The Prometric CPA Exam – What It Is and Who Takes It?

Gone are the days of the pen and paper exam that I took. The Prometric CPA exam is the only way to take the exam today. In a way it is good. There was a huge shortage of CPAs when I was coming up in the ranks. Today there is less of a shortage thanks to the Prometric CPA exam.

I don’t mean to imply the exam is any easier than it was before. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But during the pen and paper days, you had to take all four parts of the exam in one sitting. Can you imagine the psychological pressure of having to do that? Can you imagine the stress an exam taker must be under going into the exam having to be fully prepared for four comprehensive topics?

Passing the exam is one of the key CPA requirements. With the new Prometric CPA exam, a candidate can take each of the four parts independently and at the candidate’s convenience. In the past, there were set dates that one had to prepare for. If you weren’t ready by the exam date, you waited a full cycle until it was offered again. Not to mention you lost your exam registration fees.

With the Prometric CPA exam, you can take each part at your convenience when you feel you are ready. You can take the exam at one of several locations locally and internationally. The process is certainly more convenient today, and in my opinion less taxing on a candidate from a psychological perspective. And just like in the past, you can choose to take a CPA course to prepare yourself for the exam.

The Old Pen and Paper vs. The Prometric CPA Exam

Is the Prometric CPA exam easier or harder than the old pen and per exam? It’s hard to say unless one has taken both versions. When I spoke to my son who recently passed the Prometric CPA exam, I understood that the exam was quite challenging.

He mentioned having to do several things that I didn’t have to, such as researching the tax code during the exam. It seems to me that the Prometric CPA exam is designed to be more interactive and mimicking a “real world” situation at work.

(Note: After passing the main exam, you will have to take the CPA ethics exam as part of the overall licensing requirements )

Heading to the Exam Site

I swear these electronic testing centers are located in some of the most remote, hard to find places, well deep within complexes. There are no massive signs that call your attention either as they are often plain and boring old brown buildings that look like small office spaces.

If you live relatively near an exam site, register to take the exam at that location and plan on arriving at least half hour early. If a site is more than 20 miles from where you live, consider booking a cheap hotel room the night before close to the exam site. This will ensure you sleep well without the stress of having to make it to the exam early the next morning.

What If You Arrive Late?

If you are late to your exam, you are doomed and that’s it, no more chances. No really, if you are late in arriving at your exam site, you CAN be denied the exam at least for that day. What’s the big deal you say? Nothing really, except you lose out on the hefty exam fees you paid to register for it.

This is why it is important to stay close to the exam site the night before. Book a cheap hotel room here. Another few things to keep in mind before heading to the exam site:

• Make sure your IDs are current and have your photo and signature (not expired)
• Map out the destination – better yet visit it on a day prior to your exam
• Go through your exam paper work and ensure there are no mistakes (your name for example)

What It Is Like at the Exam Site?

When you get to the exam site, you first have to sign in. A representative will then take your mug shot (a beautiful digital photo of you) as well as fingerprints. My son told me he felt like he had committed a crime. Once the initial screening is done, you will have to go through advanced screening, which is going through metal detectors similar to airports and courthouses. I wonder why? You will then be seated on your workstation and handed the exam’s policies and procedures to read over.

I recommend leaving your personal valuables at home or safely hidden in your vehicle. Once you are at the Prometric CPA exam site, you will be asked to keep everything on you in a small locker outside. However, you will need to keep one form of ID with you in the event you need to break for water, the restroom or a back stretch. The lighter you travel that day the better.

What if you are in an International Location? No worries. Visit the Official Prometric website which provides all the information you will need about the Prometric CPA exam, available testing sites, site selection, the registration process, site closures and the actual test event itself.