How to Interpret Enrolled Agent Exam Questions

How to Interpret Enrolled Agent Exam Questions? | Uplift Professionals

The Enrolled Agent (EA) exam commonly known as Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) and is conducted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is composed of tricky MCQs which need some special approach to tackle by proper interpretation of the questions in the given form. 

The EA exam is administered by Prometric on behalf of the IRS and is used to assess the knowledge and skills of the EA aspirant in tax law. The EA exam has 3 parts (Individuals, Businesses and Representation, Procedures, and Practices) and each part includes 100 MCQs. All EA exam questions offer 4 answer choices, and candidates are required to pick the best possible answer of the 4.

Here we are going to discuss some strategies for how to interpret and handle the EA exam questions. The EA exam uses a grading system on a scale of 40-130 in which one must score a 105 or above on each part to pass the exam.

Topics Under Each Part of the EA Exam

SEE Part 1: Individuals SEE Part 2: Businesses SEE Part 3: Representation, Practices, and Procedures
1.    Preliminary Work with Taxpayer Data – 14 questions 1.    Business Entities and Considerations – 30 questions 1. Practices and Procedures – 26 questions
2.    Income and Assets – 17 questions 2.    Business Tax Preparation – 37 questions 2. Representation before the IRS – 25 questions
3.    Deductions and Credits – 17 questions 3. Specialized Returns and Taxpayers – 18 questions 3. Specific Areas of Representation – 20 questions
4.    Taxation – 15 questions 4. Filing Process – 14 questions
5.    Advising the Individual Taxpayer – 11 questions
6.    Specialized Returns for Individuals – 11 questions


The EA Exam-Question Pattern

The MCQs of the EA exam has 3 basic parts: 

  1. The question stem- It is the part of the question that asks you to do something i.e. It includes the information you need to answer the question.
  2. The best answer choice- This is the type that most accurately responds to the question stem.
  3. The distractors- the remaining 3 answer choices that are designed to confuse you by seeming plausible i.e. The other choices that may look right but are incorrect.

EA Exam-Types of MCQs

  • Direct questions

These are the most common EA exam questions. This comes as a straightforward question having four potential answers to select. While these questions can sometimes be answered with a yes or no, in the case of the EA exam, the candidate must always select a specific answer.

  • Incomplete sentences

This question demands selecting the answer that best completes the sentence or in the other way, the answer completes the sentence. Alternatively, these questions may require one to select the answer that would best fill in the blank at the end of the question stem.

  • Negative or All of the following except questions

These questions include the words NOT or EXCEPT in all caps. This format makes a statement and then asks for the answer option that does not meet the criteria of the statement. Therefore, you must use deductive reasoning to determine the best answer, which, again, is the option that does not satisfy the previously provided specifications. Remember to pay close attention when you spot these words. It is easy to get confused when you are also answering direct questions. The correct answer will be the one that is not like the others.

Strategies to Answer EA Exam MCQs

  • Read the question stem carefully

Do not read the answer options without critically reading the question stem carefully. This can generate confusion and prompt you to select the wrong answer. It is important to identify clearly what the question is asking to prevent any distraction from the extra information loaded in the question.

  • Elimination of Options

The EA exam is MCQ based test having only one correct answer out of the 4 options given. Hence, the elimination of even one distractor raises the chance of calculated guess for the correct one will always increase. 

  • Use of Knowledgeable Guess

This involves use of educated guesses to eliminate distractors and logical identification of the correct answer.

  • Attempt every question

Since the score in the EA exam relies on correct answers only and there is no negative marking for wrong answers in the EA exam, it is always advisable to attempt all the question even if they are based on wild guesses. 

  • Time Management

There is no need to hurry because the time allotted for the EA exam is 3.5 hours to complete each part of the exam. There will be sufficient time for careful reading of the questions and on an average it requires 1.5 minutes to answer each question. First complete answering the sure-shot questions, flag the rest, and come back to them later for guess answering.

  • Reviewing the Answers

After you answer all 100 MCQs, go back and review your answers. You can change your answers before submitting the test, so this step allows you to be fully confident in your performance.

IRS Sample Question Links for EA 

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