The Fast Forward Academy team works constantly to deliver world-class content to every student that is active in our courses. We spend countless hours listening to students just like you to ensure the tools and technology we develop bring life to the information you need to learn.
If you have already signed up for the Fast Forward Academy Enrolled Agent Course Review, please review our Getting Started Guide. This is a great resource to show you how to use all the study tools and features included in your EA Review course. We offer self-study courses but by using our EA community you are never alone. Help is just a click away in our community discussion no matter where you are in your studies. Be sure to help others in the community too, doing so will aid in your growth and learning.
If you plan to pass all of your exams in 3-4 months you need to set goals and deadlines for passing each part. Having an end goal of passing the EA exam is great but it’s too large and the path to stray is too great. There are way too many moving parts and the only real way to succeed is to break that large goal down into daily action and achievement.
Answer: Read for 60 minutes. Watch 20 Minutes of video lectures today, Answer 25 Questions – “Individuals”
Answer: Read for 5 hours. Answer 100 Questions – “Individuals”
Do you see how these definitive goals require you to take daily and weekly action? Having real goals written down on a calendar or organizer helps you take manageable steps toward the much larger goal of getting your enrolled agent credential. Each day needs to be one that’s moving you closer to your goal, activities that are not part of your study plan are taking you further away. Be sure you include some days off for rest. Most students need a couple days to decompress from the heavy study and EA exam prep is no different.
Someone once said “a bad attitude is like a flat tire. You can't go very far until you change it.” Life is hard enough without making it harder on yourself with energy-zapping negativity. Sure, we all have that inner voice that sometimes says things like: “What if I fail?”, “I don’t deserve success”, or “studying right now is a waste of time.” The list of negative comments and internal dialogue going on within most people is endless, but it is something you can manage and it needs to be done if you plan to accomplish much in your lifetime.
Charles Reade, an English novelist from the mid to late 1800’s, was credited with reworking an old Chinese proverb from a much earlier time:
Plant a thought and reap a word;
plant a word and reap an action;
plant an action and reap a habit;
plant a habit and reap a character;
plant a character and reap a destiny.
The point of the proverb is that your thoughts have consequences, especially frequent thoughts.
Best selling author and guest on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, Brené Brown, calls her inner voice or inner critic, “The Gremlin”. This helps explain why the gremlins are so powerful when it comes to creativity and innovation.
“…we must care for and nurture the stories we tell ourselves about our creativity and ability. Just because we didn’t measure up to some standard of achievement doesn’t mean that we don’t possess gifts and talents that only we can bring to the world.”
This is powerful stuff, but it’s relevant especially when we start thinking about our dreams and the inner voices that play a role in our successes and failures. We have all experienced it; we set a goal and as soon as we begin to dream big, the negative internal dialogue ratchets up. When you feel this beginning to happen, tell the inner negative voice to be quiet. If or when you have them, find ways to turn these voices positive. The same should be done for negative people around you. When you feel a negative thought or hear a negative comment that takes you further from your goal, spin it into one that takes you closer to your goal. Your inside thoughts will become an outward expression of who and what you are. Life is hard enough. You don’t need to be hard on yourself. Instead, let the negative thoughts go. Doing so will set you free from inner struggles and allow you to solve bigger problems like passing the EA exam!
In preparing for any high stakes exam, every hour in the day is precious. Time is your most valuable asset and using it wisely will ensure you are prepared come exam day. Putting in the work and making the time to do so will ensure you have the hours of study needed to pass the EA exam. There’s a lot that you’ll need to study and breaking it down into smaller lessons each day will help you learn and retain it more effectively. Students require a minimum of 40 hours and as many as 160 hours of study time per section. That’s a huge swing, but it all depends on what kind of test taker you are, how much of the content you already know, and how frequently you study up until exam day.
Being able to take quizzes and then some practice exams after you read (as well as watching video lectures) will help you gauge how much time you need to put in along the way. How can you know how much time is needed to study? The answer to that question varies from one person to the next, which is why we’ve worked so hard in developing the opportunities target in our Enrolled Agent review course.
As you answer quiz questions, your opportunities target will show you which topics you are excelling in and where you need to spend more time with your studies. You can kind of think of this like sonar or radar. In the movies, you might see a submarine captain use sonar to ping or echo-locate another sub or object in the ocean. Just as a submarine captain needs to know what’s going on in the waters around him, you need to know what areas you should spend more time focusing your efforts.
If you are seeing all green dots in the center of your target after a quiz or practice exam, you are on track and retaining the information you recently studied. If you are seeing a lot of red dots on the outside of the target, it’s okay, but this is our way of showing you where more time is needed. It’s not always about how much time you spend, because where you spend your time counts, too. If you have been mainly reading and you feel like things aren’t sticking in your brain as much as you’d like, go ahead and create some digital flashcards. Drilling on tough topics with flashcards is a great way to force your brain to work and it breaks up the monotony of reading from a textbook. By creating new neural pathways to learning, your brain becomes better at prioritizing and recalling important information for the future. If you make time to study and use the tools available, you can pass the EA exam. Remember, it takes constant work, but it can be done!
Just like the Boy Scouts motto, “Be Prepared.” What opportunities exist in the day that give you a chance to study? Maybe you take a train and can study on your ride to work. Is it possible to get to work a little early and begin your day with 30-45 minutes of reading? It’s amazing how much more you can get accomplished when you are prepared to take advantage of opportunities to study. Being prepared means having your EA study guide with you and having a notepad and pen to take notes on.
If you are preparing for the EA exam with Fast Forward Academy, you can study nearly anywhere. Make sure your mobile device or tablet is charged and you have access to the internet. If you make a habit of having what you need with you, you will be set up for success. Eating lunch at your desk instead of leaving the office can free up 20-30 minutes to read each day. Have 20 minutes to kill before meeting your friend for coffee? Pull out your phone and drill some questions. Opportunities for success are everywhere in life, if you just look for them. What normally would seem like little pauses throughout the day are golden chances to make a bit of progress (but only if you are prepared to take advantage of them.) Just keep your eyes open for small opportunities to study. Over time, these little windows of opportunity add up quickly to become hours of beneficial, productive learning.
Imagine how good will it feel to have the EA exam behind you. Now, take that good feeling and bring yourself back to the reality of what it will take to reach that goal. Setting a goal means you need a date by which you want to achieve it. Right now, you need to make a commitment to yourself that within the next 3-4 months, you will pass all three parts of the EA exam (Individuals, Business & Regulation). You may even be able to do it in less time. If you do not have a date in mind, go write it on a calendar for 4 months from today. Do remember how good you felt as you imagined having the EA exam behind you? I assure you when that day comes, it will feel a thousand times better.
There will be obstacles and you will overcome them. There will be sacrifice and you’ll need self-discipline to get to the finish line. There is no better time than right now to set the goal, so go write it on a calendar or put a countdown on your phone.
As you know, it is hard to accomplish much when you set goals in broad sweeping strokes. An example of a broad or vague study goal would be: “become an Enrolled Agent”. This is a good goal, but unless you break this down into daily action, you are setting yourself up for failure. Having good study habits comes from breaking your month down into manageable pieces that can be achieved each week. Once you have your main goal and have it broken down into weekly goals, you can then structure your daily studies.
By listing your activities in a calendar each week, you take the guesswork out of where you need to spend your time each day. By having specific actions that you can take, you are holding yourself accountable to a higher standard. This also makes it easier to jump back into your studies each day because you know exactly what needs to be done. While you might need a general monthly overview to ensure your weekly plan is sound, the bulk of your planning should be spent on weekly plans.
Please be sure to set aside some time each week to prepare for and plan the upcoming weeks’ studies. While you can map it all out in a high-level plan, you will need to fine tune things based on your performance or lack thereof as you go. There is nothing wrong with tweaking your plan as long as the changes you are making are taking you closer to your goal and not further from it. Each week you will experience some highs and lows. Check in with your studies and understand where you need to put in more work. Take time when you are planning to recognize your achievements too. When you make progress and accomplish the previous week's goals, be sure to reward yourself. This makes studying fun and gives you a boost of energy that would otherwise get depleted as you prepare for the Enrolled Agent.
Conclusion: Don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Make your plans in small, weekly increments. Making plans in weekly stretches allows you to make the changes you need quickly while ensuring that you never get too far into the weeds. Plan the week, accomplish your study goals, reflect on the wins, and reward your successes.
Any good bank heist movie has a group of characters with a specific set of talents. Invariably, someone in the group is there to keep the rest of the team on track and help get them out of the bank vault within a certain amount of time. You can picture the character in the movie sweating as he looks at the precious minutes tick away on his watch with stressful anticipation. Preparing for the Enrolled Agent exam requires more than just an awareness of your time. You need to be master of the clock and the time you are spending on each question. When people have adequately studied but still fail the EA exam, they usually do so for a couple of reasons. One, they did not spend enough time understanding the structure of the exam. Two, they made careless mistakes either reading too deeply into a question or possibly not spending enough time on those that they should have. In both scenarios, time is a key factor. Too many students place emphasis on learning the material and not enough on pace and tempo.
Your weekly practice exams absolutely must account for the tempo required to get everything answered in the given time. Just like the bank robbers in the movie doing their dry runs, you will want to spend some effort each week working through the quizbank, not just for accuracy, but also for time. Are you answering questions fast enough? Are you answering too fast? Are you answering questions accurately? Did you get hung up on language? You have to give yourself enough time to thoroughly read each question, understand what is being asked, and work through the logic to come up with the correct answer.
Remember this is not a race. It’s about using your time wisely to work through all the questions while still being able to go back to those you marked at the end. Be a master of your time when taking quizzes and practice exams and you will be in great shape on exam day!
There are many ways to get distracted from your studies, but it’s important to differentiate between break time and focused study time. Staying on track and adhering to your weekly study plan means you have turned off the distractions that prevent you from learning. If you are married, have kids, or live with siblings or roommates, you will need to plan your study time to avoid being interrupted by them. Setting yourself up for success means you are thoughtfully planning your study window in slots where there is the highest chance for concentration and the lowest chance for disruptions. Nothing is perfect, but many of the distractions we experience when we study can be minimized with just a little bit of planning and good timing.
Unless it’s part of your career, you should not have much time to chat on social media, online shop, play fantasy sports, or watch TV while preparing for the EA exam. Every time you get distracted with an alert from your phone or elsewhere, it can take even longer to get back to your studies and pick up where you left off. These seemingly innocuous text messages, chats, and alerts will zap any meaningful productivity in your studies and take you further from your goal. Your weekly study plan must allow for uninterrupted study. If quality study time suffers, then the number of hours you need to put in to counteract the interruptions needs to increase. The endless cycle of reading, then looking at your phone, then trying to go back to reading, needs to stop before it starts. You can make time to check the news or chat with friends on your breaks after an hour or two of studying. Once you are back to your studies, turn the TV off, put your phone in quiet mode, or even better, place it in another room, to prevent it from distracting you. Doing so will help you tune out the distractions and tune into your enrolled agent studies.
Anyone taking a three and a half hour long exam is going to have a performance peak, which also means they will experience performance valleys or periods of diminished capacity. A decrease in performance on exam day is usually the result of not being prepared for the challenge. To perform and concentrate during the entire exam, you need to have the ability to reset your focus and attention along the way.
The good news is this can be accomplished in a short amount of time. Resetting your focus and energy will keep you performing at a higher level for the duration of the exam. These same tactics can and should be used when you study.
Whether you are studying or taking the exam, if you feel your mental acuity decreasing, you may benefit from taking a small, scheduled break. So every 30-45 Minutes, take a moment to pause (a minute or two will suffice). When you take your break, close your eyes and give them a rest from the screens glare or the fluorescent lights above.
With your eyes closed, envision your next push of getting through another 30-45 minutes of exam questions successfully. Take some deep breaths, too, and get your energy back up. Feel the oxygen feeding your brain and body. Are you sore, stiff, or hunched over? There are plenty of studies that link posture and body position to overall mood and outlook. Evaluate your body. Is your back sore or stiff? If so, go ahead and stretch it. Is your neck sore? If so, take a moment to stretch your neck and roll your head. Are your legs stiff? Stand up and get in the power pose. You don’t need to start busting out yoga moves, but opening your arms wide and stretching them out will help. Take a couple final deep breaths and get back to it. You are making progress and getting to the finish line.
The tactics you use to prepare for the exam will pay dividends. Incorporate these tips into your daily study sessions so they are not foreign to you when you need them most.
When learning new concepts, identify if there are any related rules and then work to understand how each of those rules work. Break each rule down into its most basic parts to make it easier to comprehend and retain. We break these specific concepts down in our pre-exam Parking Lot Review Notes. These notes are available to Fast Forward Academy students and can easily be found by searching our Enrolled Agent community.
When we think about motivation, we need to consider the reasons why we are studying so hard. What good things do you want to happen as a result of passing the Enrolled Agent Exam? What bad things might happen if you don’t pass? It’s good to think about the reasons why we want to achieve a goal and understanding our reasons makes it easier to take daily action without hesitation. Sales coach and author, Thomas Freese, talks a lot about motivating forces and says people can be categorized into two essential groups. He classifies folks into “Gold Medals” and “German Shepherds.” The “Gold Medals” are people that will run hard to win the race for the recognition that goes with winning a gold medal. The other group, “German Shepherds,” will run just as hard as the “Gold Medal” group, not because they want to win the medal, but because a vicious, German Shepherd dog is chasing them!
Tom’s point is that some people act because of positive motivation, while others act because of negative motivation. The reality is that most people have both, positive and negative forces, that cause them to take action each day. It’s a great idea to spend time reflecting on how good you will feel when you pass the Enrolled Agent Exam. It’s just as important to think about what procrastination will do to undermine your efforts. Take time to think about how you might feel if you don’t pass the EA exam.
If your plan is to pass the Enrolled Agent exam within 90 days, it’s important to make the most of your time. When you procrastinate, you are putting your goals at risk and delaying your success. Make study a daily habit as soon as possible, and think about the reasons why you are working so hard. Understanding your personal motives for passing the EA and thinking about your reasons from time to time will make self-starting a lot easier. After a couple weeks, you will find it takes less effort to get yourself moving. Please know it’s okay to fail if you tried as hard as you could, but also understand that if you are going through the motions, you may end up having to start all over again. You can run to success or away from failure, it does not matter, as long as it gets you to the same place without procrastination.
Tim Notke, a high school basketball coach is known for saying, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.” This quote should be the mantra for every student, every employee, and every competitive athlete, period. In sports, you are competing against your opponent on game day, and when you are training you are competing against your best time, longest distance, or the number of points earned. In the marketplace, you are competing against other businesses to prevent them from taking market share. In high school and college, you are in competition against a test, an exam, and even other students to get the highest GPA possible. The key to competing at a high level in any realm is persistence. To compete and succeed, you need to apply yourself by continually getting better and improving upon your last achievement. To be persistent means you are determined in your course of action despite difficulty or opposition.
There is a way to win and a path to success even when you feel you are not as good as your competition. When you pass the EA exam, you are setting yourself apart from all others that could not. If you maintain your efforts in study, things will get easier. What seemed initially like an insurmountable goal will become an achievable accomplishment. The path to passing the Enrolled Agent exam is paved with perseverance and hard work. The good news is it will get easier!
No matter what you are learning, the material will only be good to you for so long unless you regularly apply it. Information our human brain takes in has a shelf life and much of it goes away over time. This is a serious problem that all students face in varying degrees. The good news is that if we compare the information filling our brain to water filling a leaky bucket, we can be better prepared when we are called upon to show what we know. To pass any high stakes exam such as the Bar exam, Professional Engineers exam, and of course, the EA exam, the information you bring with you test day needs to be fresh. The good news is, we can extend the shelf life of this information and keep it from going stale by using all the tools available to us with a course like Fast Forward Academy.
To keep the information fresh, we need to read the online study guide or physical text, we need to watch video lectures, take quizzes, interact in the community, take notes, use the digital flashcards, take practice exams and then write up our own parking lot cram notes right before we take the real exam. Passing the Enrolled Agent exam is not easy, but it will be a lot easier if you can fill your brain full of fresh information right up to the point where you take the exam.
It’s 9 PM and your friends want to hang out, but you have not studied yet and you planned to get a couple hours in before the day is over. Are you willing to put in the work when others are not? Can you decide to put yourself (and your goal of passing the EA exam) first, ahead of a few fleeting moments that will mean little to you in a year from now? No, you don’t need to completely blow up your social life and when you have met your weekly study goals, you need to reward yourself. The question is how bad do you want to pass the EA exam? When the chips are down, will you study when others would not? Will you study when YOU, yourself, normally would not? You need to ask yourself these questions and mentally prepare for the countless interruptions that will derail you from your goals early on when embarking on this journey.
The best thing you can do is to study when others wouldn’t. When you do this you are resetting your mind and everything you are to increase the importance of passing the EA exam. Subconsciously your psyche is saying “what the heck, you just turned down a date with the neighbor next door …to study?” If you're single, you might want to reconsider taking that date but remember that distractions can and will derail your studies. Things that are not helping you get closer to your goal will inevitably take you further from it. To be great, you need to make some hard decisions and sacrifice a little fun to achieve your dreams. A good tip is to spend two hours of studying and reward yourself by meeting up with friends later on.
Few folks have to overcome failure as frequently as a salesperson. You will find all sorts of inspiration comes from motivational speakers and authors like Og Mandino or Zig Ziglar. Og Mandino was quoted as saying: “FAILURE WILL NEVER OVERTAKE ME IF MY DETERMINATION TO SUCCEED IS STRONG ENOUGH.” Think about how the fear of failing plays into your preparation for the EA exam.
As you prepare for the EA exam, you are in a continual state of preparation until you pass. There is no failure and you need to think about your studies and practice exams as a journey. Passing the EA exam is a long road that takes a lot of work. There will be highs and lows along the way, but the only failure is when you cease to try. Just as some folks can pass all four parts of the EA exam on the first try, others may fail at a couple of parts before they get through them all. You can hold your head high as long as you are determined to succeed with sustained effort.
Anyone would get discouraged if they scored less than a 70 on the exam. Each time you open your book, finish a practice exam, or fail at the real thing, remember that these are opportunities to get better, so don’t give up. There will be obstacle and you can overcome them as long as you are not afraid to fail. Do not be afraid and don’t give up! Zig Ziglar was quoted as saying “F-E-A-R has two meanings: 'Forget Everything And Run' or 'Face Everything And Rise.' The choice is yours.” We at Fast Forward like creating winners and we want you to rise to the challenge!
For your studies, you should be tracking your progress and making daily notes on how things are going. At the end of each day, write down how much time you spent preparing for the EA Exam. An easy way to track progress is to give yourself a daily grade on performance. On a calendar give yourself an A, B, C, or an F. Yes you can skip the D, we need to keep things simple. If you like you can rate yourself with stars, but no matter what, keep it simple. This exercise will serve a couple of purposes. 1) When you approach your daily studies knowing there’s a grade at the end, you are more likely to strive for doing better. 2) Another reason this helps is to track performance and prevent you from letting bad habits get too far out of hand.
Now that you have read all the material, watched all the lectures and taken practice quizzes on all the chapters and sections in the part you are preparing for, you will want to take a practice exam. Before you take a practice exam, you will want to make sure you have very few if any red dots in the opportunities target. You should have only green and yellow dots in your chart before moving on. Having no red dots in your opportunities target indicates you have gone back to review enough difficult topics to move forward. You need to approach the practice exam just like you would the real one. This means you need to tell family friends and anyone else that might interrupt you, that you will be busy for a couple hours. Don’t set yourself up for frustration, set aside some time and only start when you can do so without interruption.
To become proficient as a credentialed Enrolled Agent you will want to learn the concepts behind the questions. Many people try to game the exam by memorizing questions and answers, please avoid this. Understanding the concepts will ensure you get to the correct answer no matter how well or poorly the questions on the exam are phrased. Having the understanding behind those questions means you have the necessary training & tax knowledge to think through and resolve most of the problems taxpayers face.
You spend countless hours staring at a computer screen, reading your study guide and getting lost in the EA prep course material. If you cannot find a study partner, take time to connect with others in our community. Fast Forward Academy offers access to an awesome community full of active students, EAs and EAs that can help you. No matter where you are: watching a video lecture, taking a quiz, or reading the online study guide, you can learn important concepts by joining the discussion that’s just a click away from your studies.
Take time to ask for help and help others in the community too. Studies show connecting and helping other students will enable you better retain the information you are working to learn yourself.
We generally tell students they can take the real exam once they are getting a 70-80% on a practice exam. It’s important to schedule the real thing right away and to keep the information fresh in your mind up the day you test. To stay sharp you need to read the online study guide or physical text, watch video lectures, take quizzes, interact in the community, take notes, and use the digital flashcards. One of the best ways to prepare is to read our parking lot notes or write your own parking lot cram notes to study up to the minute you walk in Prometric to take the test. Passing the EA exam is not easy, but it will be a lot easier if you can fill your brain full of fresh information right up to the point where you take the exam.
You have embarked on a journey of self-improvement to become an Enrolled Agent. Like any credential that takes effort, it can help you in your career. Achieving the enrolled agent designation means that you have demonstrated a special competence in tax matters granting you the same privileges as an attorney or EA in representing any taxpayer for all federal tax matters before any office of the IRS.
As you prepare for the EA exam, you are in a continual state of preparation until you pass. There is no failure and you need to think about your studies and practice exams as a journey. Passing the EA exam is a long road that takes some work. There will be highs and lows along the way but the only failure is when you cease to try. Just as some folks can pass all three parts of the EA exam the first try, others may fail at a couple of parts before they get through them all. You can hold your head high as long as you continue to do the work and put in the effort.
Open your book or log in to the Fast Forward Academy online study guide with the intention of winning. Fill your head with good information by reading and then watching some video lectures to dig deeper into a subject. Get involved with the community and see if you really are mentally in the game. Take some quizzes to see how much you retained. Whatever you do, please study and prepare to win. If you don't study with the intention of passing you are not fully committed. As obvious as all of this is, many students just go through the motions, you cannot afford to waste your time this way. If you find passion waning, take a moment to remember all the reasons why you want to pass the EA exam and then reset your inner drive. The approach you take each day should be no different than the way an athlete approaches a competitive match. It’s you against the exam and you need to dive in every time with the intention of winning.
If you failed a part of the Special Enrollment Examination, it most likely means you skipped a step in the Pre-Examination Checklist. Take a breath, regroup, and get back to it, you can do it if you learn the information. You have two years to pass all three parts and can take each part up to four times in a given year. Each time you open your book, finish a practice exam, or fail at the real thing, remember that these are opportunities to get better, so don’t give up.
If you have not done so, please read the 9 Tips to Help You Pass the Enrolled Agent Exam before you take the exam. Some of this may be a refresher but there are some great insights to help make the exam easier. We recommend that you read this early on in your studies and once again before taking the exam, a lot of this will be a refresher but it's good info on how the test is administered and what you need to know.