There are only two things that are certain in this world - and one of them is taxes. It should not come as a surprise that given the tough economy career seekers and existing tax preparers looking for a competitive advantage want to earn the IRS Enrolled Agent designation (EA) and join the elite group of tax professionals admitted by the federal government to represent taxpayers before any office of the Internal Revenue Service!
A person who has a minimum of five years past service and technical work history with the IRS can qualify as an EA by virtue of experience. All others must pass the three-part IRS enrolled agent exam. Students preparing to take the exam have more choices today for enrolled agent study materials than just a few short years ago. Test prep providers update their material frequently to the current tax rules. For example, an enrolled agent study guide 2010 edition should reflect the 2009 tax year, which is the year tested between May 1, 2010 and Feb 28, 2011. The question then becomes how to choose the right enrolled agent study course and how they can help. Quality enrolled agent study material should help increase scores, promote concentration, and provide tips for test taking. Not all study guides are made equally though and the student should strive to find the best one possible. The EA study guide must not only cover the information that will appear on the exam, but it must prepare the individual as well. Granted the content of the test is important, but mental preparation is equally important. The best enrolled agent study guides provide test-taking hints that can help promote a positive experience on the exam.
A common question about the EA exam is what to expect and what type of information is on the test. This unknown factor can cause anxiety on the exam. The student does not know whether the test is difficult, tricky or not too bad. Though a study guide may not give detailed information about the actual test, there are practice questions and other information that will help the student understand what is in store for them on the big day. Practice tests are a great way to find out if you are ready for an exam. Some students think they are ready and bomb on the exam, while others feel that they need tons more preparation, yet ace the test. Practice tests are a good way to get a feel for the test and identify areas that need more preparation. This saves time and allows the student improve their score by focusing on the weak areas of the test.
The most effective enrolled agent study courses should contain:
- Insight on the actual exam along with tips on where your should focus your effort for best results.
- Information organized in the same format as what you will see on an actual exam.
- Practice questions. A good course will utilize question banks full of exam-type questions for you to practice on. Look for computer based question banks with reporting features that allow you to measure your knowledge in various subject areas tested on the exam. The best enrolled agent exam courses can simulate actual exams and provide students advanced feedback to help them measure their probability of success on the actual test.
- Focused Content. The tax code is literally thousands of pages long; however, most of the information in the code never appears in the exam. Look for a course that is not short on substance but at the same time does not overwhelm you with information that is not likely to appear on the exam.
The best enrolled agent study guide should help you prepare in every way for the exam. If any of these essential elements are missing, a student may not perform as well as they possibly could have. Some of the top names in enrolled agent education include Fast Forward Academy (they provide a free online question bank), Gliem and Exam Matrix. Take an opportunity to find a great study guide and start studying early.