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 Part Harder Than Another?



There are three exams you must pass:

  • Individual taxation
  • Businesses & entities
  • Representation & ethics.

They vary greatly in difficulty and the scope of information they cover.

Pass Rates:

About 70% of EA candidates pass rates

  • Part 1 – Approximately 70%
  • Part 3  – Approximately 80%
  • Part 2 –  Fewer people are passing now, than ever before – less than 60%! (That passage rate is dropping as they expand the topics covered by this exam.)

Why Do The Pass Rates Differ?

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

Many tax professionals only work with individual taxpayers, and with Schedule C businesses. They don’t have a great of experience preparing tax returns for partnerships, corporations (C or S), non-profit organizations, trusts, decedents, and more.

Preparing for the EA Exams might be the first time they are exposed to all these complex tax issues and forms.


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.

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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.