CPA Exam Applicants

The Board’s Exam Section is responsible for processing Uniform CPA Exam (Exam) applications and maintaining each candidate’s file until they successfully pass the Exam. The Uniform CPA Exam is the exam an individual must pass to qualify for licensure as a CPA in any US jurisdiction, and is one of the “Three Es” (Education, Examination, and Experience) required for CPA licensure. Candidates for CPA licensure must meet all three requirements. Of these three (3) requirements, only the Exam is uniform (i.e., it is the only exam accepted for CPA licensure by all US jurisdictions). In contrast, education and experience requirements vary among US jurisdictions.

In North Carolina, a person is eligible to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam if they

  • are a citizen of the United States or have declared the intention of becoming a citizen;
  • are a resident alien or a citizen of a foreign jurisdiction that extends like or similar examination privileges;
  • are at least 18 years old;
  • are of good moral character; and
  • meet the education requirements.

Pursuant to 21 NCAC 08F .0111, a person may not be eligible to take the Exam as a North Carolina candidate if the Board determines that the person has engaged in conduct that violates NCGS 93 or the Rules of Professional Ethics and Conduct. All Exam applicants are subject to a background check by the Board. [21 NCAC 08F .0103]

An Exam applicant must have at least a bachelor’s degree (120 hours) from an accredited college or university in any subject that includes or is supplemented by a concentration in accounting. [21 NCAC 08A .0309]

A concentration in accounting is:

  • at least 30 semester hours, or the equivalent in quarter hours, of undergraduate accountancy courses, which shall include no more than six semester hours of accounting principles and no more than three semester hours of business law; or
  • at least 20 semester hours, or the equivalent in quarter hours, of graduate accounting courses that are open exclusively to graduate students; or
  • a combination of undergraduate and graduate courses equivalent to the above.

One (1) semester (or quarter) hour of graduate study in accounting is the equivalent of one and one-half (1.5) semester (or quarter) hours of undergraduate study in accounting. Up to four (4) semester hours, or the equivalent in quarter hours, of graduate income tax courses completed in law schools may count toward the semester hour requirement.

Accounting courses include elementary, intermediate, and advanced level principles courses; managerial accounting; business law; cost accounting; fund accounting; auditing; and taxation. Although many college courses such as business finance, business management, computer science, economics, writing skills, accounting internships, and CPA Exam review courses would be helpful in the practice of accountancy, the Board does not include them in the definition of a concentration in accounting. If the Board determines that an accounting course duplicates another course previously taken, only the semester (or quarter) hours of one of the courses will count in deciding if the applicant has a concentration in accounting.

In accordance with 21 NCAC 08F.0302(b), the Board may approve an application to take the Exam before the applicant receives their bachelor’s degree if

  • The concentration in accounting is already complete or is reasonably expected to be completed by the end of the school term within which the Exam falls, and
  • An applicant reasonably expects to complete their bachelor’s degree within 120 days after the Board receives their application.

However, if the applicant fails to receive the degree within the specified time, their Exam grades will not be released.

The Board accepts degrees from the following Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and US Department of Education (USDE)-recognized accrediting associations:

International Education

An individual who attended or graduated from a college or university outside of the United States may be eligible to apply for the Exam as a North Carolina candidate if they live in North Carolina or attend(ed) a North Carolina college or university. After receiving authorization from the Board, the individual is responsible for having their educational background evaluated by NASBA’s International Evaluation Services (NIES) before submitting their Exam application to the Board. The applicant pays all expenses for the evaluation services process.

An individual sitting for the Uniform CPA Exam for the first time is an initial applicant and must complete an Initial Application for the Uniform CPA Exam. An individual who has already applied for at least one (1) section of the Exam within the past three (3) years as a North Carolina candidate is a re-Exam applicant and must complete a Re-Exam Application for the Uniform CPA Exam. The Board does not require an applicant to take the Exam sections in a particular order or pass one (1) Exam section before applying to take another section.

The Board conducts a background check of Exam applicants [21 NCAC 08F .0103(f)]; applicants must include all court records and any current or previous charges (including probation) with their application. Under North Carolina law, traffic violations including speeding tickets and expired automotive registrations are reported as criminal offenses.

Initial Exam Application

When completing the Initial Application for the Uniform CPA Exam, an applicant must

  • Provide Identifying Information – Full legal name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, etc.
  • Include One Printed Photo or One Digital Image –The photo or digital image must be 2×2 inches in size, of the applicant alone, front view, full face, taken in normal street attire, without a hat or dark glasses, with a plain light background, and taken within the last six months. The photo or digital image may be in black and white or in color. Retouched photographs or altered/filtered digital images will not be accepted. Snapshots, vending machine photos, copies of driver’s license photos, or previously laminated photos are not accepted. The applicant must print their full name on the back of the printed photo or include their full name in the digital file name. Applicants may submit digital images, including identifying information (i.e., full name) with all other required application documents to Phyllis Elliott at phyllise@nccpaboard.gov. Please do not send a digital image without the complete application package.
  • Select a Method of Contact – The Board and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) use email to communicate with Exam candidates. The Board recommends that candidates use their personal email address instead of a university or work address.
  • Select the Section(s) to Be Taken – Candidates are not required to take the sections in a specific order or apply for more than one (1) section per application. The Board strongly encourages candidates to apply only for the section(s) they can reasonably expect to study for and take within six (6) months. The 2024 Exam has three Core sections (AUD, FAR, & REG) and three Discipline sections (BAR, ISC, & TCP). Please visit the 2024 Exam page for  information on the 2024 Exam sections.
  • Provide Pertinent Data – An applicant who has ever been charged, arrested, convicted, found guilty of, received a prayer for judgment continued, or pleaded nolo contendere to any offense, including traffic infractions, must include all court records and any current or previous charges (including probation) with their application. Applicants are not required to disclose any arrest, charge, or conviction the court has expunged. Under North Carolina law, traffic violations are reported as criminal offenses.
  • Include Official College Transcript(s) – Official transcripts must bear the signature of the Registrar and the official school seal; state the graduation date and degree awarded; and specify all accounting courses completed and credit hours earned toward the accounting concentration requirement. Applicants who earned credits at more than one (1) college or university should include a transcript from each school. The Board does not accept photocopies of transcripts or scanned copies of transcripts, but the Board does accept e-transcripts. Please check the e-transcript box on the application and send the e-transcript to Phyllis Elliott (phyllise@nccpaboard.gov).
  • Provide Three (3) Moral Character References – Moral character references must have known the applicant for at least one (1) year. Persons related by blood or marriage to the applicant cannot sign the moral character certificate.
  • Provide Ethnicity & Gender Information – Ethnicity and gender information is only used to identify the population segments represented in the Board’s database. If an applicant prefers not to provide the information, they should mark the “I do not wish to disclose” boxes on the application.
  • Submit Payment – The Board accepts checks and credit/debit cards (Mastercard, VISA, or American Express) for Exam fees.

Re-Exam Application

When completing the Re-Exam Application for the Uniform CPA Exam, an applicant must

  • Provide Identifying Information – Full legal name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, etc.
  • Select a Method of Contact – The Board and NASBA use email to communicate with Exam candidates. The Board recommends that candidates use their personal email address instead of a university or work address.
  • Select the Section(s) to Be Taken – Candidates are not required to take the sections in a specific order or apply for more than one (1) section per application. The Board strongly encourages candidates to apply only for the section(s) they can reasonably expect to study for and take within six (6) months. The 2024 Exam has three Core sections (AUD, FAR, & REG) and three Discipline sections (BAR, ISC, & TCP).
  • Provide Pertinent Data – If an applicant has been charged, arrested, convicted, found guilty of, received a prayer for judgment continued, or pleaded nolo contendere to any offense, including traffic infractions, since their previous Exam application, they must include all court records (including probation) with their application. Applicants are not required to disclose any arrest, charge, or conviction the court has expunged. Under North Carolina law, traffic violations–even speeding tickets–are reported as criminal offenses.
  • Submit Payment – The Board accepts checks and credit/debit cards (Mastercard, VISA, or American Express) for Exam fees.

The Board recognizes its responsibilities under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide reasonable, appropriate, and adequate accommodations to qualified Exam applicants with disabilities. Under the ADA, an individual with a disability is a person who has a physical impairment that limits a major life activity (seeing, hearing, learning, reading, concentrating, or thinking) or a major bodily function (neurological, endocrine, or digestive system). Mental impairment includes mental or psychological disorders (organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness) and specific learning disabilities.

An applicant who requires accommodation should read the Board’s ADA policy and submit their request for accommodation (including required documentation specified in the Board’s ADA policy) with their Exam application. The Board reviews each request individually in accordance with its guidelines and approves, denies, or suggests alternative accommodation.

Uniform CPA Exam Fees
Administrative Fee Initial Exam Application$230.00
Administrative Fee Re-Exam Application$75.00
AUD (Auditing and Attestation) Section Fee$254.80
BAR (Business Analysis and Reporting) Section Fee$254.80
FAR (Financial Accounting and Reporting) Section Fee$254.80
ISC (Information Systems and Controls) Section Fee$254.80
REG (Taxation and Regulation) Section Fee$254.80
TCP (Tax Compliance and Planning) Section Fee$254.80

Exam fee receipts are available upon request.

Members of the military and their spouses may be eligible for economic assistance from the US Department of Veterans Affairs for expenses related to the Uniform CPA Exam and CPA licensure. The North Carolina Department of Military & Veterans Affairs may have resources related to the Uniform CPA Exam and CPA licensure.

The Board processes complete initial Exam applications within ten (10) business days of approval and complete re-Exam applications within five (5) business days of approval. However, some applications may take longer to approve and process if they are incomplete, or the Board needs more information from the applicant. Applicants may check the status of their application online.

After the Board approves and processes an initial Exam application, the candidate receives an email from NASBA with instructions for setting up their NASBA Portal Account and retrieving their Notice to Schedule (NTS). Initial Exam candidates usually receive the NASBA notification within ten (10) business days of the Board approving their application. Re-Exam candidates usually receive the NASBA notification within five (5) business days of the Board approving their application. Candidates should check their spam/junk email folder for the email. If a candidate’s ADA accommodation was approved, it takes longer for NASBA to generate the NTS, and the NTS will list the accommodation. Candidates should contact NASBA at 800-CPA-EXAM (800-272-3926) or NASBA Candidate Care for help setting up or accessing their NASBA Portal Account. Board staff cannot retrieve or reset a NASBA Portal Account password.

A candidate should verify that the name on the NTS is the same as the name on the identification documents they will use during check-in at the Prometric testing center. If the information is incorrect or the names on the NTS and the identification documents do not match exactly, a candidate must immediately contact the Exam staff to request a corrected NTS. The middle initial can be substituted for the middle name (e.g., the NTS reads Michael A. Smith, but the name on the driver’s license reads Michael Albert Smith) or vice versa.

In North Carolina, an NTS is valid for six (6) months. During those six (6) months, a candidate must schedule and take the Exam section(s) shown on the NTS. If the candidate does not take the section(s) on the NTS before the NTS expires, they forfeit all Exam fees paid for that section.

Candidates must take their NTS to the Prometric test center; without it, Prometric will not allow them to test. (Prometric will accept an NTS saved/downloaded to a phone if the NTS is legible). Each NTS includes the Exam section identification number which is the “Launch Code” (password) entered during the login process.

NASBA recommends candidates schedule at least 45 days before their desired test date(s) to increase the likelihood of receiving their first choice of date, time, and location. A candidate must schedule an appointment at least five (5) days before the test date. A North Carolina Exam candidate may take the Exam at any authorized Prometric test center in the US, whether the test center is in the jurisdiction where they reside. There are five (5) Prometric test centers in North Carolina: Charlotte, Greenville, Greensboro, Raleigh, and Wilmington. [The Asheville Prometric Center closed on September 22, 2023. Prometric anticipates opening another location in the Asheville area in 2024.]

The AICPA requires Exam candidates to accept the Uniform CPA Examination Conduct and Non-Disclosure Agreement as part of the Prometric Exam scheduling process. The Agreement outlines a code of conduct for maintaining the secrecy and confidentiality of the Exam content. A link to the full text of the Uniform CPA Examination Conduct and Non-Disclosure Agreement is available in NASBA’s Candidate Guide.

Candidates should use Prometric’s ProScheduler to schedule Exam appointments and reschedule or cancel appointments. ProScheduler provides 24-hour access to scheduling and generates a detailed appointment confirmation on-screen and via email. A candidate should use Prometric’s ProScheduler to change or cancel an appointment; Prometic may charge a rescheduling fee depending on when the candidate changes or cancels an appointment. There is no fee for canceling or rescheduling an appointment at least 30 days in advance. The Candidate Guide has additional information regarding these fees.

The AICPA, NASBA, and Prometric provide free resources to help candidates prepare for test day.

The AICPA’s This Way to CPA website includes

  • CPA Exam Blueprints – The Exam blueprints highlight the content knowledge and skills that may be tested in each Exam section.
  • CPA Exam Booklet – The AICPA’s Uniform CPA Examination booklet offers an Exam overview, FAQs, tips, and resources.
  • Exam Sample Tests and Tutorial Topics – Provides candidates with a preview of the Exam experience, including format and functionality, and sample tests with tutorial topics for each Exam section. A Features & Functionality Highlights Video offers a guided tour of the Exam software.

The NASBA CPA Exam page includes

  • The Candidate Guide – Provides candidates with in-depth information about Notices to Schedule; scheduling, changing, & canceling test appointments; ID requirements, receiving scores, etc.
  • NASBA Portal Account – Instructions for setting up and accessing the account
  • Exam News – Updates on Exam administration, score releases, etc.

The Prometric website includes

After a candidate takes an Exam section, Prometric forwards the data file to the AICPA for scoring; the responses are identified by Exam Section ID only. The AICPA sends advisory scores to NASBA for processing where the scores and performance information is matched to individual candidates. NASBA uses Twitter to notify candidates when scores are available. North Carolina Exam candidates retrieve their scores through their NASBA Portal Account. Check the AICPA’s website for the official target score release dates and an overview of the Exam scoring process.

If a candidate does not pass a section, they must wait 24-48 hours before submitting a Re-Exam Application for the Uniform CPA Exam to receive a new NTS for that section. A candidate who fails a section receives a performance report within ten (10) days of the score release. The report’s relative performance scale (stronger, comparable, weaker) is derived from the range between one-half of one standard deviation above and below the average score of candidates who earn between 75 and 80. Performance within the range is considered “comparable,” below the range “weaker,” and above the range “stronger.”

The Board sends letters to successful candidates within 30 days of receiving the hard copy scores from NASBA; the Board receives the scores within 60 days of a candidate receiving their scores from NASBA.

21 NCAC 08F .0105 states that a candidate must pass all sections of the Exam with a grade of 75 or higher on each section. A candidate is subject to the following conditioning requirements:

  • A candidate shall earn a passing grade on all sections of the examination within an 18-month* period;
  • A candidate may sit for any section of the examination individually and in any order;
  •  A candidate may retake the same section of the examination as many times during a one-year period as determined by the examination vendors but shall not retake a failed test section until the candidate has been notified of the score of the most recent attempt of that failed section;
  • credit awarded by the Board for passage of a section of the examination shall be valid for an 18-month* period from the date the passing scores are released by the examination vendors;
  • The 18-month period begins on the date the first passing score is released to the candidate and concludes with the sit date of the final passed examination section, regardless of when the score is released by the examination vendors for the final passed section. A candidate, after earning credit for the initial passed section, must complete the remaining test sections of the examination by the last day of the 18-month period. If all four sections of the examination are not passed within the 18-month period, credit for any test section passed outside of the 18-month period shall expire; and
  • Notwithstanding Subparagraphs (c)(1), (c)(4), and (c)(5) of this Rule, the period of time in which to pass all test sections of the examination may be extended by the Board upon a showing that the credit was lost by reason of circumstances beyond the testing candidate’s control.

A candidate on active military service will not have the time on active military service counted against the 18 months unless they apply to take the Exam during the active military service. In that case, each month the candidate sits shall count toward the 18 months.

*On November 20, 2023, the Board conducted a rulemaking hearing to amend 21 NCAC 08F .0105 to change the 18-month Exam credit window to a  30-month Exam credit window. If approved, the rule change would be effective in late Spring 2024. In anticipation of the rule change, the Board authorized Executive staff to review current North Carolina candidates’ Exam histories  on a case-by-case basis to determine if the 30-month score window would assist them in completing the CPA Exam. This is not an automatic reinstatement of all expired Exam credits. Current North Carolina Exam candidates may request an Exam Credit Review by sending an email to the Board’s Executive Director that includes

  • Candidate’s full name;
  • The name of the Exam section for which the credit expired, and
  • A copy of the score notice showing the credit expiration date.

A person who passes all Exam sections within the 18-month period is a successful Exam candidate and may apply for licensure as a North Carolina CPA if they meet the requirements. A successful North Carolina Exam candidate’s scores do not expire.

Transfer of Grades

A successful North Carolina Exam candidate who does not intend to apply for an original NC CPA license may transfer their Exam scores to another US jurisdiction (Board of Accountancy) by submitting a request to the Board. There is no fee for this service.

Score Review

The AICPA Exam FAQs state:

The score review process involves making certain that the approved answer keys were used and applied correctly in determining a candidate’s score and is not an opportunity to have alternate responses considered. It is simply an additional independent verification of a candidate’s CPA Exam score. Please keep in mind that all scores undergo thorough quality control checks before they are released. Given all the quality control reviews already completed, it is highly unlikely that a candidate’s score will change due to a score review.

For additional information and to request a score review, please call 1-800-CPA-EXAM. The candidate is responsible for all fees associated with a score review.

Appeal Process

The AICPA Exam FAQs state:

The [appeal] process provides a candidate with the opportunity to appeal a failing score. Where available, the appeal option enables a candidate to view the multiple-choice test questions or objective simulation problems that the candidate answered incorrectly together with their responses, and to submit comments online. The appeal does not include the written communication tasks. The confidentiality of the CPA Exam requires that such viewing sessions take place only in authorized locations, under highly secure conditions, and in the presence of a representative of the candidate’s Board of Accountancy or its designee.

For additional information and to request a score appeal, please call 1-800-CPA-EXAM. The candidate is responsible for all fees associated with a score appeal.

Contact Information

Exam candidates must submit changes to their contact information to the Board in writing. Candidates may submit a change of address by mail using the Change of Address form or email the changes to addresschange@nccpaboard.gov. Address changes made with the NCACPA, AICPA, or other professional organizations do not update the address information on file with the Board. Email addresses are not public record information.

Name Change

If a candidate’s name has legally changed and is different from the name on any transcript or other document supplied to the Board, they must complete the Notice of Name Change form and provide the Board with a copy of the document(s) (marriage certificate, divorce decree, court order, etc.) legally authorizing the name change.

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