How to Pass the EA Exam

How to Pass the EA Exam

So, you’re on the journey to becoming an Enrolled Agent? That’s great – the EA designation can be a fantastic opportunity for tax professionals from all walks of life. But it can be time consuming, and so the approach you take towards the Exam is critical.

On this page, you’ll find information about the Special Enrollment Examination, to help you prepare to pass.

What is an Enrolled Agent?

We can assume that if you’re on this page, you know you want to sit for the Exam, but let’s start off with a summary of what an Enrolled Agent is.

At its simplest, Enrolled Agents (EAs) are federally-licensed tax practitioners who may represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) when it comes to collections, audits and appeals.

What is the EA Exam Made Up Of

The Special Enrollment Examination is made up of three parts, each lasting 3.5 hours, and each containing 100 multiple-choice questions. Out of the 100 questions, 85 are scored (and weighted equally), while 15 are experimental questions that do not count towards scoring.

Part One Part Two Part Three
Content 100x multiple choice questions 100x multiple choice questions 100x multiple choice questions
Time to Complete 3.5 hours 3.5 hours 3.5 hours
Sections 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)
1. Business Entities (28)
2. Business Financial Information (39)
3. Specialized Returns and Taxpayers (18)
1. Practices and Procedures (25)
2. Representation before the IRS (24)
3. Specific Types of Representation (19)
4. Completion of the Filing Process (17)

How to Pass the Enrolled Agent Exam

1. Choosing an Appropriate Exam Review Course

Whatever part of the Exam you choose to sit for first, the test prep you do is crucial to ensure you feel ready come test day. We recommend that you get your hands on as many free trials of review courses and do your research into comparing the study guides. It’s important that you choose a test prep course that suits your personal learning style, for the most effective path to a passing score.

2. Ensuring You Meet all Requirements

There are certain requirements that you must meet to become an Enrolled Agent – primarily that you can pass a background check that dives into your own tax return history. Otherwise, candidates that have worked for the IRS for five years, or more, in a position requiring the interpretation of the tax code can become Enrolled Agents.

Candidates can pass the EA Exam, but without the background check – or the proper experience in place of the check, the candidate will not become certified.

3. Creating a Proper Study Plan

The study time that candidates put into preparing for test day is crucial, and creating an appropriate study plan that properly allocates time to your weak areas of tax knowledge is a surefire way to ensure you study enough, regardless of Exam part.

4. Harness Adaptive Technology

While you’re creating a study plan, and choosing a review course to use, we recommend looking into how adaptive technology can help you to succeed. Here at Surgent, we’re able to make use of your existing tax knowledge to help you pass first time. That’s why Surgent EA Review Course pass rates are 25% higher than national average pass rate – our A.S.A.P. Technology identifies your weak spots, and tailors the content you receive to ensure you’re taking the fastest path to a passing score.

5. Stay on Top of Changes to Tax Law

Tax law frequently changes, meaning that a law in place last year may no longer be in place this year. And when tax law changes, so does the EA Exam. By keeping up to date on tax law changes, you can ensure that you aren’t studying out-of-date materials that will not be tested on the exam, or worse, have changed by the time you sit for the exam. One way to ensure that your materials are up to date is to study with a review course that has automatic updates whenever exam changes are rolled out. Surgent EA Review provides free, automatic updates with every EA review course, so you never have to worry that your study materials might not be up to date.

Download our whitepaper, on how to pass in three months!