When Does My CPA Exam Credit Expire?

November 10, 2021

When do CPA Exam credits expire, & what’s the deadline for applying for your CPA license after you pass the exam?

Most, but not all, testing jurisdictions, have a rolling 18-month window for candidates to pass all 4 parts of the CPA exam, according to NASBA. If you do not pass all 4 parts within the allowable time period, you will lose only the credit(s) that fall outside of the 18-month window, but your other credits will remain intact. Check with your State Accountancy Board to verify how long your credit for passing a portion of the exam is retained. 

In addition, while many states say that there is no specific time limit in which you must obtain the license once you’ve fulfilled the CPA licensure requirements, some states do have a time constraint on applying for the initial license. For example, Minnesota’s rule states:

“You have three years from when you were notified that you passed the final section of the CPA exam to complete the remaining requirements of certification … and apply for your initial certificate.”

The Road Ahead

An effective study and testing plan can keep you from losing CPA exam credits.

A successful plan includes an adequate understanding of exam topics, practice with all exam question formats, methods to handle test anxiety, and it takes into account any special considerations, such as testing accommodations.

You need to understand the CPA Exam

It is not just a test of knowledge; skills, stamina, and the ability to perform under pressure are also major factors. It is necessary to prepare for all of these. (Check out the AICPA’s Blueprints for a full list of what’s tested.)

You need to know yourself

How can you use your preferred learning style(s) to improve understanding and retention when studying? What are your weaknesses and strengths when taking tests?

You need to be aware of common test-taking errors

Incorporate solid exam-prep tips into your study plan to protect yourself from losing exam points to common errors.

Your plan should include steps to recover after a failure

Most people fail at least one part of the CPA exam, and it’s common to fail more than once. 

  • Learn how to interpret your candidate performance report (if your jurisdiction provides one) to determine what you need to improve.
  • If your test score wasn’t what you expected, the difference may be related to pretest (unscored) exam questions.
    • If you felt really good about how you answered some questions, but they were pretest questions, they didn’t count toward your score, making your score lower than you expected. Conversely, if you were certain that you missed some questions, but they were pretest questions, then your score would have been higher than expected.

Knowing when you’re ready to retake a section of the CPA exam can help you pass sooner and retain exam credits you’ve already earned.

Scheduling A CPA Exam Retake

Lauren Walter, Exam Communications Manager at the AICPA, explained the flexibility of scheduling exam retakes in an interview with This Way to CPA. “In the past, if you sat for the audit section and failed, you couldn’t take it again until weeks later. Now the day you find out you didn’t pass, you can reschedule and possibly take it as soon as the next day.” But the question remains: when is the best time to retake a failed portion of the CPA exam?

Walter indicated that there are several factors to consider, including:

  • How solid your testing plans are, 
  • How many points short of passing you were, 
  • The time you can commit to studying, and 
  • The amount of study support you have. 

One question that exam candidates often ask is how to study differently after failing a section to bring up their scores. We’ve put together a set of study methods that are designed to help you overcome after failing a part of the CPA exam. 

CPA Exam Review Course

We’re Here To Help You Get Over The Finish Line!

Do you want help building a study plan, interpreting your candidate performance report, or preparing to retake a section of the CPA exam after failing it? Check out MDS CPA Review, sign up for a free trial today, and let us know how we can help!