6 tips for passing the CPA exam to practice in another state
Passing the CPA exam in your home state is hard enough. What if you live in one state and want to get licensed in a different state? Whether you’re moving to a new location for college or you’re just getting a fresh start, here are some tips for getting your CPA license in your future home state.
1. Know your state’s CPA exam application requirements
Knowing your state’s CPA exam application requirements will prevent unnecessary frustration, in case you’re moving to a state that requires residency to apply. Most U.S. states don’t require residency to apply for the CPA exam. However, some states do, so you must know ahead of time.
Ideally, you’ll want to take the CPA exam in the state where you intend to get licensed. However, that’s not always possible. You might need to take the exam in the state you’re leaving.
Since there’s a chance you could be moving to a state that won’t let you sit for the exam until you can prove residency, make sure you know all the rules before submitting your application. Surprisingly, in most U.S. states, you can take part of the exam in one state and finish in the state where you wish to be licensed, and your scores will be transferred. That might be an option for you if you can’t get residency immediately, but you want to start taking the exam.
2. Make sure you apply where you plan to practice
When you’re moving to another state, make sure you fill out the application for that state. You may have printed out or bookmarked the application for your home state before realizing you’re going to move. Make sure you double-check the application before submitting to make sure it’s for the right state.
3. Apply for two exams at a time
The CPA exam consists of four sections: AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG. However, don’t apply for all four sections at the same time because you’ll only have six months to complete them all.
When you need to apply for your next exam, you’ll need to pay a re-application fee. However, that fee is usually less than the initial application fee.
If you’re able to take all four exams in your destination state, make sure you apply for all four at once. If you need to take some of the exams in your current state, you might need to apply for each exam individually.
4. Sign up to take your first exam within 90 days of applying
To sit for the exam, you’re required to schedule your first exam within 90 days of applying. Moving can be stressful, and you might get distracted from your usual habits, so mark your calendar as a reminder to schedule your exam.
5. Submit your application right after submitting your documents
To sit for the exam, you’ll be required to provide extensive documentation to prove you meet the qualifications. Many of these documents, like transcripts and work experience affidavits, will be sent separately from your application.
Most states have regulations that govern how long they’ll hang onto your documents while waiting for your application. In Washington state, for example, the Board of Accountancy will hold onto your documents for one year. After one year, if you haven’t submitted an application, your documents will be destroyed.
Make sure to submit your application with your documents. If that’s not possible, mark your calendar with a specific date and time you’ll submit your application, so it doesn’t fall to the wayside.
6. Plan to sit for the exam once you’ve settled into your new home
Taking the CPA exam is a stressful experience for most people. Moving can add a significant amount of stress to your life. To reduce your stress levels and keep your focus on the task at hand, try to schedule your exams after you’ve settled into your new home.
If you’re the type of person who wants to get things done as fast as possible, consider changing your methods for the CPA exam. You might not realize how much the stress of moving can impact your ability to study and recall information.
Keep your eye on the prize: Your license
Getting licensed in a new state is exciting. It’s a new beginning with a new home and a new career. Don’t let that dream fall away. Stay focused on getting your license and if you don’t pass an exam the first time, schedule again and keep at it until you pass all four exams.
Story by Darren Wilson