Find accounting schools near you

Accredited Business Accountant (ABA) Certification: Details on Examination and Certification for Accredited Business Accountants

Written by AnonymousAugust 30, 2011
"Accredited Business Accountant "

If you’re looking to improve your career in accounting, obtaining an accounting certificate is an excellent first step. Accounting certifications can expand your accounting knowledge and increase your proficiency in a specific area of the accounting field.

Introduction to Accredited Business Accountant (ABA) Certification

Having this nationally recognized certification demonstrates to clients, potential clients, and employers that you’ve worked to gain a thorough knowledge and proficiency in financial accounting, financial reporting, financial statement preparation, taxation, managerial accounting, business law, and ethics for small- to medium-sized businesses. The certificate provides evidence that you’ve met high national standards and have a high level of understanding in accounting and taxation.

Key Steps to Accredited Business Accountant Certification

To be a qualified candidate, you must have three years of related work experience under your belt, up to two of which can be earned through college credit. To become an ABA, you must pass the Comprehensive Examination for Accreditation in Accountancy, a 200-question exam offered twice a year throughout the country.

If you have limited work experience, the ACAT advises that you complete Principles, Intermediate, and either Cost or Managerial Accounting classes, along with at least one semester in taxation, in order to be fully prepared for the exam.

Just because you pass the exam, doesn’t mean you’re automatically entitled to ABA designation. Even after passing the test, if you haven’t met the work experience requirement, you’re only entitled to promote yourself as having “passed the ACAT Comprehensive Examination for Accreditation in Accountancy,” but you will be unable to list yourself as an ABA.

Details of the Comprehensive Examination for ABA Accreditation

The Comprehensive Examination for Accreditation in Accountancy is offered twice a year — once in late-May through mid-June and once in late-November through mid-December. The exam is divided into two three-and-a-half hour parts, Practice 1 and Practice 2, each made up of 100 multiple choice questions. You can either take both parts in one sitting or take them in different testing windows. As of 2011, the fee for taking both parts of the exam is $285 plus a $50 registration fee. The fee for taking just one part is $200.

If you choose to take Practice 1 and Practice 2 on separate occasions and you pass one, you’ll only have 18 months to pass the other part in order to earn the ABA credential.

The exam is designed to test your technical knowledge and emphasizes a practical approach to public accounting. Practice 1 covers financial accounting, financial statement preparation, presentation, and reporting, while Practice 2 covers taxation, business law, business accounting, and ethics.

To register for the exam, go to, click the Applicant Information tab, scroll down to National, and click ACAT. After your registration is processed, expect a confirmation letter containing information about how to set up your exam date and how to select your testing site. Test center information can be found at

If for whatever reason you want to reschedule your exam, you must notify LaserGrade at least three working days before your scheduled test date in order to keep your examination fee. If you don’t show up to your scheduled exam, or if you don’t have proper identification, your examination fee is forfeited. 

Maintaining the Accredited Business Accountant (ABA) Designation

Renewal of your ABA designation isn’t automatic; maintaining certification status requires acting in accordance with ACAT’s conditions. Maintaining ABA status requires paying annual renewal fees, which are due by June 30 each year. As of 2011, an ABA credential costs $80. The renewal fees are separate from the fee you pay to take the exam.

You must comply with ACAT’s Continuing Professional Education (CPE) requirements, which mandate that you earn 120 CPE hours every three years. At least 24 of those hours must be in accounting or a related subject (finance, business management, technology, or business law). Additionally, at least 24 hours must be in taxation and at least 4 hours must be in ethics.

ACAT randomly conducts periodic audits to check that ABAs are fulfilling their CPE requirements. If you haven’t earned the required CPE hours at the end of one of their auditing periods, you can apply for a six-month extension after which your credential will be suspended if you don’t manage to complete the required hours. You must adhere to ACAT’s Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct, a copy of which is sent to all credential holders and which can also be found on the ACAT.

If you fail to meet these three requirements, your ACAT credential(s) will be suspended and your ABA certificate will be returned. After this happens, you have five years from the date of suspension to qualify for reinstatement.

Accredited status can be reinstated by satisfactorily completing the exam following suspension or by paying reinstatement and back renewal fees and demonstrating that you’ve completed acceptable CPE hours in the 12 months prior. The ACAT Board can approve your reinstatement under special circumstances or on an individual basis.

Governing Board Information

ABA certification is provided by

 The Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation (ACAT)
1010 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314