How Difficult IS The EA Exam?

How Difficult Is The EA Exam

People often ask us what the passing rate for the Enrolled Agent’s exam is. (As if that has any bearing on whether they themselves will pass!) We know that what they’re really asking is – what is the likelihood that I will pass?!

What we tell them is this: if you attend every lecture, do the homework, study with your study buddy and use the techniques that we teach during the course, then yes – you, too, can pass first time.

So what are the passing rates?

When the new, computerized exam first came out in 2006 only about 55% of people were passing on the first attempt. But with classes like, TaxMama’s® EA Exam review course and the development of a variety of other tools, by 2010 the overall passing rate has risen to 70% as EA candidates become better prepared. These days, the exam keeps evolving – and every time you think you have it nailed…the tax laws change and the exam gets tougher again.

(Note: These statistics are available on the Prometric website – )

Is one exam harder than another?


There are three exams you must pass – individuals, businesses & entities, representation & ethics. They vary greatly in difficulty.

About 70% of EA candidates pass rates Part 1 (Individuals) and over 80% pass Part 3 (Representation, Practices and Procedures,). But, when it comes to Part 2 (Businesses) – fewer people are passing now, than ever before – less than 60%! (And that passage rate is dropping.)

As you might expect, Business taxes are more complex than individuals and there’s just more to learn – consequently the passing rate is lower, but there’s another factor in play here.

Two years experience – really?!

The exam questions are created by a team of Enrolled Agents. They are pulled from the ranks of the NAEA (National Association of Enrolled Agents) and the NATP (National Association of Tax Professionals) who review and update the previous year’s questions. These in turn get reviewed by the IRS, Prometric and the entire team to ensure the questions make sense and are up-to-date. The final product in used in the updated exam each year.

The intent behind these questions was to test for the skills an EA with two years experience should have.

Our experience in the last couple of years is that some of those questions, particularly on the Part 2 exam, cover issues that are far more complex than even EA’s with 5 to 10 years experience come across.

What this means for you

There’s no point wasting time arguing about the complexity of the exam. It is what it is.But one thing is clear – you are going to need a better understanding of the US Tax Code and everything tied to it, than ever before if you want to become an Enrolled Agent.

TaxMama’s® review course is built to do exactly that – teach you the tax law behind the answers – in words you can understand.

If you’re serious about passing the EA exam first time, this is the best course for you.

Register Now

Image Credit: 2007Caitlyn by Robin Alasdair Frederick Hutton on Flickr.

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2 thoughts on “How Difficult IS The EA Exam?

  1. Pingback: How Much Can An Enrolled Agent (EA) Make In Salary? – TaxMama's Enrolled Agent (EA) IRS Exam Review Course

  2. Lisa Holden says:

    I passed today Part 1 of the Enrolled Agent Exam! I have been studying religiously, but I think your book “Deduct Everything” helped a lot! I purchased it as an audiobook and listen to it while I take my hour long commute Each way to my EA tax classes once a week. I was even listening to it before I went into my exam. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with us!

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