The Enrolled Agent (EA) exam is changing in May of 2021, and as the leading Enrolled Agent review provider, Gleim is prepared to help you. Gleim is the most trusted EA exam review provider, and more candidates have passed with us than with any other course. Our Access Until You Pass® guarantee means you get free updates to your review materials as long as you are studying with our Premium Review.
Want to learn about the changes? You will find all you need to know about the new exam changes right here in our comprehensive guide below. You may also find our Free EA Exam Guide and EA practice test questions useful as you take the next step to becoming an Enrolled Agent.
The Enrolled Agent exam changes each year after the close of the Spring tax season to reflect the previous year’s tax law. Enrolled Agent exam candidates will see these changes each May when the exam window opens, and they will stay in effect through the following February. These changes are made only to the content and do not include changes to the administration or format of the exam.
When the IRS or Prometric plans more drastic changes, such as changes to the exam format, they are announced in advance. We have compiled current, upcoming, and past changes for Enrolled Agent candidates to be aware of.
The IRS commissioned Prometric to do a job analysis of the tasks performed by and the knowledge required to become a tax preparer or tax accountant. Analyses like this are usually completed every couple of years to ensure the Enrolled Agent exam accurately reflects the tasks required of a tax preparer.
The EA exam is meant to reflect the current role of Enrolled Agents and tax preparers in the United States, and as that role changes, the exam is updated to keep pace. This is mostly seen in the yearly updates to the exam content for updated tax law; however, more drastic changes are also a part of keeping the exam consistent with the demands of the public.
Prometric and the IRS are making changes to the EA exam that will appear on the EA exam beginning in May of 2021. Changes were only made to the content tested on the exam, including examples on topics already tested. No changes were made to the administration or format of the exam itself.
Changes to the exam based on the CARES act will become testable May 1, 2021 along with the additional changes. We have outlined the sections affected by COVID Relief Legislation and the CARES act. Next to each topic you will see a number in parenthesis. The number indicates the domain and subdomain the topic can be found on the Enrolled Agent exam syllabus.
Domain 4, “Taxation and Advice,” is being split into two separate domains: “Taxation” and “Advising the Individual Taxpayer.” The topics themselves changed only slightly, but breaking them into distinct domains should help candidates better prepare for these different types of questions. The weights of the remaining domains have also been adjusted to account for the new domain and to give more significance to the “Taxation” domain.
|SEE Part 1 Domains||New % of the exam||Old % of the exam|
|1. Preliminary Work and Taxpayer Data||16%||20%|
|2. Income and Assets||20%||25%|
|3. Deductions and Credits||20%||25%|
|5. Advising the Individual Taxpayer*||13%||0%|
|6. Specialized Returns for Individuals||13%||14%|
A few topics were added, and Domains 1 and 2 have been renamed for clarification. Domain 1 (now “Business Entities and Considerations”) was given slightly more weight over Domain 2 (now “Business Tax Preparation”).
|SEE Part 2 Domains||New % of the exam||Old % of the exam|
|1. Business Entities and Considerations*||35%||33%|
|2. Business Tax Preperation*||44%||46%|
|3. Specialized Returns and Taxpayers||21%||21%|
Many of the changes are clarifying topics or reorganizing them. “Special Rules for Partnership Audits” was moved from Part 3 to Part 2 of the exam. “Innocent Spouse and Separation of Liability” and the subdomain “Information shared with taxpayer” were both removed from Part 3.
|SEE Part 3 Domains||New % of the exam||Old % of the exam|
|1. Practices and Procedures||31%||30%|
|2. Representation before the IRS||29%||28%|
|3. Specific Areas of Representation*||24%||22%|
|4. Filing Process*||16%||20%|
There are two administration changes coming to the Enrolled Agent exam.
The Enrolled Agent examination fee is increasing from $182 USD to $185 USD per part.
Score Release Change
Between May 1, 2021, and August 1, 2021, Enrolled Agent candidates will not receive their score immediately after completing their exam. During this period, Prometric and the IRS will collect and analyze test results to establish the passing score. Scores will then be released by email starting August 5, 2021.
Beginning August 2, 2021, scores will be released normally. That is, upon completion of the exam, a pass/fail message will appear on your computer screen, and you will later receive an email from Prometric containing your score report.
Though the Enrolled Agent exam changes for 2021 are significant, they will NOT impact:
Whenever the Enrolled Agent exam changes, candidates have a lot of questions about how it is going to affect them. Use our Enrolled Agent exam changes resources to ensure you have a plan for the EA exam, no matter what kind of changes are announced.
The best EA review providers will carefully examine all of the EA exam changes and make sure their material is up-to-date with plenty of time for you to sit for the EA exam. Regardless of what your plans are for the EA exam, working with an EA review provider will ensure you’re prepared.
When Enrolled Agent exam changes are significant, you may not want to be among the first candidates to take the new version of the exam.
Gleim knows from experience that it can be hard to prepare for a newly-revised exam. The unknowns you face when taking a revised exam can create exam anxiety and undermine your confidence, as you aren’t able to rely on other test takers’ experiences. Many candidates try to quickly finish the exam before changes take effect to avoid the unknowns of the new exam.
In general, our advice is to pass the EA exam as soon as possible. After all, the sooner you pass all three parts of the EA exam, the sooner you can start reaping the benefits of being a EA. Avoiding anxiety is another bonus to quickly passing the exam. But take stock of your circumstances. If you can’t realistically make time to prepare, there’s no reason to sit for an exam you won’t pass.
While the Enrolled Agent exam changes each year to reflect the previous year’s tax law, occasionally the IRS and Prometric will make changes to the administration or format of the exam. The Gleim Enrolled Agent Review is always updated to reflect what you need to know to pass your upcoming exams, but below we’ll discuss how the exam has changed in the past.
A few administrative changes were made to the Enrolled Agent exam in 2020 in addition to the normal content changes.
Prometric and the IRS opened testing to a few international locations at specified times. However, these testing dates were heavily impacted by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, and many were cancelled due to health concerns. The IRS and Prometric will announce future testing dates in 2021 to accommodate international candidates.
The IRS and Prometric planned to expand eligible testing areas to the following cities:
The IRS and Prometric added a break into the 3 1/2 hour exam time. The break is 15 minutes long and is granted once the candidate has submitted their first 50 questions to be graded. Candidates will not be given the opportunity to return to these 50 questions after they have submitted them. Candidates must manage their time wisely to ensure they have ample time to answer both halves of the exam.
During the break, candidates may use the restroom and eat or drink any snacks brought to the testing center. They are also able to relax in the lobby. Prometric’s security protocols must still be followed at all times during this break, including not using any electronic devices or phones. Candidates who choose to leave the testing room (not the testing center) will need to sign in again and show identification to be readmitted.
After 15 minutes, the exam timer will restart. If the candidate does not return to take the second half (questions 51-100) before the 15-minute break expires, they will lose valuable testing time.
Unscheduled breaks are still allowed, but the exam timer will not be paused if the candidate chooses to take one.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was first testable in 2018. To accompany this addition, Gleim has a separate blog and video detailing these changes. The current version of the EA exam has implemented the changes that are still relevant, and the Gleim Premium Enrolled Agent Review System has been updated as well.