April 15 is a big date for tax preparers. It often means the end of crunch time and a busy season that’s lasted multiple months. While the IRS has extended the tax deadline to May 17 for 2021, usually April 15 is the finish line and the following weeks are spent decompressing, taking a vacation, or getting back into a hobby.
Who wants to study taxes right after tax season? You, because you have a huge head start! If you have anything left in the tank, working to pass the Enrolled Agent exam now can set you up for success, and an increased income, for the rest of your career.
Passing the Enrolled Agent exam within a year is the best way to condense your studies and reap the benefits sooner. However, the Enrolled Agent exam has a carryover policy of two* years, and many candidates take advantage of this period to pass at their own pace.
*To provide candidates flexibility in testing during the COVID-19 global pandemic, the IRS extended the two-year period to three years.
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Let’s go over the top reasons you should start your Enrolled Agent exam studies sooner rather than later.
There’s a reason the Enrolled Agent exam isn’t offered during the months of March and April. While tax preparers are working hard serving their clients, the IRS and Prometric are hard at work updating the exam to reflect the most recent tax law. The tax law in effect through December 31 of the prior year becomes testable the following May. That means you should aim to pass all three EA exam parts within a year so you’re tested on the same tax law.
As a tax preparer, you will have just finished working with this version of tax law for tax season. You’ll know its ins and outs, and you’ll have more context for any new (to you) information you’re studying. Since you will be going into your studies with a lot of knowledge already, you’ll be able to study faster and more efficiently. If you then use an adaptive review course, this can mean substantially less study time and a quick Enrolled Agent certificate!
While an average EA candidate may not spend more than 2 hours a day studying for the Enrolled Agent exam, if you are already used to working extended hours, finding time to study does become easier. In fact, it solves many candidates’ concerns about when they’re going to study. By looking at your schedule during busy season, you can see what is available for your studies. Just remember to still leave time to unwind!
You don’t want to lose your momentum. Waiting to start studying until after you’ve readjusted to your normal routine can be dangerous because it makes it difficult to see spots in your daily schedule that you can adjust. It’s one thing to have the time “available” and just have to put in the work. It’s another to have to claw it back before you can start. If you fill your available time with personal and professional commitments, it’s easy to delay studying another week, month, or year.
Of course, studying for the Enrolled Agent exam is a bit more flexible than working during tax season.
Since spring is so hectic, many tax preparers see this time as their only busy season, when in reality, they are busy all year long. Taking a look at the year in full will help you put into perspective what your available time is actually like and the distractions you’ll face all year.
In summer, you’ll want to take vacations and enjoy the outdoors. While you can take your books and Gleim audio lectures with you, it’s going to be difficult to focus on studying or enjoying yourself while trying to achieve both. Instead, schedule your time off in between exams and plan your study schedule around events so they become rewards for studying and passing your exam parts!
Of course, you can still study and pass during the summer, but it will take discipline, and an established study plan will help. The good study habits you start in spring will help carry over into the summer when it can be more difficult to focus!
Fall has two big distractions many tax preparers tend to forget: It’s the start of a new school year, and there is another tax season for October 15. Not all tax preparers have these distractions, in which case the weather getting chilly is the perfect excuse to spend time indoors studying. However, fall is also the beginning of the holidays, and these can bring their own distractions, as friends and family will be competing for your time.
If you’ve already been hard at work studying since spring, you could have one or two exam parts already passed! Passing is a huge motivator and can push you to finish earning your Enrolled Agent designation!
Winter continues the holiday season, and for many this includes lots of traveling and social gatherings, which can really cut into study time. The good news is that it’s a pretty slow time of the year for tax preparers professionally, especially if they have already completed their Annual Filing Season Program. It’s tempting to relax, but remember that busy season is right around the corner.
The Enrolled Agent exam is offered until the last day of February. While it can be tempting to sit for an exam at the last minute, if things go poorly, you run the risk of having to balance your busy-season workload, studying, and other obligations.
When planning out your Enrolled Agent studies, if you need to study a part in winter, pick EA Part 3. It’s the shortest exam part, is generally regarded to be the easiest, and often doesn’t change much from year to year. So even if you miss that February deadline, there won’t be much to restudy.
While the Enrolled Agent exam doesn’t start testing until May, you can still start your studies as early as March 1 if you’ve got the time to spare. We release our updated materials in early spring to help those who want to get a jump start. However, getting started the week after tax season is more realistic for Enrolled Agent candidates hard at work during tax season.
If you’ve been studying since late spring, there’s a very good chance you could be done with studying and pass all parts as early as the first week of December! Spending less than a year on your designation means you don’t need to study any upcoming tax changes and can start earning more as a tax preparer.
Even if you took a few weeks off for the fall tax season or summer vacations, you still have three months in winter to finish getting the last exam done in time before the closing of the testing window. By passing all three Enrolled Agent exams in one year, you don’t need to worry about studying upcoming tax updates or exam changes.
The later you wait to get started the greater the risk of having to go through another tax season without your Enrolled Agent certificate and having to wait through tax season to sit for the exam. Enrolled Agent exam candidates have two years to pass all three exam parts, so taking a long hiatus for relaxing also means risking losing credit for any sections you might have already passed!
Regardless of when you begin your studies, you’ll want to make sure you are getting the most out of every minute. Using the best exam prep course means you’ll be able to study more efficiently and become an EA more quickly!
With the largest and most realistic test bank of exam-quality questions coupled with our SmartAdapt™ technology, the Gleim Premium Review System is designed to help every Enrolled Agent candidate pass the first time.
Try our free demo and see for yourself why more Enrolled Agents have used Gleim to pass the Enrolled Agent exam than any other course provider!