January 14, 2019

Best CPA Review Course

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CPA review courses can cost thousands of dollars. Knowing how to choose the right one is obviously an important decision, but how do you decide?

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If you plan to take the CPA exam, you will need a CPA review course. The right course will help refresh your memory on the topics you've already learned in school or your job and will teach you the new topics that the exam covers.

There are many review courses available out there, each of which caters to different learning styles and even timetables. Keep reading to find out which review course will suit your needs the most.

Reasons to Take a CPA Review Course

  • Increases your knowledge and possibly your chance of passing: Even if you take the CPA exam right out of college, you'll need to know a lot of information at one time as you sit for each of the exam's sections.

    Because you only sit for one section at a time, a lot of time could pass between your studies and your exam. Taking a review course allows you access to the information leading up to the test so that you have the information fresh in your mind, helping you increase your chances of passing.

  • It can help you plan your studies accordingly so you don't waste time: The CPA exam covers a lot of information. That doesn't mean that it covers everything, though. Why waste your time studying information that isn't on the test? Each review course is tailored to the most current CPA exam to help you focus your studies where it matters.

  • It can help you understand your weak areas: Many of the CPA courses use adaptive technology. This method helps you learn the areas that you aren't strong in, allowing you to focus your studies there so that you have a better chance of passing the test.

What to Look for in a CPA Review Course

Everyone has a different method that helps them study, but in general, the following factors may be something you want to consider.

  • Study methods that work for you. Some people need structured live lessons that provide schedules and deadlines. Others thrive on self-study, fitting in their studies when it's convenient for them in their busy schedules.

  • Teaching styles that meet your learning style. Each review course offers a different type of teaching. Some include flashcards for your review, while others use mnemonics to help you memorize tedious information.

  • Access that works with your schedule. If you have a hectic schedule and know you can't complete a review course and pass all of the sections within 12 months, you need a program that provides access until you pass. Not all review courses offer this, so make sure you know the type of access you get before you choose and pay for a program.

  • A course that provides repeat access. You should know what will happen if you don't pass a section of the exam on the first try. It happens all of the time. Going back to the "access until you pass," you want a program that provides continual access even if you don't pass on your first try.

  • A course that provides regular updates. The CPA exam changes yearly, which means the review programs that you use should provide updates. If your studies take you into the new year, you may need updated content to ensure that you study the right material.

Best CPA Review for Visual Learners

Roger CPA Review
Roger CPA Review offers the most engaging lectures, with as many visuals you'll see in any review course. You can turn on closed-captioning if you prefer to read along with the lectures and highlight as Roger talks in your e-textbook.

If you prefer textbook materials, each Roger CPA program includes the textbook for you to follow along or use for your studies.

We also appreciate Roger CPA Review's bite-sized lessons. If you are a visual learner, you probably tend to tune out when lectures get long and boring. The longest lecture in the Roger CPA Review courses is just 25 minutes long.

Keep in mind, if you prefer flashcards for review, you'll need to purchase one of the two top-tier programs. The basic program doesn't include them. They are available as a supplemental purchase, though.

Best CPA Review with Instructor Access

Becker CPA Review
If you prefer the structure of live classes (online), Becker CPA Review is the way to go. You choose the days of the week and the times that work best for you that they have available. You are then held accountable to attend those classes. Students who aren't motivated enough to thrive on self-study appreciate the schedule and accountability.

They provide 24 clock hours for regulation, 30 clock hours for financial, 18 clock hours for business, and 18 clock hours for auditing.

Becker is one of the more expensive review programs on the market. Many accounting firms, including the Big 4, endorse them, which may be why. If you prefer the live classes, though, it could be worth it.

Best CPA Review with The Best Technology

It's no secret that there's a lot of material to cover to sit for the CPA exam. Sometimes figuring out which areas need the most focus to help you pass can be overwhelming. Surgent offers the most advanced technology to help you determine where to focus your studies. While many of the CPA review courses offer this option, Surgent takes it a step above the rest.

You start with an assessment before you even start your studies. The results let you know where you stand with your current knowledge. You'll see how you'd score if you sat for the exam today (don't let this frustrate you). You can then use this score as your baseline to measure your progress during and after your studies.

Surgent's technology continually tailors your studies to your needs. They measure your study behaviors combined with the weight of current CPA questions to determine where you should focus your studies. The study program is personalized from start to finish.

This helps you avoid wasting time on material you've mastered and instead helps you focus your time on your weak areas. Once you complete your studies, you have access to unlimited practice exams to measure your CPA exam readiness.

Best CPA Review with the Largest Test Bank

Wiley CPAexcel
Wiley CPAexcel offers access to more than 12,000 multiple-choice questions and 500 task-based questions to help you feel more than ready for the CPA exam. If you like to continually retake the practice exams, you have a smaller chance of seeing repeat questions and just memorizing answers rather than truly practicing your knowledge and skills.

You can try the program free for 14 days. You even get access to 1,200 multiple-choice questions and 40-task based questions. This gives you the chance to see if you like the format CPAexcel offers before you commit to it.

Wiley CPAexcel also offers "shorter" lectures. While they aren't as short as Roger CPA Review's lectures, they are still shorter than several other programs out there. The longest lecture is approximately 45 minutes long.

Best CPA Review with the Most Comprehensive Content


If you like content overload, you'll want to consider Gleim CPA Review. Some people are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information they offer, while others prefer it. In this program, you'll literally find hundreds of lessons. They claim that they are "bite-sized," but some are longer in length.

This course includes your traditional eBooks as well as physical books. But they also offer access to personal counselors if you get stuck.

The counselors can also provide you with study tips. In addition, you'll have access to a full-length review to use before you sit for the exam and check-up questions to help you stay fresh on "old" material as you learn new material.

Other CPA Review Courses to Consider

  • Yaeger CPA Review: Yaeger CPA Review is one of the least expensive CPA review options. One of its unique benefits is the access you get to unlimited help from instructors either via phone, message board, or email. Yaeger uses adaptive technology to help customize your studies to your needs.

  • Fast Forward Academy CPA Review Course: With Fast Forward Academy, you can take as long as you need to pass the CPA exam as they offer free annual updates if the exam changes and you haven't passed yet.

    While they have fewer questions and lessons than many others (80 hours of lectures and 5,000 questions), they offer an integrative way to study for the CPA exam.

  • MDS CPA Review Course: If you prefer in-person classes (if you live near Columbus, OH) or live lectures online, MDS offers these options. You can purchase one section or all four sections of the CPA review course.

    They also offer an accelerated option for those who want to pass the exam fast because they have limited time, but enough knowledge to review it in a short amount of time.

Common Questions

Do the CPA exam questions change each year?
Yes, the CPA exam questions can change each year. There's no rhyme or reason regarding whether they change or not. What you need to concern yourself with is if you are studying the correct material. Make sure that whichever CPA review program you choose, it offers free updates so that you are always studying the most current material.

Should you purchase a "cram course"?
We don't recommend strictly using a "cram course" to study for the CPA exam. While many of the above companies offer a cram course, it's meant as a supplement to your regular studies.

The student who might benefit from the cram course the most is the one that completed their 300 - 400 hours of study but waited a while before taking the CPA exam. Rather than studying all over again, he/she can refresh themselves with the cram course.

Do you have to sit for the CPA exam right after you graduate college?
You don't necessarily have to sit for the CPA exam right after you graduate, but it can certainly help. The information you learned in school will still be fresh in your mind, which may make studying for the exam a little easier.

If you study for the exam before you start your career, you'll have more time to dedicate to your studies, which many increase your chances of passing on your first try.

Do you have to take the CPA exam sections in a specific order?
No, you can take the sections in any order that you feel comfortable taking them.

Some people like to get the section they feel is the hardest over with first, while others save the hardest section for the end. If you started your career in accounting already, choose the exam that mimics your career path first, as it may the easiest for you.

Do you have to buy a review if you just graduated college?
If you just graduated college, you may think you are well prepared for the CPA exam and can skip the review.

We don't recommend that, though. You'll likely find that the format of the CPA exam is much different from the exams you took in school. Using a review course that mimics the CPA exam may help you feel the most prepared for the exam.

Bottom Line

The right CPA review course is the one that suits your timetable and your study habits. Don't choose a program just because your friend used it and they passed the first time. Instead, choose the one that offers the features that you need to be the most successful.

Write to Kim P at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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