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Preparing For The IRS EA Exam: An Overview Of What You Need To Know On Test Day

For anyone planning to take the IRS EA exam, preparing for testing day can be a daunting and stressful experience. Every detail is important: from studying the material, to ensuring that you have all the necessary documents required to gain admission on test-day. Knowing what to expect on test-day when you take your IRS EA exam at a Prometric testing center can help take some of the stress out of the process. In this blog post we will provide an overview of what you should expect on test-day so that you can make sure you are properly prepared and ready for success!

IRS EA Exam Arrival

When you arrive at the testing center, you’ll need to show two forms of identification. One of these must be a government-issued photo ID. You should arrive at the testing center at least 30 minutes before your scheduled exam time.

Once you’re checked in, you’ll be given a brief tutorial on how to use the Prometric testing software. This will include a practice test question, so you can get familiar with the format of the questions and the interface.

When it’s time for your IRS EA exam to start, you’ll be given a list of instructions and then be directed to a computer station. The instructions will tell you how to log in and begin the exam. The first section of the exam is multiple choice, and you’ll have 1 hour to complete it. The second section is essay, and you’ll have 2 hours to complete it.

You’ll be given 4 hours total to complete the entire exam, including breaks. Once you’re finished, you can leave the testing center. Your results will be available at the end of the IRS EA exam.

irs ea exam prometric testing room

IRS EA Exam Environment

When you take the IRS Special Enrollment Examination at a Prometric testing center, you can expect a quiet and secure testing environment. The IRS EA exam is taken on a computer, and you will have an invigilator present to supervise the examination.

The computer and the testing room are equipped with surveillance cameras, so that any suspicious activity can be detected and identified. The door is locked during the exam period, to prevent anyone from entering or leaving the room without permission. Prometric also has a strict “no cell phone” policy, so that all students taking the IRS EA exam are not distracted by their phones.

Finally, you will be provided with scratch paper and a calculator, to assist you in completing your IRS EA exam correctly.

irs ea exam security

EA Exam Format

The EA exam is a multiple-choice test that covers topics such as federal tax law, tax return preparation, and ethics. The test is administered by Prometric, a testing company that partners with the IRS.

When you take the IRS EA exam at a Prometric testing center, you will be given a computer to use for the duration of the exam. The exam is timed, and you will have three and a half hours to complete it. There are 100 questions on the exam. 85 questions are scored and 15 are experimental and not included in your score.

The IRS EA exam is not an open-book exam, so you will not be able to use any EA study materials other than the computer provided by Prometric. 

You will receive your score immediately after finishing the exam, and if you pass, you will be notified on your computer screen. If you fail, you will receive a print out with feedback to help you make another attempt.

IRS EA Exam Time Limit

When you take the IRS EA exam at a Prometric testing center, you can expect to have four hours to complete the exam. The time limit is designed to give you enough time to complete the exam without feeling rushed. You have 3.5 hours for the exam and extra time for the tutorial, breaks, etc.

The IRS EA exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions, which you will have to answer on a computer. You should expect to spend about one and a half  to one and three quarter minutes per question. With 3.5 hours you should have enough time to complete the exam and review any questions you flagged before submitting the test.


You will receive your score immediately after completing the IRS EA exam. A passing score of ~73% or higher on each part is required to become an enrolled agent. The examination is administered electronically, and you will receive your results immediately upon completion.

When using an EA study program that includes practice examinations, you should aim to score 80% of higher in practice sessions.

IRS EA Exam Dress Code

Prometric has a dress code policy that prohibits revealing or inappropriate clothing. Please dress comfortably for your test, but be aware of the Prometric dress code policy when selecting your attire.

No tank tops, halter tops, shorts, or clothing with offensive language or graphics. All shirts must have sleeves and midriffs must be covered. Shoes should be closed-toe. Hats are not allowed in the test center unless for religious purposes. Hoods and coats must also be removed before entering the testing room.

You are not allowed to bring any EA exam prep materials, electronic devices, or personal items into the testing room. This includes but is not limited to: books, notes, laptops, tablets, smartphones, smart watches, fitness trackers, and headphones. If you have any of these items in your possession when you enter the testing room, you will be required to surrender them to a test center staff member.

In addition, you may not bring food or beverages of any kind into the testing room. Any drinks must be in a clear plastic bottle with no labels and must be sealed. If a test center staff member determines that any item poses a security risk to the testing environment, you may be asked to surrender it and/or leave the testing room.

Checklist for Test Day

  1. Confirm your appointment time by reviewing your appointment confirmation email.
  2. Make sure you arrive at the testing center at least 30 minutes before your scheduled time.
  3. Allow enough time for travel, parking, finding the testing center, and checking in. Some testing centers charge for parking.
  4. A valid, original, non-expired government-issued ID with a current photo and signature is required.
  5. Depending on the temperature in the test area, consider wearing layers of clothing that can be removed.
  6. It is not allowed to bring prescriptions or bottled water into the testing room, but they can be kept in the test center locker for access if needed.
  7. If you want to reduce distractions during the test, you may want to bring your own soft ear plugs or use the sound dampening earphones provided by the test center.