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The Accredited Business Accountant (ABA) credential has been developed to recognize accountants who have demonstrated entry-level knowledge and skill to provide competent financial accounting, financial reporting, financial statement preparation, taxation, managerial accounting, business law, and ethics for small to medium sized businesses in the United States. The ABA credential is a prestigious indicator to clients, potential clients, employers, and the public at large that the business accountant has proficiency in the accounting and taxation field.
The ABA credential is awarded only to those passing the Accreditation in Accountancy examination, or ABA examination, which is offered twice a year at testing centers around the country. In addition, you must also have three years of related work experience, up to two of which may be satisfied through college credit.
In the states of Iowa and Minnesota, achieving the ABA designation meets state regulatory requirements to practice public accountancy. Minnesota requires a score of 75% or higher on both Part 1 and Part 2 of the exam to practice public accountancy.
The use of the term “accountant” for non CPAs varies by state. In states where the term “accountant” cannot be used in any form or in states that allow the use the term “accountant” as a stand alone word but with a disclaimer—AL, AK, AR, CA, HI, IN, KY, LA, ND, NV, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN and TX, accredited individuals use Accredited Business Advisor®. The process for attaining the credential and rules for use are the same.
Check with your state board of accountancy for your state accountancy compliance rules.
ACAT seeks to ensure that all accredited individuals possess theoretical knowledge and the practical knowledge necessary to be successful practitioners. Candidates for the ABA must be at least 18 years of age and must have a minimum of three (3) years of professional experience, or two (2) years of college-level accounting and one (1) year professional experience.
Individuals who pass the exam, but have not met the three year experience minimum, may promote themselves as having “passed the ACAT Examination for Accreditation in Accountancy” but are not entitled to use the ABA designation.
IRS Annual Filing Season Program
ABA credential holders have exempt status and are able to obtain the IRS Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) – Record of Completion without taking an Annual Federal Tax Refresher course and exam. ABAs in good standing:
- Are exempt from the AFSP Annual Federal Tax Refresher course and testing requirements
- Have reduced continuing education requirements of 15 hours for the AFSP
- Are included in the IRS public database of tax return preparers
The 3 hour, 100 multiple-choice question ABA Practice One examination, 3 hour, 100 multiple choice question ABA Practice Two examination, are computer administered at Castle Testing Centers across the country. Examinations are administered during two (2) testing windows throughout the year. You must register for the ABA Exam by the deadline in order to take the exam during a specified testing window.
- 2019 Fall Testing Window: September 15 - November 15, 2019 *anyone registering after September 13, 2019 will be subject to a $50 late registration fee
The Comprehensive Examination for Accreditation in Accountancy, or ABA Exam, is two one-hundred question exams, Practice 1 and Practice 2. It tests the technical proficiency of candidates in financial accounting, financial reporting, financial statement preparation, taxation, business consulting services, business law and ethics. Emphasis is on a practical approach to public accounting. For a list of specific sub categories, review the ABA exam outline.
Candidates need to pass both Practice 1 and Practice 2 to earn the ABA credential. If one Practice is passed, candidates are conditioned and have 18 months to pass the other Practice to earn the ABA credential.
- Practice 1 consists of 100 multiple choice questions to be completed in 3 hours. It covers financial accounting and financial statement preparation, presentation and reporting.
- Practice 2 consists of 100 multiple choice questions to be completed in 3 hours. It covers the taxation, business law, business accounting and ethics.
For more information about topics covered in the ABA exam, refer to the ABA exam outline.
- Full ABA Examination Fee (Practice 1 and Practice 2): $400
- Practice 1 OR Practice 2: $250
Detailed exam information and FAQs can be found here.
1. ABA Prep Course
The ABA Prep Course is published by the National Society of Accountants (NSA) to help you prepare for the exam. There are two parts to the course- Practice 1 and Practice 2- sold separately as either a PDF/online format or a spiral-bound book. Practice 1 covers financial accounting, financial statement preparation, presentation and reporting. Practice 2 covers business consulting services, taxation, business law and ethics. Each chapter includes reference materials and review questions and answers with explanation.
- View Practice 1 Table of Contents here
- View Practice 2 Table of Contents here
- View a sample lesson here
View prices and purchase ABA study materials here.
All Online/PDF study material sales are final, no refunds will be issued after purchase.
Books will need to be shipped back within 2 weeks. NSA does not pay return shipping. Products should be returned undamaged and shipped via traceable means. Please include and copy of your original purchase receipt.
*Purchase of NSA review materials is not a requirement for testing, nor does use of any review materials (NSA or otherwise) imply successful performance on the ACAT certification examinations.
2. ABA Practice Exam
The ABA Practice Exam is an easy-to-use online tool to help you prepare for the exam. The Practice Exam generates randomized questions that can be shuffled by topic area with immediate results and feedback.
Please note: If you purchase the ABA Prep Course, there is no need to purchase the Practice Exam, it is included in the course.
- View sample questions here
- Purchase the full practice exam here
The computer-based ABA Exam is proctored at Castle Testing Centers across the country. Castle offers close to 1,000 test center locations that provide testing in a proctored environment. Of the top 100 U.S. cities by population, 99% of candidates are within 15 miles of a Castle testing center.
Locate your testing city here
You must register for the ABA exam by the deadline in order to take the exam at a Castle testing center during a specified testing window. Once registered, you will receive a Notice to Schedule/Eligibility Notice email that provides instructions to submit a scheduling request (such notices are sent no earlier than 45 days prior to the testing window). Once you submit your scheduling request, you will receive your Confirmation Notice from Castle via email. This information will include your exam date and time reservation; the address and driving directions to the chosen testing site as well as instructions regarding arrival time; what to bring and not to bring; the rescheduling policy; a link to a generic sample test that demonstrates Castle’s online testing software, PASS, and other important information.
Detailed exam information and FAQs can be found here.
Maintaining Your Credential
ACAT Credential Holders must meet three (3) requirements to maintain credentials: Payment of annual renewal fees, continuing education requirements, and adherance to the Code of Ethics. Details of each can be found here.
For more information about ACAT and its tax and accounting credentials, view the ACAT Candidate Handbook