An Enrolled Agent (EA) is a skilled tax professional licensed by the federal government Of USA under the umbrella of Internal Revenue Services (IRS). EAs can handle and represent all tax related issues on behalf of an individual or a corporate in any US state or across the globe which comes under the purview of IRS regulated taxation. Moreover, EAs have unlimited practice right across the US territories.
However, to be an EA, one has to pass the 3-part EA exam more classically known as the Special Enrollment examination (SEE). This online exam is conducted by the IRS through Prometric centers located all over the globe in most of the countries. Since, the major criterion for EAs to clear the SEE, here we will discuss certain strategies which can help the aspirants to clear the exam at first attempt.
Know the Exam-the Exam Window
After registration with the IRS, you have 2 years to pass all three parts of the EA exam, however, this year it has been extended to 3 years due to covid situation. Each year, the exam window remains open throughout the year except the March-April months for incorporation of tax changes/reforms/amendments, if any.
Know the Exam- the Structure
The exam consists of the following three parts:
1. Part 1 – Individuals
2. Part 2 – Businesses
3. Part 3 – Representation, Practice, and Procedure
Each part consists of 100 multiple-choice questions (MCQs). The duration of each part is 3.5 hours, with an additional 30 min provided for a computer pre tutorial and post exam survey. The exam score provides a grade of 40-130 on which one has to get a grade of 105 to pass each part of the exam. Each part of the exam can be taken separately and on different dates. The MCQs follow 3 distinct patterns- the question stem or body, choose the best answer from the options and the distractors.
Know the Exam-the MCQs
1. Direct Questions
Here you will get a straightforward question with 4 options from which you have to select the correct one.
2. Incomplete Sentences
In this section, you have to pick up the correct answer from the given options which makes the sentence complete most appropriately.
3. Negative Questions
Here comes the distractors like all of the following EXCEPT or NOT words are part and parcel of the question stem. Therefore, close attention is needed when you find these kinds of words in the question itself.
Write the Exam- Tips to Tackle MCQs
1. Careful Reading of the Question Stem
This is the most important part before looking into the options. By doing this, you can figure out the precise part which has been asked specifically.
2. Selection of Answer by Elimination
Use elimination process for selecting/guessing the correct answer. Eliminating one distractor from 4 options will increase your credibility to tick the right one.
3. Use of Educated Guess
Since there are no negative marking for wrong answers, narrow down the options and make your decision on the remaining options which appear most logical upon educated guessing. Answer every question.
4. Time Management
Since the actual exam time is 3.5 hours, there is no need to hurry. Read the questions carefully and take an average of 1.5 minutes to answer each question. In this process, you can flag the questions which require guessing to take it later.
Relevant IRS Publications for Each Part (Free Resources)
Part 1: Individual- Form W-12 and Publication 17.
Part 2: Business– Publication 15 (Circular E).
Part 3: Representation, Practices and Procedures- Circular 230 and EA exam study materials provided by the IRS.
Know the Exam-The Average Study Time
Preamble to begin your studies, create a plan on study schedule and strategy. Creating a study schedule will help to build your consistency, and implementing a study strategy will make your study sessions more effective as well as productive. An average study plan for each part of the EA exam is given below as a guideline which can be customized according to the need and compliance. Here you can see that part 2 requires more study time than other parts because of its depth and diversity.
Average Study Time for Each Part of The EA Exam
It is evident that with a dedicated study plan, strategy and a positive attitude, you can effectively clear all parts of the EA exam (SEE) by a maximum span of 6 months. In this journey, you need good review materials and mentoring support. Practicing MCQs in real type format along with the mock tests will increase your confidence to take the test. All these supports are available with Uplift Professionals in an affordable and user friendly manner. Above tips will be the icing on the cake for the actual EA exam. Hope for the best. Happy EA journey.
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