The Enrolled Agent (EA) exam, also known as the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE), is a comprehensive test that assesses the knowledge and competency of individuals seeking to become enrolled agents.
But if you’re reading this article, then you already know that.
And you’re probably a tax professional looking to become authorized to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If so, you’ll need to be well-versed in tax law, tax preparation, and other tax-related matters.
To prove that you are, you’ll need to pass the Enrolled Agent exam (EA exam.)
In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of the EA exam. This includes pass rates, exam structure, study materials, and strategies to increase your chances of success.
But first, let’s get to what you’re probably looking for: past EA exam pass rates that show how well former EA candidates have faired on the Enrolled Agent exam.
EA Exam Pass Rates
|Section||Average Pass Rate (2019-2021)|
|Part 1 (Individuals)||63%|
|Part 2 (Business)||71%|
|Part 3 (Representation, Practices, and Procedures)||83%|
Enrolled Agent Pass Rate and Factors Affecting Success
EA exam pass rates vary from year to year, and they can differ between the different parts of the exam. Just like the CPA exam and other standardized tests, these IRS special enrollment exam pass rates are influenced by various factors. This can include the difficulty of the exam questions, the preparation and study materials used by candidates, the prior experience and knowledge of the candidates, and the overall pool of candidates taking the exam.
It is important to note that the EA exam is considered a difficult test, requiring a comprehensive understanding of the tax code, tax calculation, and tax formulas. However, with the right preparation and study approach, you can increase the likelihood that you will become an enrolled agent.
Another selling point for the Enrolled Agent Exam is that when compared to the CPA and CMA exams, EA exam results are usually much higher. For this reason, many of those who deal with personal tax compliance, tax return preparation, tax calculation or tax computation, and various tax entities choose to become EA candidates rather than sitting for the CPA and CMA exams.
Understanding the Enrolled Agent Exam
Now that you know how past EA candidates have fared after paying their examination fee and applying to become an Enrolled agent, it’s time to learn more about the actual exam.
The Enrolled Agent exam is divided into three parts: Part 1 (Individuals), Part 2 (Businesses), and Part 3 (Representation, Practice, and Procedures). Each part focuses on different areas of tax law and covers a wide range of topics related to tax compliance, tax preparation, and representation.
The exam is computerized and consists of multiple-choice questions. It is designed to test candidates’ understanding of tax law, their ability to apply tax concepts to real-life scenarios, and their knowledge of the Internal Revenue Code, IRS forms, publications, and regulations. To pass the exam, candidates must demonstrate a solid understanding of tax matters and achieve a minimum passing score.
Preparing for the EA Exam
To prepare for the EA exam, candidates can utilize a variety of study materials and resources. From practice exam problems to study books and tutoring, to prepare properly for the real exam, you’ll need to put in the work.
Many review courses specifically designed for the EA exam are available, which provide comprehensive coverage of the exam topics, practice exams, and simulated test environments to mimic the actual exam experience.
Most candidates who invest in EA courses find that their test results are higher than those who don’t. The likelihood of having to pay another test fee and take the Enrolled Agent exam again is also reduced.
In fact, research consistently shows that those who use test prep for the Enrolled Agent exam, CPA exam, and other certification tests for financial professionals are much more likely to pass. Period.
Practice exams are particularly helpful in familiarizing candidates with the format and structure of the exam. They also allow candidates to gauge their knowledge and identify areas where they need to improve. Some review courses even offer access to previous exam questions, giving candidates the opportunity to practice with questions that have appeared in prior years.
Additionally, candidates can refer to IRS publications, the Internal Revenue Code, and other relevant tax resources to enhance their understanding of tax law and its application. This ensures that they are well-prepared for questions that may require reference to specific tax provisions or regulations.
Strategies for Success
To increase the likelihood of passing the EA exam, it is essential to approach the studying process strategically. Here are some tips that can help candidates prepare effectively:
Create a study plan: Develop a study schedule that allows for systematic coverage of the exam material. Allocate sufficient time to each part of the exam, focusing on your weaker areas while reinforcing your strengths.
Utilize review courses: Enroll in a reputable EA review course that provides comprehensive study materials, practice exams, and expert guidance. These courses can offer valuable insights and help you navigate through the exam topics efficiently.
Practice with sample test questions: Work through sample test questions to familiarize yourself with the types of questions asked and the level of complexity. This will help you build confidence and improve your ability to analyze and solve problems within the given time constraints.
Simulate test conditions: When taking practice exams, replicate the test conditions as closely as possible. Find a quiet environment, time yourself, and avoid
Focus on weak areas: Identify the areas where you struggle the most and allocate extra time to studying those topics. Understanding and reinforcing your weak areas will help you build a well-rounded knowledge base and increase your overall chances of success.
Join study groups or online forums: Engaging with fellow candidates can provide additional support and insights. Participating in study groups or online forums allows you to discuss challenging topics, share study materials, and learn from others’ experiences.
7. Take advantage of exam resources: Familiarize yourself with the resources provided during the exam, such as the Internal Revenue Code, IRS publications, and relevant forms. Understanding how to navigate and utilize these resources effectively can be beneficial during the exam.
8. Stay updated on tax law changes: Tax laws and regulations are subject to frequent changes. Stay informed about the latest updates and revisions to ensure your knowledge aligns with the most current tax requirements. This can be achieved through regular reading of tax news, attending seminars, or participating in professional development programs.
Test Day and Beyond
On the day of the exam, ensure that you arrive at the test center well-prepared. This is one way to ensure that you receive a passing score on your EA exam.
Double-check your appointment date and time, and consider taking some time off before the exam to relax and clear your mind. Remember to bring the necessary identification documents and arrive early to avoid any last-minute stress.
After answering all of the EA exam questions, it will be time to patiently await your test results. If the patient part is even possible!
The IRS provides scaled scores and a score report that indicates your performance in each exam part. If you do not pass a particular part, you can retake that section separately without needing to repeat the entire exam.
Becoming an Enrolled Agent is a significant achievement for tax professionals seeking to specialize in tax compliance, representation, and personal tax preparation. The EA exam, with its multiple parts and rigorous content, tests candidates’ knowledge of tax law and their ability to apply it effectively.
While the exam is challenging, diligent preparation, strategic study approaches, and utilization of available resources can significantly increase your chances of success. By focusing on your weak areas, practicing with sample test questions, and familiarizing yourself with the exam format and resources, you can approach the EA exam with confidence and strive for a favorable pass rate.
Remember, becoming an Enrolled Agent requires dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to maintaining a high level of tax expertise. By preparing properly and adopting effective study strategies, you can position yourself for success in the EA exam and embark on a rewarding career as a knowledgeable and trusted tax professional.
Enrolled Agent Exam Pass Rate FAQs
Have pressing questions about the EA exam? Here are some questions that current and future Enrolled Agents have asked.
Is the Enrolled Agent exam easier than CPA exam?
The difficulty level of exams can vary depending on individual perspectives and experiences. Comparing the Enrolled Agent (EA) exam to the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, it is generally considered that the CPA exam is more comprehensive and rigorous.
What percentage do you need to pass Enrolled Agent exam?
To become an enrolled agent, it is necessary to pass all three parts of the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE) within a consecutive two-year timeframe. Each part of the exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions and lasts for a duration of 3.5 hours. To successfully pass, a minimum score of 105 is required on each part of the exam. Achieving passing scores on all three parts is a prerequisite for becoming an enrolled agent.
Which part of the EA exam is the easiest?
Part 3 has been described as the easiest part of the EA exam by many. Keep in mind that 20% of EA candidates still fail this part of the exam. For this reason, An EA exam review course is highly recommended.
Which EA exam is hardest?
Most people find the most challenging part of their application process to be part 1 of the business. Current EA pass rates show that only 65% of test takers do well on this part of the Enrolled Agent examination.