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Enrolled Agent Exam Pass Rates

EA Exam Pass Rate

What are the Enrolled Agent Exam Pass Rates?

As a tax expert considering the enrolled agent designation, you probably have questions about the Enrolled Agent (EA) exam (officially called the Special Enrollment Examination or SEE). If so, you’ve come to the right place for answers. In this blog, we’ll look at the latest Enrolled Agent exam pass rates, consider what they indicate about the difficulty of the exam in the future, and talk about how to pass no matter the pass rates.

Annual Enrolled Agent Exam Pass Rates

The EA exam has three parts:

  • Part 1: Individuals
  • Part 2: Businesses
  • Part 3: Representation, Practices and Procedures

This table provides the average pass rates for each part from the last three years.

Pass Rates

Part2017-20182018-20192019-2020
Part 1: Individuals61%62%61%
Part 2: Businesses65%69%70%
Part 3: Representation, Practices and Procedures86%86%81%

Compared to other professional accounting exams, these pass rates are high. The most current average EA exam pass rate is a strong 71%.

Meaning of the Pass Rates

The testing center that administers the exam, Prometric, advises against reading too much into the pass rates because candidate populations for the exam parts differ greatly. With variations in candidate populations and other factors coming into play, we cannot assume the pass rates tell us which part is harder than the others. Instead, the topics covered will be the biggest indication as to which exam part will be the most challenging for you, as your current knowledge determines how much you have yet to master.

Pass Rates by Part

Part 1

Part 1 currently has the lowest pass rate, maintaining a yearly trend from the last 4 years. This is likely due to an increase in candidates taking the Enrolled Agent exam and trying to get the coveted certification. Additionally, there have been quite a few changes to tax law that has shaken up tax preparation, which can cause confusion for exam takers.

Part 1 is often the section Enrolled Agent candidates will take first, so on top of exam changes, candidates may not know exactly what to expect on the exam. Knowing what to expect on the exam is critical for candidates to study effectively and get the best chance of success on exam day.

Line graph of Enrolled Agent Part 1 Pass Rates by month

Part 2

The Part 2 pass rates are a bit more consistent from year to year than those of Part 1. The great news is the pass rates for this section are increasing. The Business section is considered the hardest among most tax preparers and often gives Enrolled Agent candidates anxiety.

Due to its reputation, candidates will take Part 2 after passing at least one of the other two sections, meaning that candidates are more likely to have a study strategy in place before starting. However, if the candidate prepares well, they often find Part 2 to be about the same difficulty as Part 1 or even Part 3.

Line graph of Enrolled Agent Part 2 Pass Rates by month

Part 3

The Part 3 pass rates have not only been more consistent than those of Part 1 and Part 2, but they’ve also been quite a bit higher. Though the 2019-2020 testing window was the lowest of the last three years, it is still consistently at the top of the three sections and doesn’t look like its going to move any time soon.

Part 3 has the reputation of being the “easy” section, but its still important to study and prepare for the exam questions that you are likely to see. If you go into the Part 3 exam without any preparation, you are more likely to not get the result you want from your exam.

Line graph of Enrolled Agent Part 1 Pass Rates by month

Pass Rate Influences

One significant influence on pass rates is the order in which candidates take the exam. Many candidates start with Part 1, and because they are unfamiliar with the exam, they don’t pass on their first attempt. This may explain the low Part 1 pass rates. The popular choice to take Part 3 last also accounts for the high Part 3 pass rates. Part 3 contains topics requiring knowledge of topics tested in Part 1 and Part 2, so the candidates who have already passed these parts are well prepared to pass Part 3.

Another major influence is candidate preparation. Though the pass rates are high, the exam is not easy, and the only way you can pass is to study well for several months. The best way to ensure that your studies will be effective is to stick to a EA review course program. When you rely on the best EA review material to learn the exam content, you can be completely prepared by exam day and pass on your first try. Gleim EA Review is the most widely-used exam prep, having trained more enrolled agents to pass the exam than any other provider. We have everything you need to excel on the EA exam whatever the pass rates may be.

Exam Changes

Exam changes can also impact the pass rates. However, significant exam changes does not have to affect your chance at EA exam success. When the exam changes come, Gleim EA Review will still be here for you, and our updated course will cover all of the new exam content. No matter when you sit for the EA exam, you can count on Gleim EA Review to prepare you to pass.

Enrolled Agent Exam Review

Information about pass rates and exam changes can help you know what to expect and how to plan, but it should not worry you. With our expert support and the biggest test bank available, Gleim EA Review will guide you to a winning EA exam performance. Learn everything you need to know about the exam and how Gleim can help you pass by accessing our free EA exam guide today!