IQEX Exam Preparation

Created: Jun 19, 2024 | Updated: Jun 20, 2024

The International Qualification Examination (IQEX) is a pathway for internationally qualified accountants to become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) in the US without taking the entire CPA exam. 

This guide delves into what the IQEX is, its advantages, who is eligible, and the exam's format. It also compares the IQEX to the traditional CPA exam, outlines the application process, and explains how to get licensed after passing. Additionally, you'll find information on pass rates and testing windows, making this a valuable resource for international candidates looking to advance their careers in the United States.

Table of Contents

What is IQEX?

The International Qualification Examination (IQEX) is an exam designed by the Association of International Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and executed by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) for accounting professionals who are already qualified in certain countries outside the United States. The exam awards the U.S. CPA license to internationally trained accountants from countries whose professional bodies have entered into a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) with the US Boards of Accountancy. The IQEX allows these professionals to become certified public accountants (CPAs) in the United States without taking the entire CPA exam. This exam assesses knowledge and skills equivalent to the US CPA Exam, ensuring that international candidates meet the rigorous standards required for CPA licensure in the US.

IQEX vs CPA exam

The CPA exam and the IQEX exam serve similar purposes but are tailored for different audiences. If you would like to get Accounting certification in the United States, you need to understand both exams. 

The CPA Exam is designed to assess the comprehensive knowledge and skills of candidates across four key areas: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and Regulation (REG). Each section is extensive, requiring in-depth study and preparation. The exam is rigorous, reflecting the high standards expected of CPAs in the United States.

In contrast, the IQEX is specifically tailored for qualified accountants from certain international jurisdictions who wish to obtain CPA licensure in the US. It streamlines the certification process by focusing only on areas that are not typically covered by the international qualifications of eligible candidates. This means that while the CPA Exam tests a broad spectrum of accounting knowledge, the IQEX zeroes in on specific US regulations and practices that international accountants may not be familiar with.

One of the primary differences lies in the content coverage. The CPA Exam's four sections encompass a wide range of topics, requiring extensive preparation across diverse subjects. The IQEX, however, consolidates the content into a single examination, with an emphasis on the Regulation (REG) and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) sections. This approach ensures that candidates are well-versed in US-specific accounting laws and business practices, which are crucial for professional practice in the United States.

Additionally, the format and structure of the exams differ. The CPA Exam consists of multiple-choice questions, task-based simulations, and written communication tasks across its four sections. Each section is taken separately, and candidates must pass all four to obtain CPA licensure. The IQEX, being a single examination, comprises multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations but does not include written communication tasks. This format simplifies the process, allowing eligible international candidates to focus their efforts on a single, comprehensive test.

Another significant distinction is the eligibility criteria. The CPA Exam is open to a broader range of candidates, including those who have completed their accounting education in the United States. The IQEX, however, is exclusively available to members of designated international accounting bodies, such as Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), CPA Australia, CPA Canada (CPAC), Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI), CPA Ireland, Instituto Mexicano de Contadores Publicos (IMCP), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), and South African Institute of Chartered Accountants. This exclusivity ensures that only those with equivalent international qualifications can take advantage of the organised IQEX process.

Why should you take the IQEX exam?

  1. Streamlined Pathway
    The IQEX provides a compact pathway for international accountants to become licensed CPAs in the United States. Instead of taking all four parts of the US CPA exam, you only need to pass the IQEX, which focuses on areas not typically covered by your existing qualifications. This saves you significant time and effort, allowing you to become certified more quickly.
  2. Career Advancement
    Obtaining a US CPA licence can significantly enhance your career prospects. As a CPA, you’ll have the qualifications to work with US-based clients, which can open doors to higher-paying jobs and more prestigious positions. Additionally, many multinational companies prefer or require CPAs for certain roles, making the IQEX an excellent investment in your professional future.
  3. International Recognition
    The US CPA credential is highly regarded worldwide. By passing the IQEX, you gain an internationally recognised qualification, increasing your professional credibility and marketability. This can be particularly beneficial if you plan to work with international clients or in different countries throughout your career.
  4. Ease of Access
    The IQEX exam is offered during the same testing windows as the regular CPA exam, and it can be taken at authorised Prometric testing centres worldwide. This flexibility makes it easier for you to schedule and take the exam at a time and location that suits you best.
  5. Support and Resources
    There are numerous resources on the AICPA website’s ‘Resource section’ available to help you prepare for the IQEX. These include study guides, practice exams, and review courses specifically tailored to the IQEX format. By utilising these resources, you can increase your chances of passing the exam on your first attempt.
  6. Simplified Application Process
    The application process for the IQEX is straightforward. Once you confirm your eligibility, you can submit your application to NASBA, schedule your exam, and take the test at a convenient location.


IQEX exam preparation


IQEX exam sections and format

The IQEX consists of two main sections:

  1. Business Environment and Concepts (BEC): This section tests your understanding of the general business environment and the concepts that underpin it. It includes areas such as corporate governance, economic concepts and analysis, financial management, information technology, and operations management. The aim is to ensure you can navigate the broader business context in which accounting practices operate.
  2. Regulation (REG): This section focuses on US federal taxation, ethics, and professional responsibilities, as well as business law. It covers various types of taxation, including individual, corporate, and partnership taxation, and examines ethical and legal responsibilities that CPAs must uphold.

Exam Format

The IQEX is a computer-based test, administered at authorised Prometric testing centres worldwide. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations:

  1. Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs): These questions assess your theoretical knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. You will be presented with a question and several answer choices, from which you must select the correct one.
  2. Task-Based Simulations (TBSs): These simulations are practical scenarios where you must apply your knowledge to solve problems or complete tasks that a CPA might encounter in real-life situations. They test your ability to apply concepts and perform necessary calculations or analyses.

Time Allocation

You will have a total of four hours to complete the IQEX exam. This includes:

  • 2 hours for the BEC section
  • 2 hours for the REG section


Each section of the IQEX is scored independently, and you must achieve a passing score in both sections to pass the exam. The passing score is determined by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and reflects the level of knowledge and skills required for CPA licensure. Scores are represented on a numeric scale ranging from 0-99, with 75 being the passing score. This scale does not mean the percentage of correct answers but signifies that you have demonstrated the knowledge and skills seen to be necessary for competent practice in the United States.

What is the IQEX exam pass rate?











Where and when can you take the IQEX exam?

The IQEX exam is available to candidates at authorised Prometric testing centres across the globe. These centres offer a convenient and flexible option for scheduling your exam. The exam is administered during specific testing windows each year, ensuring you have multiple opportunities to sit for the exam. The IQEX exam can be taken within the following testing windows:

  • January 1 - March 10
  • April 1 - June 10
  • July 1 - September 10
  • October 1 - December 10

You can find a nearby Prometric centre by visiting the Prometric website and using their test centre locator tool. This ensures you can take the exam in a location that is convenient for you, minimising travel time and expenses.

On the day of your exam, ensure you arrive at the testing centre with all necessary identification and documentation as outlined in your NTS. Familiarising yourself with the testing centre rules and procedures ahead of time will help reduce any exam day stress.

Steps to apply for the IQEX

  1. Ensure you are a member of one of the approved international boards.
  2. Visit the NASBA website and create an account.
  3. Complete the IQEX application form available on the NASBA website. Ensure all sections are filled accurately and thoroughly.
  4. Submit all necessary documentation, including proof of membership with an eligible international board, academic certificates, and any additional forms required by NASBA. If your documents are not in English, consider using a translation company to provide accurate academic certificate translations.
  5. Pay the non-refundable application fee of $835. The fee can be paid online through the NASBA account portal. Keep a copy of your payment receipt for your records.
  6. Once your application is approved, NASBA will issue a Notice to Schedule (NTS). The NTS is a critical document that you will need to book your exam. It is valid for six months.
  7. Use the NTS to schedule your IQEX exam with Prometric.
  8. Begin your exam preparation using the IQEX study materials and resources.

How do you get licensed after taking the IQEX?

After successfully passing the IQEX, submit your IQEX exam results to the state board where you plan to get licensed. There are 55 jurisdictions in the United States and each state board has specific requirements and procedures for this submission, so it’s important to be familiar with these details.

In addition to passing the IQEX, each state may have other requirements that must be fulfilled. These requirements can include completing a specified amount of work experience, passing an ethics exam, or meeting particular education standards. It’s crucial to understand and meet the specific requirements of the state board where you are applying.

Once all the requirements are met, you can proceed to apply for licensure with the state board. This usually involves filling out an application form and paying a licensure fee. Depending on the state, you might also need to provide additional documentation, such as proof of work experience or academic transcripts. 

After your application is reviewed and approved by the state board, you will receive your CPA licence.



How to become a US CPA from Canada?

To become a US CPA from Canada, you can take advantage of the IQEX, which simplifies the process for Canadian Chartered Professional Accountants (CPAs).

Is IQEX difficult?

The difficulty of the IQEX can vary depending on your background and preparation. The exam is designed to test knowledge and skills equivalent to the US CPA Exam, focusing on areas that may not be covered by international accounting certifications. It requires a thorough understanding of US accounting principles and practices.

Many candidates find the IQEX challenging due to its rigorous standards. However, with proper preparation and study, it is manageable. 


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