Alabama CPA Exam: From Application to Study Tips

After years of undergraduate and post graduate study you are now ready to begin your career as an Alabama Certified Public Accountant. However, before you can practice as a CPA you will need to qualify for, sit for, and pass the Alabama CPA Exam. To do this you will need to arm yourself with some basic information about where and how to apply, what to study, and what to expect on the day(s) of your exam. Luckily this article contains everything that you need to know about taking the Alabama CPA Exam.

Alabama State Board of Public Accountancy
PO Box 300375
Montgomery, Alabama 36130-0375
http://www.asbpa.alabama.gov
Anna.Baker@asba.alabama.gov or Lamar.Harris@asbpa.alabama.gov
(334) 242-5700 phone number
(800) 435-9743 toll free number
(334) 242-2711 fax number

Requirements to Sit for the Alabama CPA Exam

There are a few basic requirements that you must meet in order to qualify to sit for the Alabama CPA Exam. First you must have earned at least a Baccalaureate degree with 150 hours of coursework, or have a graduate degree. You will need at least 33 semester hours of mid to upper level accounting courses, as well as 27 semester hours of non-accounting business courses, and 3 semester hours of business law. Alabama also requires their CPA candidates to be at least 19 years of age and be a U.S. citizen. Unlike most of the other states, Alabama doesn’t require state residency.

Application Process

The first step in the application process is to download or request a complete application package. This can be found on the Alabama State Board of Public Accountancy’s website. Here you will find fees charges for the packet and a mailing address. You will need to then complete the application packet and mail it back along with all required documents and supplemental documents. You will also need to request that your college or university send your transcripts directly to the Alabama State Board of Public Accountancy to prove that you have met the educational requirements needed to sit for the Alabama CPA Exam.

If you will need testing accommodations because of a disability you will need to request accommodations at the time that you submit your application. You will need to fill out an accommodation form, which will be in your application packet. You will also need to submit an application fee along with your completed application and supplemental forms. To see what the most current application fees are you will need to visit the Alabama State Board of Public Accountancy’s web site.

Keep in mind that this packet will take about 30 days to evaluate and process before you can go on to the next steps of the registration process. Deadlines for submitting applications have been eliminated because now testing is done two months out of every three months. The only time limitation is that you will have only six months to take your exams after you submit your application, so don’t apply for more tests than you will be able to successfully complete in a six month period.

After the Board receives your application, processes it, and approves you to sit for the Alabama CPA Exam, they will submit an Authorization to Test to the NASBA. NASBA will then invoice you for the exams that you have applied for. You will then have 90 days to pay this invoice before your application expires and you will have to apply again. The price for each section of the Uniform CPA Exam will vary year to year so you will need to visit www.nasba.org to check on the most current rates. However, to give you an idea of what to expect, the following 2006 NASBA fees for the Uniform CPA Exams were as follows:

AUDIT (Auditing and Attestation) $159.25
FARE (Financial Accounting and Reporting) $148.00
ARE (Regulations) $125.50
LPR (Business Environment and Concepts) $114.25

After your payment is received in full for your exams you will be sent a Notice to Schedule. This notice will contain scheduling and testing information, and it will tell you what your identification number is, and when your scheduling window expires. You will have about 6 months to schedule and take all of the exams that you applied for.

You can schedule your exam anytime during the six months that is convenient to you as long as the testing center is open and has space to fit you in. It is recommended that you register early to ensure that you get a testing space on the day that you want. Most testing centers are open Monday Through Saturday during the following windows of time:

January 2 – February 28 (29)
April 1 – May 30
July 1 – August 31
October 1 – November 20

There are several ways in which you can schedule your exam. First you can call the Prometric Student Testing Service Call Center at 1-800-580-9648, or you can go to their website at http://www.prometric.com/cpa, or you can contact your local testing center.

Thomas Prometric Test Center
601 West Beacon Parkway, Suite 106 NW Horizon
Birmingham, AL 35209
(205) 263-5061 Site Code: 5123

Thomas Prometric Test Center
2691 Sandlin RD SW, Suite F1
Decatur, AL 35601
(256) 350-8324 Site Code: 2608

Thomas Prometric Test Center
3245 Montgomery Highway, STE #7
Dothan, AL 36303-2150
(334) 667-6334 Site Code: 2611

Thomas Prometric Test Center
3964 B Airport Blvd
Mobile, AL 36608
(251) 344-6284 Site Code: 2601

Thomas Prometric Test Center
2640 Zelda Rd.
Montgomery, AL 36107
(334) 262-0043 Site Code: 2603

Once you have your tests scheduled you will be ready to study for the computerized Uniform CPA Exam.

What You Need to Know About the Computerized Uniform CPA Exam

AUD will last 4.5 hours
FARE will last 4.0 hours
ARE will last 3.0 hours
LPR will last 2.5 hours

If you plan on taking the Auditing and Attestation (AUD) section of the Uniform CPA Exam then you will want to study the following information:

1. Auditing Procedures
2. Generally Accepted Auditing Standards
3. Other Standards That Are Applicable to Attest Engagements
4. Planning the Engagement
5. Internal Controls
6. How to Obtain and Document Information
7. How to Review Engagements and Evaluate Information
8. How to Prepare Communications

If you plan on taking the Financial Accounting and Reporting Section (FARE) of the Uniform CPA Exam then you will want to study the following information:

1. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for Business Enterprises
2. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for Not-For-Profit Enterprises
3. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles for Government Entities
4. Concepts and Standards for Financial Statements
5. Know What Items are Commonly Found on Financial Statements
6. Know How to Account For and Report various Transactions

If you plan on taking the Regulation Section (ARE) of the Uniform CPA Exam then you will want to study the following information:

1. Federal Taxation Procedures and Regulations for Individuals
2. Professional Ethics
3. Professional Legal Responsibilities
4. Applicable Business Laws
5. Federal Taxation Procedures and Regulations for Entities (Both For-Profit and Not-For-Profit)

If you plan on taking the Business Environment and Concepts Section of the Uniform CPA Exam then you will want to study the following information:

1. Business Structures
2. Economic Concepts
3. Financial Management Issues
4. Information Technology
5. Planning and Measuring
6. Reasoning Used as a CPA

Format of the Uniform CPA Exam

The Uniform CPA Exam has recently been transitioned from a paper and pencil exam to a computerized exam. Because of this transition, the format of the exam has also evolved. Each section will consist of multiple choice testlets comprised of 24 to 30 questions. Each testlet will then be supplemented with a case study called a simulation. You will be given 30 to 50 minutes to complete each simulation. The simulations will test your ability to perform entry level CPA tasks.

Study Tips

Studying for the Uniform CPA Exam will be quite an undertaking, as you will be tested on six years of college level education. To help you with this process it is highly recommended that you enroll in some type of CPA Exam Preparation Course offered by a college or university. However, this is not mandatory, and there are many high quality self-study CPA Exam Review Courses available to you.

You can also utilize the study materials provided by the testing board, including an exam tutorial that is offered on the following website: http://www.cpa-exam.org/lcr/exam_tutorial.html. This tutorial will offer you many great tolls for passing the Computerized Uniform CPA Exam. First this website will offer you an explanation about how the test is designed and what subjects it will cover. It will also review what types of questions you will be asked to answer, and what types of responses they will be looking for. Finally, you will be able to run through a few sample questions and one case study, so you can practice taking a computerized exam.

In addition to taking a CPA Exam Review Course, and using the exam tutorial, it is also highly recommended that you know the following information before you sit for the CPA Exam:

1. Be familiar with spreadsheets, and be able to use them. You will also need to know how to write format spreadsheet formulas that will calculate rows, as well as calculate other financial computations.

2. You will also be expected to know how to use a four-function calculator to derive standard financial calculations.

3. You will need to be familiar with, and be able to utilize information contained in online authoritative literature. You may want to practice this skill at home, by accessing these authorities and looking for specific rules, regulations, and standards that apply to test review questions.

4. Study the Internal Revenue Code and Federal Tax Regulations that were in effect 6 months prior to your exam. You can find this information at the IRS’s website: http://www.irs.gov.

5. Know the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 as it will be used throughout the exam.

6. AICPA Standards will also be used, so know them and how they are applied to different situations.

7. Learn and memorize federal laws that relate to accounting and reporting.

What to Expect on the Test Day

On the day of your exam(s) you will want to arrive early, at least 30 minutes early, so you can check in and get situated before you begin testing. You will need to provide two forms of personal identification that has both your signature and your photograph on it. For example a valid driver’s license and a valid passport are both accepted forms of id.

After you have been checked in you will be assigned a computer and given instructions. Begin to test only after you have been given permission to do so. Do not cheat, or act disrupted, as these actions can get you expelled from the testing center, and perhaps even prohibited from taking the CPA Exam again.

Your scores will be made available to you as soon as they are ready, but expect 4 to 6 weeks to pass before hearing anything. If you have any questions about when and where your scores will be made available, contact http://www.nasba.org.

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