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New Rule: Sit for the CPA Exam at 120 Hours

February 02, 2023

by Mike Nelson

At its meeting on January 27 in SeaTac, Washington, the Washington State Board of Accountancy (WBOA) adopted a rule that allows candidates in Washington to sit for the CPA exam after having earned 120 semester hours starting on April 1, 2023. This rule change does not modify the 150 hours required to be licensed as a CPA. 

During the past year the WBOA has been looking at lowering barriers to entering the profession. Before this rule was adopted, Washington was one of just eight states that still required candidates to complete the full 150 hours of college education before they could start the process of taking the CPA exam.

By allowing candidates to start the process while they are still obtaining their education, they are more likely to pass the exam sessions. Other states that have allowed students to start taking the test while still in school have seen candidates pass the exam at higher rates than states that still require 150 hours to sit for the exam.

“This change will allow candidates in Washington to use the study skills they are actively using as students as they prepare for the exam. It also reduces the struggle many candidates experienced of needing to find time in their post-education careers to study and take the exam,” said Kimberly Scott, President and CEO of the WSCPA.

During the rulemaking process for this change, the WBOA heard from several licensees in Washington who requested they consider modifying the 150 hours required for licensure, arguing that moving the exam-taking requirement was not enough to address the pipeline struggles facing the profession. 

At the Jan 27 meeting Scott and others also requested that the WBOA look at further changes to the exam. One such request was to specifically expand the exam window from the current 18-month window to 36-months or longer. The executive team of the WBOA intends to look at how to add that discussion to a future meeting.

Mike Nelson is the WSCPA Manager of Government Affairs. You can contact Mike here.

This article appears in the spring 2023 issue of the Washington CPA magazine. Read this article and others here.