Prometric

Dog in snow

Here’s What to Do If Inclement Weather Ruins Your CPA Exam Test Date

As some of you know, I called California home for many years. Not the sunny, smoggy, ridiculously beautiful people part, the other one with aggressive bums, wine, and streets flowing with human shit. San Francisco is without a doubt one of the greatest cities in the world, but I have to admit I don’t miss […]

retro computer

Here Are Some Tips on Having a Less Crappy CPA Exam Experience at Prometric From a (Probably Legit) Prometric Employee

A short while back, one brave soul (ThrowAway20112348) presented themselves as a Prometric employee on Reddit and shared some insight, tips, and rules for U.S. testing centers. The universe thanks you, friend to CPA exam candidates. Now, I’d like to share the love by recapping their message from the great testing center beyond. In their […]

English pub

Starting in October, You Can Grab a Pint at a Real English Pub After the CPA Exam

Congratulations, unlicensed U.S. expats in Europe, beginning October 1 you no longer have to head to Bahrain to take the CPA exam. According to an announcement from the AICPA, NASBA, and Prometric, nine Prometric locations across the pond will offer CPA exam testing for qualified applicants. Bristol, London, and Manchester (England) Edinburgh (Scotland) Cork and […]

Citizens of India Can Sit For the CPA Exam in the Middle East Starting October 1

It's certainly the next best thing to being able to sit for the exam in India: The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and Prometric today announced that testing for the Uniform CPA Examination in the Middle East will be open to all qualified citizens and permanent […]

NASBA Respectfully Asks You Not to Act Like an Idiot at the CPA Exam

Long ago and far away, we wondered out loud what would happen if you tattooed CPA exam formulas on your arm. Not that we suggest doing that as tattoos are permanent while the CPA exam is temporary, but would Prometric throw you out? Would you be barred from taking the exam due to cheating and […]

Happy 10th Birthday to the Computerized CPA Exam!

Has it really been that long? It's been that long. The American Institute of CPAs, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and Prometric are pleased to mark the 10th anniversary of computer-based testing (CBT) for the Uniform CPA Examination and note the continued enhancements and successful expansion of the test administration over the […]

ICYMI: Fall CPA Exam Testing Is Being Extended to December 6th

That should be plenty of time for the tryptophan comas to subside: NEWS: Due to the late Thanksgiving holiday, NASBA, AICPA and Prometric extend the Fall #CPAexam testing window: http://t.co/jiytMaprWJ — NASBA (@NASBA) October 18, 2013 The extension is available globally, according to NASBA's website so our international friends may experience 'Merica! at its best if […]

Ten Ways CPA Exam Candidates Screw Up the Exam According To NASBA

In light of the Great Score Delay of 2013 (NEVER FORGET, we will rebuild!) and all the criticism heaped on the AICPA and NASBA for their part in the tragedy, we dug up this old post from NASBA that points out 10 ways candidates screw up. Don't do any of these things: 1. Exiting Out […]

Is Religious Headwear Allowed at Prometric?

Our friends over at Above the Law recently shared the story of a Muslim bar candidate who was handed quite the passive aggressive note (excessive underlining always makes it so) in the middle of her exam requesting she stash her hijab under her seat for the afternoon portion of testing. Everyone knows that things like […]

Prometric’s Awful Scheduling System Could Possibly Be the Worst Prometric Horror Story of Them All

OK, first thing's first: deep breath. And a little perspective while you're at it. I won't remind you that there are starving children in Africa or anything like that but let's just think about how lucky we all have it before we freak out. Now, commence to freaking out, by way of my inbox: Hi, […]

Meet Your High-Strung CPA Exam Candidate of the Week

Dude. Breathe. tip:I nearly had a heart attack when I received an email from Prometric with the subject line: "IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM PROMETRIC REGARDING YOUR SCHEDULED EXAM AT SITE ****"… The email went on to say "Dear Candidate, This is an urgent message concerning your upcoming test with Prometric. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, the […]

Prometric to Provide CPA Candidates with Memorable Experiences for Years to Come

Over the years we have shared a number of stories from people that have suffered from the plight of Prometric. Everything from a runny nose to the metal detectors to questionable written communication to something that might resemble a hostage situation to a very, very, very awkward search. These anecdotes have provided a sense of added […]

In Case You Haven’t Heard, Some CPA Exam Candidates May Have a Snow Day

A public service announcement for our friends in the Northeast: NEWS: Due to the winter storm bearing down on the Northeast, some testing centers will be closed tomorrow: bit.ly/XTvzZl — NASBA (@NASBA) February 7, 2013 To see a full list of Prometric test centers that are closed today and tomorrow, head here.

CPA Exam Candidates Everywhere Freaked Out by NASBA’s Switch to “Noteboards” from Scratch Paper

This email went out to CPA exam candidates from NASBA earlier today:

NASBA Has Extended This Testing Window For Hurricane-Affected CPA Exam Candidates

For the procrastinators out there wondering if they'll be able to squeeze in just one more day of studying, rejoice, it appears as though NASBA has extended this testing window through September 8th for some test-takers. Good lookin' out, Mother Nature! Nine Louisiana and Mississippi Prometric locations are closed today. I'm hearing some candidates are […]

One Candidate Would Prefer If Prometric Worked On Its Communication

It's been awhile since we've heard a horrible Prometric story but with tomorrow being a holiday, we should have seen this coming. Before I get into the actual story, it's worth pointing out that the Prometric closures themselves aren't necessarily the issue. I have never heard a candidate complain about being informed of a testing […]

After Being Told His CPA Exam Was Lost, One Candidate Gets Some Good News

Anyone remember the poor bastard who was told by NASBA that they lost his entire exam and would have to retake it? Well, he didn't retake it and somehow they managed to track down his missing exam somewhere between Prometric and the AICPA and guess what? He passed! First of all, this candidate was abnormally […]

How Prometric Nearly Gave One CPA Exam Candidate a Heart Attack For Nothing

This story comes by way of a manager who has been helping staff not freak out over taking the CPA exam: So this candidate had trouble closing out of her exam at the end.  She had to hit the exit button three times.  Then it seemed to go through but she didn’t get the survey […]

Has Anyone Seen This CPA Exam Candidate’s Missing FAR Scores?

File this under: emails CPA exam candidates NEVER want to get. The Prometric nightmares continue and this time, the trauma comes long after the candidate left the test center. Ready for this one, folks? Details have been changed to protect the innocent and I have paraphrased the email due to NASBA's disclaimer (this email came […]

Feeling Jilted By Prometric? Here’s How To Get a Refund

Have you had issues with Prometric lately? First of all, why haven't you emailed me about it yet? Second, here's how to get reimbursed for your trouble. Save copies of your receipts (like airfare or hotel if you have to travel to a Prometric center not close to your home should yours get closed at […]

CPA Candidate Discovers That Scheduling an Exam on the Last Day of Testing Window Is a Bad Idea

The Prometric stories keep rolling in and I can't say I'm surprised. I'm hoarding a lot of the similar ones for my own purposes (namely writing an angry letter to the AICPA and NASBA on your behalf once we have enough ammo) but came across this one left in the comments last night: I CAN […]

How a Thunderstorm Fried a Prometric Location’s Computers and Ruined One CPA Candidate’s Day

Oh lookie here, we have ANOTHER sad Prometric story. This time, nature made it far more dramatic than it had to be; however, Prometric obviously did not have a plan in place to A) prevent such a catastrophe and B) clean it up after the fact. I am still soliciting Prometric horror stories (they don't […]

Here’s Yet Another CPA Exam Candidate Jilted By Prometric’s Sloppiness

I know it's shocking but we have another CPA exam candidate upset, stressed out and unnecessarily worked up by a Prometric issue. I have absolutely no reason to believe anyone would make these stories up and after years of working with this stuff, when the same type of story comes to my attention time and […]

CPA Exam Horror Stories: Trapped at Prometric For 6 Hours

Have a CPA exam horror story? We want to hear it. Email us at tips@goingconcern.com and put "CPA Exam Horror Story" in the subject line. Imagine, for a moment, being trapped in Prometric. Let me set the scenario: you're taking the CPA exam. First, you arrive at your test center early after circling endlessly for […]

Inspired By One Failed CPA Exam Candidate, Alaska Legislators Take On Biometric Collection

A few years ago, I was contacted by a man who'd given up on his CPA exam dreams due to Prometric data collection. He was looking for my help exposing Prometric's data collection and alleged sale of said data – although I was never able to prove that Prometric was making money off candidate data, […]

Who Wants to Open Up a Prometric Testing Center?

Yeah buddy, I found my next money-making project. I have > 800 sq. ft in the worst part of DC that I can easily load up with Leading Edge machines running DOS 6.0. We already have more guns per capita than any other ward in DC, so there's the security part. And I definitely know […]

Prometric Responds to the Candidate Burned By Their Note on Test Day

Before I dropped off the planet for my birthday, I received an email from the very generic marketing team at Prometric in response to Prometric Disses One CPA Exam Candidate…with a Note, a post I wrote last month based on an email I received from one CPA exam candidate on the Sunday after Thanksgiving (ouch). […]

Prometric Disses One CPA Exam Candidate…with a Note

Imagine, if you will, heading to your exam (on a Sunday after a holiday, no less) with just a handful of days left in the final testing window of the year only to find a note stating Prometric is closed. That’s right, closed. It happened to this guy, it could happen to you.

I showed up to take FAR today only to find a note on the door stating that the testing center was closed and giving me a ticket number to reschedule. There are three days left in this testing window and I literally don’t know what to do. I don’t believe I’ve ever been this furious.

Furious is a good word. The problem with a note is that there’s no one there to yell and scream at, leaving you standing there with your FAR notes in your hand questioning your entire plan to become a CPA right then and there.

In any other circumstance, I might snicker and tell this person to get over it, it’s not the end of the world. Like if they showed up to the DMV to renew their license only to find the DMV closed. But in the case of the CPA exam, you’re talking about highly left-brained people spending weeks on end preparing for D-day down to the minute. I know you guys, and I know a lot of you meticulously plan your program with the type of dedication usually reserved for Bridezillas and control freaks. So I could see how a wrench in the plan like this could completely ruin your weeks of careful preparation.

Is it really the end of the world? No. Is it a pretty hardcore jerk move on the part of Prometric? Totally. Unless the testing center is actually on fire (3 alarm minimum, no smoke in the garbage can crap), I can’t see a scenario where this is an okay way to treat CPA exam candidates. Somehow I get the feeling the future truck drivers and nurses who showed up to Prometric that day for their exams handled the news a little better than any future CPAs who read this note.

That was a dick thing to do, Prometric. Seriously.

Now Non-CPAs Can Taste the CPA Exam Experience!

The IRS Commissioner and his subaltern for preparer regulation this week spilled some of the beans about the “competency tests” that they are imposing on the unwashed (non-CPA, non-lawyer, non-enrolled agent) preparers. Some key bits, as reported by Tax Analysts (sorry, subscriber-only link):


This confirms the obvious: the competency test will be a joke. It has to be, or too few preparers would survive to prepare the nation’s returns. It won’t be completely open-book, but it sounds like you will be able to pass if you have adequate skills at reading and using an index.
This all makes it look like the cynics are right – it’s all about extending IRS power over preparers.

Don’t believe me? Listen to Shulman’s own words:

Today, I want to talk for a little bit about some of our priority programs, such as the Return Preparer Program, the evolution of our relationship with our largest corporate taxpayers, including Schedule UTP, and our work on what we’re calling a real time tax system.

The common thread that runs through them is points of leverage and working smarter.

Points of leverage sounds like what a wrestler uses to pin an opponent. The IRS can use these “points of leverage” to make preparers more subjects of the government and less advocates for their clients. And in their own sweet time, they will.

The Most Horrifying Prometric Story I Have Ever Heard

Remember last week when I asked you guys for your horror stories tales from the CPA exam frontlines? So far a few have trickled in (come on, people, you guys complain about this ALL THE TIME, I know there are more) but I just had to share this one. Keep in mind I’ve heard it all over the years, so this has to be pretty awful to stand out to me. As you’re about to see, it is.

Now please, I know you guys favor juvenile humor and bathroom jokes (and by you guys I mean me) but let’s be adults for the three minutes it takes to read this story and feel a little sympathy for this candidate.

Adrienne,
I wanted to share a story with you about my most recent exam. I, unfortunately, have to wear an ostomy bag due to health issues. When I took my exam, they did their pat down, and didn’t say a word. I don’t think they noticed that I wear a bag, as most people do not. During the exam, they came in and asked me to leave my terminal because they believe that I was carrying notes underneath my shirt.

I was questioned and searched in the room (in a professional way, I guess), but lost 10 minutes off of my test time as well as losing major concentration so they could “search” me for these mysterious notes of mine. Come to find out, it was just my beige ostomy bag that was showing. Shocker!

The embarrassment of wearing the bag is enough in itself, but being pulled away from a professional exam, losing both time and concentration, was a terrible experience. The people working at the location should have handled this in a more discreet manner. I still passed the exam, but it was a frustrating experience that could have waited until the end of the exam or when I took a break.

Didn’t something similar happen at a TSA checkpoint? As if we didn’t already think of Prometric lackeys as glorified airport security agents.

Now, nowhere in the candidate bulletin does it say candidates must loudly disclaim their medical devices to Prometric staff and declare them upon entry into the building. I imagine if someone had a broken wrist and was wearing a cast, the staff would be able to inspect said cast without issue before the candidate begins their exam but for this candidate, would it have gone any better if he or she had announced their special medical issue? Let’s be honest, this is awkward.

But for future reference… maybe candidates are expected to declare all medical devices? What next? Do you have to inform the Prometric staff if you’re packing a used tampon?!

Sorry. This post was already gross, might as well go all the way. I’m disgusted. In more ways than one.

It isn’t too late to get me your Prometric horror stories, though the bar has officially been set.

Have You Had Prometric Issues? Tell Us!

Instead of giving the same piece of advice I’ve given a hundred times over, today’s post is a plea for information. I know MANY of you (too many, if you ask me) have had Prometric issues over the years, and by issues I mean:


• Prometric Gestapo harassing or hassling you over items not specifically listed in the CPA exam candidate bulletin
• Prometric equipment failures, blank screens, entire exams disappearing, etc
• Generally distressing exam environment issues including excessive noise, uncomfortable temperatures, etc

If you have experienced any kind of issue at Prometric (even the little ones), please leave a comment below or email me with your story. You will remain anonymous unless you tell me otherwise.

I’m hoarding your answers for a follow-up post I will put up later and submit to The Powers That Be (as in the AICPA) so please be as elaborate as you need to be. General dates help (like if you took the exam in 2006, please say that, it’s possible that Prometric has had a chance to address your issue by now). Feel free to include feelings, I won’t hate if Prometric made you cry like a baby on the way home from the exam.

Thanks in advance, guys!

Things You Definitely Need to Take the CPA Exam

Rose from Sleep on CPA is still plugging away at the exam, but when I read her recent REG wrap-up, I noticed a funny bit she included about a fellow tester she encountered at Prometric:

I was so surprised to find a girl at Prometric who doesn’t even know what NTS is!!! She brought a print out of Prometric appointment confirmation. When a staff member was asking her for NTS, she was clueless. A staff member explained her what NTS is and told her to get a printout from her NASBA emails from a nearby Kinkos. I showed her my NTS and she came back with a print out of NTS and wrote her exam.

Can that possibly be true?! Given some of the very obvious questions I’ve gotten over the years, I guess anything is possible.

I’m sure none of you guys will ever have this issue but just in case, let’s go back over what you definitely need to sit for the exam.


1) A map to Prometric or a good GPS – Plug the address in the night before so you have one less thing to worry about on testing day.

2) GAS IN YOUR TANK – I hate to even have to say this but it’s come up (like I said, anything is possible). I’m the kind of person who plays chicken with my gas light, and it’s caused me to be late to work more than once. Fill up the night before.

3) Bring your unexpired, original NTS and AT LEAST two forms of acceptable identification – The number on your NTS will be used as your launch code to begin testing, so you definitely do NOT want to leave it at home. If you are unable to produce your NTS and two forms of identification that match it, you will not be allowed to test and will forfeit your exam fees for that day.

4) Bring extra ID just in case – In most cases, you’ll need an unexpired driver’s license and a credit card, but just in case Prometric staff have issues with your ID and want to hassle you, bring an extra bank card or credit card if you have one. Social Security cards are not accepted as identification for Prometric purposes.

5) Do NOT bring big items into the testing center with you – While you can stash your jacket or purse in Prometric lockers, they cannot accommodate golf bags, large suitcases, garbage bags full of recyclables, etc. So leave your crap at home.

Sorry for the remedial reminder, don’t want to leave anyone behind.

The CPA Exam Goes International Without a Hitch

The AICPA, NASBA and Prometric yesterday announced the successful launch of the U.S, CPA Examination in international locations – the first time in history it has been administered outside of the United States and its territories.

On August 1, the first candidates took the exam in Japan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. Throughout the remainder of the month, 1,165 candidates will sit for 2,065 examination sections. Future month-long testing windows will take place in November, February, May, and every third month thereafter.

The U.S. CPA exam is offered internationally as a service to foreign nationals in response to escalating international demand for U.S. CPA licensure. In 2010, more than 10,000 international candidates traveled to the U.S. to take the U.S. CPA exam, a 22 percent increase from 2009. Nearly one-third of international candidates came from Japan.

The international exam, offered in English, is the same as the U.S. exam administered by the AICPA, NASBA, and Prometric in the United States. Licensure requirements for international candidates are the same as for U.S. CPA candidates, meaning candidates must meet the qualifications of the jurisdiction in which they apply.. Along with passing the Uniform CPA Examination, international candidates must meet educational and experience requirements as mandated by U.S. state boards of accountancy.

In the United States, state boards have the governmental legal authority to award the U.S. CPA license. Applications may be made through certain U.S. state boards of accountancy offering eligibility for international candidates. A list of participating state boards and information about fees is posted on the NASBA website at www.nasba.org.

Testing in the new international locations is open to citizens and long-term residents of the countries in which the exam is being administered. In the Middle East, citizens of Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia may take the exam in one of the Middle East locations. U.S. citizens living abroad are eligible to test at any location.

Starting Today, Prometric Will Pull Out the Metal Detector

Prometric is only one step away from TSA at this rate, next thing you’ll likely have to submit to backscatter body scanners. 95 year-old CPA exam candidates will have to remove their Depends, while younger candidates will have to accept getting groped by Prometric staff. Awesome, isn’t it? Aren’t you guys thrilled you chose the most trustworthy occupation on the planet besides Hollywood madam?

Thanks to the many (and I mean many) tipsters who sent us the following email which was sent out to all CPA exam candidates on Wednesday:

Prometric is committed to a strong, secure, testing environment for the CPA Examination and for all candidates visiting one of its test centers. Over the past few years, Prometric has made several significant investments to further strengthen security in its test centers, including a global roll-out of digital video recorders and enhancements to biometrics at the centers. This communication is to advise you that there is a new security enhancement being introduced into Prometric centers this week.

Starting July 1, Prometric Test Center Administrators (TCAs) will be using hand-held metal detector wands to scan all candidates in the Test Centers in the United States and Territories. All candidates will be scanned prior to each entry into the test room, including returns from breaks. Candidates will still be required to turn their pockets out, and the scan will be done immediately afterward. The purpose of the wand scan is to take an additional step in identifying any prohibited items that a candidate is attempting to take into the testing room.

Prometric’s Security Department conducted a pilot of this program in 2010 using the wands for a period of five months. Approximately 60,000 candidates were scanned during that time. Ultimately, the wand was found to be a strong deterrent and operationally effective. Based on the results of the pilot, Prometric has decided to move forward with this program and has deployed hand-held metal detectors to all U.S. Test Centers.

In addition to this message, information about wanding has been added to Prometric’s standard Test Center Regulations Form. This form is posted on Prometric’s website and is given to all candidates to read prior to check-in.

The scan will be done in full view of the TCA DVR camera so it will be recorded, and any candidate complaints or escalations can be properly investigated. All candidates will be required to submit to the scans. Any candidates refusing to be scanned will not be permitted to test. Please rest assured that the metal detectors do not affect pregnancies, pacemakers, or other medical equipment that’s connected to the body.

This small change will help to make our test even more secure, and further protect the integrity of our exams.

I wonder how much this has to do with the candidate in Illinois caught “cheating” (we still don’t know what exactly he or she was busted doing, be that using a crib sheet or actually trying to smuggle out exam content).

We checked the Test Center Regulations and still don’t see any mention of metal detectors (or bodyscanners).

Post-Nasal Drip Ruins One CPA Exam Candidate’s Experience

Perhaps Caleb can confirm for us whether or not the exotic Colorado climate is snot-inducing, inquiring minds are dying to know.

We love tales from the CPA exam (if you have one, please let us know), especially ones that make us wonder if Prometric staff are human beings or robots. Once again, we totally get the high security environment but have to question the logic that dictates a drippy nose should be left to annoy the rest of the room instead of providing a candidate with a damn tissue (or a barf bucket). Absent a pen (unless they’ve keistered one, obviously), what exactly could the candidate do with the tissue to compromise the security of the CPA exam? Copy MCQ by swirling around the snot?

Seriously.

I got kicked out of the CPA exam (but let back in) because of the sniffles. I had just moved to Colorado and was having a hard time adjusting to the climate so I had a constantly running nose. When I got to the exam I asked if I could take some Kleenex in with me and they told me no. It was my first part of the exam so I was still feeling out how it all works, etc. I was in my second testlet and occasionally had a sniffle here and there (not hocking a loogie or anything, just a small sniffle). I feel a tap on my shoulder which scares the pants off me since I’m in the zone. I turn around and pull off my headphones and the moderator tells me she’s going to have to ask me to leave the exam (which is all she says). I stare at her dumbfounded and my heart starts racing “but why?? what did I do wrong??!” trying to think if I had taken off my hoodie during the exam (which is a no-no) or something else to get me kicked out of my first exam. She says “I’m going to have to ask you to come blow your nose, we’ve had some complaints”. So I stare at her more. “But I’m in the middle of a testlet, should I wait and come out after the testlet is closed?”… she responds “No, please come with me.” So she escorts me out of the testing room, points at a box of kleenex and demands I blow my nose in front of her and throw it in the trash can. I had flooding memories back to kindergarten….. So I return to my testing room, relieved I was allowed back in, only to wonder to myself “Who the hell would have complained about my sniffles? Were they not wearing their headphones or something?”. So when I got to the typing portion of my test I made sure to bang my keys as loud as I possibly could.

Colorado CPA in Australia.

Fine, it’s a Pandora’s Box… first Prometric starts providing tissues and next thing you know candidates are demanding emergency tampons for unplanned monthly accidents, insulin, and porn to accommodate their masturbation disability. We get it, it’s a slippery slope of accommodation and Prometric shouldn’t be expected to have a solution for every possible scenario but let’s be reasonable here, it’s just a little snot.

Really, Prometric?

Note: Puke Is Not Among Prohibited Items at Prometric

As many of you know, we try to stay up on the haps in the land of MCQ and TBSs by playing Twitter detective, stalking the CPAnet forums and, of course, reading CPA exam candidate blogs. One of our favorites has always been Sleep on CPA due to her positive attitude and willingness to share her experience in its rawest form, disasters and all.

So we couldn’t pass up the chance to share her BEC experience with you all when we read it. Remember the candidate who got into it with Prometric over gum-chewing? That was nothing compared to this:

As it was not month end, I was the only one who was sitting for CPA Exam. I watched another exam guy who was debating rules with the staff over his exam code not working and there was no one who could help him with that. After answering all his questions a staff member came to me and collected my ID and NTS. I removed my items and locked them and went in. Then I was told to remove scarf. She checked my ID and asked me to sign in and then she asked me to go back and lock my NTS after I entered my launch code on the paper booklet. Then I told her about my nausea and asked her how should I proceed in case I want to throw up. She looked at me as if I was asking some thing illegal. She said, as you are not a candidate with special needs I cannot allow you to sit in a special needs room. I asked,” Can I leave the room If I have some emergency? She said “you can throw up beside you, we will clean later.

I really had no reaction on my face when she said that. I asked, Do we have any waste basket inside? She said, No we don’t keep waste baskets inside. There is nothing we can do about it. She discussed with another lady and said, We cannot provide you the room with special needs, you should sit in the same room and there is nothing we can do. You can only take breaks in between your test-lets. After appearing in this exam more times than I passed.. Excuse me I know Prometric rules..

I prayed God and with all the prayers of my friends and family members, I felt better and the whole exam went well. I was little tired but that’s OK.

It goes without saying that we’re glad Rose didn’t actually hoark all over the floor and actually, we’re kind of surprised this is the first we’re hearing a story like this. Maybe most of you do the responsible thing and puke in the parking lot or in your locker, lest you compromise the security of the CPA exam by eating your homework books ahead of time and barfing out time value of money charts during your exam.

We are all for reasonable security measures but really?! Shouldn’t there at least be a designated puke bucket that Prometric staff can sign in and out?

Do you have a bizarre CPA exam story to share? Need advice on which part to take? Feeling like you need to vent? Get in touch, I’m here to hold back your hair.

CPA Exam Debuts Internationally in August

For those of you interested in taking the CPA exam in wild locales such as Bahrain or Kuwait, wait no longer, the CPA exam is officially international beginning August of 2011.

Initially announced along with CBT-e, international testing appeared to be slated to begin in January but security issues and further testing necessitated the delay.

So far Bahrain, Kuwait, Japan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are the only countries in which the exam will be administered. After a long two year analysis, NASBA, AICPA and Prometric determined those areas to meet their stringent safety and security guidelines.


We know what you’re thinking. Bahrain?! According to the three agencies, candidate volume demand as demonstrated by candidates from those countries taking the exam in the United States was a huge factor in deciding where to administrate the exam. Sure, Japan seems like a no-brainer but up until now, international candidates have been forced to obtain a visa to physically appear in the United States for their exams, often for marathon sessions of more than one test in a two or three day period.

Other factors in deciding which countries included:

• The ability to deliver the Exam without legal obstacles.
• Security threat to the Exam (both physical security at test center and intellectual property security of Exam content) assessed at levels equivalent to those presented domestically.
• Existence of established Prometric test centers.

Other countries were analyzed ahead of this announcement but I know of at least a handful that were determined unfit for test administration based solely on security issues in those countries. Being proprietary and more heavily guarded than Colonel Sanders’ 11 herbs and spices, protecting CPA exam content was likely one of the largest concerns involved in taking the exam international.

While candidate volume and interest in the exam is also high in countries like India and Korea, security concerns are equally as high (if not higher), therefore excluding these areas for the time being. My understanding is that the AICPA is open to expanding international testing in the future and just with CBT-e, will be monitoring the situation closely after launch, ready to adjust based on results. International candidates will still have to apply with the state board of their choice and are invited to use NASBA’s Accounting Licensing Library to search for a jurisdiction in which to apply.

Why Did Prometric Get Fined $300,000 by NASBA in 2010?

David A. Costello, CPA, President & CEO and Michael R. Bryant, CPA, CFO of NASBA jointly and severally stated that NASBA’s 2010 financial statements did not contain any untrue material statements and their auditors, Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain, PC seconded that so obviously the following is all accurate. We looked ourselves. Not being professional financial statement ninjas, however, we invite you to take a peek for yourself here.

The good news for NASBA is that total consolidated revenue in Fiscal 2010 was $33.7 million compared to $31.4 million in Fiscal 2009, an increase of 7.3%. There were more CPA exam candidates as well as a new state added to NASBA’s CPAES program, which does the work of state boards of accountancy by processing CPA exam applications.


Interestingly, though my grandparents have been eating Alpo for the last two years thanks to Ben Bernanke and I’m earning a little under half a percent on my savings, NASBA must have a good investment banker because they did pretty well for themselves in FY 10. The annual report states that revenue from escrow management fees related to the CPA exam increased over the prior year and that higher interest rates, on average, during FY 10 were earned on these funds which are held in fully-insured securities or interest-bearing accounts. Can someone please let me know where these accounts are?! I want in.

But the most interesting part of NASBA’s mostly dull financial statements is the $300,000 “fine” Prometric paid them for violating its CPA exam agreement. Yes, the same agreement that was just renewed through 2024 with much fanfare last year.

The item is reported as “Income from Contract Issue” on NASBA’s consolidated financial statements and buried in note 12 thusly:

Note 12. Income from Contract Issue
As a part of the initial CBT Services Agreement effective May 31, 2002, Prometric was required to obtain and maintain insurance policies for certain specific perils, coverage amounts, terms and conditions naming the Association and its member boards as additional insureds. During fiscal 2010, the Association asserted that Prometric failed to comply with certain applicable insurance requirements. Prometric denied the assertions but, in resolution of the matter, provided evidence that it had come into compliance, agreed to indemnify, hold harmless and defend for any coverage lapses, and paid $300,000 to the Association. In addition, Prometric reimbursed the Association for certain legal and administrative expenses related to the resolution.

It doesn’t appear that NASBA declared the legal and admin expenses it also received so we’re assuming they were either immaterial or just embarrassing. Any financial statement detectives are welcome to come to their own conclusions.

The AICPA, NASBA and Prometric Announce Successful Launch of the New CPA Exam

Even though only two testing days passed from the time CBT-e launched and the time the press release came out, the AICPA, NASBA and Prometric are very excited to announce the successful launch of the new CPA exam.


Via the AICPA:

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, and Prometric today launched the new Uniform CPA Examination, called CBT-e, which includes for the first time questions on International Financial Reporting Standards among other sweeping and significant changes.

Changes were approved by the AICPA Board of Examiners based on input from state boards of accountancy in response to an Invitation to Comment, and a Practice Analysis designed to ensure the exam tests the modern knowledge and skills that are relevant for today’s entry-level CPAs. The new IFRS questions and other changes to the exam are the first major revisions since the CPA exam was computerized in 2004.

Overall, more emphasis is being placed on skills assessment using case study-based questions known as Task-Based Simulations. Authoritative literature in the CPA exam incorporates use of new Financial Accounting Standards Board codifications of U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Professional responsibilities including ethics and independence have been added to the Auditing and Attestation section.

“The testing of IFRS knowledge and other international standards is a response to change in the business world in which new CPAs operate,” said Craig Mills, vice president of examinations for the AICPA. “We are proud and excited to be introducing innovations in this evolution of the computer-based test that both validate and update the content of the exam and improve the experience for candidates. The exam is one of three key requirements, along with education and experience, that help state boards and the profession maintain the highest standards and protect the public interest.”

In related news, I will be speaking with the AICPA this afternoon about the new exam and thanks to your input, will be interrogating them on score releases, potential changes to passing scores, the integrity of the exam (since the old timer paper and pencil folks continue to rag on the new exam as too easy) and the continued evolution of exam content beyond 2011. I’d like to ask them when the hell BEC is going to be more than a junk drawer but having seen some of the new 2011 content on that section, I have to say it looks like they are working on consolidating the most random CPA exam section into a more streamlined piece of psychometric awesomeness. It isn’t too late to get me your questions for the AICPA’s exam unit so if you have one that you haven’t gotten to me yet, get on that or drop it in the comments and I’ll try to sneak it in.

I’ve also spoken to at least a handful of candidates who tested last week and so far feedback is positive on the new format as I suspected it would be. For the love of Excel, please don’t get stressed out over international standards as you shouldn’t expect to receive an exam made up of 70% new content. Try 5 – 10% max.

Update to come on Friday.

Tales From the CPA Exam: Is Gum Really Banned at Prometric?

Directly from CPAnet comes word that gum could possibly be banned by Prometric, although it may only apply if the testing staff are having a bad day. I didn’t see gum on the list of prohibited items either and would assume the rules are not there for interpretation by staff based on the mood they are in.

The test facilitator at Prometric today made me take my gum out before the exam. I rebutted with the fact that the AICPA does not prohibit gum in the list of prohbited items in the AICPA Candidate Bulletin: She then explained that people have left their gum in the testing center and it has been a “mess” to clean up. She seemed irritated and ornery, and I didn’t want to raise my blood pressure any higher before going into the test room… so I conceded and spit out my gum.

Now, I tend to consider myself to be a courteous and responsible gumchewer. I dispose of my gum in its original wrapper that always ends up in a trash can. One reason I like chewing gum while taking a test is b/c it allows me to harness any natural stress and focus on the task at hand. I really could’ve used some gum today, but I didn’t let that ruin my test. However, I will never be able to quantify the effect of my lack of gum on my final score tbd. Does anybody know the official gum rule? I think this lady was just having a bad day…

I didn’t attempt to reach Prometric to confirm this candidate’s story, I believe that our little candidate here IS a responsible gumchewer. Since this was posted on August 3 (assuming the night after the exam), the candidate still has until September 3 to request a rescore though it’s been several years since the AICPA has actually granted one (don’t waste the money).

I believe you can also contest the conditions of your testing center within the same 30 day window so if you absolutely must, go that route. Complain that you were subjected to conditions outside of your control that had a detrimental effect on your performance and see how that works out.

Or hope you passed and don’t bring gum next time. Regardless of why you wanted it, you should have been allowed it since it wasn’t on the list. Hopefully this person checks in and lets us know how it turns out.

How to Avoid ID Problems at the CPA Exam

Although the instructions are pretty clear, this question comes up fairly often so let’s make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to ID that works at Prometric when taking the CPA exam.

Prometric is very clear about what you should have before you get to the testing center (at least half an hour early, of course, and smokers should make that an hour so they can get in as many as they can before they start – you don’t want to waste those breaks).


First and foremost, check in with them 24 hours before your exam to confirm your appointment. The night before your exam date, set out your NTS and make sure you have two forms of exactly matching ID ready so you aren’t scrambling to find it in the morning.

At least one of your forms of ID must have a recent photograph and both must be valid (i.e. not expired) and signed. Try a credit card and a driver’s license, forget about a Social Security card or a student ID as Prometric will not accept these. A passport is OK but must be accompanied by a secondary ID (like a credit or debit card).

The name on your primary photo ID must match your Notice to Schedule exactly. If you show up and both names are different (foreign candidates who use both an English name and their native name sometimes run into this problem), Prometric will not allow you to test and you will forfeit exam fees. If there are any issues with your ID, contact them in advance to see if an exception can be made or make sure you will be okay come test day. Make sure to do this within your NTS timeframe and no less than 15 days before your exam date so you can at least reschedule without losing your exam fee if need be.

Got it?

Adrienne Gonzalez is the founder of Jr. Deputy Accountant, a former CPA wrangler and a Going Concern contributor . You can see more of her posts here and all posts on the CPA Exam here.