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The Accredited Business Accountant/Advisor (ABA) is a leading national Credential for practitioners who specialize in financial accounting, financial reporting, financial statement preparation, taxation, managerial accounting, business law, and ethics for small-to-medium sized businesses.
In order to become an ABA, you must pass the Comprehensive Examination for Accreditation in Accountancy, 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 Comprehensive Examination for Accreditation in Accountancy” but are not entitled to use the ABA designation.
2017 IRS Annual Filing Season Program
ABA Credential Holders automatically qualify for the IRS Annual Filing Season Program and are exempt from the new Annual Filing Refresher Course and Exam requirements. As part of the voluntary IRS Annual Filing Season Program which will require annual testing, an Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course and continuing education, ABA credential holders are:
- Exempt from the Annual Federal Tax Refresher course and testing requirements
- Automatically qualify for the AFSP Record of Completion (Contingent on the following)
- As Record of Completion Holders, ABAs are included in the IRS public database of tax return preparers.
The ABA Exam is a computer-based test offered twice a year at Castle Testing Centers across the country. You must register for the ABA Exam by the deadline in order to take the exam during a specified testing window.
- 2016 Fall Testing Window: November 1, 2016 - December 15, 2016
Registration Deadline: October 30, 2016
- 2017 Summer Testing Window: June 1, 2017 - July 15, 2017
Registration Deadline: May 30, 2017
- 2017 Fall Testing Window: November 1, 2017 - December 15, 2017
Registration Deadline: October 30, 2017
The Comprehensive Examination for Accreditation in Accountancy, or ABA Exam, is a two-hundred question exam split into two parts that 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 blueprint.
Part one and Part two can be taken together or during different testing windows, however if one part is passed you will then have 18 months to pass the other part in order to earn the ABA credential.
- Part one consists of 100 multiple choice questions to be completed in 3½ hours. It covers financial accounting and financial statement preparation, presentation and reporting.
- Part two consists of 100 multiple choice questions to be completed in 3½ hours. It covers the following topics: taxation, business law, business accounting and ethics.
- Full ABA Examination Fee (Part one and Part two): $400
- Partial ABA Examination Fee (Part one or Part two): $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.
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