Wiley CPA Review Course – Is it enough?

Wiley CPA Review Course materials are among the most widely used self-study guides for the CPA Exam.  Wiley review materials are very thorough and highly regarded among all the options available.  Some other courses even offer Wiley materials as a supplement to their own.  High praise, clearly. 

But, is the thorough content of Wiley’s material enough for you to pass the Uniform Certified Public Accounting Exam on the first try?  We’ll take a look.

Wiley’s Approach to Learning

Wiley CPA Review Course presents their review material in a textbook style format.  Wiley publishes some top accounting textbooks as well, so it’s probably a style you worked with at university.  It’s available for you in textbook form or via software, CD’s, or even apps for your iPod or smart phone.  No matter how you receive it, it’s still a lot of information in text form.

The Wiley Classic Study Guide is created for self-study.  Wiley does not offer lecture CD’s for you to watch or live classes for you to attend.  If you learn well from written materials and sample questions, Wiley will be a great fit.  If you learn best in a classroom setting or with a verbal explanation of the material, however, you probably want to look elsewhere for the bulk of your review material.

Wiley offers a test bank, available on CD or online, with over 3,800 sample questions in CPA exam format.  Not only are the questions available for practice and self- evaluation, you can use the detailed answer explanations to correct your errors.  

Considered by many to be the authority on practice problems and simulations, Wiley homework and practice tests are written by top accounting professors and industry leaders and based on previous questions issued by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA.)

 In addition to the Classic Study Guides and test bank, Wiley offers specialized supplemental products to help you prepare. 

  • Audio CD’s – designed to give you testing tips and strategies, including mnemonics
  • Focus Notes – Easy to read highlights to help you zero in on key information
  • How To Master Simulations – Delivers the focused simulation practice it promises
  • Fast Track – Last minute exam recap
  • You Can Pass the CPA Exam – Motivational guide to help you mentally prepare and establish a study plan that works

Positive Feedback, With a Catch

The best way to judge the Wiley CPA Review Course is by the comments made by previous and current students rather than the self-reported pass percentages since these numbers are not tracked by the AICPA.  So, what are Wiley students saying?  Nearly all of the feedback is positive.

  • Cost – The material is inexpensive compared to other courses.  Wiley classic study guides are $65 per section and software is $105 per section or $299 for the entire course.  If you have a tight budget, this course is a great value!
  • Availability – study guides are available at Wiley’s website but are also sold in bookstores and on Amazon.  This makes it easy for you to go and look at the books prior to purchase, just to make sure the language and style of the study guides works for you. 
  • Information Quality – The information presented is detailed, complete, and very in depth.    You don’t have to worry about anything being left out.  If you need to know it, Wiley covers it.
  • Lots of Practice – You’ll get lots of opportunity to practice.  The test questions and sample simulations are very realistic, challenging, and there are a lot of them!

All this positive feedback, and yet we mentioned a catch.  Wiley’s main strength, information, is also the reason many candidates use the Wiley CPA Review Course in partnership with another, similar course.  This excellent textbook style presentation is complete, difficult, and can be very overwhelming.

Unless you received top grades in all of your university accounting courses with a correspondingly strong accounting foundation, you can find yourself confused by the material presented.  The information is complex and builds on itself as you go through the course.  Without live lectures or lecture CD’s to help explain, you can easily get lost. 

Blending Wiley with another CPA Review Course

Successful candidates credit Wiley material as a key part of their success - when they added it to another course.   As we mentioned previously, some courses do this for candidates.  Even when Wiley supplemental materials aren’t offered, many students purchased them as supplemental material anyway.   Why?  What did they feel made the difference?

  • Points of View – Each review course has its own points of emphasis.  Using material from multiple sources closes information gaps created by emphasizing one point over another.
  • Practice questions – Some courses with strong lecture presentations are lacking in sample test material.  Candidates used Wiley to bridge the gap.
  • A Total Experience – adding the Wiley material to a lecture based course like Yeager or Roger is a relatively cost effective way to get a total study experience.
  • To clarify a difficult section – candidates used the Wiley CPA Review Course to clarify a section they found particularly difficult when presented by another review course.  They even add Wiley material after failing a section the first time in order to pass on the second attempt.

The Best CPA Review Course is the One You Actually Use

The Wiley CPA Review Course stands out as the leader in sample test questions and practice simulations both in quality and quantity.  More importantly, candidates actually use Wiley questions and simulations overwhelmingly as part of their review strategy.  Why?  Because the purchase cost is low and the questions are effective.

With no lecture or live class component, Wiley is not the best choice on its own for most candidates.  Compared with the costs associated with sitting for the CPA exam multiple times, however, the Wiley CPA Review Course is a very effective addition to any review strategy.