Rejoice, Your Final CPA Exam Testing Window of 2018 is Upon Us

Good afternoon and happy fiscal new year, y’all. Today is October 1 which means those of you dragging your heels on sitting for the CPA exam have officially run out of pavement on which to drag. So get thee to Prometric and knock ‘er out already.

Historically, Q4 can be a bit tough to schedule as — surprise, surprise — you aren’t the only one who put this thing off all year. Add to that the holidays, potentially adverse weather events, and the general indifference of overworked public accountants who forgot there are only 12 months in the year and you’ve got the recipe for a whole bunch of angry rants hitting CPA Exam Twitter.

So, first things first. If you want to sit this quarter and haven’t already made plans, put down your phone and take care of it. Depending on location, your ideal dates may get snapped up quickly by people who plan ahead better than you, so don’t be that guy whining because you waited too long and screwed yourself. It’s old advice but it still stands: Scheduling the CPA exam on the last day of the testing window is a bad idea.

As for scores, those who sit October 1 – November 30 should expect scores by December 11, while those who sit December 1 – December 10 should see scores by December 19. Scores for Q4 are still on a “hold” schedule due to changes implemented earlier in the year, but should return to rolling releases in 2019.

Now, some people feel motivated to get the exam out of the way at the end of the year, while others half-ass it, blame turkey comas and those grinches at NASBA, and think their failures are some elaborate Illuminati conspiracy led by the AICPA to keep them down. Figure out which person you are; candidates in the A column should go ahead and schedule for Q4, while candidates in the B column should just fully commit to blowing off the last quarter of the year and plan to start fresh in 2019. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking the last quarter off, unless of course you have scores expiring, in which case, well, you already know you’re blowing this.

Whatever you decide, the most important thing is to commit either way. If you insist on sitting during the Q4 testing window, then know it might lead to some holiday FOMO. If, on the other hand, you’re honest with yourself and know that you’re going to screw around these last few months of the year, then screw around all the way, but be ready to crack the books in earnest in Q1.

Although the AICPA says, “The Exam is not harder or easier to pass at different times,” and this is technically true as far as actual exam content goes, life sometimes gets in the way. Even the most diligent of candidates can have trouble sticking to the plan toward the end of the year. So if you do end up finding yourself unprepared or behind on your plans, don’t beat yourself up too bad. There’s always January.

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