Which CPA Review Course is Right for You?
Why should you take a CPA Review Course? Less than 15% of candidates pass the CPA exam on their first attempt, proof that a university education is not enough. Your accounting courses, regardless of academic intensity, are simply not geared toward the exam itself.
Many candidates find a CPA Review Course helps them apply their accounting knowledge to the specific topics tested.
course provides testing strategies, tips, and practice questions
designed to prepare you for the exam itself.
Each CPA Review Course will tell you that your money is best spent with
them. They can’t all be the best, though, can they?
Candidates like you spend years completing the academic requirements
for the CPA exam.
The pressure is high to pass the exam, hopefully on the first attempt,
and move into the career you’ve planned on. How can you read
through the marketing material and choose the best course for you?
Before you get too caught up in the hype, take a moment to evaluate
your own learning style. Do you learn best through
simulation? Is a textbook your best option? Do you
need the discipline of regular classes or can you work at your own pace
independently? When you have the answers to these personal
questions, you are ready to consider your options.
Some Factors to
As soon as you register to take the CPA exam, you start receiving
offers and marketing pieces from lots of different companies offering
review courses. In fact, you might feel bombarded by
ads. There are some factors you should consider when giving
each company a proper evaluation:
Presentation - Now that you’ve
evaluated your own learning style, look for a course that caters to
your needs. A good course will increase your general
knowledge, gauge your weaknesses, and offer lots of practice
problems. You can choose if this is accomplished in a
classroom, online, from a DVD or via a textbook.
- What about
Content? – Make sure you select a program that is based on
topics from past exams. Stay away from courses that are so
in-depth you get information overload. Remember, you should
have learned this material while at the university. The point
here is review.
– Once you select a course you have to use it to be
successful. Consider how far you have to drive to attend
classes, availability of make-up sessions, and the ease of accessing
course materials. If it’s not convenient for you, given your
situation, it’s not the best choice.
– These courses, in most cases, are rather costly. Examine
the renewal policies, discounts available to you through your alma
mater or employer, and pass rate for graduates of the course.
The least expensive course is not a good value if it doesn’t deliver on
- Extra Options
– Perhaps you plan to pursue other certifications such as a Certified
Internal Auditor or Certified Management Accountant. If so,
check on courses that offer discounts or other options to allow you to
prepare for these exams as well.
- Help and
Customer Support – What if you have a problem with the
online testing, the DVD provided, or some other technical
aspect. Does the course you are considering offer technical
support? What about access to your instructor? Make
sure you know what you’re paying for.
A Brief Overview of CPA
Here’s a brief overview of several courses to help you begin your
evaluation. The list is alphabetical, so don’t assume the
first course listed is the top rated. Use this list narrow
down your search, but make sure you conduct your own review of the
courses that seem interesting to you. Ultimately the course
must be the best fit for you!
Review – offers both live classes and DVD based
material. The materials are comprehensive and updated
regularly. The live lectures are endorsed by the Big 4
accounting firms, but vary from region to region. In some
cases you get an actual lecture, in others the lecturer only plays the
DVD and comments briefly on it. Becker allows you to retake
their course if you don’t pass the exam, but you must meet attendance
requirements to do so. Course includes over 6000 practice
questions and two full practice exams per section. Cost:
$3,245 for full course.
Education CPA Review – offers online, live
CD based self-study options. Bisk does
not publish pass rates, but offers to refund your money if you don’t
pass and you meet their study requirements. Customer reviews
state, however, that qualifying for a refund is more difficult that
passing the CPA exam itself. Cost: $1,980 for full
– focused on the online learner. All content is delivered
online or via DVD. Lectures are short, 30 minutes on average,
which is great if you have a tight schedule or easily get information
overload. While there is no guarantee, CPA Excel does not
expire until one year after you pass the exam.Cost: $2,320 for full
For Free – This is a free repository of practice
and guidance material. There is no charge for thousands of
practice questions that are searchable by keyword. So, for
example, if you are struggling with one section of the exam you can
find questions just for that section. It’s a great
supplemental study source, but not in depth enough to be your entire
for CPA Review – This course has no classroom
and is designed entirely for self-study. It has over 4000
sample multiple choice questions, 213 sample simulations, and 1700
pages of text material to review. Between the “pass or
refund” guarantee and the positive reviews from candidates who used it,
this is a decent option if you prefer to study independently.
The entire course is $995, or you can buy each individual section for
Review – This online course doesn’t use lecture,
rather utilizes PowerPoint slides with audio. This could be a
drawback if you prefer face to face interaction. The practice
tests are very comprehensive and include a “simulation wizard” to give
you realistic practice. Gleim guarantees you will pass the
exam the first time or they will give you the option of a full refund
or access to their materials until you do pass. Cost: $989
for the full course.
Review – offers live online courses or
review. Kaplan’s website offers a free
practice CPA exam for you to check out before you enroll with
them. Their products appear to be very information intensive,
including a lot of foundational information you should have gained
while in college, however that could be helpful for you in some
areas. Kaplan’s guarantee is not tied to passing the exam but
is instead a standard 30 day money back guarantee, however your
purchase entitles you to access the program for a full 24
months. Cost: $1,399 for entire course.
Review – offers their material in iPod format,
convenient to study during small moments of downtime. Lambers
offers your training in modules. You can purchase audio
courses, test prep software, flashcards, iPod classes, or textbooks for
each module, depending on how you prefer to learn. To help
you compare costs, the total for online coursework and test prep
software for all four sections of the exam is $1,799. An iPod
class for a single test section is $299.95.
Review – offers live classes, online classes,
self-study. If you are considering a live class, Roger will
allow you to attend a class for two hours at no charge just to make
sure you benefit from the format. While there is a help
channel, the response can be slow. There is no guarantee
offered, and your enrollment allows you 12 months access to the
materials. Cost: $1,995 for the full course.
Review – The practice tests and simulations are
the best. Other review courses purchase Wiley material and
sell it as supplementary material to their own courses, so you know its
first rate. There is no guided review, though, and the
material can be overwhelming due to its sheer volume. This
course is low cost, but focuses on information and provides very little
test taking strategy. Cost: $ 229 for the full course.
Review – classes are offered on DVD or audio
file. This is old style guided review, complete with video of
a teacher at a blackboard. Practice questions are explained
and there are lots of tips and tricks. In addition, Yaeger
offers live phone support. Cost: $1,787 for the full
CPA Review Course – Time
to Do Your Homework
As you can see, there’s a lot of investigation required before you can
choose the best CPA Review Course for you. Use this review to
select your top three options and then search the
internet. Start with each course’s
website. Review their claims and posted
Most courses give a student
first time pass rate, although since the
AICPA doesn’t track this information it can’t be verified.
Focus instead on the learning systems offered and comments from past
candidates. This advance work will allow you to move forward
with one course with confidence.