Strategically planning tests during the 18-month period in which a candidate must pass all sections is key to a successful CPA Exam schedule. That means giving close attention to the testing windows when the CPA Exam is offered as well as coordinating tests with score release timetables. Using the score release timetables will help in organizing a review of test material and planning testing schedules.
Once you receive your CPA Exam Notice to Schedule, you have a limited amount of time to schedule the day and time of your exam(s) based on the expiration date listed on your NTS. Candidates are not allowed to take the same section more than once during any single testing window. They may take all four sections of the exam during any one testing window.
Coordination is important because candidates who don’t pass all four sections within 18 months lose credit for the first part passed, and they must begin the entire process again. Starting with the section you find the most difficult gives you an edge in scheduling, because the 18-month rolling window only begins once you’ve passed your first section.
Blackout Months Fall in the Third Month
The CPA Exam schedule establishes testing windows that fall within the first two months of each quarter of the calendar year. During the third month of every quarter—known as the “Blackout Months”—no exams are administered. Blackout months are March, June, September and December.
The 2017 CPA Exam schedule includes Quarter 1 test months January through March 10 with the blackout month March 11 through March 31; Quarter 2 test months April through May 31 and blackout month June 1 through June 30; Quarter 3 test months July through September 10 with blackout month September 11 through September 30; and Quarter 4 test months October through December 10 with blackout month December 11 through December 31.
Failing to successfully complete all sections during the crucial 18-month rolling window period means the window then rolls up to the next part you’ve passed. Then you have another 18 months to successfully pass all four parts. The window continues to roll until you have passed all four parts within the required 18 months.