Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.

Navigating CPA Exam Changes: Extensions and Amnesty for Test-Takers

Jack CastonguayBy Jack Castonguay, CPA, PhD

An accountant’s journey to the CPA credential has always been a rigorous and demanding path. Significant updates are being made to the CPA Exam process, which can make progress even more challenging. In this blog post, I will look at the latest exam changes, including an 18-month extension, the approval of a 30-month testing window, and an amnesty program for passed sections affected by COVID-19 disruptions.

Extension Offers a Lifeline to CPA Candidates

Effective Jan. 1, 2024, an 18-month extension will be granted for all unexpired sections of the CPA Exam that have been passed by test-takers. This development received unanimous approval from jurisdictions and states. This means that if a candidate successfully passed a section (Auditing and Attestation, Financial Accounting and Reporting, Regulation, or Business Environment and Concepts) and it remains valid beyond Jan. 1, 2024, they will receive an additional 18 months to complete the remaining sections of the CPA Exam. The PICPA is a strong advocate for its members and #futureCPAs within Pennsylvania. Its work helped get the Pennsylvania State Board of Accountancy to pass the Credit Relief Initiative, a policy the PICPA supported to allow candidates with CPA Exam credits as of Jan. 1, 2024, to request a credit extension to June 30, 2025. Application instructions are forthcoming. Keep following PICPA for the latest.

Sign post pointing to This extension provides a crucial lifeline, affording candidates the time and flexibility needed to prepare and excel in the remaining sections without the pressure of expiring credits.

COVID-19 Disruption Amnesty Program

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many candidates’ ability to continue their CPA journey. In response, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) introduced a one-time credit relief initiative, commonly referred to as the amnesty program.

The amnesty program recognizes the extraordinary circumstances that many candidates found themselves in at the height of COVID-19, grappling with health concerns, economic uncertainty, disruptions in education, and restricted travel. NASBA will extend credit periods through June 30, 2025, for CPA Exam credits that expired between Jan. 30, 2020, and May 11, 2023. The extension alleviates the stress and anxiety of expiring credits and provides an opportunity for candidates to complete their CPA journey.

It is important to acknowledge, however, that not all jurisdictions have the necessary capacity to adopt mass extensions. For candidates in jurisdictions outside the mass-extension states, individual requests for extension will be considered. This approach ensures that no candidate is unfairly disadvantaged due to circumstances beyond their control. The same criteria apply: credits that expired within the Jan. 30, 2020, to May 11, 2023, time frame will be eligible for extension through June 30, 2025.

To navigate the amnesty program effectively, candidates should take the following steps:

  • Verify eligibility – Review the specific criteria outlined by your jurisdiction to ensure you meet the requirements for the amnesty program. Understand the expiration dates of your credits and the corresponding time frame for extension.
  • Gather necessary documentation – If required by your jurisdiction, gather any supporting documentation that substantiates the impact of COVID-19 on your ability to take the CPA Exam.
  • Submit a timely request – If your jurisdiction operates on a case-by-case basis, submit your request for an extension in a timely manner. Be sure to adhere to any deadlines stipulated by NASBA.
  • Stay informed – Keep abreast of any updates or changes to the amnesty program. This ensures that you are aware of any new developments that may affect your eligibility or the application process.

The amnesty program is vital for those candidates who faced challenges beyond their control during the pandemic. It reflects a commitment to fairness and acknowledges the resilience of candidates. By understanding the program’s provisions and taking proactive steps, candidates can seize this chance to continue their CPA journey and ultimately achieve their professional goals.

Strategies for Aspiring CPAs  

With these extensions and amnesty in place, aspiring CPAs can take strategic steps to maximize their chances of success:

  • Use the extension wisely – The 18-month extension provides valuable time. Use it to review, practice, and reinforce your knowledge in the sections you have yet to pass.
  • Evaluate eligibility for amnesty – If your exam section credits expired due to COVID-19 disruptions, explore whether you qualify for the amnesty program. Understand the specific criteria set by your jurisdiction.
  • Stay informed and prepared – Stay informed of any additional announcements or changes in policies related to extensions and amnesty. This ensures you're always aware of options and opportunities.


The extensions and amnesty program introduced in response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic represent a significant stride toward supporting candidates in their CPA journey. Candidates can navigate these changes strategically by capitalizing on the automatic 18-month extension and understanding the amnesty program’s provisions. Remember, these updates are not just about granting more time: they’re about acknowledging and accommodating the extraordinary circumstances that candidates have faced. Embrace these adjustments, and forge ahead on your path to becoming a CPA.

Jack Castonguay, CPA, PhD, is vice president of strategic content development for Surgent CPA Review in Radnor, Pa. He can be reached at castonguayj@knowfully.com.

Sign up for PICPA's weekly professional and technical updates by completing this form.

Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of the PICPA's officers or members. The information contained herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For actionable advice, you must engage or consult with a qualified professional.

Load more comments
New code
Comment by from