Preparing for the EA exam

The EA designation is a fantastic opportunity for tax professionals wishing to advance their career. With the right approach, you can prepare for the EA exam efficiently and save time. It’s crucial that you choose the best study tactics and tools to set you up for success.

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

What is an Enrolled Agent?

In this CMA exam preparation study guide, you’ll find answers to your commonly-asked questions about the test.

Enrolled Agents (EAs) are federally authorized tax practitioners who may represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding collections, audits and appeals.

What does the EA Exam contain?

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

Part OnePart TwoPart Three
Content100x multiple choice questions100x multiple choice questions100x multiple choice questions
Time to Complete3.5 hours3.5 hours3.5 hours
Sections1. 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

No matter which part of the Exam you choose to sit for first, the test prep you do is crucial to preparing you for test day. We recommend that you explore multiple review courses to compare study guides. It’s important that you choose a test prep course that suits your personal learning style.

2. Ensuring You Meet all Requirements

Candidates that have worked for the IRS in a position requiring the interpretation of the tax code for five years or longer may become Enrolled Agents. Candidates must also pass a background check of their tax return history. Without the appropriate qualifying years of service and a clean background check, candidates will not be eligible for certification.

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 helps to ensure success.

4. Harness Adaptive Technology

As you explore review courses and formulate a study plan, consider harnessing the power of  adaptive technology to help you to succeed. At Surgent, we’re able to make use of your existing tax knowledge to help you pass the first time. That’s why Surgent EA Review Course pass rates are 25% higher than the national average pass rate – our A.S.A.P.® Technology identifies your strengths and needs, then tailors your course content to ensure the fastest path to a passing score.

5. Stay on Top of Changes to Tax Law

Tax law frequently changes, and when tax law changes, so does the EA Exam. Study with a review course automatically 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 whether your study materials are up to date.