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 of the Exam Prematurely

As Murs once said, "C'mon, you don't leave work early on pay day." While accidents happen — I somehow manage to back out of 1 out of 25 unsaved blog posts on this very website and lose my work at least twice a month — it makes absolutely no sense to hit the "Exit" button, read “You have not answered all questions in this testlet. Are you sure you want to leave this testlet?” and respond "yes" if you aren't actually done with a testlet. THERE IS NO GOING BACK, don't do that.

2. Rescheduling Appointments

Life happens. Usually it's not life so much as "not studying" that might necessitate an appointment change but if you do need to reschedule an appointment, be sure you went all the way through the process before assuming you're all set. You'll get a confirmation email once the appointment is changed; if you're missing this email, you didn't get to the finish line.

3. Timing Out in the Introductory Screens

We've covered this one before. It's a bit cruel that they give you 10 minutes to get through the introductory screens but don't actually allow you a timer ON said screens but we all know the administrators and protectors of the precious CPA exam are heartless villians who derive pure joy from your torture every step of the way. Don't waste time writing down mnemonics on your scratch paper or board or whatever it is they are letting you scribble on these days if you are going to forget you only have 10 minutes to do it. You'll blow your entire exam, in which case that brain dump was totally useless.

4. Notifying NASBA

If anything — ANYTHING — goes wrong during your exam, you have 5 days to file an official complaint with NASBA. Alert your Test Center lackey right away and then write your bitchy email in your head as you're driving away from that horrible, horrible place while you're still nice and upset.

5. Taking the Wrong NTS to the Testing Center

This seems so obvious it's sad NASBA even has to point it out, which means it must happen more than a handful of times a year, but before you leave the house, please for the love of God make sure you have the right NTS. 45 minutes before your exam is NOT the time to dig through your crap looking for it so be a smart little squirrel and lay it out the night before like test day is the first day of school.

6. Arriving Late

This one especially applies to my friends in areas like Washington, DC, where you can easily get stuck in a traffic jam at 1 in the morning for absolutely no reason. Plan for traffic, road closures, riots and/or picketers to hold you up. Set eleventy billion alarms, make sure you have gas in your car and don't screw around by picking up donuts and coffee. JUST GO. And get there on time. Prometric does not have to let you test if you show up late, though a rogue Test Center hack may have mercy on your soul but most likely they'll turn you away.

7. Going to the Wrong Testing Center

Prometric allows you to "Test Drive" the exam before exam day, so if you're the type who always gets lost even with GPS, take them up on that. If your GPS has ever led you to a closed business or told you to take a wrong turn onto a one way street, you'll want to know exactly where your test center is and how to get there. If you show up at the wrong one, they will not allow you to test. This is likely because their computers are so old, the actual exams are delivered each morning on floppy disks and your floppy is halfway across town.

8. Waiting to Schedule an Appointment

They recommend you schedule your exam no less than 45 days before the actual date you want. It is especially important to plan ahead if you want to get the date and location you want at the end of a testing window and/or in the last quarter of the year when everyone who has been dragging their feet all year realizes the year is almost gone and they have accomplished little more than jack squat.

9. Forgetting to take the NTS to the Testing Center

You get up early, take a shower, have a nice nutritious breakfast, hop in the car and arrive at the Test Center a whole 45 minutes early ready to kick some ass… only to realize you left your NTS sitting on your kitchen table. FAIL.

10. Reporting Issues at the Testing Center

Because Prometric computers are older than most of you, technical issues can and do happen. If anything is wonky with your exam while you're in the middle of it, don't wait to report it to Test Center grunts until you're done. Immediately let them know their old ass computer is a piece of crap.

Have something to add to this story? Give us a shout by email, Twitter, or text/call the tipline at 202-505-8885. As always, all tips are anonymous.

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