CPA Exam Schedule: 2024 CPA Schedule + 2024 CPA Exam Blackout Dates

cpa exam schedule

Proper planning of your CPA Exam schedule and testing dates will make your life much easier and greatly increase your chance of passing the CPA Exam. The CPA Exam schedule is a bit confusing for many candidates because of testing windows, exam days, blackout months, and more. It can feel like a lot to keep track of. First-time candidates may also find the scheduling process to be really confusing.

This is why it’s recommended you do some research about the CPA Exam dates and schedule first. Therefore, I am going to walk you through my recommended CPA Exam schedule and explain the reasoning behind it. And note, the CPA Exam is changing in 2024, including the blackout dates. So in addition to understanding the general 2024 CPA Exam changes, be sure to read the information about 2024 CPA blackout dates in this post.

How to Schedule the CPA Exam

You will first need to know how to schedule the CPA Exam. As I said above, it can be confusing to first-time candidates who are trying to get on the schedule. Allow me to walk you through the process.

First, you need to submit a CPA application to state your intention of wanting to join the CPA program and take the exam. This application needs to be approved by your state’s board of accountancy. If you are eligible to sit for the exam, your state board will send you an Authorization to Test (ATT).

The ATT means you have 90 days to pick which section of the exam you want to sit for. Once you have decided which section(s) you want to sit for, you register for them and pay the fees on the NASBA website.

Receiving Your Notice to Schedule (NTS)

In about 3 to 6 weeks after you’ve paid your registration fees for the section(s) you are going to sit for, you will get a Notice to Schedule (NTS) for these events. The NTS is a document that legally allows you to sit for the exam. It’s very important so be sure not to lose it. You will not be able to schedule your testing date and time at a Prometric testing center without it.

You also need to know that you have only 6 months to schedule your test from the time you are issued the NTS. After 6 months from the issue date, the NTS will be invalidated, and you will have to apply for it again to get a new one. This also means paying the exam fees again.

So, that’s the basic process for scheduling your CPA exam. Next, you need to know about the testing windows.

CPA Exam Testing Dates 2024 and CPA Blackout Dates

You might hear chatter about CPA blackout dates coming back in 2024. And that’s correct. If you plan to pass the CPA Exam in 2024, you should be aware of blackout dates. That is, you can only take the CPA Exam sections during certain times each quarter. Plus, the format of the CPA Exam is changing in 2024, too, and candidates will have to take 3 “core” sections and 1 “discipline” section. However, the blackout dates for the core vs. discipline sections are different.

Dates for the 2024 CPA Exam: Core sections

  • Q1: January 10-March 26, 2024
  • Q2: April 1-June 25, 2024
  • Q3: July 1-September 25, 2024
  • Q4: October 1-December 26, 2024

Dates for the CPA Exam in 2024: Discipline sections

  • Q1: January 10-February 6, 2024
  • Q2: April 20-May 19, 2024
  • Q3: July 1-31, 2024
  • Q4: October 1-31, 2024

Rolling Window for CPA Exam

You also need to know about the 30-month rolling window for the CPA. This doesn’t actually have anything to do with when you schedule your exam dates. The rolling window refers to the time frame that you have to complete all four sections of the exam. This rolling window starts from the time you complete the first section of the exam. This means when you finish the first part, you’ll have 30 months to complete the other three parts of the CPA exam.

This is important because if you take the first part and pass, but then you cannot take and pass the other three parts within the window, the first one will drop off or be invalidated. This means scheduling, paying the fees, and taking it all over again. This rolling window highlights the importance of planning out your CPA testing schedule from the very beginning. You definitely want to take and pass all four sections as soon as you can.

Therefore, as soon as you sign up for the first testing part, you want to have room in your schedule for doing the other three within 30 months. You don’t want to end up having to retest a part you already passed because you didn’t get it done within the window.

Did You Know…

The passing rate of the CPA exam has been increasing. Since the start of the decade, we’ve seen some of the highest section pass rates ever, and the average is now about 50%. In the past, people have seen low test passing rates, so this is actually promising news. Pass rates under 50% can be really intimidating as you’re going into a big exam like this.

One of the reasons is that the computerized exam has allowed CPA candidates the flexibility to take the exam almost anytime during the year. The testing windows used to be a lot smaller, making it even more important to pass on the first try.

CPA Exam Fees and Other Costs

Part of planning your CPA exam schedule is understanding the fees and other costs involved. Because the fees can add up, you want to keep costs down where you can and also do your best to pass on the first try and within the 30-month rolling window, so you don’t have to pay any fees more than once. It’s essential that candidates know all the costs and fees before they begin the process of applying for and testing for the CPA exam.

The examination fee covers the cost of sitting for each CPA Exam section.

There are also additional CPA test costs like application fees, review courses, licensing, and more. You can learn even more about CPA exam fees here. The chart below will give you an overview.

Overall CPA Exam Fees

CPA Fee Structure

CPA Price Without a Section Retake

Price With a Section Retake

Application (Average – fees vary by jurisdiction)



Initial CPA Examination Fees (Average – fees vary by jurisdiction and can range from $250 per section to almost $400 per section)



Review Course (prices vary)



Ethics Exam (Average – but not all jurisdictions require an ethics exam)



License (Average – fees vary by jurisdiction)



Registration Fee + Examination Fee (for a re-take – will be higher for each exam section you fail)


$75 + $250.00 (estimate – retake fees vary)


About $3,589.00

About $3,914.00

How to Design Your CPA Exam Schedule

How should you design your CPA exam schedule? Well, it depends on your work and family commitment. The most important part is that you do, in fact, plan out the schedule. Because this is a very important, complex exam and the fees are costly, you want to have a strategy.

In general, I recommend taking the 4 parts one at a time because:

  • You can focus 100% on one part of the exam.
  • You tend to do better after getting some exam-taking experience.
  • The CPA Exam fees are the same anyway (so why pay them all at once and torture yourself?)

An exception is for those who incur a lot of traveling and accommodation costs to get to the exam centers, e.g. international candidates who need to travel by air to the US. Now, let’s look at the strategy for putting this exam schedule together.

The Strategy

1. Plan Ahead and Pick the Dates.

Even out your CPA exam schedule. Avoid possible clashes with important events in your (and your family’s) life, such as getting married, having a baby, or changing careers. During big events, you are far more likely to get distracted, and the CPA exam won’t be your priority. It’s important you research how to know when you’re ready to sit for the CPA exam. This gives you the best chance of passing on your first try.

2. Aim to Complete All Sections within 12 Months

For most candidates, this is doable as long as you put in sufficient time and effort. Once you complete one part, you will only have 30 months to pass the rest of the exam or risk retaking the sections you have completed. If you aim to do it in 12 months, that gives you some buffer time, just in case you run into any trouble with any of the parts.

In other words, as soon as you pass the first part of the exam, the 30-month clock begins to tick. It may sound like plenty of time, but time can easily get away from you, especially if you have a busy life outside of your studies.

To recap: I recommend spreading the 4 CPA exams somewhat evenly within 12 months instead of the full 30 months.

You can:

  • Shorten the ordeal
  • Build in some buffer in case of retakes or postponements

3. Take the Toughest CPA Sections First

The next question that gets asked a lot is which section of the CPA exam should you take first? Some people may disagree with this CPA Exam schedule strategy, but I prefer getting rid of the toughest beast first because:

  • Your energy level and ability to focus are the highest at the beginning of the year-long study.
  • It feels so much better to have tackled the toughest part. This is the best motivation you can ever have to get done with the exam.

Along these lines, I recommend taking FAR first because:

  • FAR is the longest, but not necessarily the most difficult if you know accounting.
  • The exam questions are similar to the accounting coursework you have in school, so you should take it when your memory is still fresh.

Take AUD after FAR

AUD is closely related to FAR. It makes sense to take the two parts closely together.

Having said that, if you just started your work at an audit firm, you may consider taking AUD last. There will be so much you can pick up on the job that you can expect yourself to do much better if you take AUD a few months later.

An Alternate Strategy

Now, if that strategy doesn’t work for you, another option is to take your most confident subject first. If you do the section you feel will be the easiest and do it fast, you can give yourself more time to focus on the harder sections and still remain in your 30-month window. This will be different for everyone, so only you can determine which will be the easiest for you and which you feel most confident in.

This is a good strategy for candidates who are fresh out of school. If you’re really good at memorizing info, for example, then this might be the best strategy for you as well. If you’re not fresh out of school but you currently work in an accounting or related field, you can use this work experience to help you determine which part to test first. The most important thing to remember is that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do it.

The right way for you is the way that helps you pass most easily. So, look over the advice in this post and see what resonates best with you.

One Last Note

Don’t blindly stick with my suggested CPA Exam schedule. If you are a tax accountant, you might find REG the easiest and FAR the most difficult. It depends on your background, and you should adjust your own CPA Exam schedule accordingly.

As long as you put in your thoughts and plan ahead, you will be able to optimize your time and energy to tackle this efficiently and effectively.

Two Different CPA Exam Schedules from My Bloggers

To give you an example, Travis and Sumit have different views on how they plan the exam sections:

cpa candidate travis VS cpa candidate sumit
Travis Status: Passed all parts (In retrospect, he would have taken FAR first) Sumit Status: Just started (See why he takes FAR last)

For Your Further Reading

About the Author Stephanie Ng

I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley), and I also passed all 4 sections of the CPA Exam on my first try. Additionally, I have led webinars, such as for the Institute of Management Accountants, authored featured articles on websites like Going Concern and AccountingWeb, and I'm also the CFO for the charity New Sight. Finally, I have created other accounting certification websites to help mentor non-CPA candidates. I have already mentored thousands of CPA, CMA, CIA, EA, and CFA candidates, and I can help you too!

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