The CPA exam is an exam like no other. It’s a notoriously challenging test and candidates commonly need to retake at least one section of the exam. With an exam this tough, it’s only natural for candidates to make mistakes while answering questions and sims. But the entire process surrounding the CPA exam is also very complicated. If you don’t follow all the steps just right, your testing experience may end before it even starts. Here are some of the most common procedural mistakes people make while taking the CPA exam and what you can do to avoid them.

Forgetting the Details

With all the time and effort you put into preparing for each section of the CPA exam, it can be easy to overlook some of the details. But as the saying goes, the devil is in the details and that’s been very true for many people who have taken the CPA exam. NASBA says some of the most common mistakes people make include arriving late, forgetting to bring their NTS, bringing the wrong NTS, and going to the wrong testing center.

If you arrive late, there’s a good chance that you will not be allowed to take the exam, regardless of what your reason is. Take a drive out to the testing center before exam day so you’ll be familiar with the area. You also won’t be allowed to take the test if you don’t have your NTS. Your confirmation email from Prometric is not a substitute for the NTS. If you’re retaking a section or have taken other sections before, make sure you bring the correct NTS for that day.

Scheduling Mistakes

Sometimes, life gets in the way and you need to reschedule your testing day. Not a big deal; Prometric understands and will let you reschedule. However, you need to be very careful to reschedule correctly. In many cases, people try to reschedule, but accidentally skip a step in the process so it doesn’t go through. Then they arrive on the day they tried rescheduling for and are turned away because they aren’t on the list. If you’ve rescheduled correctly, you’ll get a confirmation email.

Another type of scheduling problem people have is waiting until the last minute to schedule. CPA exam test dates can fill up quickly, so schedule as soon as possible if there’s a certain date you want to take the test on. NASBA recommends scheduling at least 45 days in advance.

Time Management

Time management is a big part of taking the CPA exam. You have a limited amount of time to complete each section of the exam, so it’s important to not spend too much time dwelling on each question. But in some cases, candidates run into timing issues before they actually start the exam. Before you start, you have 10 minutes to read three introductory screens. If you don’t complete the introductory screens within 10 minutes, the exam ends and that’s it. There’s no way to restart the exam and you’ll have to pay to take the test again another day. Don’t spend this time doing any last minute things you feel you need to do to prepare.

Waiting to Report Problems

As hard as NASBA and Prometric tries to make testing as efficient as possible, problems do occasionally happen. If you have a problem with your computer or any other equipment during the exam, let a testing center employee know immediately so they can try to help you and document the problem. Do not wait until you finish the section to tell someone. You also need to contact NASBA Candidate Care within 5 business days of your testing date to inform them of the problem. Simply telling testing center employee about the issue isn’t enough to count as a formal complaint.


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