How to Become an Enrolled Agent

Q: What is an Enrolled Agent?

An Enrolled Agent is the only federally authorized tax professional licensed by the IRS. Enrolled Agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards. Most EAs earn their licensing by passing a three-part exam testing their knowledge of federal tax law. The EA exam, or Special Enrollment Examination (SEE), covers three areas of taxation:
  • Part One: Individuals
  • Part Two: Businesses
  • Part Three: Representation, Practices, and Procedures
The exam is administered by the testing company Prometric at testing centers throughout the United States and many other countries around the world. PassKey Learning Systems provides a complete study program to help you learn and understand the key concepts you need to know to pass the EA exam.

Q: How do I sign up for the EA exam?

A: Go to the Prometric website and download the EA Candidate Bulletin, which will answer all your technical questions about how to sign up for the exam. Our study guides also include a complete step-by-step overview of how to sign up and study for the EA exam.

Q: What should I bring to the testing center?

A: Bring a government-issued ID with a photo and signature. You’ll be given a locker for personal items such as your wallet, phone, and coat. Inside the testing room, you’re allowed to bring soft earplugs and a medical device, such as a pair of glasses or a hearing aid. If you need accommodations for a disability, you must make special arrangements in advance with Prometric. The EA exams are offered in English only. Difficulty understanding English is not considered a disability for test-taking purposes.

Q: Can I use a calculator?

A: Yes, the testing center will provide you with a calculator, pencils, and scratch paper. You cannot use your own calculator. You cannot take the scratch paper home with you.

Q: What is the format of the EA exam?

A: Each part of the EA exam features 100 multiple choice questions. You will have 3.5 hours to answer the questions by computer in a secure testing room. The EA exam is a closed-book exam, so no notes or reference materials are allowed into the testing room.

Q: Can I go to the bathroom during the test?

A: Yes, you are allowed to leave the room during the exam to go to the bathroom, but the time on your exam clock does not stop! So it is a good idea to go to the bathroom and eat before your test. Try to avoid leaving the test room at all costs so you can use all the time allotted to you.

Q: When will I get my score?

A: You will receive a score report immediately after taking each exam part. Scores are confidential and will be revealed only to you and to the IRS. You won’t find out how many questions you got right or how many you missed. If you pass, your report will show a passing designation but not your score. If you fail, you’ll receive your overall score and a diagnostic report for individual topic areas, so you can focus your study on areas where you scored the weakest.

Q: Do I have to take all three parts of the EA exam on the same day?

A: You can take each part of the EA exam on separate days, so you can space them months apart, if you’d like. You have two years to finish taking all three parts. If you don’t pass all three exams within two years, you lose credit for any passing scores on the other exam parts. You may take each part up to four times within a single exam cycle.

Q: I’ve never prepared taxes before and I don’t have a college degree. Can I take the EA exam?

A: Yes! You must be at least 18 years old, but otherwise no specific experience or degree is necessary. What’s important is that you demonstrate an understanding of federal tax issues by passing the EA exam.

Q: What happens after I pass all three parts of the EA exam?

A: You will apply with the IRS to become an Enrolled Agent, a process that takes about two months. EAs are exempt from any additional registration or testing requirements. However, every year you must renew your preparer tax identification number (PTIN) with the IRS and complete continuing education requirements.