STEP 1: Learn about the EA Exam Learn more about the enrolled agent designation and explore the career opportunities that await you after passing your EA exam. In addition to preparing income tax returns for clients, EAs can represent individuals and businesses before the IRS, just as attorneys and CPAs do. A college degree or professional tax background is not required to take the EA exam. Many people who use the PassKey study guides have had no prior experience preparing tax returns, but go on to rewarding new professional careers.
STEP 2: Gather Information Gather more information before you launch into your EA studies. You will also valuable information about the exam itself on the Prometric testing website at www.prometric.com/see. Be sure to download the Candidate Information Bulletin, which takes you step-by-step through the registration and testing process.
STEP 3: Obtain a PTIN from the Internal Revenue Service PTIN stands for Preparer Tax Identification Number. Before you can register for your EA exam, you must obtain a PTIN from the IRS. The PTIN sign-up system can be found at www.irs.gov/ptin. You will need to create an account, provide personal information, and pay a required fee. The current PTIN fee is $50.
STEP 4: Register with Prometric Once you have your PTIN, you may register for your exam on the official SEE Prometric website by creating an account to set up your user ID and password.
STEP 5: Schedule Your Test After creating an account, you can complete the registration process by clicking on “Scheduling.” Your exam appointment must be scheduled within one year from the date of registration. You can choose a test site, time, and date that are convenient for you. Prometric has test centers in most major metropolitan areas of the United States, as well as in many other countries. You may schedule as little as two days in advance—space permitting—through the website or by calling 800-306-3926 Monday through Friday.
STEP 6: Adopt a Study Plan Focus on one exam part at a time, and adopt a study plan that covers each exam section. You’ll need to develop your own individualized study program. The period of time you’ll need to prepare for each exam is truly unique to you, based on how much prior tax preparation experience you have and your current level of tax knowledge; how well you understand and retain the information you read; and how much time you have to study for each test. A good rule of thumb is to study at least 40-60 hours for each section, and some extra time for Part Two (Businesses).
STEP 7: Get Plenty of Rest, Exercise, and Good Nutrition Get plenty of rest, exercise, and good nutrition prior to the EA exam. You’ll want to be at your best on exam day.
STEP 8: Test Day Be sure to arrive early at the test site. Prometric advises to arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled exam time. If you miss your appointment and are not allowed to take the test, you’ll forfeit your fee and have to pay for a new appointment. Remember to bring a government-issued ID with your name, photo, and signature. Your first and last name must exactly match the first and last name you used to register for the exam.
STEP 9: During the Exam This is when your hard work finally pays off. Focus and don’t worry if you don’t know the answer to every question, but make sure you use your time well. Give your best answer to every question. All questions left blank will be marked as wrong.
STEP 10: Congratulations. You Passed! After celebrating your success, you need to apply for your EA designation. The quickest way is by filling out Form 23, Application for Enrollment to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service, on the IRS website. You may also pay online. Once your application is approved, you’ll be issued an enrollment card, and you’ll be official—a brand new enrolled agent!