What is on the Enrolled Agent Exam?

The EA Exam, officially known as the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE), is a three-part exam administered by Prometric on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service. Each part is taken separately and each part contains 100 questions and is 3.5 hours long.

For each part, only 85 of the 100 questions are scored. The other 15 questions are experimental and are not included in the score for that part.

The Enrolled Agent examination consists of 3 separate parts and the number of scored questions for each part are below:

EA Part 1 - Individuals

  1. Preliminary Work with Taxpayer Data - 14 questions
  2. Income and Assets - 17 questions
  3. Deductions and Credits - 17 questions
  4. Taxation - 15 questions
  5. Advising the Individual Taxpayer - 11 questions
  6. Specialized Returns for Individuals - 11 questions

EA Part 2 - Businesses

  1. Business Entities and Considerations - 30 questions
  2. Business Tax Preparation - 37 questions
  3. Specialized Returns and Taxpayers - 18 questions

EA Part 3 - Representation, Practices and Procedures

  1. Practices and Procedures - 26 questions
  2. Representation before the IRS - 25 questions
  3. Specific Areas of Representation - 20 questions
  4. Filing Process - 14 questions

Student Advice


"…I Passed. And I passed with a high score (2s and 3s in all categories). Do not beat yourself up if you aren't doing well on the practice exams, but put in a good amount of studying. The exam was EASY compared to the practice exams, and, from my experience, easier than Part 1 - Individuals"

"…Again, don't stress if you put in the study time. FFA does a great job preparing you! Thanks FFA!!"

Exam Tip


"I started off taking part 3 Representation, Practice and Procedure to help build my confidence in tax law and operation before going into more difficult test like the part 1 Individuals and part 2 Business parts of the exam. This tip helped me, and it is at the front of the text book too!"

What kind of questions are on the EA exam?

Despite popular opinion, the EA exam will never ask you to fill out a tax form. Instead, you will put your mastery of tax law to the test as you apply it to a variety of circumstances.

There are three types of multiple-choice questions on the exam:

1. Direct Questions

Which of the following entities are required to file Form 709, U.S. Gift Tax Return?

  1. An individual
  2. An estate or trust
  3. A corporation
  4. All of the above

2. Incomplete Sentences

Supplemental wages are compensation paid in addition to an employee's regular wages. They do not include payments for the following:

  1. Accumulated sick leave
  2. Nondeductible moving expenses
  3. Vacation pay
  4. Travel reimbursements paid at the Federal Government per diem rate

3. All of the Following Except

There are five tests that must be met for you to claim an exemption for a dependent. Which of the following is not a requirement?

  1. Citizen or Resident Test
  2. Member of Household or Relationship Test
  3. Disability Test
  4. Joint Return Test

Expert Advice

Test-taking skills add critical points to your score. A few missed questions can be the difference between passing or failing. It is easy to get a tricky question wrong, even when you understand the material.


Like many of our students, I passed all the parts on my first try. Here are 9 tips to help you do the same.

How hard is the EA exam?

The IRS Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) is the easiest of the exams that give you unlimited representation rights to practice before the IRS. The other two exams are the CPA exam and the Bar exam, both of which have significant educational requirements which must be met before you can sit for the test. That does not mean the EA exam is easy. An enrolled agent, to be considered a tax expert, must “demonstrate a special competence in tax matters” by passing three separate parts to become an enrolled agent. Difficulty depends on experience, but the credential is attainable for those willing to put in the effort.

What are the EA exam pass rates?

Part 1 - Individuals 55%
Part 2 - Businesses 62%
Part 3 - Representation, Practices and Procedures 74%

We Make it Easier to Learn

Your study resources are connected and accessible with a simple click, making the learning process highly efficient. This means the information you need is always within reach, so you spend less time searching and more time studying.

We Make it Easier to Focus

We track your performance level and confidence in each topic so you'll know exactly where to spend your time and when you're ready to pass. No other course is this precise and accurate!

We Make it Easier to Succeed

Whether you're reading your textbook, watching a lecture, or practicing study questions, we connect you directly with other students, instructors, and mentors in the Community. This means you get the help you need with difficult EA exam topics right when you need it.

Student Perspectives

“The reviews covered everything that was on the tests. The practice tests were actually harder than the real tests, so once I passed a few, I was totally ready. I passed all three tests on my first try. Part 1 in Oct, part 3 in Dec and part 2 in Jan. It was fantastic prep, and I was glad to have the calendar that helped me stay on track.”

Passed First Time

"Passed Part 1 today with the help of FFA and a whole lot of FAITH! It was also very helpful to read the comments and responses in the Community threads. On to Parts 2 and 3. WhooHoo!"

Passed First Time

Ready To Pass On Your First Try?

Try it risk-free with our 30-day money back guarantee.

View Course Details

How much does it cost to take the Enrolled Agent exam?

The fee to take each part of the SEE is $259 (as of 3/1/2024) and is paid at the time of appointment scheduling. The test fee is non-refundable and non-transferable.

You can reschedule your appointment online or by phone.

Rescheduling fees:

  • No fee if reschedule at least 30 days prior to appointment date
  • $35 fee if reschedule 5 to 29 days before appointment date
  • Will be required to pay another full examination fee if reschedule less than five days before appointment date

*To help avoid multiple test fees, we recommend waiting to schedule your exam until you are scoring 80% or higher on our simulated practice exams.

...What you are missing out on if you don't take the exam?

Career Success

"Two immediate benefits of obtaining the EA designation: (1) my earnings were 32% higher during this past tax season, (2) more complex income tax returns were made available for me to complete. There is also the confidence factor, in knowing that I am a more capable tax professional."

— Ron

"Earning the EA Designation brought my credentials inline with my professionalism and experience. It is a great talking point with my clients and gave me the confidence to increase my fees."

— Sandra

"Earning my EA was the first step in growing my business. It proves that I am knowledgeable and that I am a true tax professional committed to serving the tax needs of my clients. The doors are wide open for me to focus on tax planning, tax controversy and tax resolution which will be the focus of my practice."

— Guerguens

9 Tips to Help You Pass the EA Exam on the First Try

  1. Focus Your Studies

    I have some bad news and some good news. First, the bad.

    I hate to break it to you, but it is impossible to review every detail that could appear on the exam. The reason is simple — time.

    A printed version of the Internal Revenue Code by itself is well over 4,000 pages and this is only one source for potential exam questions. There are also Treasury regulations (roughly four times the size of the IRC), hundreds of IRS forms, numerous publications, and plenty more.

    The good news? You don't have to know it all to pass!

    Many of the rules never reach an actual test or appear so infrequently that it is a waste of valuable study time to learn them for the exam. With exam preparation, information can become a disadvantage if it distracts you from the core topics that you need to master to pass. The goal is to simplify the learning process and reduce preparation time, all while improving your retention of the subjects that matter the most.

  2. Ask For Help

    It is way more efficient to ask an expert for help than it is to spend countless—often frustrating—hours researching tax code on your own. This is so important that we integrated an academic community allowing you to get help from instructors and fellow students. Whether you're reading your textbook, watching a lecture, or practicing study questions, we bring the conversation right to you.

  3. Focus on Biggest Opportunities to Improve

    We made the course flexible, so you can use it in a way that best suits you. The strategy I generally recommend is to go through each section, answering questions only once. Then, at the end of a chapter, you should reattempt questions you got wrong (once more).

    We display your best opportunities for improvement by topic in a personalized target using a color-coded system. If you are not in the green, that is OK, just go back and review the book and any available lectures for your trouble areas. Then, move to the next chapter and repeat until you are finished with all chapters.

    Now it is time to use the Fast Focus feature which allows you to drill down to the areas with the greatest potential to improve your score. I would use Fast Focus to concentrate on one chapter at a time. Continue using Fast Focus until you are feeling confident and most of your trouble areas disappear.

  4. Pass a Practice Exam

    If you are thinking about taking a practice exam, you should be very close to scheduling your test. But, before you make plans to call Prometric, you need to pass a practice exam. It is recommended you achieve a minimum score of 70% on your practice exams, but preferably 80% before scheduling your test. If it takes you more than 3 times to do that, you are taking the practice exams too early. A practice exam is your best indicator of exam readiness, but remember, take practice exams under realistic conditions (no looking up answers).

    TIP: Stay away from the testing center if you do not pass a practice exam. Our practice exams are as close as you will get to the actual exam. If you can pass our practice exams, you should expect to pass your real exam.

  5. Parking Lot Review

    Throughout my career, I found it very helpful on various exams to write notes with all the important information that I had not quite mastered onto a single page—front and back—and I would review this information in the parking lot. Once I sat down to take the test I would brain dump everything I could recall in a few minutes onto the provided scrap paper. Careful not to spend too much time. Ironically, I rarely needed to refer to the paper as the process of creating the notes helped me retain it.

    You should create a parking lot review to bring with you to the testing center so you can review them in the parking lot before the exam. To create a parking lot review, you can convert the Flashcards and your Notes to List View, but writing your own notes definitely helps you retain the information better.

  6. Locate the Question Before Reading

    Before you spend time reading the question, skip to the end (usually the last sentence) to determine what the questions wants. Knowing that gives you a different perspective as you read the rest of the question and it helps you zero in on the important details required to answer correctly.

  7. Mark and Move

    When you take the exam, on each part, you will see 15 questions that you didn't study. Those questions are experimental and don't count towards your score, so don't get discouraged.

    Don't worry too much about questions with complicated calculations. Chances are you won't need a calculator for more than a question or two; I didn't.

    Avoid spending valuable time trying to answer difficult exam questions. We highly recommend using a mark-and-move strategy on the test. If you are not 100% certain, choose an answer, mark, and move on. You can come back to it at the end if you have time. Just make sure you use all available time to review.

  8. How to Handle Question Logic

    A tricky exam question can cause you to select the wrong answer, even when you understand the rules. Taking your time to carefully read the questions and identify important logical indicators can help you define the scope of the question, and hopefully prevent you from missing out on points on topics you know.

    Logical Qualifiers - NOT, EXCEPT, EXCLUDED, and INCLUDED. A qualifier is a word that determines the scope of the question. These words apply logic to the question and can alter the answer dramatically. The IRS may use logical qualifiers alone or combine them with additional indicators to direct the test taker to the correct answer. Be careful here as each qualifier or indicator can affect the outcome of the question.

    Quantity Indicators - ALL, NONE, and ONLY. These indicators refer to the amount or frequency of an occurrence. A quantity indicator states the amount involved.

    Probability Indicators - MUST, ALWAYS, NOT ALWAYS, NEVER, COULD, LIKELY, and MAY. This indicator refers to the likelihood or frequency of occurrence.

    EXAMPLE: The following statements about dividends received from a dividend reinvestment plan are correct, except:

    1. Reinvested dividends are not taxable if not removed from the plan.
    2. Reinvested dividends are taxable in the year paid.
    3. Reinvested dividends are taxable and are added to the basis of the stock or mutual fund.
    4. Reinvested dividends are treated as ordinary or qualified dividends.

    In this question, the phrase “correct, EXCEPT” implies that the answer is the only one that is FALSE (not correct). This type of tricky question is very common on the Enrolled Agent exam. Do not get caught by the wording of the question.

    The correct answer (A) contains two qualifiers, which can easily trick you.

    While two qualifiers are used, this is not a double negative. A double negative occurs when two negatives are used in the same sentence for emphasis. The two negatives cancel each other. A double negative changes the answer to a positive, for example, “The following statements about dividends received from a dividend reinvestment plan are not correct, except.” In this case, the correct answer would be a true statement.

  9. Choose the Best Answer

    Test-taking skills can add those critical points to your results. A question or two can be the difference between passing or failing. The following fundamentals will help you hone your skills. These characteristics are common on many exams, especially with multiple-choice questions that can lack all the details you desire to be 100% certain of your answer.

    Triggers - A trigger is an important detail or fact that you must understand to determine the correct answer to a question. Common triggers include age, income, citizenship, marital status, residency, support, and use. When you recognize a trigger, consider why it is in the question. Is it important? Would changing it affect the answer? Often there are reasons why this information is in the question. If you do not understand why something is there, take pause, and try to recall if there is a rule. If you cannot remember, choose the best answer, mark the question and return to later for review.

    EXAMPLE: George, a single taxpayer, has W-2 income of $31,000. During the 2018 tax year, he contributed $7,500 to his traditional IRA. George has excess contributions of how much?

    1. $2,500
    2. $2,000
    3. $500
    4. None of the above.

    The answer here is different if George is over age 50. The age trigger is unstated, and the catch-up contributions are an extension of the normal rules. To answer correctly you must assume the more common scenario (usually the baseline rule). In this case, you would assume George is under age 50.

    If a trigger is not present, you will do better on the exam if you assume it is not a factor in arriving at the answer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the fees/costs for becoming an Enrolled Agent?

You can expect to pay a fee to the IRS for your Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), exam fees to Prometric for each part of the exam, an enrollment fee to the IRS with your application to officially become an enrolled agent, and the cost of your review course. The fee amounts can be found on IRS webite at https://www.irs.gov/tax-professionals/enrolled-agents/enrolled-agents-frequently-asked-questions.

Is it better to become an Enrolled Agent or a CPA?

Enrolled Agents are experts in taxation and share the same representation rights as a CPA with a less stringent exam and no education/work requirements. If you wish to practice taxation, there is no difference to the IRS between a CPA and an EA. They both share unlimited representation rights.

Do I need to be a US citizen to become an Enrolled Agent?

No. There are no citizen or residency requirements. During PTIN application, you will be asked for your social security number. If you do not have a social security number, you can apply for your PTIN using Form 8946. With Prometric testing centers all over the world, you do not need to come to the U.S. to test.

Where can I take the Enrolled Agent exam?

The exam is offered in a computer-based format at authorized Prometric test centers in the United States and certain designated international locations. To locate a testing center near you, visit the Prometric website.

When can I take the Enrolled Agent exam?

A new EA examination period commences each year on May 1 and continues through February 28 of the following year. No testing occurs during March or April.

Do I need a PTIN to register for the Enrolled Agent exam?

Yes. You will need a PTIN to register for the exam. The IRS Tax Professional PTIN Sign-up System is available at www.irs.gov/ptin.

How do I register to take the Enrolled Agent exam?

Once you have your PTIN, you may register online at Prometric.

Do I have to take all three parts of the Enrolled Agent exam all at once?

No, all three parts do not have to be taken all at once. Each part is taken separately.

Can I take the Enrolled Agent parts in any order?

Yes, you may take the Enrolled Agent parts in any order you please.

How much time should I expect to review the Enrolled Agent study material?

Depending on experience, you should expect to invest up to 40-70 hours of total study time for each exam part.

What is an Enrolled Agent exam passing score?

A passing score on each part of the SEE is required before the IRS will admit an Enrolled Agent to practice. For each part, scaled scores are determined by ranking your EA exam results against others taking the exam, on a scale ranging between 40 and 130. A score of 105 is the minimum required to pass each part of the the SEE.

Will I receive my score immediately?

Test results are available immediately following the Enrolled Agent test. Those who pass are informed, but they do not receive a score. Those who fail receive a score along with a diagnostic report indicating the areas of weakness.

Can I retake an Enrolled Agent part if I fail?

Yes, you can retake a part if you fail. Each part may be attempted up to four times during a testing period.

How long do I have to pass all three parts of the Enrolled Agent exam?

You have three years from the date you pass the first part to pass the other two parts of the exam.

What does the IRS look for during the suitability check?

As part of the evaluation of your enrollment application, the Internal RevenueService will conduct a suitability check that will include a review of your personal tax compliance and potential felonies that breach the public trust such as fraud or embezzlement.

Do I need to pass the Enrolled Agent exam if I have prior IRS experience?

An individual with 5 years of relevant employment with the IRS may apply for enrollment to become an Enrolled Agent (EA) without taking the exam.

Where can I get more information about what is on the Enrolled Agent exam?

Call us at (888)798-PASS (7277) or view more exam details on the Prometric website for the SEE.

Start My Free Trial