When is the CPA Exam Given?

Perhaps you are considering taking the CPA Exam, or better yet, you are in the process of developing your CPA Exam study road map. As you begin mapping out your study plan, you ask yourself, “When can I actually take the four parts of the CPA Exam?” Shortly thereafter, you ask the internet the exact same question and poof you are in the middle of this Magoosh blog post.

Unlike in other CPA Exam posts where the answer to the question is “well, it depends,” in this blog post, the answer is very straightforward. The CPA Exam is offered the first two months of every quarter. Put those fingers away because below in plain English is the exact months in which you can and cannot take the CPA Exam.

Can Take the CPA Exam 🙂 Cannot Take the CPA Exam 🙁
January March
February June
April September
May December


Notice to Schedule

After you apply to take the CPA Exam and receive subsequent approval from your state board of accountancy, you will receive your very own Notice to Schedule (NTS). In order to schedule the four sections of the CPA Exam at an official Prometric testing site, you must have your handy-dandy NTS. If you do not have a NTS, right below is the top portion of a sample NTS for your reference.

Sample Notice to Schedule

As you can see, Will Jackson’s NTS provides very important information about the four exam sections, section ID, launch code, and exam window. You also may notice that Will can only take the Exam during the six month interval from April 27, 2012 through October 27, 2012. Say Will is a CPA all-star (obviously) and has finished AUD, BEC, and FAR before October 27, 2012 but still has REG left after October 27, 2012, Will would need to receive a new NTS and schedule REG in the next testing window.

Testing Window

The standard NTS testing window allows you take the four parts of the CPA Exam during a six month interval. However, if you register through Texas, you have 90 days from your application date. If you register through California, Hawaii, Louisiana, or Utah, you will have a nine month window. If you register through North Dakota, South Dakota, or Virginia, you will have an entire year window. Not too shabby, right?

When can YOU Actually Take the Exam?

Now you may be thinking, “Andrew, you told me when the CPA Exam is offered and you just told me about the NTS. What do you mean by when can YOU actually take the Exam?” Similar to you, there a tons of eager CPA Exam candidates begging to spend three to four hours of their life sitting for a section of the Exam. As a result, Prometric testing sites tend fill up fast, especially in the immediate months after you cannot take the Exam.

Prometric has developed an excellent seat availability tool that lets you know when the specific section of the CPA Exam is offered at a specific Prometric testing site. It is very, very important to use this seat availability tool and to register to take the CPA Exam as soon as you receive your NTS. As always, remember to breathe.


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