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Day Before CPA Exam: What to Prepare For

The day before CPA exam day is all about setting yourself up for success. It’s time to get organized, do a light review of your study materials, and ensure you are rested and ready to go. Make sure you know what to bring to CPA exam day, and try to relax and manage any last-minute anxiety.

What to do day before the CPA exam:

  • Look up the route to your testing center and plan to arrive early
  • Prepare required documents and identification (two forms of ID and your Notice to Schedule)
  • Do a light review of any lingering material you are concerned about, but don’t overdo it
  • Lay out your day of CPA exam outfit
  • Stay hydrated and eat healthy meals so you feel your best
  • Start winding down for the night early so you have a chance to try and calm last minute nerves before bed
  • Relax and practice positive thoughts—trust you have done everything you can to be prepared

What to Bring On the Day of the CPA Exam

On the day of your scheduled exam, you must bring your Notice to Schedule (NTS) with you to the test center. Your NTS contains an “examination password” that you will enter on the computer as a part of the log-in process.

You will also need to bring two valid forms of identification, including one that contains a recent photograph. The information on your IDs must exactly match the candidate information on the NTS.

The same form of your name must appear on your application, NTS and on the identification you present at the test center. Each form of identification must bear your signature and must not be expired. Without acceptable identification, you will not be allowed to take your examination.

Arrive at the test center at least 30 minutes before the scheduled appointment time for your examination. This allows time to sign in, have your digital photograph taken, get fingerprinted, undergo a hand-held sweep of a metal detecting wand, review the test center’s security policies and be seated at your workstation.

If you arrive for your scheduled testing appointment anytime after the scheduled start time, you may be denied permission to test and most likely will not receive any type of refund.

Test-Center Rules and Guidelines:

  • You must place personal belongings, such as a purse or cell phone, in the storage lockers provided by the test center. The lockers are very small and are not intended to hold large items.
  • Do not bring anything to the test center unless it is absolutely necessary. You can bring water and medicine, but you must leave them in your locker.
  • You must keep your identification with you at all times. If you leave the testing room for any reason, you will be required to show your identification to be readmitted.
  • Be aware that introductory examination screens operate under a ten-minute time limit. If those limits are exceeded, the session will automatically terminate and it will not be possible to restart the exam.
  • While there is adequate time to review the screens and respond, there is NOT time for you to leave the testing room.
  • Be sure to follow research problem directions. If you are having difficulty entering a response in the space provided, you may not be using the expected response format.
  • Report any functionality problems to the Test Center Administrator. If possible, wait until the end of the session. If you encounter a problem in a simulation, be sure to identify the TAB in which it occurred.
  • Focus on the exam and don’t allow yourself to get distracted by unimportant issues. For example, if your responses do not generate the expected color changes in pencil icons, continue testing.
  • Report this matter at the end of the session. Also, note that the system will verify the capture of your responses.

CPA Exam Day Tips:

  • The computer screen will have a countdown timer to let you know the time remaining as you work through the examination. Plan your time efficiently so that you do not use up the majority of your time early in the examination.
  • Each examination section contains units known as testlets.
  • Each testlet is comprised of either a group of multiple-choice questions (24 – 30), a set of three written communications questions or a set of six to seven task-based simulations.
  • After indicating that you have completed a testlet, you will have the option to take a break. If you choose to take a break, leave the testing room quietly and sign the test center log book.
  • The test center staff will confirm you have completed the testlet prior to your break.

Important to remember!

The clock will keep running during the break, so it is recommended that you use break time wisely. When you return, you will be required to enter your examination password to continue the examination.

You will not be allowed to take a break at any other time during the examination. If you leave the testing room at any time, without exiting the testlet and selecting the break option, you will not be allowed to return to the testing room.

Information regarding your absence may be reported to your Board of Accountancy.

  • When you finish the examination, leave the testing room quietly, turn in your scratch paper and sign the test center log book. The test center staff will dismiss you after completing all necessary procedures.

After the CPA Exam:

You will receive a Confirmation of Attendance form for you to keep. This not only verifies you took the examination, but it also contains contact information about reporting any concerns, complaints or questions about the examination or testing center.

Need more information?

For a full description of exam day rules read the CPA Candidates Bulletin.

Still need help?

Wiley CPA is here to help you. Please contact us via email or call 888.884.5669 (N. America) or 928.204.1066 (International). We look forward to assisting you on your CPA exam journey!