Washington Ethics Exam Requirements
Many candidates who pass the CPA Exam face one more important test before they earn a license to practice as Certified Public Accountants—an Ethics Exam. States vary their ethics requirements for a CPA license just as they vary their requirements for the CPA Exam.
About 35 state boards require CPA candidates to pass a course and take the AICPA Ethics Exam. The AICPA Ethics Exam focuses on ethics questions that arise in the accounting profession. It tests the candidate’s understanding of the conduct required of CPAs who serve the financial integrity of businesses and individuals.
Some jurisdictions administer their own Ethics Exam through their State Society of CPAs. Other jurisdictions don’t require either an ethics course or an ethics examination for a license.
The Ethics Exam requirement takes a lot of candidates by surprise because it does not get a lot of attention while they are working to pass the CPA Exam. Compared to the CPA Exam they’ve just passed, this last hurdle is a very small one. Take time to read the study material. Be careful answering questions when you take the test. These can be tricky, and only a few wrong answers are enough to cost you the score you need to pass.
You must pass the AICPA Ethics Exam to get a Washington CPA license.
Note: The Washington State Board of Accountancy also recognizes the Ethics Exam ‘Professional Ethics for CPAs (PETH)‘ for California which is conducted by CalCPA. You can click here to review the Ethics exam requirements for California.
Below we will be discussing the requirements for the state of Washington.
Preparing for the Ethics Exam
You must complete and pass the Professional Ethics: The AICPA’s Comprehensive Course (PE) prior to receiving your Washington CPA certificate. The course explains the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct and covers the basic tenets of ethical and professional conduct.
The course is worth 8 hours of CPE credit and fulfills the Washington State Board of Accountancy’s ethics requirement for licensure. You must pass this course with a score of 90 percent or higher to qualify. It is necessary to take the AICPA Ethics Exam after you pass the CPA exam.
The Washington Society of CPAs (WACPA) offers additional information here and directs candidates to the AICPA's website from where the course can be purchased.
How much study time will the Ethics Exam require?
You can expect to schedule between 10 and 20 hours to study for the exam. You won’t need to devote much more than 10 hours to prepare. Just make sure you don’t skim and miss important points.
Take notes so that you’ll hold on to the concepts long enough to pass the test. The multiple-choice questions can be tricky; read them carefully.
The Exam Format
The AICPA Ethics Exam is a timed, open book exam. You can look up answers in your textbook if you have enough time. There are 40 multiple-choice questions that can either be taken online or on paper. The test offers all multiple-choice questions. Most are relatively simple. However, since the passing score is 90, you can’t miss too many questions. You must be careful to select the correct answer when you read the questions.
How long are Ethics Exam scores good?
After you order the Ethics Exam, AICPA gives you one full year to study and take the test. You can contact the AICPA Grading Department at 1-888-777-7077 to ask for a 30-day extension if this is not enough time.
States that require the AICPA Ethics Exam usually set a deadline that results are valid for two years after completing the exam. A two-year limit is expected to allow candidates enough time to complete all their other licensing requirements. Check with the Washington Board of Accountancy to make sure.
Submitting your answers online means you will receive your score immediately after the test is graded automatically. If you mail in your answers, you will have to wait up to six weeks for the results.
Candidates will need to pay the fees mentioned below at the AICPA website:
- $189 for AICPA Members
- $245 for AICPA Nonmembers
WACPA members may enter the promo code “WACPA” in the AICPA cart to receive the member discount.
If you sign up for the Ethics Exam and purchase the review materials on the AICPA website, make sure to order Professional Ethics: The AICPA’s Comprehensive Course On-Demand (For Licensure). Be careful to get the one for “licensure” and not one strictly for CPE.
Retaking the exam
You are permitted to take the exam online up to three times. You will have to use the paper version and submit your answers by mail to retake it a fourth time.
Ready For The Ethics Exam?
Now that general overview of the Ethics Exam. Feel free to click the button below and grab yourself a copy of our free Ethics Exam Guide.
‘The 28 Things You Need To Know About The Ethics Exam'