Beginner’s Guide to Taking the CPA Exam at Prometric: Part I

I had mentioned in one of my blog posts that I wish there was a line for those of us that know what’s up at Prometric. You know – those of us that have gone far too many times.

I realized, maybe it would help all of us Prometric veterans (not by choice) if the Prometric Rookies knew what to expect when going to a Prometric Testing Center.

Virginia's Beginner’s Guide to Testing at Prometric, Part I:

    1. Plan out as much as you can before your test day: what are you going to wear, what you are going to bring, knowing where the testing site is and the parking situation. Maybe even do a test drive to the test site, anything you can do to minimize stress on test day the better.


    1. You must check in a half hour early, and I find that if you get there earlier, they’ll let you start right away. If you want extra study time, study in your car. Studying in the waiting room at Prometric is distracting and generally they ask you to put the books away since candidates are coming through the waiting room for their breaks that are actively taking the exam.


    1. If you’re waiting to check in, don’t talk to anyone. Chances are the other person isn’t taking the same section as you and maybe not even taking any sections of the CPA exam. Talking to them will just throw you off.Once in Prometric, you generally start by handing your NTS and your ID to the first person to check in. For the last year that I’ve been testing, they stopped asking for the second ID, but I always come prepared.

      They’ll ask you to put everything in a locker. Be ready: turn off your phone, empty your pockets, take off your watch (heck, just take off all jewelry, don’t give them anything to complain about), don’t have food or water with you. Put everything in the locker, if you have a jacket you generally hang it up with all the other jackets.


    1. I find that the next few check in steps vary per Prometric site and staff. Mostly, I was then asked to move to the next check in person. This one was in a room (or separated by a wall) from the first check in spot. At this check in they hand you your scratch paper and ask you to write your launch code from your NTS onto the scratch paper. They then ask you to put that NTS into your locker. When you come back you have to pull out your pockets to show nothing is in them. The Prometric worker takes your picture, verifies some of your information, finger prints your pointer finger electronically, and signs you in.


    1. The only things you take with you into the actual testing room are your ID, your key to the locker, two pencils (given to you by the Prometric staff), and a booklet of scrap paper (given to you by the Prometric staff). You are allowed to bring soft ear plugs.I find that if you bring soft ear plugs (you can by a box at any pharmacy or such), and you wear the Prometric headphones, you can’t hear a thing, which for me is ideal.



Read Virginia’s Beginner’s Guide to Testing at Prometric, Part II

CPA Review

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cowboy 10 years ago

When I read the opener to this blog, I thought the remainder of the entry would be poking fun at the mistakes all the newbies seem to make (we all made them at one point). However, I could see this entry really helping the rookie out and prevent them from doing something that is not acceptable, and maybe not specifically mentioned in the guidelines, at the test center. Great write-up and thanks for the positive direction. On what to wear: I choose to wear gym shorts, moisture wicking tee, running shoes, and bring a warm fleece jacket (even during GA summer). This way I can make a mad dash to the door and go on a much needed run when done with the exam.

Stephanie 10 years ago

last time I was there they told me that the AICPA doesn't require the 2nd ID so I don't need to bring it.

Elaine 10 years ago

My Prometric test center did not allow you to bring your own soft earplugs. You were only allowed to use the headphones they provided you with.

Lisa 10 years ago

Thanks Virginia! I will definitely be inquiring about the soft ear plugs. I can't stand the big headphones they have for you to use there!

Virginia 10 years ago

@Elaine & Lisa: If you read the rules on your NTS it says soft ear plugs are allowed. I don't remember the actual wording, and I don't have an NTS right now, but check it ou.

jason 10 years ago

i have been to prometric sites so many times for these exams i feel stupid to walk in again.... by the way, if you walk out the door on top of the garage, you might fall and get hurt.

kathy 10 years ago

Thanks for info Virginia! I am taking my first exam next month and was really wondering what to expect. I was going to go out and buy a watch to wear during the exam. You just saved me a couple of bucks!

SanDee 10 years ago

I've always been allowed to use soft ear plugs. They also have me place them in a tissue and they smash them before I can take them in. Not sure what I could smuggle in a small pair of ear plugs...but someone must have tried...

Allyson 10 years ago

I recommend adult diapers as well so you don't have to take a break.

Yield 10 years ago

Hahahaha...good one Allyson! Never thought of Depends or Serenity in between exams.

Stefan 10 years ago

They probably smash the soft earplugs to make sure they aren't a wireless receiver. Seriously. But, seriously, who in the heck would go to that trouble? Yeah, having my wife in the car reading off stuff from the book wouldn't work. After 22 years of marriage I just naturally don't hear her voice frequency for some reason ;)

Barb 10 years ago

I am waiting to hear your good news.

Virginia 10 years ago

@SanDee: interesting! They've never smashed my ear plugs or even inspected them. @Barb: waiting on REG, so so nervous!!

Barb 10 years ago

I know, its not even me and I am so excited. You have to post you passing so I can to the robot. LOL!!! Good Luck.

Barb 10 years ago

I mean do the robot....

Virginia 10 years ago

Aw thanks Barb! Still week's post will say either way :-/