CPA Exam Dates 2021: A Complete Guide

cpa exam dates

CPA exam dates are an important piece of information to nail down as part of your test preparation. 

There are a limited number of testing windows available each year. As you make plans to study for the CPA, you’ll need to know how to schedule the CPA exam, figure out the dates you want to take the test, and make sure you give yourself enough time.

There are a few organizations involved in applying for and scheduling your exam and submitting fees to cover your CPA costs. They are:

  • NASBA: National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. You can find information and guidelines on their website. NASBA issues the candidate bulletin, which helps you with test readiness and also issues your CPA score release.
  • AICPA: American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The AICPA provides exam info and study materials. You can find a lot of answers to common questions on their website. They also publish pass rates.
  • Prometric: this organization facilitates the CPA exam. You will register for and reserve a seat at a Prometric test center to take the CPA exam.

There are four parts to the exam, and each one is taken separately. You must pass all four sections within 18 months. Some sections, like FAR (Financial Accounting and Reporting), are harder than others, so give yourself enough time between your exam dates to study. 

2021 is a unique year for the CPA exam. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the CPA exam dates significantly.

Normally, there are four CPA testing windows per year in which you can take the exam. That system is changing, which will be detailed below. If you are ready to schedule the CPA exam, know that this year the dates for the last two quarters are:

  1. Q3: July 1 through September 10
  2. Q4: October 1 through December 10

As of July 1, 2020, the regular testing schedule for the CPA changed. According to the AICPA, year-round testing will be available, replacing the four testing windows. Candidates will be able to register for testing throughout the year. 

There is more important information you need to know about CPA exam dates. Read on to learn about score release dates, blackout dates, and more details on the process.

2021 CPA exam testing windows and score release dates

cpa exam dates and testing windows 2020

NASBA, AICPA, and Prometric collectively decided to allow for an emergency testing period in 2021. This was due to unanticipated closures for the coronavirus. 

As of this writing, select Prometric centers around the country are beginning to reopen. You can visit the Prometric website for a regularly updated list of open testing sites

CPA exam dates and score release dates for year-round testing follow a pattern. Here are the estimated CPA exam score release dates from the AICPA.

Exam date (on or before)Targeted score release
July 23August 7
August 16August 25
September 8September 16
September 30October 9
October 23November 10
November 15November 24
December 8December 16
December 31January 12

Because the BEC section may require manual scoring on written tasks, CPA exam takers in the earlier part of the year may have experienced delays.

CPA blackout dates

cpa blackout dates

Before continuous testing was implemented, candidates could not take the exam during the CPA blackout dates. CPA exam dates were scheduled out quarterly, so the blackout dates followed that trend. After the first quarter testing window (January 1-March 10, 2021), blackout dates no longer apply for the CPA exam.

Additional CPA exam notes

addition notes on the cpa exam

The timing for your CPA exam is an important element in your timeline for becoming a CPA. If you don’t schedule correctly, your study could either be rushed or prolonged. 

It’s important that you get all of the details in order, as there are several steps you’ll take, each of which could require some waiting. 

Here are some things to keep in mind that could impact your schedule.

Be sure you’ve received your NTS before scheduling

Remember, you interact with a few different organizations and websites during this process. After your application is submitted to the State Board of Accountancy, they will review documents to confirm your eligibility. 

Once they accept your application, they notify NASBA. That is when you receive your official Notice to Schedule (NTS). 

Until you have your NTS, you should not schedule the CPA exam. If a delay occurs, you could be bumped off of the schedule or have your plans change unexpectedly.

18-month rolling window

Don’t forget that you have 18 months to take and pass all four sections of the CPA exam. You can’t miss this time limit.

You may take the sections in any order and space them however you want, but you can’t exceed that time limit. If you do, you will be forced to reschedule and retake the exam sections.

The COVID-19 pandemic has already made huge changes to the CPA exam schedule. 

During Prometric closures, many candidates have had to delay their test. Initially, the AICPA and NASBA extended Q2 schedules until the end of June. With many Prometric testing centers reopening for the third quarter of 2020, you will want to check to see if you are eligible to take the test in this window. It’s important that you stay in the know about any changes that could impact your exam schedule.

The AICPA and NASBA websites are trustworthy sources of information. 

As your schedule changes, you may be given the gift of time. Use it to study. Select the right CPA exam review course to optimize your test readiness. 

A great online course will give you access to all of the right materials and help you set a study schedule that works for you.


exam date faqs

Here are a few more answers to questions around scheduling and CPA exam dates.

What months is the CPA exam offered?

The CPA exam has been offered four times a year. In 2020, that has changed. It will now be offered continuously, year-round.

Will the CPA exam change in 2021?

Starting in July 2020, the CPA exam is offered year-round. That is the only scheduling change that has been published. However, the content of the CPA exam is reviewed and adjusted annually.

Can you take the CPA exam online?

You must take the CPA exam in a Prometric testing facility. The test is digital but will be hosted in a secure location.

How long are the CPA exams?

There are four sections of the CPA exam, each of which takes four hours. These are long, arduous tests that require significant study and preparation.

How do I schedule an exam?

Once you have applied, been approved, and received a Notice to Schedule (NTS) from NASBA, you can schedule your CPA exam online at the Prometric website.

Where do I get my CPA exam results?

Your CPA exam results will come to you in different ways, depending on where you live. In some states, you will access these through your state board of accountancy websites. The states that currently function this way are CA, IL, KY, and MD. All other states will obtain their scores here, on the NASBA website.

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