I have a few questions for you. First, are you an accounting professional with membership in a non-U.S. professional association? For example, are you a Chartered Accountant (CA) or non-U.S. Certified Public Accountant (CPA)? And finally, would you like to earn the U.S. CPA certification? If you answered yes to these questions, I have great news for you: you may be able to take a shortcut to the U.S. CPA. That shortcut is called the IQEX.
The IQEX is the International Qualification Examination. The American Institute of Public Accountants (AICPA) has developed the IQEX for accounting professionals who would like to earn the U.S. CPA certification and are already members of certain non-U.S. professional associations. These associations must hold mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) in order for their members to take the IQEX and become U.S. CPAs.
The U.S. International Qualifications Appraisal Board (IQAB), a joint body of the AICPA and NASBA, recommends alliances between non-U.S. professional associations and NASBA on behalf of the U.S. accounting profession. As a result of these agreements, accounting professionals from other countries can earn the U.S. CPA certification by taking the IQEX instead of the Uniform CPA Examination.
Members of the following professional associations can take the IQEX rather than the Uniform CPA Exam:
If you became a member of these associations on the basis of recognition for credentials earned in other countries, you may not be eligible to apply. You can still earn the CPA license, but you must take the Uniform CPA Examination. NASBA has more information about IQEX eligibility requirements.
You would benefit from taking the IQEX if you would like to work for a U.S. company or a U.S. subsidiary that uses the U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
Furthermore, the U.S. CPA is the most globally recognized accounting qualification in the world. Therefore, you can enjoy the advantages of the CPA by taking the IQEX and adding another accounting title to your name.
Finally, the ways in which the IQEX differs from the Uniform CPA Exam means that you would save time and money on the CPA certification process by taking the IQEX.
IQEX is essentially the Regulation (REG) section of the CPA Exam. Therefore, the IQEX only has 1 exam section. In contrast, the Uniform CPA Exam has 4 sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), and Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR). So, as an IQEX candidate, you don’t have to take the other 3 sections of the CPA Exam.
Because the IQEX is essentially the REG CPA Exam section, the exam lasts for 4 hours and features 5 testlets of 2 different types of questions.
The 2 types of questions on REG are multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and task-based simulations (TBSs). The MCQs are questions for which you must choose the best answer from 4 answer options. The TBSs are case studies that you must complete using information provided.
Number of Questions
Total MCQs: 76 (50% of your score)
Total TBSs: 8 (50% of your score)
As mentioned, the CPA Exam features 3 more sections, each of which are 4 hours long and contain 5 testlets of different question types. Therefore, taking the CPA Exam instead of the IQEX exam essentially means that you must endure 4 times as many testing hours and answer approximately 4 times as many questions.
|Total Testing Hours|
|Number of Testlets|
|Number of MCQs|
|Number of TBSs|
Number of WCs*
Again, we can look to REG to see which topics the IQEX tests you on and how much weight it assigns to each content area.
|Ethics, Professional Responsibilities and Federal Tax Procedures||10-20%|
|Federal Taxation of Property Transactions||12-22%|
|Area IV||Federal Taxation of Individuals|
|Federal Taxation of Entities|
As you can see, passing the IQEX exam requires you to learn the Internal Revenue Code and the federal tax regulations. You must also know federal law and the Uniform Acts for the Business Law content area.
To pass the entire CPA Exam, you would need to know the content for AUD, BEC, and FAR as well.
Auditing and Attestation
|Business Environment and Concepts|
Financial Accounting and Reporting
|I. Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, and General Principles (15-25%)||I. Corporate Governance (17-27%)||I. Conceptual Framework, Standard-Setting, and Financial Reporting (25-35%)|
|II. Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Response (20-30%)||II. Economic Concepts and Analysis (17-27%)||II. Select Financial Statement Accounts|
|III. Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence (30-40%)||III. Financial Management (11-21%)||III. Select Transactions (20-30%)|
|IV. Forming Conclusions and Reporting (15-25%)||IV. Information Technology (15-25%)||IV. State and Local Governments (5-15%)|
|V. Operations Management (15-25%)|
Finally, the overall expenses for the IQEX differ slightly from those of the CPA Exam.
While the testing fee for the IQEX (NASBA calls this the application fee) is about the same as the total testing fee for the CPA Exam, CPA review for one exam section (REG) costs less than CPA review for all 4 sections.
However, for both the IQEX and the CPA Exam, you will probably have to pay an application fee to your jurisdiction. IQEX candidates pay this fee when they apply for the CPA license after they pass the IQEX. Conversely, CPA Exam candidates pay this fee to begin the exam process.
But IQEX candidates do not have to pay the registration fees that some CPA jurisdictions charge to CPA Exam candidates who need to retake an exam section.
This chart lists the specific fees for the IQEX and the CPA Exam.
Application (for jurisdiction)
|$30-$200 (paid after the exam)||$30-$200 (paid before the exam)|
Examination (application fee for IQEX)
|$835||$833.60 ($208.40 per exam section)|
Registration (exam section retake)
|$400-$1,100 (REG section)||$1,000-$4,000 (full course)|
Ethics Exam (likely)
As an international candidate for either exam, you may also encounter additional expenses for the following:
Ultimately, these items could easily add several hundred or even thousand dollars to your total costs for the CPA certification.
The IQEX pass rate has never been disclosed. However, you can simply refer to the REG exam pass rate to get a sense for how many people pass the IQEX. The REG pass rate was 47% in 2017 and has been rising in 2018.
|Year||First Quarter||Second Quarter||Third Quarter||Fourth Quarter||Cumulative|
Prometric administers both the CPA Exam and the IQEX. There are Prometric testing centers located all around the world.
Similar to the Uniform CPA Exam, the IQEX is available during the first and second month of every quarter in the year.
Therefore, these time periods are the IQEX testing windows.
You can find the IQEX application form on NASBA’s website. The first step in the application process will be to create an account. Then, you can use that account information to apply for the IQEX, maintain your current information, and view your scores.
You must submit the IQEX NASBA application each time you want to sit for the IQEX. Along with the application, you must also have your professional credentialing institution send NASBA a Letter of Good Standing that documents your qualifications. NASBA will keep this letter on file for a year. After that, you must have a new letter sent if you need to apply for the IQEX again.
At this point, you might be wondering, “If the IQEX is the REG CPA Exam section, can’t I just apply for the CPA Exam?”
If you’d like to take advantage of your other professional certifications and your membership with a non-U.S. professional association, then the answer is no. Candidates who apply for the CPA Exam must take all 4 sections of the exam and complete a different application process as well. One of the main benefits of the IQEX is that you don’t have to take the whole CPA Exam, so you should definitely capitalize on this privilege if you can.
Once NASBA has processed your application and Letter of Good Standing, they will issue your Notice to Schedule (NTS). Receiving your NTS can take 5 days, and each NTS is only valid for 6 months. Therefore, you must schedule and take the exam during this timeframe. Otherwise, the NTS will expire and all of your fees will be forfeited. You cannot ask for your NTS to be extended or applied to another exam. Furthermore, you cannot receive a refund for your fees. So, you should be prepared to sit for the exam during that timeframe before you apply for the exam and receive your NTS.
Once you receive your NTS, you must confirm that the information on it is correct. The name on your application, your NTS, and your personal ID must all match in order for you to take the exam. For this reason, if the information on your NTS does not match your personal information, you must contact NASBA to request a correction.
You should schedule your exam appointment as soon as you receive your NTS because doing so will help you secure your ideal test date. You need to make your testing appointment at least 5 days before your desired date. If you find that you must reschedule or cancel your IQEX appointment, you must be prepared to pay a rescheduling or cancellation fee or forfeit your exam fee.
You can schedule your exam appointment by visiting Prometric’s website or calling Prometric’s Candidate Services Call Center (800-864-8080). You’ll find the IQEX listed under the Uniform CPA Examination on Prometric’s website. You’ll also find that making your appointment online is faster and easier than scheduling via the call center. But no matter which resource you use, you must have your NTS in order to schedule an IQEX testing appointment.
On the day of your exam, you should arrive 30 minutes before your appointment time, bring 2 forms of identification and your NTS, be prepared to complete the security procedures, and bring minimal personal belongings with you. You can learn more about the IQEX exam process in the IQEX Candidate Bulletin.
After passing IQEX, you can apply for the same U.S. CPA license that candidates who take the Uniform CPA Exam receive. However, you can only apply to participating jurisdictions. There are 55 U.S. jurisdictions with boards of accountancy. But, only 48 of them accept CPA applications from IQEX candidates. Additionally, all but one of these jurisdictions receive the CPA applications of IQEX candidates from all 8 MRA associations.
|Arizona||Illinois||Massachusetts||New Jersey||Rhode Island|
|Indiana||Michigan||New Mexico||South Carolina|
|Iowa||Minnesota||New York||South Dakota|
|District of Columbia|
In addition to passing the IQEX exam, some jurisdictions expect IQEX candidates to also to fulfill the CPA experience requirements, the CPA education requirements, and/or the CPA ethics exam requirements. To know what your jurisdiction requires, you must refer to their website or contact them.
To prepare for the IQEX exam, you really should purchase a REG CPA review course and make a study schedule.
To make your IQEX study schedule, you must know how long to expect to study. You can refer to the REG CPA Exam section study time for this information.
Using feedback from readers, review providers, and myself, I estimate that total study time for the REG can range from 80-120 hours.
The more familiar you are with the material the IQEX covers, the fewer study hours you will need to prepare and pass. To gauge your familiarity with IQEX exam content, assess the content areas of the REG CPA Exam Blueprints.
To pass the IQEX fast, you can study for 20 hours a week for 4-6 weeks. Alternatively, you can study for 15 hours a week for 5-8 weeks or even for just 10 hours a week for 8-12 weeks.
As mentioned, you should use REG CPA Exam prep to study for the IQEX exam. I say this because the REG CPA Exam section is challenging, so the IQEX is challenging. As with the other CPA Exam sections, the REG exam tests candidates for specific levels of knowledge and skill, as you can see in this chart.
Remembering and Understanding
The perception and comprehension of the significance of an area utilizing knowledge gained.
|The use or demonstration of knowledge, concepts, or techniques.|
The examination and study of the interrelationships of separate areas in order to identify causes and find evidence to support inferences.
Areas I & II
|Areas III, IV & IV|
Areas III, IV & IV
|Mostly MCQs, possibly TBS|
Primarily TBSs, possibly MCQs
Therefore, you can’t pass just by memorizing the content. Instead, you must have a deep comprehension of the topics and a firm grasp of the necessary skills. A CPA review course will provide you with plenty of exposure to the exam content (so you can know the topics) and to practice questions just like those on the real exam (so you can develop your skills). For this reason, I believe studying with a REG review course is essential for passing the IQEX exam.
To help you decide with REG review course is right for you, you can consult my comparison of the best CPA review courses. Then, once you’ve found your perfect course, you can use my CPA review discounts to save big on your IQEX exam prep.
If you have any more questions about the IQEX, you can just contact me or leave a comment below.
I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites
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