Becker CPA Review Course – Mixed Reviews

The Becker CPA Review Course is the best known course on the market.  It has endorsements from the Big 4 accounting firms and plenty of statistics to support the expense of purchase.  Certainly there must be content to back up Becker’s fine reputation.

Candidate reviews, however, are mixed.  Some people simply love Becker, speaking freely about how they followed the outlined study program exactly and passed all four sections of the CPA exam on the first try.

Others speak of disappointment in Becker and the need to purchase material from other courses to supplement their study.  Does Becker deserve its reputation and high price tag?  Let’s take a look.

Learning Options with Becker

Becker offers three course options.  All three cover the same material and utilize the same lectures, so the choice is basically between delivery methods.  No matter what option you choose, Becker recommends you spend 20-25 hours per week reviewing the material and working practice questions.

The live classes are scheduled weekly and are a good option for you if you like to procrastinate or just want to be forced to set aside time each week for learning.  The instructor for the class plays the appropriate lecture CD for that week, occasionally stopping it to add a point here or there.

If you miss a class, you can just ask for the CD and review the material on your own.  At the end of class, you are given a copy of the CD in case you wish to review it again on your own.  

Online classes allow you to log on and view the same Becker lecture CD.  You have some ability to post questions, but reviews are mixed as to the replies.  Some candidates receive prompt, helpful responses and some do not.  

For study alone, you are provided with the same Becker lecture CD.  You can simply watch it as often as you like and take notes.  All three options provide review materials and notes to accompany the CD.

Something to Talk About

There is a lot of talk about the Becker CPA Review Course.  It seems that candidates either love it or hate it, and the correlation with pass rates is astounding.  Comments appear to be biased by the results each candidate experienced.  However, there are some common points that should be noted.

Advantages of Becker – 

  • Endorsed by the Big 4 – Reputation means a lot, and so do endorsements.  If your employer is paying for your preparation course, the reputation alone of the Becker CPA Review Course reputation will probably make the difference for them.  Of course, the Big 4 get substantial discounts for their employees thanks to their endorsements
  • Excellent Lecture Notes – Candidates regularly comment on the excellent organization and thorough nature of the lecture notes.  The notes are concise and focused on actual test content without giving a large amount of background information. 

  • Great Multiple Choice Practice Questions – The practice questions are well written and conform well to the actual questions you will see on the exam.  They are presented with each topic, to help you test your mastery of the material prior to moving on to another topic.

  • Testing Strategy – In addition to review content, this course trains on testing strategy.  Mnemonics, for example, is a focus and many candidates found this very helpful.

Disadvantages of Becker – 

  • Cost – Easily the most expensive review course, Becker also has a 12 month window of use.  After expiration, you have to purchase it again at an only very slightly discounted rate.  Candidates recommend buying one section at a time.  Even though it appears to cost more in total, most candidates don’t complete the exam within the 12 month window…meaning you paid for material you never even used.

  • Not enough depth – Former students nearly all mention that Becker is great for an overview but does not provide enough depth to provide mastery.  Those who like Becker mention that you should have mastered the material in college.  Those who dislike it feel disappointed. 

  • Large Time Commitment – From all the reviews, success with this course is dependent upon 20 – 25 hours per week of study time.  Between the lectures and the homework, Becker is a huge time commitment with little flexibility.  You have to put in the time, however, in order to qualify for their offered guarantee.

  • Practice Simulations – It seems the practice simulations provided by this course are not strong enough to lead to success.  Candidates felt unprepared for the simulation portions of the exam.  Many felt they passed because their success with the multiple choice portions of the exam compensated for their poor simulation performance. 

  • Long Live Class Sessions – Live classes are scheduled from 9 am to 6 pm with a one hour lunch break.  That’s a long time to watch a CD lecture and concentrate on complex topics.  If you select Becker’s live class option, be prepared!

So, Just How Much Does It Cost?

The Becker CPA Review Course is the most expensive course on the market right now.  The 2020 pro bundle sells for $3,499.  It includes lecture CDs, textbooks and ebooks, practice questions and simulations, an interactive study planner, and a detailed study roadmap.  

Seems like you get everything, doesn’t it? If you’re looking for flash cards or a final review before the exam, however, you’ll have to pay a little more. Flashcards are $299 and the final review package adds another $750.  The initial cost, however, is not as discouraging as the 12 month use window. 

Becker does have a guarantee, called the “Becker Promise". If you don’t pass the CPA exam, you can repeat the course tuition free as long as you meet the requirements. What are they?  You need to complete all the homework with 90% accuracy and attend or view all the lectures. You will still need to purchase the new materials and pay a new registration fee, but the tuition is waived. 

Becker CPA Review Course – The Bottom Line

The Becker CPA Review Course is a perfect fit for students with a strong accounting background who are looking for review, test strategies, and are willing to stick to a strict study plan.  If your employer is willing to cover the costs or if you are confident you can complete all four sections in one year, this might work for you.

If, like many candidates, you want a comprehensive review that helps bridge any of your knowledge gaps or your financial resources are limited, you should probably look elsewhere.  The reputation and preparatory value of the Becker CPA Review Course doesn’t justify its large price tag.