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afraid to get EA


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After 22 years in the tax business, I am considering getting my EA designation.  I'm embarrassed to say I am scared.  I have come up with countless excuses for not getting it previously.  Cost, time required to study, etc..but it all comes down to fear.  I have always had test anxiety (high school/college) and I'm scared I'll fail.

How should I start the process...sign up for test date/time, then start studying?  I'm sure I'll do fine on the individual portion...but I have very little experience doing non-personal returns

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I used the Gleim product with many, many,many practice tests.  I knew it was going to be OK when my practice test scores got well above the passing grade.  I also learned that every. single. time. I went back to a question, my second answer was wrong and my first was usually right.  It saved me untold agony during the testing just not going back to older questions. 

You CAN do it.  Instead of worrying about test anxiety, think instead that the worst that could happen is that you would have a better idea of what to expect a second time.  You won't lose any clients, you don't have to cut prices, you don't have to wear a scarlet letter...  It's all OK, and we'll all still love you.   

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Decide on a study guide. Map out a study plan. Schedule a test. If you are a facebook user, we have a group where we ask and answer questions and generally help each other understand some topics better that we don’t have a lot of experience with.  

I was scared too. I had been doing taxes 38 years when I decided I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I also wanted my daughter to do it so I needed to set the example for her. :D

Best of luck to you.

PS - I used Passkey book, study guide and online subscription. I was very happy with them.

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Decide how you learn best.  The study guides available are great, with lots of practice tests.  There are also live courses online, such as Eva Rosenberg/Tax Mama.  And, you might have live courses near you.  HRB's course was great years ago when I took it, but I don't know if you have to be an employee to enroll.  Check with your local chapters of NAEA and NATP to see if they offer courses.  The nice things about the current test is that you can take one part at a time, know if you passed immediately, and retake if needed as soon as you want.  Basis, basis, basis.  If you're finding a weakness as you study, pull the corresponding IRS Pubs; you'll often find questions on the test come straight from the examples in the Pubs.  Don't be afraid to guess, but don't second guess yourself.  Breathe!

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Nothing to do with the test because I can not speak to that since I have never studied nor taken it, but I just wanted to state a comment that is on my wife's exercise bulletin board.  It seems to apply here.  "If it is important, you will find a way;  If it is not, you will find an excuse!"  Sounds a bit harsh but there is a lot of truth to it.

Grab the bull by the horns and go for it. Good luck!

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Don't do what I did.  Took part 1 and passed, then waited too long to study for part 2 as life got in my way and the 2 years expired, time flies.  This was over 10 years ago and now I'm too old, I mean older and not interested anymore.  I would take part 2 first, getting the hard part over with will give you great incentive and be able to easily get it done.  Good luck! 

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If its really what you want then by all means go for it.  I assume you will regret it if you dont.  When I was studying for the CPA I took a review class and the best advice I got was. 

"Remember, the test was written by individuals and is designed for individuals.  Many have passed so dont look at it like its impossible.  If you want to do it, and you prepare sufficiently, you can do it!"

And I did on my very first attempt.  Its a great feeling!

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You got exam 1 & 3 if you passed the RPRT exam, very similar, exam 2 (basis) is another animal.  Many of the exam 2 questions were from exam 1 so you should be good, expect 15-20 questions on basis, I recommend leaving all those questions until the end and answer back to back.

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The study time of course depends on how much time you have to devote to it.  I studied relentlessly for six months (I'm an academic bookworm anyway).  I studied so hard that I vowed that I HAD to pass all four parts (back then) the first time because I was never going to study that hard ever again.  I succeeded.  Many didn't, and they just kept trying until they passed.  The world doesn't come to an end if you don't do it on the first shot.  Unlike very few things in life, on the SEA you get a second chance, and maybe a third or more.  There was one guy in my EA prep course who took the exam over 10 times and failed, and here he was trying again.  We all respected him.

I warn you against feeling "I'm sure I'll do fine on the individual portion."  In my prep course at H&R, we all felt that way until we took the first practice exam.  We all fell fifteen notches when we scored in the 70 percents and lower.  Part of the study process is to learn how to approach the questions.  As you know, the IRS is big on double negatives. (You cannot not do this or that.)  We also learned that if a question addresses something you never heard of,  just pick any ole answer and don't waste time on it.  Came in handy when I encountered a question on the optional method of calculating Social Security income.

Also examine your motives for wanting to be an EA.  The designation may confer some approbation in the tax professional community, but so do your years of experience.  You do get to represent clients before the IRS, but do you really want to do that?  IRS audits are no fun, and I have encountered some auditors from hell who were especially no fun.  If you just want to prove to yourself that you can do it, give it a shot.  If you tell yourself that you are just doing it as an experiment, knowing that it may or may not work and really doesn't change your life, the test anxiety level should be minimized.  You'll still be the exact same knowledgeable, experienced person the next day.  Nothing gained, nothing lost.

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23 hours ago, SaraEA said:

As you know, the IRS is big on double negatives. (You cannot not do this or that.)

More than that; I recall conditional TRIPLE negatives.

As for study time, I spent six intense weeks studying for all four parts.  S-corporations and partnerships were returns I had never seen, so I gritted my teeth and spent extra time on those.  If I recall, those sections resulted in my lowest scores - but still above the passing grade.  What Sara said about learning to approach the questions is spot-on.  Take the time to read them carefully and make sure you understand what is being asked!  Figure the answer, then see if it's listed.  If it's not, there are three possibilities:  that you mis-read the question, that you don't know how to answer it, or that the correct answer is NOT one of the choices (and there were, when I took the tests, about 10% of total questions that fit that last one).  If you satisfy yourself on choice 1, pick whatever looks most reasonable and move on.

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I tend to think that the sooner you take the tests following April's deadline this year the better insofar as the questions should follow closer to what you have been accustomed to for all of these years.  

If you wait until late 2018 or 2019,  you'll be dealing with the newer rules and regulations as a result of the new tax laws.  I'd rather try to stick with what I know now than wait and take a chance on what I'll have to learn for the 2018 filing season especially since we are still waiting on confirmation of some Extender tax issues for our 2017 returns in progress.

Food for thought:  I've  had clients in the past who have asked me if I was an EA. When I would tell them "no", the vast majority of them would say they were relieved because I wasn't an "IRS Agent".  Just a free perk of living in the country! ;)

Take care,

Cathy

 

 

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On 2/21/2018 at 8:55 PM, Janitor Bob said:

I would like to schedule at least the first the exam so that I have some type of deadline pushing me to study. How many months of study time is reasonable before taking the first exam if I take the most unfamiliar one (business) first?

Testing for this cycle ends Feb. 28. The new testing cycle begins May 1.

Most people in our group allow 4 - 6 weeks for SEE1, 6 - 8 weeks for SEE2, 4 - 6 weeks for SEE3. This is based on 2 hours a day study time.

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3 minutes ago, ILLMAS said:

JB or anyone else that would like to take the exam and if you are on Facebook, look up a person by the name of Don Overstreet, this chap has a FB page for EA candidates.

I am a moderator on that page.  I can let anyone in that wants to join.

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Holy cow, the cost to take the exam just went up to $181 for each of the three sections? That's a major difference from when I took it 13-14 years ago (or at least it seems). The EA license was easily the cheapest license I'd ever seen a person could acquire back then.

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