If you’ve decided that a career as an enrolled agent is right for you, you’ll need to earn your Enrolled Agent Designation from the IRS. You can only do that if you have enough experience working for the IRS, or if you pass the IRS Enrolled Agent Exam. For those who need to pass the exam, the road ahead isn’t necessarily easy, but it is definitely worth it. With some support and the right study tools at your disposal, you may find you can pass the exam and start your career as an IRS enrolled agent sooner than you think. Now that you’ve made the decision, however, you need to think about how to schedule and pass the Enrolled Agent Exam. Below we’ll cover all of the steps you need to take to get started on your Enrolled Agent Exam registration.
All tax professionals must have a PTIN, so that is a crucial first step to take. The rest of the process takes a bit of work, though. So that you can set yourself up for success, we’ll go through each step in detail below.
When making a decision like this, it’s natural to want to get started working toward your goal right away. Before you start the steps above, however, there’s one other thing you need to do: Make sure you pass the exam! You may have noticed that you have a two-year window to pass all three sections of the IRS EA Exam. Getting stuck on any one of those sections could spell disaster for your schedule or your ability to effectively pass the other two.
Experiencing an exam failure is something nobody wants to go through. Instead, why not go in with confidence, knowing you’ve given yourself every opportunity to succeed. To do that, you should definitely consider enrolling in an EA Exam review course. A review course can help you to understand the way the test is administered, the types of questions you’ll see on the exam, and the most effective strategies to prepare for success.
Of course, not all review courses are the same, and everyone learns and studies differently. You can review a list of available courses here. You’ll want to make sure that the course you choose fits your learning style. The course should also have enough information and study materials to adequately prepare you for the Enrolled Agent Exam, and it should last long enough to ensure that you have enough time to really absorb the curriculum. When you’ve found the right course for you, these discounts will help you save money!
The first steps of the application process are fairly easy to complete. The whole registration process can be done online. Here we’ll go through each part of the process in detail, as there are actually two systems that you’ll need to navigate in order to complete the process. Let’s start with the first step – getting a PTIN – and the first system, the IRS’s PTIN registration page.
Before you can start your registration for the Enrolled Agent Exam, you’ll need a Preparer Tax Identification Number. If you don’t already have one, you can create one by going to the IRS Tax Professionals webpage, then clicking the “Renew or Register” link on the right.
Once you’re there you’ll need to log into your account to continue. If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to create one.
Create your account if you haven’t already done so by choosing the option on the right. Once you have logged into your account, you can proceed to follow these steps to create your PTIN.
The IRS uses Prometric to handle registration and administration of the Enrolled Agent Exam.
Just like last time, you’ll need to create an account first. To do so, click the green circle on the left with the key icon, or you can click the text below it that says, “Create An Account.” Once you’ve done that, you’ll be asked to create a username, password, and some other general information.
You’ll need to create a secure password (see the requirements in the screenshot below), and pass a couple of CAPTCHA verification checks to make sure you’re not a robot.
Once you’ve provided all of the required information, click “Create Account.”
Important: When you click the Create Account link, the Prometric system will auto-generate a confirmation e-mail and send it to the address you gave them. You have to click the activation link in the e-mail within 24 hours for your account to be activated. If you don’t get that done within 24 hours, you’ll have to start the whole process again.
After you’ve created your account, you’ll have to log in first.
Fill in your new username and password information and type in the correct CAPTCHA code, then press “Log In.”
The following information is required for you to complete your Prometric profile and complete your EA Exam registration.
Make sure the profile information you enter is accurate before submitting.
If you don’t wish to subscribe to e-mails from Prometric, click the slider on the bottom left of the screen (circled in red) before clicking “Save and Continue” (circled in red on the right).
Once you’ve hit “Save and Continue” on the account creation screen, you’ll be taken to the candidate account page. From here you’ll be able to access all kinds of functions regarding your IRS Enrolled Agent Exam. In addition to scheduling your exam from this page, you can also see which exams are coming up, which ones you’re already scheduled for, and which ones you’ve already taken. Other options include canceling an exam, re-scheduling an exam, and finding directions to the nearest testing center.
As you can see from the screenshot above, there are three separate parts to the exam. The exams do not have to be taken in sequential order. You can find out more about each section and how to pass them here.
To schedule an appointment, click the orange button on the right side of the screen next to the section of the EA Exam you’d like to sit for first.
If you require testing accommodations, you’ll need to request your accommodation before you schedule your appointment by calling 1-800-967-1139. A Prometric representative will send you an accommodations packet that outlines all accommodations available to individuals pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Accommodations available include sign language interpreters, adaptive equipment, and other aids which provide equal access for test takers with disabilities.
Enter the city, state, or zip code for the area in which you’d like to test. Click search, and select the testing center that is closest to you. Hint: Use the search radius to broaden your search if you can’t find a testing center within 25 miles of your zip code.
Once you find the testing center that will work best for you, click “Schedule an Appointment” next to that center on the list.
On the next screen, you’ll have the best results if you choose “Find available seats in a 3 month period.” Once you’ve selected that, click “Go.” Note: Appointments cannot be scheduled for more than six months in advance.
Use the calendar that pops up to choose the day that works best for you and the drop-down menu on the right to choose a time. Once you’ve selected a date and time, click “Go.”
You’ll need to complete all of the payment information on the next screen. The fee for each section of the exam is $181.94. After completing the information, click “Next.”
You’ll be redirected to a page that says “Appointment Complete.”
On this page, you can print or save your appointment confirmation, print your receipt, or request an e-mail copy of your receipt.
Review the information on your appointment confirmation carefully. Make sure the date, time, and testing center are correct. Contact Prometric as soon as possible if you need to reschedule or make any other changes to your appointment.
Once you’ve scheduled your test, there are a lot of things you’ll need to do to prepare. As mentioned above, you should definitely consider a review course. These are expensive exams with high stakes, and failure is costly. A review course can help you to understand what you’re up against, so you can enter the testing center with confidence.
Speaking of the testing center, here are some things you should know before you show up for your first exam:
When you walk into the Prometric exam center you’ll be asked to show your ID and your appointment confirmation. Then you’ll be taken to a place where you can store any personal belongings that are not allowed such as cell-phones or other electronic devices, notes, etc. Testing center personnel will supply you with materials which may be allowed such as scratch paper or other necessary materials. You can keep your ID and locker key with you during the exam. You’ll be asked to empty your pockets to ensure the integrity of the test, and testing center personnel will explain all of the rules and procedures to you at this time.
Depending on the testing center, you may be required to provide biometric identification information (fingerprint scan, etc.) in addition to your government-issued ID.
Each section of the exam itself is timed, and there are no scheduled breaks. Make sure you take care of personal issues or bathroom needs before you enter the testing room.
If you have questions during your test, simply raise your hand and a Prometric testing representative will come to assist you. If you experience a computer issue, ask the proctor to log the incident. Also, please note that proctors cannot answer any questions regarding test content or scoring information. They can only answer procedural questions about how to take the test or use the materials provided (such as computer systems).
One final thing that bears mentioning is that testing center officials are trained to be vigilant regarding suspicious behavior. Also, testing centers are under constant video and audio surveillance. In order to give yourself the best chance of success, make sure you take your behavior seriously during the exam.
Scheduling and sitting for the Enrolled Agent Exam shouldn’t have to be stressful. It’s a high stakes test that could have major implications for your career, but with the right tools and adequate preparation, a passing grade is definitely achievable, and the rewards are worth it. If you’re ready to take the next step in your career as a tax professional, visit Prometric’s website and schedule an appointment. Then check out all of your review course options and get studying!
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.