What is the passing score for the enrolled agent exam? In order to pass the Enrolled Agent exam, also known as the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE), you’ll need to understand how to calculate the EA exam pass score. However, the Enrolled Agent exam grading system isn’t hard, so I’ll explain it in detail. I’ll even show you a sample EA exam scoring report.
To recap the exam basics, the Enrolled Agent exam has 3 parts with 100 multiple-choice questions each. The exam weights each question equally.
However, on the Enrolled Agent exam, only 85 of the multiple-choice questions contribute to your EA score. The remaining 15 are experimental, so they don’t contribute to your final score. (That is, when you see your EA exam results, your answers to those experimental questions won’t be included. Nor are these questions included in the enrolled agent exam pass rate.)
The IRS has a large pool of questions it can use to build the EA exam, and a team of enrolled agents and members of the NAEA author these questions that will ultimately appear on your exams. The exam questions vary in degree of difficulty, though. The IRS determines the question difficulty levels by providing experimental questions to actual exam takers. For example, if many candidates correctly answer Question 1, the IRS categorizes Question 1 as an easier question.
How much do you need to score to pass the Enrolled Agent exam?
Well, the answer to that question is fairly straight-forward. The scale for the EA exam score ranges from 40 to 130. And the EA exam passing score is 105.
The foundation of your EA score is the number of the 85 operational questions you answer correctly. The IRS mathematically transforms your number of correct answers into a standardized scaled score.
The IRS doesn’t use a straightforward formula to achieve this conversion from raw to scaled score. So as much as some of you would like to know, I am not able to tell you how exactly this is done.
If you reached the 105 enrolled agent passing score, you will receive immediate confirmation that you passed the exam. (That is, the testing center will print the results for you). However, you don’t get to know your actual score because the examiners don’t think it matters. For example, you won’t be able to know how many of the EA exam questions you answered correctly and how many you answered incorrectly. Even though that feels a little frustrating, you should focus on reaching the enrolled agent passing percentage instead of some raw score.
Once you pass your first part of the enrolled agent exam, you have 2 years to complete and pass the remaining two parts before you lose credit for your first part. However, a 2-year carryover of your EA scores is generous and provides you with ample time to complete all 3 EA test parts.
If you failed the EA exam, you’ll receive immediate notification of your result as well as additional information about your performance. You’ll get a score ranging from 40 to 104 so you can see how close you were to passing. A 103 means you were really close to passing, while a 70 indicates that there was a good amount of information you didn’t know.
Later on, you’ll get a diagnostic report showing in which content areas and to what extent you need to improve. This report will assign levels to your performance in key categories. Level 1 represents the need for a lot of improvement, while Level 3 means you only need a little improvement. The diagnostic report contains the following explanations of the different levels.
(Special thanks to Gleim EA Review for sharing this sample report)
In this example, John Doe scored 102, which was pretty close to the EA passing percentage. Looking at the diagnostic indicators, he did pretty well in preliminary work, deduction/credits, and specialized returns. He should review the materials and work on more practice questions in the areas of income/assets and taxation/advice.
You can get a score report just like this onsite immediately after the EA examination. You also will receive a printed score report in the mail within 60 days of the test date. When you get it, you can review Prometric’s additional information about understanding your score report.
Finally, let’s go over the best way to reach a passing score for the SEE exam. Some candidates try to just study the EA course syllabus and don’t purchase any additional enrolled agent exam prep.
However, I strongly discourage this path. After all, the IRS SEE exam tests on some very specific content, and it’s hard to study on your own without any guidance.
To be blunt, passing the SEE exam is much easier when you’re using the right study material for the EA exam. And just what EA exam review course is best? Well, the answer to that question really depends on how you prefer to learn. For example, some candidates prefer to read EA books, while others like to watch video lectures or work through lots of EA sample questions. Regardless, your review course could include the following:
If you’re searching for study material for the EA exam, I’ve reviewed the best EA courses. In short, though, here are some of my top recommendations:
The Special Enrollment Examination, also known as the “IRS exam,” is the test for enrolled agents.
The IRS has set the passing score for the enrolled agent exam at 105. This score is a scaled score based on the number of correctly answered enrolled agent test questions. The scale ranges from 40 to 130.
Not really. The SEE exam score interpretation is that after answering all exam questions (100 questions, but 85 are scored), the IRS will convert your raw score to a scale between 40 and 130. You need a score of at least 105 to pass.
Each part has 100 enrolled agent exam questions to answer. However, 15 of those questions are experimental, and the IRS does not count those questions in your final EA exam score.
Yes! I have an entire posts dedicated to the enrolled agent exam syllabus.
Although the enrolled agent pass rate changes from year to year, it has been hovering around 70% or so. But if you want to know more about the enrolled agent pass rate, I have a post that breaks down that topic.
Although everyone wants to avoid an EA exam fail, you can take the EA up to 4 times per testing window.
The best place to find quality, reliable enrolled agent sample questions is in your EA review course.
If you need info about the schedule of EA exam dates and the enrolled agent exam testing locations, please see my post about enrolled agent exam dates and scheduling.
EA candidates can take the IRS SEE exam from May 1 to the end of February in the following year.
Knowing how the IRS scores the EA exam and seeing a sample score report can help you understand the high expectations of comprehension and skill the EA exam has for you. Don’t get discouraged by this information; instead, use it as motivation to make the most of your study time every day leading up to your exam date. When you commit to studying well and give it your all from the start, you can pass on your first try and never even see a report like the one above with your name on it.
If you’re still in the initial stages of your EA journey, learn how to become an Enrolled Agent from my 10-step guide. Discover the Enrolled Agent exam dates and deadlines so you can make your study schedule, and if you have any additional questions, contact me. I’m here to help, and I wish you the best on the EA exam!
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.