About the EA Exam

Enrolled Agent exam study guide

An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a tax adviser who is a federally authorized tax practitioner empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Holding an Enrolled Agent credential is a distinction of tax preparer expertise. An EA’s role is to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service for tax issues, including audits, collections and appeals. 

This EA exam study guide will answer frequently asked questions and provide some study tips. Spot something we didn’t cover? Send us your question to info@surgent.com, and we’ll do our best to answer it for you!

What’s inside the EA exam?

There are three parts to the EA exam:

  • Part 1 – Individuals
  • Part 2 – Businesses
  • Part 3 – Representation, Practice and Procedures

Each of the three parts of the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE, also known as the Enrolled Agent Exam) includes 100 multiple-choice questions. Test takers are allowed 3.5 hours to complete each part.

Top tips on how to pass the EA exam

Make the most of EA exam practice tests

In addition to preparing for exam content, it is important to be comfortable with the exam format. That is why practice exams are invaluable — they allow candidates to experience the test using the same software and timing as the actual exam. This provides familiarity with the test that can boost confidence and help ease test anxiety.

Surgent offers unlimited opportunities to take practice exams. Learners have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with actual questions from prior EA exams to ensure that they are prepared for exam day.

Study intelligently

Studying for the EA exam need not be challenging and time-consuming. That’s why choosing an adaptive review course matters. Surgent Enrolled Agent Review is not your typical course. In fact, Surgent prides itself on being the best EA course on the market with adaptive learning technology. We identify your areas of need and curate a hyper-personalized study plan unique to you. Then we adapt your content as you progress to make sure you’re always studying the correct materials in the ways you prefer to learn.

On average, Surgent students are passing the EA exam after just 47 hours of study.

Make use of existing knowledge

EA candidates often think they need to start studying from scratch when using an EA review course — but that’s not usually the case. Surgent EA Review course optimizes your study plan. 

Candidates who have been out of school for a while need not worry — Surgent’s adaptive technology and hyper-personalized study plans will assess and build upon your current knowledge. In addition, mock tests, updated with content from IRS publications, help to prepare you for exam day.

Check your ReadySCORE™ ahead of exam day

Even after hours of study and countless correct answers on practice tests, it can still feel like you’re not ready to sit for the EA exam. But don’t worry — Surgent has your back. In fact, that’s the very reason we created ReadySCORE — a one-of-a-kind exam-readiness metric that is proven to estimate real exam scores with extreme accuracy. No more going in blind! Try Surgent Enrolled Agent Exam Prep Review and practice questions for free today.

EA exam FAQ

1. What job roles are common among EAs?

While there are many different roles that can benefit from the skill sets of EAs, the most common positions that EAs hold include:

  • Tax preparer
  • Public accounting firm tax staff
  • Small accounting firm tax staff
  • Banking staff
  • Law firm staff
  • Investment firm staff
  • Department of Revenue staff
  • CEO or business owner

2. What is the typical EA salary?

When you invest your time and money into something, you want to see an appropriate return. Rest assured that the EA is the highest credential in the tax preparer industry. An entry-level EA can earn nearly double the salary of an entry-level non-certified tax preparer.

3. Will there be continuing education required to keep my EA?

Yes. In order for tax professionals to maintain the EA credential after passing the exam, the general requirements are 72 hours of continuing education during each three-year enrollment cycle. Enrollment cycles are determined by the last digit of your social security number.

4. What rights do Enrolled Agents have?

Like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), Enrolled Agents have unlimited practice rights before the IRS. This means EAs are not restricted in which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle and in which IRS offices they can represent clients. Likewise, EAs are generally more respected by the IRS in client representations, since the EA exam is administered by the IRS. The IRS also monitors the individual integrity of the credential, so IRS agents are confident that EAs are industry professionals and knowledgeable in tax law.

5. Which part of the EA exam should I take first?

There is no set order for the EA exam, so you may select the order in which you complete the exam. We recommend that you examine the EA syllabus to see which topics are most familiar to you, and take that exam part first. 

6. Should I get the EA even if I already have the CPA?

While it’s not essential, there are benefits to getting both. Many CPAs have chosen to obtain the EA credential because it provides the same IRS representation rights as a CPA. But unlike the CPA, an EA is recognized in all 50 states across the United States, eliminating the need to apply to each individual state board of accountancy each time you move or have out-of-state clients.

7. Which is the best EA prep course?

Surgent EA Review is the best EA review course for tax professionals according to several independent review sites, including Crush the EA Exam and Accounting Institute for Success, among others. Check out this Enrolled Agent course comparison

Or explore what Surgent has to offer with a free trial today!