I talk about CPA Exam testing windows on various pages in this site but I thought it would be nice to have a quick post to explain how it works.
You can Take This Exam 10* out of 12 Months Every Year
The good news is that in terms of when you can take the exam, it is very flexible. Since the test became 100% computerized in April 2004, candidates have been allowed to take the exam anytime during the first two months of each quarter.
CPA Exam Testing Windows 2016
In other words, the testing windows are:
- 1st Quarter: January to February
- 2nd Quarter: April 1 to
- 3rd Quarter: July 1 to
- 4th Quarter: October 1 to
* Update on March 22, 2016: Traditionally, March, June, September and December are known as black-out periods. Effective April 2016, 10 extra days are added at the end of the testing window to meet the demand from increasing number of candidates.
In other words, time allowed to take the exam each year is now 40 days (or 1 month and 10 days) longer!
Candidates can pick any time within the test windows to take the exam. Exams are held in sites administered by the Prometric. Opening hours are Monday to Friday, and sometimes Monday to Saturday for some sites.
You may take one or more exam parts in each testing window as long as you do not take the same part more than once.
Other Important Dates to Remember
Once you start your CPA journey, you should mark down the day you pass the first part of your exam. This is because the 18-month deadline will start to tick.
Please note that it only starts to count once you PASS the first part, not when you TAKE the first part. For example, you are taking FAR in Jan 2016 and REG in Feb 2016. You find out later that you fail FAR and pass REG. The 18-month starts to count in Feb 2016, and you will have to complete all 4 parts by Aug 2017.
Tips in Scheduling Your Exam Parts
I notice that many candidates choose to schedule the exam at the end of testing window (end of Feb, May, Aug, Nov). There are two disadvantages:
- Exam site tends to get full faster towards the end of each month. This means that you have to schedule in advance.
- In case you aren’t ready and need to reschedule, there is no room for that because you are not allowed to postpone your exam to the next testing window.
If possible, try scheduling the exam at the beginning or middle of the window so you have the flexible to postpone it without extra fee and extra waiting during the blackout month.
Another Frequently Asked Question…
Readers often wonder which part they should take first. There are two schools of thought — one is to take the toughest one first and get rid of that early on; the other is to take the easier one so you can build up your confidence.
I personally prefer the first option but it really depends on your own style. Another common way is to go for the one you are most familiar with first (no matter whether that’s the easier or harder one). This works great for a lot of my readers as well.
My Bloggers Have Different Orders and Reasons When Scheduling Their Exams
To give you an example, Travis and Sumit have different views on how they plan the exam sections:
Status: passed all parts
AUD -> REG -> FAR -> BEC
(In retrospect he would have taken FAR first)
Status: just started
AUD -> BEC -> REG -> FAR
(See why he takes FAR last)
For Your Further Reading
- Is it possible to pass 4 parts together?
- Which order did you take (or recommend to take)?
- What should I expect after sending off the application?
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