ICYMI, just a few weeks ago NASBA approved a change in the CPA Exam testing approach that would eliminate exam testing windows.  This proposal has been in the works for years, and finally it is upon us!  Great news for CPA candidates all around.  So, what does this mean for you and how can you make the most of it?

Prior to July 1, 2020, candidates have only been able to sit for CPA exams during specific testing windows during the year:

January 1- March 10

April 1- June 10

July 1- September 10 and

October 1- December 10.

Blackout periods happened in the third month of every quarter.  In addition, candidates were limited to sitting for an exam only once per window.  In other words, if you sat for FAR in January, you weren’t eligible to sit again for a retake until April 1.  This caused several scheduling difficulties, delays in testing, and challenges in completing all 4 exams during the 18-month window.  

As of July 1, 2020, those restrictions have both been lifted.  You are now able to retake an exam as soon as you receive a failing score and reapply through your state board.  This will allow for much more efficiency in your testing- assuming, worst case- that you need to retake exams.  That in itself is a huge win.  Here are a few more ways to take advantage of this change and make the most of your time.

  1.  Aim to sit for exams toward the end of the scoring window.  This will shorten the wait time for your scores and allow you to (hopefully 🤞) move on to your next exam quickly, or in the case of a retake, reapply and reschedule that exam while most of the information is still fresh in your mind.  
  2. Pair similar exams back to back.   There is some content overlap between AUD, FAR and BEC, specifically common ratios and formulas.  If you pair these exams back to back, you’ll be able to build on your knowledge from the previous exams and gain efficiency.

And finally…

  1. Be in it to win it.  This one gets its own paragraph because it is the most important tip of all!  Just because continuous testing is in place and makes it much easier to retake exams (or, as the name suggests, take exams continuously), that’s ultimately not the end goal.  One potential downside to continuous testing is that it’s easy to allow your mindset to slip into a lazy place.  “Well, if I don’t pass this time, it’s fine”.  While it is “fine” if you don’t pass, in my experience it’s a slippery slope from here to “omg.  I have to pass 3 exams in 3 months before I lose credit.”  Historically, there was some extra rigor and urgency with studying knowing that you had a limited window and limited opportunities to pass.  Without that, it’s an opportunity for procrastination to sneak in and an opportunity to let yourself off the hook.  

Be sure to stay in the game and stay in it to win it.  If you do fail an exam, you’re much better off now than you were 2 months ago, but that doesn’t mean you want to keep sending the state board all of your money.

Continuous testing will be a positive change for all CPA candidates, especially those who use it strategically.  As I always say, there is no better time than now to pursue the CPA Exam!  

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