Arkansas CPA Exam & License Requirements 2020
Keep reading to learn how to become a CPA in Arkansas.
Whether you desire to be a tax accountant, a computer systems auditor, or the CFO of a major corporation, landing your credentials as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) will enable you to realize your dream. CPA status is the pinnacle of accountancy and every state has its own licensing protocols for professionals in its borders. Keep reading to learn how to become a CPA in Arkansas.
To become a CPA in most states, you need to qualify based on your education, experience, ethics exam scores, and CPA examination scores. For the Arkansas State Board of Public Accountancy, you will need a minimum of 150 undergraduate credit hours, though you can sit for the exam when you are still 30 credits shy of this requirement. Of your 150 credits, 30 undergraduate hours must be in upper level courses or you can use 20 hours of graduate course credit. For experience, the state board requires one year in any of these of accounting environments: private, governmental, academia, or public accountancy. Luckily for you, Arkansas’ requirement for ethics is quite light. Starting in 2015, candidates for a CPA license only need to take a one hour self-study course and pass a 30-item test with 22 correct answers.
If you are from out of state, or out of the country, Arkansas will still welcome you. The state has no in-state residency nor citizenship requirements for CPA candidates. However, you will need to have a Social Security number and be eligible to work in the country. Arkansas also has no age requirements, so if you are a particularly talented person, you might be able to practice accountancy before you can legally drive.
The educational requirements in Arkansas are quite specific. To sit for the test, you needn’t have a bachelor’s degree, but you do need to meet certain requirements. Your coursework must include 30 semester hours in upper-level accounting courses and 20 hours in other business-related, non-accountancy courses. All courses must be passed with a grade of C or better. To ensure that your accountancy courses have prepared you for the exam, you must show that you have covered these six areas:
- Financial Accounting
- Management Accounting
- Non-Profit or Governmental Accounting
- Federal Taxation
- Attestation and Auditing
- Accounting Information Systems
If your education was in a quarter system institution, you can easily convert your hours by multiplying them by two-thirds. No matter what system your school operates under, it is imperative that it be fully accredited by one of these regional agencies:
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions in Higher Education
- The Higher Learning Commission
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities
Once you have completed the educational requirements to sit for the exam, gather your materials and fill out the comprehensive application. You will need to provide official sealed transcripts from any college or university you have attended. Have your transcripts sent directly to the Board Office and they will be added to your file.
When your file is complete, allow approximately four weeks for processing.
The CPA Exam
The CPA exam is a 4-part test that is taken during a rolling 18-month period that begins when you take and pass the first section. The four sections, which all must be passed with a minimum score of 75, are:
- Financial Accounting and Reporting
- Auditing and Attestation
- Business Environment and Concepts
You will pay fees and apply for each test separately. However, you can apply for more than one exam at a time. After your fees are paid, you will have six months to take the tests you have applied for. If you do not pass one of the tests, you must wait for that six month window to expire before applying to retake it. Use that time wisely to study and prepare.
It is not easy to pass all parts of the CPA exam the first time. If at first you don’t succeed, don’t worry. The pass rate for the tests ranges from around the middle 44 percent up to around 54 percent. The most difficult section is reportedly the Auditing section, which had a 47 percent pass rate in Arkansas in 2015.
After you have passed all four sections of the CPA exam, you will then need to pass the Arkansas Ethics Exam. You will take a 1-hour, online self-study course to prepare. You will then need to complete all sections of the course and take a 30-item test. Twenty two items must be correct to pass.
Arkansas requires that all CPAs have one year of experience in either a public, private, governmental, or academic environment under the direct supervision of a CPA. Your supervisor will need to fill out a Work Experience Summary form for the Board.
For more information, including up-to-date rules and regulations, please visit the Board’s website here: Arkansas State Board of Public Accountancy.
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