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Coach your candidates for a CPA exam win!

BOA Business

Anne Janotta Erickson, MNCPA membership marketing team leader | August 2021 Footnote

Editor's note: Updated July 29, 2021

Think back to when you sat for the CPA exam. Was there someone in your corner coaching you through the process?

If your answer is yes, consider yourself lucky! Anyone answering no wishes they’d been in your shoes.

Become the coach every CPA candidate needs by understanding today’s step-by-step certification playbook.

CPA exam 101

Does the CPA exam still conjure up images of paper and pencils? Let’s bring you up to speed on the Minnesota Board of Accountancy’s (BOA) requirements for CPA certification in Minnesota.

The four main requirements include:

1. Exam

Candidates have four hours to complete each section of the exam. Sections are taken individually and in any order at a Prometric test center. 

  • Auditing and attestation (AUD)
  • Business environment and concepts (BEC)
  • Financial accounting and reporting (FAR)
  • Regulations (REG)

2. Education

In Minnesota, college credit requirements to sit for the CPA exam differ from those to become certified.

  • Semester credits needed to sit for the exam: 120. This includes certain accounting-related courses.
  • Semester credits needed to become certified: 150. This includes a total of 48 hours in business-related subjects and intermediate or higher accounting coursework; it also counts the 24 originally earned to sit for the exam.

3. Experience

Earn a minimum of 2,000 hours of work experience using accounting, attest, compilation, tax, consulting or other skills noted in the BOA’s rules. The experience can be in industry, government, education or public practice. Experience must be earned in no less than one year and no more than three years.

  • Paid internships count provided they weren’t used to fulfill the education requirements.
  • Only CPAs holding an active or inactive certificate in the state where the candidate gained the experience can verify a candidate’s work experience.

4. Ethics exam

Take a specific self-study ethics exam, available for purchase through the AICPA.

  • Select the product labeled “for licensure.”
  • Successfully complete it within two years of the date you apply for licensure.

Common candidate hiccups

Sometimes, even the most well-planned playbook doesn’t go according to, well, plan. Coach the candidates in your circle to avoid these common certification errors.

Three-year rule

CPA candidates have three years to complete all certification requirements once they’ve passed the CPA exam. If it takes longer than three years, they need to take and document 120 CPE credits prior to applying for their initial CPA certificate.

The three-year countdown begins once a candidate passes all four sections of the exam. Use the date specified on the notification letter sent by the BOA to gauge this three-year mark.

60-day error

CPA candidates working in public accounting or for the legislative or state auditor have 60 days to apply for their CPA certificate once the education, exam and experience requirements are met. Failing to comply could result in disciplinary action.


Don’t assume the BOA has received exam scores, experience verification forms, transcripts and other documentation. Candidates can check on the status of these documents and application overall via the BOA’s website.


The Minnesota BOA certifies CPAs. Reach the BOA at 651-296-7938 or

The MNCPA is here to help! Visit the Becoming a CPA section of our website ( for more information. Or reach out directly at 952-831-2707 or

Tell your interns to join the MNCPA

As your summer interns look to the school year ahead, they need to hear from you about the importance of belonging to a professional association like the MNCPA. Encourage them to join the MNCPA as a student member. It’s free for anyone enrolled in a full-time accounting program during the academic year.