FAQs for Massachusetts CPA Exam Candidates


1. What requirements must I meet to sit for the CPA exam as a Massachusetts candidate if I don't yet comply with Massachusetts' CPA certification requirements as stipulated in Section 2.07 of the State regulations?

To be eligible to sit for the exam, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have completed 120 semester hours (or 180 quarter hours) of credits from a nationally or regionally accredited college or university - Associate degree or Community College courses will be accepted only if transferred into a four-year bachelor's degree program.
  • Have 21 accounting credits including coverage in
    • Financial accounting
    • Audit
    • Management accounting
    • Taxation

Introductory or elementary courses can be counted toward the 21 credits.

  • Have 9 business credits including coverage in
    • Business law
    • Finance
    • Information Systems
  • Have completed all requirements for the conferral of a bachelor's degree.

Note: To convert quarter hours to semester hours, multiply total quarter hours X 2/3. To convert semester hours to quarter hours, multiply total semester hours X 3/2.

2. What if I am not sure if I meet the educational requirements to take the exam?

CPA Exam Services (CPAES) will review your transcript of past and current courses to identify academic deficiencies. The fee is $50 and the review is advisory in nature. Visit this website and click on “Register” in the left column to create a profile. Once created, you can sign in and click on “Apply Online” where you will find the pre-evaluation form.

3. What if I satisfied some of my educational requirements at a school outside the United States?

You will need to have your educational credentials evaluated by the Center for Educational Documentation or NASBA. (This evaluation is not necessary if you studied a semester abroad as part of your program at a U.S. accredited college.)

4. Is there a difference between the educational requirements to sit for the exam and those to obtain CPA certification?

Yes, you need 150 educational credits for CPA certification in Massachusetts. Specific coursework depends on the highest degree you obtain. To view these requirements, please visit www.cpatrack.com/becoming_a_cpa/required.

5. Is there a time limit to meet the 150-hour certification requirement if I sit for the exam before attaining 150 credits?

Yes, you have 3 years from the time you receive notice of passing all four parts of the exam to meet the educational requirements for CPA certification. If you don't, you will need to retake all parts of the exam.

6. Can I sit for the exam during my final semester before my baccalaureate commencement?

No, you cannot sit for the exam before the date your bachelor’s degree is conferred (this is the official graduation date that appears on your final educational transcript). However, you can sit for the exam before you actually receive your final transcript as long as you can provide the final transcript to CPA Exam Services within 90 days of taking the exam.

7. Can I apply for the exam before I complete my degree and/or required accounting and business courses?

Yes, in addition to your application, you will be required to complete a Certificate of Enrollment (COE) form as evidence that you are enrolled and that all courses and graduation requirements will be completed prior to the date that you sit for your first section. Before you schedule your exam appointment, be certain your final transcript will be available within 90 days and that the degree conferral date as it appears on your final transcript is before your exam date. (If you don’t know your degree date, check with the college registrar.)

Once the educational requirements have been met, an official transcript must again be submitted to CPA Exam Services (CPAES) to confirm degree conferral and/or satisfactory completion of courses. The final official transcript must be received by CPAES within 90 days of sitting for the first exam section. Failure to do so will result in the loss of any credit received for any part of the examination passed prior to providing the final official transcript.

8. Can I use credits earned as Independent Study to meet the accounting credit requirement?

Yes, as long as your college categorizes the course as an accounting course on your transcript. The credits cannot be used to meet any of the four required areas of coverage, i.e. audit, taxation, management accounting or financial accounting.

9. Can I use internship credits to meet the accounting/business requirements?

Yes, if the credits are recorded as semester hours on your college transcript. None of the required subject area coverages, i.e., audit, tax, financial accounting, and management accounting can be accomplished by an internship; formal course instruction is necessary.

10. Can I take credits online?

Yes, however, the on-line course must be taken at an accredited, four-year college or university and the course has to be one that is offered within a degree-granting program (you do not have to be enrolled in the degree program). The college must provide you with a transcript upon completion.

11. Do I need to earn a minimum grade for my credits to count?

No, and credits earned in courses graded by pass/fail are accepted.

12. How do I know if some of the accounting and business courses I took meet the requirements? The course titles are a bit different.

If a course title does not clearly relate to the coverage area, you may need to submit a course catalogue, syllabus or letter from a professor detailing the coverage. Submit the course evaluation checksheet to describe the course coverage when you apply to sit for the CPA Exam.

13. How should I select my accounting and business elective courses?

It's a good idea to review the Content Specification Outlines for the CPA exam to be certain you choose courses that will contain the subject material that will be tested on the exam. Check out the CPA exam pages under “Become A CPA” on www.aicpa.org.

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14. When is the examination given?

The exam is offered during the first two months of each calendar quarter – these months are referred to as “testing windows.” Testing is available in January & February, April & May, July & August, and October & November. Testing centers are usually open 6 days a week.

15. Must all four-exam sections be taken at the same time?

No, you may take any section of the exam in any testing window and in any order you wish. You will not be required to pass one section prior to applying for another. However, you may NOT take any single section twice in the same testing window.

16. Must the exam be taken in a computer-based format?

Yes, the exam is available only in a computer-based format.

17. Is the exam offered in different languages?

No, it is only offered in English.

18. How do I apply for the exam?

Applications are filed with CPA Exam Services (CPAES), a division of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) located in Nashville, TN. To obtain an application, go to nasba.org and select CPA exam and Massachusetts as the jurisdiction.

First-Time Exam Candidate

If you have never applied to the state of Massachusetts for any section of the examination or if you applied previously AND your application was denied as INELIGIBLE or INCOMPLETE, you must complete a first-time application found on nasba.org.

Re-exam Candidate

If you have previously applied AND were found eligible to take any section of the CPA Examination for the state of Massachusetts, you are considered a re-exam candidate. You may register online at nasba.org.

International Candidate

Before applying for the CPA exam, you will need to have your educational credentials evaluated by the Center for Educational Documentation or NASBA.

19. How long does the application review process take?

It depends on whether you are a first-time or re-exam candidate. The application review process for a first-time candidate who applies online and pays by credit card is approximately 2 weeks as long as all supporting documents have been received by CPAES. The review process for a re-exam candidate is five business days if you paid by credit card when registering.

20. What is a Notice to Schedule or NTS?

A Notice to Schedule or NTS is your notification of approval to take the exam sections for which you applied. Once you receive it, you may contact Prometric to schedule your exam appointment. It will expire in 6 months and if you are cannot take all the exam sections, you will NOT be able to extend it or receive a refund or credit.

The NTS is your “ticket” to enter the exam center and receive your scores online – keep a copy in a safe place. Verify that all information on the NTS is correct and that your name EXACTLY matches the name on the identification documents that you will use to check-in at the testing center. If the information is incorrect or the ID and NTS do not match, immediately contact CPAES (1.800.CPA.EXAM).

The NTS will be delivered by the preferred method you selected in your initial application — if you do not receive your NTS within the anticipated approval time, contact CPAES immediately.

21. How do I schedule an exam appointment?

Once you receive your Notice to Schedule (NTS) you will need to contact Prometric to schedule your testing dates. You can do this online at www.prometric.com/cpa or by phone at 800.580.9648.It is recommended that you choose the online option since this method will provide you with a written confirmation of your appointment. You must schedule a separate appointment for each exam section but it is not necessary to book your appointments all at once. To increase the likelihood of receiving your first choice of date, time and location, you should schedule at least 45 days before the desired date. Your NTS is valid for 6 months; if you do not take all sections for which you have been approved, you will forfeit your fees and will have to reapply.

22. How much does it cost to take the exam?

All applicants, both first-time and re-exam, are required to pay both an application fee and an examination fee each time they apply to CPAES. To view the fee schedule visit nasba.org and select Massachusetts as the jurisdiction. You must be prepared to take all sections for which you apply within 6 months from the date you receive approval. Failure to do so will result in the forfeiture of fees and the need to reapply.

23. Is financial assistance available to take the CPA exam?

Yes. The Educational Foundation of the Massachusetts Society of CPAs conducts a lottery in May of each year to award vouchers in the amount of $400 to assist with exam costs. To be eligible, you must sit for one or more exam sections between May 1and April 30th. In addition, you cannot receive financial assistance from your employer in the form of payments/ reimbursements of exam fees or review courses, or receive a bonus upon passing the exam. For more information, visit www.CPAtrack.com/scholarships.

24. Where do I take the exam?

You may take the exam as a Massachusetts candidate at any Prometric testing center in the United States, its 5 jurisdictions, or an approved international site. In Massachusetts, sites are in Boston, Brockton, Burlington, Lowell, North Andover, West Springfield and Worcester.

25. Is there a time limit for passing the four exam sections?

Yes, you must pass all four exam sections within a rolling eighteen (18) month that begins on the testing date the first examination section is passed. If you do not pass all four (4) exam sections within the eighteen (18) month period, you will lose credit for each section passed outside the period and must retake that section(s). Applicants cannot retake a failed section(s) within the same testing window.

26. What is the process to obtain special accommodations for the exam?

Special accommodations under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) may be requested as part of the application process, via the ADA Modification Form

27. What is the passing score?

The passing score for each section is 75 on a 0-99 scale.

28. How and when do I receive my scores?

For more information, candidates are encouraged to review the CPA Exam Score Release Timeline FAQ found on the AICPA’s exam site.


29. What can I do to prepare for the exam?

  • Check out the "CPA Exam" section of thiswaytocpa.com and aicpa.org. Once there, you can:
    • Review the “Content Specification Outline” that details what will be tested on each section of the exam (a new CSO will go into effect on 1/01/2016.)
    • Review the policy on New Pronouncements.
    • Take the exam tutorial and sample tests.
    • Read your NTS carefully. For more details about what to expect at the testing site, refer to the Candidate Bulletin.

30. Are there review courses to better prepare me to pass the CPA exam?

Yes. Although the Society does not endorse one particular course, MSCPA members receive discounts with several providers. It is recommended that you select the program that best suits your learning style.

31. Is there a website that I can use as a resource for exam and certification information in Massachusetts?

Yes. The MSCPA's student Web site, www.CPAtrack.com is a valuable resource for exam and certification information as well as specifics about college programs, scholarships, internships and job opportunities. There, you will find links to relevant sites such as the American Institute of CPAs, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, and the Massachusetts Board of Public Accountancy.

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Young Girl on a Skiing Trip

The regulations that allow a candidate to sit for the exam with 120 educational credits went into effect on January 1, 2007. To help you better understand the implementation of the rules, please view these Frequently Asked Questions developed by the Society.