You want to become an Enrolled Agent, but that scary EA Exam is standing in your way. Since EAs represent taxpayers before all levels of the IRS, passing the EA Exam (also known as the SEE Exam) is a crucial step in proving your abilities and earning the coveted license.

So, is the enrolled agent exam hard?

Even though the EA Exam is daunting, it’s not as difficult as people make it to out to be—as long as you prepare properly. This is not a normal test and you will have to be studying at your best in order to pass. Let’s go over all the steps you will need to take in order to prepare correctly and pass the EA exam! 

  1. Find a stellar EA Review Course
  2. Review old exam questions
  3. Memorize the formulas and formats for tax calculation
  4. Do practice exams during the study phase
  5. Go into test day with confidence- even if you need to fake it

Find the Perfect Review Course

There are lots of EA Exam review courses out there from which you can choose. This is a crucial first step in your EA designation preparations since this course will be guiding you throughout the entire study process and providing you with all the tested material. You are going to need an Enrolled Agent prep course that works with your learning style and can adapt to your personal schedule.

”Think of an EA course like a future partner—you’re gonna have to go on some dates & feel each other out!”

You can’t pass this exam alone and you will need a trusty review course by your side. You need an organized approach when studying for the exam and an exam prep review course will do just that. Once you’ve found some study materials that you like (some companies offer free trials for you to test out the course), you can get started with your study plan.

Think of a review course like a future partner—you’re gonna have to go on some dates and feel each other out!

Check Out the Old Exams

Another great place to start (after you’ve decided on a review course), is with the EA exam itself. Obviously, you can’t see current parts of the exam, but you can check out previous exam questions to get a feel for what the real deal is going to be like. By seeing what is expected of you via the old Enrolled Agent exams, you will be able to prioritize your studying because you’ll know what’s expected to appear on the exam.

Your review course should include a large bank of questions (usually created from these old tests) with which you can practice, but it doesn’t hurt to get as much real-exam practice as possible. The majority of the exam’s core content stays the same, especially for tax return preparation and client representation.

Memorize the Various Formats for Tax Calculation

The EA Exam is filled with various tax entities that require knowledge of the basic formats of tax computation, such as tax formulas. Therefore, you’ll have a huge advantage if you lock down your format knowledge for the different possible tax entities that will appear on the EA Exam. For example, the exam will most likely have several questions that call for you to distinguish between deductions for adjusted gross income and those for adjusted gross income. Having memorized all the formulas and formats make questions like these not as tricky to answer. Hence, try to prioritize these subjects on your study guide!

Practice, Practice, Practice

The most important step during the whole studying process! Practicing with multiple choice questions as you learn the material is the best way to ensure you’ve understood each part of the exam well enough to get a passing score. Some of the best review courses, will even track your answers and organize your next practice quiz with just the questions you need to improve on.

This is the most efficient and effective way to study because you will see how you’re scoring before you walk into the real exam. Also, you can do a test-drive of the EA Exam through your local Prometric’s testing center so there will be no surprises come exam day.


Anxiety and feelings of inadequacy are normal on anyone’s first try taking a big test like this. By test day, you’ve done everything you can and doubting yourself will only hurt you. Remember, if you’ve put in the study time and practiced with lots of old exam questions, you’ll be more prepared than many other EA candidates.

”Walk into that test center booming with confidence, ready to show the EA Exam who’s boss”

Confidence can go a long way, even if you’re faking it. So walk into that test center booming with confidence, ready to show the EA Exam who’s boss. You are the master of the universe; this exam doesn’t know what coming!