Note – this CPA Exam strategy tip is no longer valid. NASBA has since corrected this glitch. It adversely affected me at the time, but has since been corrected.
Note – someone left a comment that said that NASBA has fixed the glitch that won't allow you to retake a section when you have other sections left on your NTS. I hope that this is the case.
As a jaded veteran of the CPA Exam process, I've learned a few quirks and tricks along the way and want to share them in hopes that people can learn from my mistakes.
Tip for Success: Don't register for more than two sections on your initial NTS
I learned this one the hard way. It was Fall 2005 (3 years ago?…yeah, I know…insert excuse here_______) and I had just gotten back the word that I failed FAR – my first section, with a 70. I felt like the most worthless person in the world, but I was going to persevere and get right back on the horse and take FARE again in the next window, right? Wrong.
When I sent in my initial application and then my subsequent Notice to Schedule, I paid for all 4 parts because I was going to pass all four parts the first time obviously, so why go through the redundancy and hassle of getting more than one NTS?
Well, what they don't tell you in the non-existent fine print and what will garner little more than an “oopsy” from the NASBA customer service rep is that once you get an NTS, you must sit for all parts on your NTS before you can re-take a failed section on that same NTS.
The NASBA rep explained that it's a glitch in their software that causes this ridiculousness. “Is anyone going to get around to fixing it?” I asked. “uhhhh…I don't think so,” she said.
SO – if you pay for all four sections and don't pass the first one, kiss your short term memory of the subject goodbye and we'll see you in 6 months when you sit for it again.
Even if you're going to knock the exam out in 1 attempt for each section (weren't we all?), it still makes sense to get an NTS for a maximum of two sections at a time – that way you're not chained to AUD, REG, BEC when all you want to do is re-study some cash flow statements and not for profits and go take FARE again.