Enrolled Agent Exam Questions: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re ready to enhance your career with the many benefits of the enrolled agent (EA) designation, then you’ll most likely need to get ready to pass the Enrolled Agent exam. Officially called the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE), the EA exam ensures that attorneys, tax attorneys, and tax preparers have the knowledge and skills necessary to hold the enrolled agent title granted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The EA exam makes sure you’re worthy by presenting hundreds of Enrolled Agent exam questions. To prepare to pass the exam, you should learn all the details about these questions.

Number of Enrolled Agent Exam Questions

The EA exam has 3 parts:

  1. Individuals
  2. Businesses
  3. Representation, Procedures, and Practices

Each part of the EA exam has the same number of questions: 100. And, all 100 questions are the same kind: multiple-choice (MCQ).

Additionally, we can see from the 2019 Enrolled Agent exam IRS syllabus that portions of the 100 questions in each exam part address different topics. This chart includes those topics.

Exam Parts1. Individuals2: Businesses3: Representation, Procedures, and Practices
Topics of QuestionsPreliminary Work with Taxpayers:

14 Questions

Income and Assets: 

21 Questions

Taxation and Advice:

14 Questions

Specialized Return for Individuals:

14 Questions

Business Entities:

28 Questions

Business Financial Information:

39 Questions

Specialized Returns and Taxpayers:

18 Questions

Practices and   Procedures:

25 Questions

Representation Before The IRS:

24 Questions

Specific Types of Representation:

19 Questions

Completion of the Filing:

17 Questions

Structure of Enrolled Agent Exam Questions

The EA exam questions will ask you about different topics, but they employ the same structure to do so. Each exam question will feature these 3 parts:

  1. Question stem: includes the question set up, the actual question, details needed to answer the question, and extra information.
  2. Correct answer: the best possible answer of the 4 choices provided.
  3. 3 distractors: the remaining 3 answer choices that are designed to confuse you by seeming plausible.

Therefore, all EA exam questions offer 4 answer choices, and candidates are responsible to pick the best possible answer of the 4. 

Types of Enrolled Agent Exam Questions

Though all the Enrolled Agent exam questions are MCQs, they are not all written the same. There are a few different ways in which the EA exam sets up its multiple-choice questions. Specifically, the EA exam uses 3 different types of MCQ formats.

  1. Direct questions
  2. Incomplete sentence questions
  3. All of these answers except questions

Format 1: Direct question

This MCQ simply asks a question directly. While these questions can sometimes be answered with a yes or no, in the case of the EA exam, the candidate must always select a specific answer.

Example:

A taxpayer who receives a Form 1099-MISC with the wrong dollar amount in box 7 should do which of the following?

  • (A) Contact IRS for a corrected Form 1099-MISC
  • (B) Contact the payer for a corrected Form 1099-MISC
  • (C) Report the incorrect amount stated on the Form 1099-MISC as income
  • (D) Disregard the Form 1099-MISC since it is incorrect

Format 2: Incomplete sentence

This question type may provide a sentence or two of information and end with an incomplete sentence. In these instances, the answer completes the sentence. Alternatively, these questions may require you to select the answer that would best fill in the blank at the end of question stem.

Example:

The Net Investment Income Tax may apply to _________?

  • (A) Alimony
  • (B) Taxable mutual fund distribution
  • (C) Tax-exempt municipal bond interest
  • (D) Traditional IRA distribution

Format 3: All of the following except

This format makes a statement and then asks for the answer option that does not meet the criteria of the statement. Therefore, you must use deductive reasoning to determine the best answer, which, again, is the option that doesn’t satisfy the previously provided specifications.

Example:

Upon reviewing a new client’s prior year tax return, the preparer sees taxes paid for the first-time homebuyer credit. The preparer should ask the taxpayer all of the following EXCEPT:

  • (A) What was the total amount of the original credit received?
  • (B) How much of the original credit was repaid on prior years returns?
  • (C) Was the entire credit used towards the purchase of their main home?
  • (D) Are the taxpayers still using the home that generated the credit as their main home?

Time Management for Enrolled Agent Exam Questions

The similarities between the exam parts continue as each part features 3.5 hours (210 minutes) of total testing time. If you divide 210 minutes equally among 100 questions, you have 1.5 minutes to answer each question. You also still have plenty of time to review your answers before your total testing time runs out.

To ensure that you can answer each and every question to the best of your ability within the time allowed, you must practice your time management as you review the exam material. As you complete practice tests or quizzes, limit the amount of time you have to answer each question.

When you get in the habit of answering the questions in a timely manner, you’ll be able to do so on the exam while retaining your composure and confidence.

Strategies for Answering Enrolled Agent Exam Questions

To answer all of the Enrolled Agent exam questions in time and to the best of your ability, you need a strategy for getting through each one. When you create a plan for completing each question and stick to it, you can avoid surprises, remain calm and confident, and give yourself the best chance at passing the EA exam. Use these tips to develop your question answering system:

1. Read Each Question Carefully

Whether you answer a real exam question or a practice question, read each question attentively. Make sure that you completely understand what the question is asking before you answer it.

2. Try to Answer the Question in Your Head

After you’ve read the question, stop yourself from reading the answers. Instead, without looking farther down the screen, try to anticipate and formulate the answer in your head. Taking this step gives you an idea of what the answer may be and prepares you to find the right answer without getting dissuaded by the wrong answers. It also helps you know if you’re on the right track when you see the answers.

3. Read Each Answer Option Thoughtfully

Spend a few seconds familiarizing yourself with all of the answer options. Read each answer option carefully, giving the words your full attention. Remember, some of these answer options are distractors, so take the time to understand exactly how each answer option is addressing the question.

4. Answer the Question Properly

Once you know what each answer option offers, choose the answer option that you feel is truly the best. If you are unsure about one or more answer options, make an educated guess.

5. Review Your Answers

After you answer all 100 MCQs, go back and review your answers. You can change your answers before submitting the test, so this step allows you to be fully confident in your performance.

Additional Enrolled Agent Exam Question Tips

With each EA exam question you face, keep these tips in mind:

  • Look for contextual cues in the question: The question may say more about the right answer than you think, so keep your eye out for any extra insight the question offers.
  • Answer every question: You won’t lose points for giving a question you don’t know the answer to your best shot. And, if you get it right, you will gain points. So, don’t leave any question unanswered.
  • Go with your instincts: If you’ve studied well, you should have a good idea of what the answer to a question is directly after reading it. If you see an answer option that agrees with you but also see options that leave you second-guessing, give these options adequate attention. Then, if you feel one particular answer pulling at you, let your instincts guide you and select that answer.
  • Use deductive reasoning: Employ your best logic to determine the implications of each answer and see if they are able to meet the goals of the question. If your reasoning says an answer option and the question don’t line up, move on to another option.

Preparing for Enrolled Agent Exam Questions

While the Enrolled Agent exam features a lot of questions, it gives you enough time to answer them. And the right Enrolled Agent exam review course gives you enough practice questions to build your confidence before you encounter the real thing. You can learn more about your enrolled agent course options and get my recommendations in my comparison. You can also save big on your exam prep with my enrolled agent course discounts.

Once you’re equipped with your review materials, use my top 21 Enrolled Agent exam prep tips to become an expert at studying for the exam and answering Enrolled Agent exam questions.

And for even more help preparing for the EA exam, you can go through my free EA course. Sign up below!

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