As a CPA exam candidate or accounting grad about to start your journey towards CPA exam licensure, you're already familiar with or about to become familiar with several things; your CPA review course materials, the routine of running through M/C, and the face(s) of your review course instructor. You will probably also become all-too-familiar with the faces of the baristas at your local coffee shop!

Your Notice to Schedule is one of the most important pieces of paper you will come into possession of on your journey but surprisingly, many candidates (at least those just starting out in the exam process) don't know what it is or what purpose it serves. No worries, Roger CPA Review is here to explain the delicate intricacies of the elusive NTS.

Keep in mind that you won't receive your NTS until you have been approved by your state board of accountancy to sit for the CPA exam and paid for the exam parts you plan to take. Once you have paid for your exam parts, you should expect to receive your NTS within 10 business days, so if you do not, be sure to contact your state board or NASBA (depending on which state you are testing in). For most states, your NTS is good for 6 months, but this varies (in California, it is 9 months) so check with your state board or NASBA to be sure if you aren't clear on your state's NTS rules.

As noted on the Prometric website:

Note: On the day of your scheduled exam, you must bring your Notice To Schedule (NTS) with you to the test center. You will not be allowed, under any circumstances, to sit for your examination without your NTS.

Save some time on exam day and BE SURE you set aside everything you will need the night before; ESPECIALLY your NTS! You won't get in without it!!

Some other key points to keep in mind with your NTS:

The same form of your name must appear on your application, NTS, and on the identification you present at the Prometric test center. If you have recently gotten married or have a middle initial on your ID but not on your NTS, be sure to remedy this situation well in advance of your test date so you can be sure you will be allowed to sit. If all of your documentation is not the same, you will be turned away and forfeit your exam fees. In this economy, who wants to throw away money simply due to poor planning?

Your NTS is only good for the parts you have chosen - you must reapply to the state board for a new NTS if you would like to add exam parts. Some candidates get confused on this part. What happens if you fail a part and need to retake it, can you just add parts to your existing NTS? No. You will have to reapply (the fees are usually less than initial application fees and take a shorter period of time to process) with the state board to receive a new NTS.

Your NTS expires! Yes, it's amazing, but some CPA exam candidates don't realize that there is a time limit on their NTS. It varies by state, so be sure to check CPA exam requirements by state to see how long yours is good for!

So there you have it, a brief look at the most important piece of paper a CPA exam candidate will possess along the way to CPA licensure! Have you gotten yours yet?