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Becoming an Enrolled Agent: Inspiration and Study Tips with Christy Pinheiro EA, ABA

A woman with glasses and red lipstick on, wearing a black blouse with a string of pearls.
Christy Pinheiro EA, ABA

When I first had aspirations to become an Enrolled Agent I did not know anyone else who was an Enrolled Agent. I did not know what studying for the EA exam should look like, or where resources were. So I stumbled along, trying to find my way online. I'm grateful for that journey because that is how I found the person I'd like to introduce you to today.

As I studied for the EA exam she became my best friend, unbeknownst to her. I would listen to her lectures daily. I would laugh when she laughed and work through the examples that she gave until they made sense to me. Even though we never met, she played a big role in me passing the exam.

That is why it is my privilege and honor to introduce to some and present to others, Christy Pinheiro EA, ABA. In addition to being an Enrolled Agent Christy is an Accredited Business Advisor®, and bestselling financial writer. I came to know and love her as the founder, creator, and instructor of Passkey Learning. If I had to take the EA exam again, I would study using whatever platform Christy is teaching on.

I hope you enjoy reading her story and some insights she has graciously shared about studying for the Enrolled Agent exam.

TB: What was your journey to becoming an Enrolled Agent?

CP: It's been over twenty years since I took my first tax course. Growing up, I wasn't a fan of math, but for some reason, accounting, tax, and finance captured my interest. My journey in the field began as a CRTP (CA registered tax preparer), where I primarily focused on payroll and individual returns for about five years.

In 2008, just after my first son was born, I started studying for the EA exam and eventually became an enrolled agent. The decision to become an EA was driven by my desire to spend more time with my son and have more flexibility in my career. True enough, getting my license opened up higher earning potential and within a year, I secured my first well-paying salaried position.

TB: What was your inspiration to help tax professionals become Enrolled Agents?

CP: I was disappointed by the lack of understandable material in most accounting books. Most of my accounting and tax textbooks were painfully boring. I wanted more practical examples and clearer explanations that weren't bogged down by complex legal jargon.

I started my career as an author with articles about the tax industry, trying to make topics more understandable. From there, I began creating the PassKey tax textbooks and have continued to do so ever since. My idea for the PassKey EA review course stemmed from this experience. I knew I could create a study program that was easier to understand.

TB: How many hours do you recommend people study for each section of the exam?

CP: We recommend that test takers set aside approximately 130 hours for Part 1 and Part 2 and around 60 hours for Part 3. Of course, this timeframe may vary greatly depending on the

individual's prior knowledge and experience. Everyone's journey will be different. For me

personally, it took about a year to pass all three parts of the exam, with Part 2 requiring the most time and effort; I had to take it twice, spending extra months studying for it. I also had an infant at the time, which made finding time to study harder. I tend to get anxious during tests. Even so, I did it, if I can succeed, anyone can!

TB: What advice would you give someone without an accounting degree about studying for the exam?

CP: While an accounting degree isn't necessary to pass the EA exam, having one can greatly aid in understanding businesses and Part 2. If you don't have an accounting degree, you can still pass.

My recommendation is to thoroughly study the textbook, watch all the webinars, and also watch supplementary accounting videos on YouTube or other sources. With dedication, passing the exam is achievable, even without a degree.

TB: What are your top 3 tips for people studying for the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE)?

CP: If you are using PassKey/Hock (, be sure to watch all of the videos at least once before taking the practice exams. If you struggle with understanding the material, try reading more, taking thorough notes, and rewatching any videos that cover weaker areas for you.

For those who feel anxious about taking exams, it's a good idea to schedule a practice

session at the Prometric facility (which is free) to prepare yourself for the check-in process,

setting up on the computer, and getting familiar with the testing center. Practicing in a similar

environment can greatly improve your performance. Also, make sure you consistently score in

the mid-80s on your practice exams and quizzes leading up to the actual exam.

TB: Is there anything else you would want to share with people who are currently studying or

thinking about it?

CP: Don't hesitate, take action! The quickest and most efficient way for a tax professional to boost their earnings is by becoming an Enrolled Agent. This license grants you the ability to establish a successful IRS representation business, handle IRS correspondence and exams, and even work as a remote tax advisor for top software companies such as Intuit or TaxAct Professional. It's the best way to really enhance your career.

Note: I am so grateful to Christy for doing this interview, and connecting me with HOCK International. If you are studying for the EA exam I highly recommend using Passkey. Passkey is what I used to pass the exam and if I had to do it all over again I'd still choose it. Passkey is now partnered with HOCK International, so you can access it at Pass Key Learning or HOCK International.

Share your thoughts about this article in the comments. Don't forget to subscribe to my e-mail list for weekly tips to help you in your career as an Enrolled Agent!


Timalyn S. Bowens EA is America's Favorite EA and Tax Expert who will work hard to find a customized legal solution for you! As an Enrolled Agent licensed through the Internal Revenue Service Timalyn is able to fight the IRS for taxpayers in all 50 states. As the host of Tax Relief with Timalyn Bowens and a YouTube content creator she empowers taxpayers to make educated decisions about their tax situation.

When you are facing questions regarding your personal or business taxes, working with a professional makes all the difference. At Bowens Tax Solutions, we serve our Louisville-area neighbors by providing the tax services and knowledge needed to succeed. We are here to assist you with your tax issues and preventative care. Visit our website at for more information.



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