What to Bring to the CPA Exam?

Essential CPA Exam Day Checklist: What You Need to Bring

what-to-bring-to-the-cpa-examPrepping for your journey to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is challenging and nerve racking. You can’t leave anything up to chance or surprise. If you do, you might not make it.

When the day of your CPA exam finally arrives, it’s crucial to ensure you have everything you need to perform at your best.

In this guide, we’ll walk through the essential items and considerations for your CPA exam day, ensuring you’re fully prepared and ready to tackle the challenge.

12 Things to Bring to the CPA Exam: A Complete Checklist

On exam day, equipping yourself with the right items can streamline your experience and reduce stress. The list of essentials is concise yet crucial, from the required identification to the permissible calculators and materials.

Knowing exactly what to pack for the CPA exam can be the linchpin to a focused and composed mindset, allowing you to channel all your energy into tackling the questions with confidence.

Here are the 12 items that you should bring in your CPA exam day kit.

1. Notice to Schedule (NTS)

Your Notice to Schedule is paramount, as without it, you won’t be allowed to sit for the exam. Ensure that your NTS is current and valid for the exam section you’re taking, and double-check that your name on the NTS matches your ID. Having a printed copy is advisable, even though some testing centers may accept a digital version.

2. Valid Photo Identification

Bring at least two forms of valid photo identification. Typically, this would be a government-issued ID such as a passport or driver’s license. Ensure that your name on the IDs exactly matches the name on your NTS to avoid any issues at the testing center.

3. Calculator

The CPA exam has a built-in calculator on the computer, but you’re also allowed to bring your own battery-operated, non-programmable calculator. If you choose to bring your own, make sure it’s a model that’s approved by the testing center.

4. Eyeglasses

If you wear eyeglasses, remember to bring them along. However, be prepared for the testing center staff to inspect them to ensure they don’t have any embedded technology or cameras.

5. Layers of Clothing

Testing centers can vary significantly in temperature. To ensure you’re comfortable throughout the exam, wear layers that you can easily put on or take off as needed.

6. Water and Snacks

While you’re not allowed to bring food or drinks into the testing room, you can access them during your scheduled break. Stay hydrated and have a snack to keep your energy levels up.

7. Prescription Medication

If you’re on any prescription medication, bring enough to last the entire duration of the exam. Be prepared to show the testing center staff the prescription label.

8. Time-Management Tools

Even though you’ll have a timer on your computer screen, some candidates find it helpful to bring a wristwatch (without an alarm) to manage their time more effectively.

9. A Positive Mindset

Last, but certainly not least, bring a positive and focused mindset. Believe in your preparation, stay calm, and remember that you’re well-equipped to handle the challenges of the exam.

10. Backup Materials

Having a backup of essential items like your calculator or eyeglasses can be a lifesaver in case anything goes wrong.

11. Confirmation of Your Exam Appointment

Print out or have a digital copy of the confirmation of your exam appointment. This serves as a reference in case there are any discrepancies when you arrive at the testing center.

12. Earplugs or Noise-Canceling Headphones

Testing centers provide noise-canceling headphones, but you might find it more comfortable to bring your own foam earplugs if you’re easily distracted by ambient noise.


Being thoroughly prepared for your CPA exam extends beyond studying the material; it also involves ensuring you have everything you need for a smooth and stress-free exam day experience.

By following this checklist, you’re setting yourself up for success, allowing you to focus solely on demonstrating your knowledge and skills. Remember, the key to a successful exam day is not just what’s in your brain, but also what’s in your exam day bag. Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I bring my own scratch paper and calculator to the CPA exam?

You are not allowed to bring your own scratch paper, but you can bring your own battery-operated, non-programmable calculator, although it’s not necessary as the exam provides an on-screen calculator.

What should I do if my name on my ID doesn’t match my Notice to Schedule?

Contact the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) or your state board immediately to correct any discrepancies before your exam date to avoid being turned away from the testing center.

Is it necessary to bring a printed copy of my Notice to Schedule to the testing center?

While some testing centers may accept a digital version, it’s safer to bring a printed copy to ensure you’re allowed to sit for the exam.

Can I bring food and water into the CPA exam testing room?

Food and drinks are not allowed in the testing room, but you can access them during your scheduled break to stay hydrated and maintain your energy levels.