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Enrolled Agent Exam Part 3: How to Pass the EA Exam Part 3

enrolled agent exam part 3

Whether you’re starting or ending your Enrolled Agent exam journey with Part 3, you need to know how to pass this part to move on with the EA designation. Enrolled Agent exam Part 3 is one of the three EA exam parts you must complete to become an EA, so you can’t ignore it. Instead, you must learn all you can about this EA exam part. For this reason, this EA exam Part 3 guide discusses the syllabus, format, difficulty, study tips, and more. Once you read this information, you can begin the process of passing Part 3 of the Enrolled Agent exam.

Syllabus: Enrolled Agent Exam Part 3

Part 3 of the Enrolled Agent Exam addresses certain taxation topics. So, you must know all about the content this exam part covers to pass it.

The title of the EA exam Part 3 is Representation, Practices, and Procedures. And within the EA exam syllabus, you’ll find every content area, topic list, and topic in Part 3. Specifically, you’ll see that Part 3 breaks down into four content areas:

  1. Practices and Procedures
    1. Practice Before the IRS
    2. Requirements for Enrolled Agents
    3. Sanctionable Acts
    4. Rules and Penalties
  2. Representation Before the IRS
    1. Power of Attorney
    2. Building the Taxpayer’s Case – Preliminary Work
    3. Taxpayer Financial Situation
    4. Supporting Documentation
    5. Legal Authority and References
    6. Related Issues
  3. Specific Types of Representation
    1. Representing a Taxpayer in the Collection Process
    2. Penalties and/or Interest Abatement
    3. Representing a Taxpayer in Audits/Examinations
    4. Representing a Taxpayer Before Appeals
  4. Completion of the Filing Process
    1. Accuracy
    2. Information Shared with Taxpayers
    3. Record Maintenance
    4. Electronic Filing

For further details on all the topics featured in EA exam Part 3, you should consult the IRS Enrolled Agent Special Enrollment Examination Bulletin. By reviewing this information, you can see what the exam questions will ask you about and determine how much of that knowledge you already have.

Pass Rate: Enrolled Agent Exam Part 3 Pass Rate

Knowing the Enrolled Agent exam pass rate for Part 3 is also important to your exam journey.

Part 3 focuses on the taxation process and, according to the pass rates, seems to be the easiest EA exam part. The Part 3 pass rates are some of the highest of any accounting certification exam, as they’ve hovered above 70% for several years now.

Enrolled Agent Exam Part 3 Pass Rate

Part 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020 2020-2021 2021-2022 2022-2023
Part 1 72% 61% 61% 62% 61% 66% 55% 60%
Part 2 57% 64% 65% 69% 70% 74% 62% 69%
Part 3 88% 82% 86% 86% 81% 83% 73% 70%

Part 3’s pass rates may be high because many candidates take Part 3 last. These candidates have passed the other, more difficult parts of the EA exam and are therefore used to the study process and testing experience. Taking Part 3 last is also a good idea because the content of Part 3 builds upon Part 1 and Part 2.

As mentioned, the Part 3 pass rates are not just notable among the EA exam parts but among other accounting certification exams as well. Compared to the CPA Exam pass rates, CMA exam pass rates, and CIA exam pass rates, for example, the Enrolled Agent exam Part 3 pass rates are about double or more than double.

However, you can’t take EA exam Part 3 lying down. Even if you take it after the other exam parts and have a lot of confidence in your EA exam performance, you must still study hard and ensure you know the exam content well. You wouldn’t want the easiest EA exam part to be the one that trips you up due to a lack of committed effort on your part.

Structure: EA Exam Structure Part 3

The structure of the EA exam Part 3 is another key piece of information you need to pass.

We can see in the EA exam Part 3 syllabus that this exam part has four content areas and 18 topic lists. Additionally, the coverage percentage and number of questions in each content area are as follows:

Enrolled Agent Exam Part 3 Structure

Content Area

Coverage Percentage Number of Questions

Practices and Procedures

29% 25
Representation Before the IRS 28%


Specific Types of Representation 22%


Completion of the Filing Process 20%


All of the questions on EA exam Part 3 will ask you about content from these areas. So, if you make yourself very familiar with this material when you study, you can feel confident that you will pass the exam.

Number and Type of Questions: EA Part 3

The only type of question you’ll see on the EA exam is multiple-choice (MCQ). Furthermore, every part of the EA exam, including Part 3, contains just 100 MCQs. And the IRS only scores 85 of these questions. The IRS does not grade the other 15 questions because they are experimental. Furthermore, the IRS weights the 85 scored questions equally, so your Part 3 EA exam score originates solely from these questions.

Though 15 of the Part 3 questions won’t contribute to your score, you won’t be able to tell which 15 questions they are. EA exam Part 3 mixes the experimental questions among the scored questions, so you must answer every question as well as you can. You can’t risk trying to guess which questions don’t need your full attention because the two types of questions are indistinguishable.

Moreover, all of the EA exam questions are MCQs, but they are not all in the same format. Rather, EA exam Part 3 features three different kinds of MCQs:

  • Direct question: This first kind of MCQ asks a basic question. For example, what color is the fish?
  • Incomplete sentence: This MCQ type commands candidates to select the answer option that best finishes the sentence. E.g., the color of the fish is…
  • All of the following except: Answering an MCQ in this format involves choosing the answer option that doesn’t meet the requirements of the question stem. For example, the fish’s scales are all of the following colors except…

As you can see, the EA exam MCQ types aren’t too intricate. For this reason, you can do well on EA exam Part 3 as soon as you understand the exam content and question formats.

Sample EA Exam Part 3 Questions

By perusing the EA exam Part 3 sample questions on the IRS website, you can see what sorts of questions this exam part will ask you. Here is one of the IRS’s sample questions:

1. Under Treasury Department Circular No. 230, all of the following are considered to be incompetence and disreputable conduct EXCEPT:

(A) Conviction of any criminal offense under the Federal tax laws
(B) Conviction of any criminal offense involving dishonesty or breach of trust
(C) Willfully disclosing tax return information with the consent of the taxpayer
(D) Willfully failing to sign a tax return prepared by the tax practitioner as required by Federal tax laws, unless the failure is due to reasonable cause and not due to willful neglect

Key: C
References: Treasury Department Circular No. 230, Section 10.51 of Circular 230, Pgs. 29 and 30

Passing Score and Scoring Process: Enrolled Agent Exam Part 3

Prometric administers the EA exam at their testing centers nationwide, and the IRS supplies them with several different exam versions to distribute.

The IRS then uses a scaled scoring process to balance the difficulty of all of these exam versions. The IRS starts by giving each question a value of 1 point and then converting your raw EA exam Part 3 score (the number of questions you got right) to a scale of 40-130. On this scale, the IRS has set the passing EA exam score at 105.

Consequently, you will pass the EA exam Part 3 if you score between 105 and 130. As you’re testing, you may be tempted to try to determine the exact number of questions you must answer correctly to earn a passing score, but this is a difficult process that’s not worth your time. As you recall, you won’t be able to identify the 85-scored questions, so you shouldn’t worry about them. You should simply concentrate on doing your best with Part 3 of the Enrolled Agent exam.

Fees: The Cost of the Enrolled Agent Exam Part 3

You must pay a testing fee each time you take one of the 3 Enrolled Agent exam parts. The testing fee is $206. When you schedule an appointment to take part of the EA exam at a Prometric testing center, you will have to pay the testing fee at that time. The EA exam fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.

In fact, the IRS has raised the EA test fee from around $180 to $206 in the last few years. The IRS provided three reasons for increasing the Enrolled Agent exam fee so significantly:

  • Decreased demand from tax preparers (i.e., fewer tax preparers are pursuing the designation, and this is good news because it means having the EA further separates you from the competition)
  • Increased administration expenses
  • Increased costs associated with verifying various vendors

How to Pay the Enrolled Agent Exam Part 3 Fee

You can send your money to Prometric with MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and electronic checks. If you’d like to use a debit card, you must contact Prometric, as their website doesn’t confirm that they accept debit cards. However, Prometric does clarify that they don’t accept money orders, personal checks, or cash. So, you must be able to pay with an approved method to test.

Fees to Retest

The EA exam testing fee is the same, no matter how many times you must pay it. And remember, you’ll have to pay the fee again if you fail an exam part and intend to retake it. Therefore, one of the best ways to save money on the EA exam process is to pass each part the first time.

Total Exam Time and Exam Time Management: EA Exam Part 3

You have 3.5 hours of total testing time for Enrolled Agent exam Part 3. This amount of time is the same for each EA exam part. But when you factor in the 30 minutes you have to complete your pre-exam tutorial and post-exam customer satisfaction survey, you will actually be at the testing center for 4 hours.

You can see how much exam time you have left by checking the on-screen timer. You should also know that total testing time doesn’t include any standardized breaks. So, while you are able to leave the room to get a drink of water or use the restroom, the exam timer won’t stop for these activities. Therefore, you will lose testing time.

With just 3.5 hours to answer 100 MCQs, you should plan to spend an average of 2.1 minutes on each question.

Exam Dates: EA Exam Part 3

The EA exam has a long testing window, so you can sit for the Enrolled Agent exam Part 3 almost any time of the year. All of the EA exam parts are available from May 1 to February 28/29. But, during March and April, the IRS updates the test according to the most recent tax laws, so this is the annual EA exam blackout period.

Also, you have 2 years to pass the other two parts of the exam once you’ve passed one part of the exam. If you don’t pass the other two exam parts during this time, you will lose credit for the part you passed.

Total Study Hours and Study Plan: Enrolled Agent Exam Part 3

How much study time does EA exam Part 3 require?

Depending on the EA review provider you approach with this question, you’ll get various answers. So, if you consulted Gleim EA Review, they would tell you that you should expect to spend 80-100 hours studying for Part 1 and Part 2 each and 60-80 hours studying for Part 3.

So, the number of hours you study each week will determine the number of weeks it takes you to clock the correct study hour total. For this reason, if you study more on a weekly basis, you can finish your Enrolled Agent exam Part 3 preparations faster.

EA Exam Study Time

Exam Part

# of Study Hours 10 Hours/Week

15 Hours/Week

Part 3

60-80 hours

6-8 weeks

4-6 weeks

As with the other exam parts, passing EA exam Part 3 necessitates plenty of serious and consistent study time. When planning your study schedule, you should also:

  • Study for at least 10 hours a week. This step helps you maintain good study habits and get through all of the material.
  • Study each content area for at least 5 hours.
  • Adjust your study schedule according to how busy you’ll be during tax season.

Tips for Passing Enrolled Agent Exam Part 3

Once you’ve learned all about EA exam Part 3, you need to start studying for it. To study effectively and ensure you pass on your first attempt, you should use these EA exam Part 3 study tips.

1. Know the material

If you want to become an EA, your main EA exam priority must be knowing the exam material as well as you can. Specifically, your depth of understanding of the EA exam content must be at an intermediate college level. You can get there when you explore the exam topics thoroughly. And you can do this more efficiently and effectively when you use an EA review course.

An EA review course supplies you with all the resources you need to become the tax expert the EA exam expects you to be. For example, within your course, you’ll find textbooks to read, video lectures to watch, audio reviews to listen to, practice questions to answer, and more. All of these things will teach you and test you on the exam content so that you can be completely ready for test day.

2. Think long-term

If you take EA exam Part 3 last, you may feel one of two things by the time you get to this point: relief that the process is almost over or despair that the process still isn’t done. And interestingly enough, both can distract you from focusing on your studies and finishing well.

If you’re feeling too relieved, you might get complacent or overly confident about your studies. If you’re filled with despair, you might struggle to commit to your review. So in either instance, you must push your emotions aside and focus on why you started this exam journey in the first place: to improve your career and, consequently, your life with the EA designation.

Let the long-term benefits of the enrolled agent designation serve as reason enough to stay the course and hold on to your good study habits until you’ve officially finished the exam. Even this late in the game, you must still make sacrifices with your time and energy to pass Part 3, so don’t give up now.

You can take a much-needed break every once in a while and make time for friends and family, but you can’t drop the ball yet, lest you jeopardize everything you’ve accomplished so far. You’ve got to cut back on short-term pleasures to make long-term accomplishments.

3. Develop your educated guessing abilities

While you can prepare for questions about pretty much every topic, you can’t call which specific questions you’ll see on the EA exam. For this reason, there is a chance you’ll see an unfamiliar question or two.

And if you do, you don’t need to panic. You just need to exercise educated guessing. To make an educated guess, you simply assess the answer options, rule out the obviously incorrect ones, speculate the question’s intentions, and choose the answer option that seems best to you.

And, if you get ready to choose an answer but still have doubts, that may be reason enough to go in a different direction. I say this because our first instincts aren’t correct nearly as often as we’ve been told. So, you probably will change your answer to the right one if you opt for your second choice.

Making an educated guess should be your last resort when answering real exam questions, but not when answering practice questions. You need to develop your educated guessing abilities in advance, so try it out when you take quizzes in your EA review course.

You’ll have the chance to do so when you come to a question you don’t know. Instead of skipping it, make an educated guess, especially if you’re in test mode. But note which questions you guessed on so that you can see how good your instincts were when you review the answer explanations. Educated guessing may be stressful initially, but it will become less so as you practice. And once you’ve practiced it, educated guessing will also make the exam day a lot less stressful.

Best EA Review Courses: Enrolled Agent Exam Part 3

If you want to become an enrolled agent as soon as possible, you’ve got to pass each part of the EA exam on your first attempt. And the best way to ensure that you do that is to study with an enrolled agent review course.

An EA review course enables you to be completely prepared by exam day, so you must find the best one. However, the EA review course market features many options, so you should refer to my comparison of the most popular enrolled agent courses to make the decision much easier.

Gleim EA Review is the most widely-used EA review course and is also, in my opinion, one of the best courses. Gleim EA Review gives you everything you need for EA exam success, such as well-written textbooks, a huge test bank of exceptional practice questions, and various customer support resources. Because Part 3 is so challenging, you will want the best Enrolled Agent Exam Part 3 questions available. And Gleim does not disappoint!

Another part of the EA review course market that you may find overwhelming is the range of prices. However, I can help you navigate that as well. For example, even though the complete Gleim EA Review course can cost between $500-$600 depending on the course package, purchasing a complete course still gives you a better value and saves you money in the long run. And you can reduce your initial EA review investment by using my enrolled agent course discounts.

More Help for EA Exam Part 3

You can also catch a financial break on the EA process by signing up for my free EA e-course. This course tells you how to earn the enrolled agent designation and pass each exam part on your first attempt. So, learn more now or sign up below!

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About the Author Stephanie

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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