do I Get Started?
A background and/or experience in taxation definitely helps but it is not required. The exam covers topics including individual taxation, business taxation, and practice and procedures. Below are the steps required to become an EA:
Obtain a Personal Tax Identification Number (PTIN).
Any person that prepares taxes for a profit is required to have an active PTIN. If you do not currently have one, you can visit IRS.gov/tax-professionals to obtain one.
Study for the Enrolled Agent Exam.
The exam is broken into three separate parts and can cover all aspects of Federal taxation. Each exam is 100 questions with 3.5 hours allotted for each exam section. The parts include:
- Representation, Practices, and Procedures.
Register for the Enrolled Agent Exam.
You can register by visiting prometric.com/see. You will need your active PTIN to register for the exam. The exam is offered from May 1 through the end of February of the following year. There are no exams in March and April as the exams are being updated for tax law changes.
Take the exam!
You can take the three parts in any order you wish.
Apply for enrollment and pass a tax compliance check!
Once you’ve passed all three Enrolled Agent Exam parts, you will need to complete IRS Form 23 and submit it via mail along with your payment of $30. The Tax Compliance check is just to ensure that you personally are compliant with the tax laws of the United States.
How to prepare for the EA exam
Surgent EA Review is the fastest and most effective way of preparing for the Enrolled Agent Exam. With A.S.A.P. Technology™, you’ll spend your time focusing on those content areas that matter most – those that are more heavily tested, and where your performance is weaker—and much less time in areas where you’re already proficient.
And thanks to our award-winning ReadySCORE™ feature, you’ll be able to see how you’re performing at each step of your studies and when you’re ready to pass.
With as few as 30 hours of study, you can be ready to take your first exam section in as little as two weeks! In short, Surgent EA Review will get you exam-ready, much faster.
How difficult is the enrolled agent exam?
Well, we'll put it this way - the pass rates hover around 71% for a reason. While people often say it's easier then the CPA or CMA Exam, if you know your stuff, sitting for and passing the EA Exam still requires a lot of work.
Given the content revolves mostly around tax code, being competent in that knowledge is crucial - but you shouldn't have to start at square one. If you're interested in becoming an Enrolled Agent, it's probably a safe assumption that you have existing knowledge in the space: with Surgent Enrolled Agent Exam Review, you can use that existing knowledge to get a head start in your exam prep because we tailor our questions to specifically focus on what you don't know! That's why our students have a 96% pass rate! more than 25% higher than the national average!
Answering Your Frequently Asked Questions
Is the EA exam open book?
The examinations are closed book. You are also not allowed to access any notes, books, reference materials, or electronic devices at any time during the examination or during breaks. Taking a look at any notes, books, reference materials or electronic devices can result in your test results being nullified by the IRS - so, it isn't worth it!
Where do I take the enrolled agent exam?
The Enrolled Agent Exam is taken at Prometric - you can look at the schedule here.
Do I need to be a US citizen to become an enrolled agent?
No, you don't. Currently, there are no citizen or residency requirements. But, during PTIN renewal, you will be required to provide your social security number. If you don't have one, you will need to apply for your PTIN using Form 8946. Plus, Prometric centers are all over the world, so you can take the test anywhere.
What is a PTIN?
A PTIN is an IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number. This is a number issued by the IRS to a professional tax preparer, like Enrolled Agents (EAs). A PTIN is only required for professional tax preparers that accept payment to prepare tax returns.
How much does it cost to take the EA exam?
There's a non-refundable and non-transferable $182.00 fee per part paid at the time of appointment scheduling.
Do I have to take the enrolled agent exams all at once?
Nope - you do not have to take all three parts in one sitting. As long as you schedule one section within 1 year from your date of registration, you have two years to complete and pass all three sections.
Can I take the Enrolled Agent Exam in any order?
You can absolutely take the Enrolled Agent Exam in any order - there's no requirement for the order you sit them. You can see our recommendation for the order here.
What is the passing score for the Enrolled Agent Exam?
To pass the Enrolled Agent Exam, a score of 105 is the minimum required. This score is developed using a scaled score system - where your EA test results are ranked against others taking the examination, on a scale ranging between 40 and 130.
What happens if I fail the EA exam? Will I be able to retest?
The EA Exam is quite unique, in that you can register to retake a failed EA exam part in just 24 hours. You can actually take the Exam four times within one testing window, but if you fail each time, you do have to wait for the next testing window. But if you fail four times in a row - it might be a good idea to take some time to study some more, don't you think?
Will I have to renew my EA credential?
You will be required to earn 72 hours of CE during your 3-year enrollment cycle. Enrollment cycles are determined by the last digit of your social security number.
Where can I get more information about the Enrolled Agent Exam?
To find out more about the EA Exam, and how you can pass - you can download our comprehensive whitepaper that will show you how to pass the EA Exam in just three months, see here.
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Sign up for a Surgent EA Review free trial today!