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Best CPA Review Courses
Our comprehensive guide to the best CPA prep courses
Passing the CPA exam is not an easy feat. It is one of the lengthiest and most grueling professional exams on the planet, and you will almost assuredly need a review course to help you prep. But with so many courses to choose from, all with varying content and features, how to do know which one is best for you? Our team of test prep experts has taken and reviewed just about every CPA review course available on the market and rated the best ones here, so you can make an informed decision on which is right for you.
As this is a lengthy guide, we’ve added helpful jump-to links above for quick navigation. We’ve also included additional CPA Prep Resources near the bottom of this guide.
Our Best CPA Prep Courses Video Guide
In the video above, John from the Test Prep Insight team (who is a CPA and has a master’s degree in accountancy) walks you through his picks for the best CPA review courses on the market. For more detail regarding any of the courses he covers, be sure to keep reading.
There is good reason why the Big 4 and countless other accounting organizations trust Becker to ready their professionals for the CPA exam. The Becker course curriculum and practice work are truly unrivaled when it comes to quality.
Offering 90+ hours of live class work, 750+ video lessons (comprising hundreds of hours), thousands of practice problems, and some top flight books and simulated exams, it is just plain tough for other courses to compete with Becker. Their offerings aren’t cheap, but for those students looking to take zero risk in their CPA prep, Becker is about as surefire as they come.
A significant benefit offered by Becker which you just won’t find elsewhere is the series of simulated exams that accompany each section of your prep work. Whereas other CPA review providers offer practice exams that consist of recycled questions from their test bank, Becker offers 12 full-length simulated exams with fresh content.
This means for each section of the exam (AUD, FAR, BEC and REG), you get 3 full-length practice tests with never before seen questions. If you plan on committing significant time to studying for the CPA (as you should), this is an enormous advantage, as you will never run up against old questions that you’ve seen before when practicing under exam-like conditions.
Video Lectures with Textbook Sync
The format of video lectures across CPA review companies varies widely, and none have a delivery quite like Becker’s. Rather than taking the traditional approach of having an instructor stand in front of a whiteboard and give a college class style lesson, Becker uses its legendary textbooks as the basis of the lecture. An interactive textbook is displayed on screen and your instructor speaks over the text as he makes notes in the margins, circles key points, and underlines the most critical details.
In essence, you have an expert run you through the detailed textbook, covering everything, and making sure you pay attention to the most important stuff. It’s a novel approach to online learning and a very effective means of improving comprehension and retention.
Gleim CPA Review offers one of the most affordable and best valued courses on the market, but without sacrificing quality. Their lesson work is led by some great bite-sized video lectures, and backed up by succinct, outline-style textbooks that have been vetted for decades. The video lectures are incredibly well produced and cover the most important material quickly, before diving into helpful example problems to demonstrate the concepts being taught.
Beyond instructional material, Gleim is second perhaps only to Wiley in terms of multiple-choice practice questions and is the clear #1 for simulations. Offering 10,000+ multiple-choice practice questions and 1,300+ simulations, Gleim is an industry-leader for experiential learners seeking tons of practice work. The bottom line is that Gleim CPA Review is an all-around sound course with tons of practice, and costs a fraction of some of the more recognizable CPA review courses.
The Most Bang for Your Buck
Gleim CPA takes our value pick designation because of the strength of its curriculum weighed against its price. In other words, Gleim CPA Review provides incredible bang for your buck. If your employer isn’t paying for your review course and you’re on a bit of a budget, give Gleim a good, long look. At around $1,999 (less with promo coupons), Gleim is about 2/3 the cost of some of the bigger courses, like Becker and Roger CPA Review.
But Gleim CPA doesn’t take the value pick badge just because it’s cheap – we weigh the quality of the course against the cost to get here. Gleim offers coursework and practice material that is just as good as some of the other more expensive test prep providers, but for much less.
Great Task-Based Simulations
Given that task-based simulations make up 50% of the CPA exam, it’s kind of a wonder why prep companies don’t provide more emphasis on this aspect. Most every CPA review course focuses on the lessons and multiple-choice questions, leaving little time to work on simulations. But not Gleim CPA Review. Gleim makes simulations a critical component, and offers over 1,300 to practice on. And of these 1,300 or so, 350+ come with exhibits, mirroring many of the simulation types you will see on test day.
Furthermore, Gleim doesn’t just offer a ton of practice simulations for the sake of volume – the quality of these simulations is exceptionally good. It is clear the Gleim team has spent significant time crafting simulations that closely resemble official task-based simulations from the real CPA exam. The quality and quantity together make this portion of the Gleim curriculum a true benefit to students.
If you only have a few hours to study each week, around a busy schedule of work, school and personal commitments, you need to make the most of your limited time. Enter Surgent CPA Review. Surgent recognizes that most CPA candidates are busy working professionals, and has tailored their prep course accordingly.
Relying on some very smart AI through their proprietary algorithms, your customized course plan constantly updates to target only the areas where you really need work. They don’t waste your time hammering the same type of practice problem over and over. Surgent aims to get you across the finish line as quickly as possible. And underpinning this technology is a very well-rounded CPA exam curriculum. Surgent’s coursework, consisting of video lectures, detailed textbooks, practice problems and more, is plenty robust to teach you everything you need to know.
Adaptive Technology Maximizes Study Time
Surgent CPA Review’s adaptive tech is the best in the game. Just about every CPA prep company these days offers some form of adaptive technology that is designed to optimize your study plan. But none are as powerful or go as deep as Surgent’s. After completing a lengthy initial assessment, Surgent CPA’s AI-driven software analyzes your performance and crunches the data to create a personalized study plan that focuses on the areas where you will get the most lift in the least time.
In other words, Surgent’s algorithms look at the low hanging fruit where you can get some easy gains, and grabs those first. Then they have you work on your weak spots to get some quick point boosts. Surgent never wastes your time with lessons or practice work on areas where you’ve already mastered the material – the gains in those areas are incremental and waste time. In short, for busy professionals looking for the path of least resistance to a 75 on each section of the exam, Surgent gives you the best roadmap to get there.
Fantastic Practice Problem Explanations
A key aspect of any test prep plan is reviewing the practice problems you miss (and even the ones you get right). This is where the learning takes place, and without this portion of the exercise, you are destined to make the same mistakes over and over. To that end, Surgent CPA Review has expended considerable resources crafting some of the best problem explanations in the CPA review space. Each text explanation is incredibly detailed and thoroughly breaks down the problem for a better understanding of the content behind the question.
Not only that, the explanations cover each answer choice and describe in detail why such choice is correct or incorrect. Not every review course takes explanations this far. In addition, many of the problem explanations even contain citations to the IRC sections and regulations for a deeper understanding. This level of detail is a huge advantage to Surgent CPA students.
The first thing that is clear when you purchase Yaeger CPA Review’s prep course is that you are getting a personal touch and support that you just don’t get elsewhere. There are a few things that make this course great, but the personalized support is what separates Yaeger.
However, it is not just a helping hand and thoughtful mentoring that make this prep course. Among the other course highlights, you also get access to Yaeger’s top shelf textbooks. These detailed books are incredibly detailed and serve as the basis of their curriculum, right alongside the video lessons. The video lessons are literally synced with the textbooks for side-by-side viewing. Toss in a few thousand multiple-choice questions and simulations, and you get a really nice all-around CPA review course, all for a budget price.
The Personalized Support of Yaeger CPA
As mentioned, it is the personalized support of the Yaeger CPA Review team that is the difference maker with this course. It starts off with your two calls with founder Phil Yaeger himself. He’ll give you a quick intro to help you game plan your studies and another call midway through your prep to check in. Additionally, if you are having a lousy day and just feeling down about your chances of passing, you can call Yaeger CPA for a little pep talk. Or if you have a technical question, you can also contact them for an in-the-weeds response addressing your issue. In essence, you can contact them about anything and they’ll be there to lend a helping hand. You never feel like you’re alone in your studies. Now generally, the normal response time for an inquiry is a day or two.
And if you want more immediate feedback and attention, Yaeger’s CPA Review Bundle + includes access to their “instructor hotline” package. For a few hundred dollars more, you can get near immediate access to one of Yaeger’s experts (along with other premium features). Just give them two hours’ notice, and you can be chatting with a CPA guru about anything your heart desires (CPA exam-related that is). If your studies are only going to take 3-4 months, we would highly recommend paying up for this level of support.
Excellent Prep Books
The element of Yaeger CPA Review’s substantive content most worth noting is their bundle of prep books. These detailed and thoughtfully-written books stand toe-to-toe with the best in the industry, including those of Becker and Gleim. Of particular note within the prep books, their numerous examples do a great job exemplifying points and demonstrating how concepts play out in a hypothetical situation.
If there is one downside of these books, it is that they only come in digital format with the basic course format. If you prefer paperbacks, you’ll either have to pay up for the premium CPA Review Bundle + (which we recommend anyway) or pay an extra fee to get the hard copy versions. Otherwise, these books are very, very good and will make up a huge part of your studies.
The Roger CPA Review course lives and breathes with its energetic and passionate founder, Roger Philipp. His enthusiastic presence on video and mastery at explaining complex subjects in an easy to understand manner makes this course. When combined with this prep package’s top shelf practice material, the overall curriculum and coursework is a powerful learning tool. And now backed by test prep giant UWorld following a merger, Roger CPA Review has better resources, interface and support than ever before. The clunkiness of the old digital platform is long gone and this course looks and feels first-rate all the way. This is a rock-solid course led by the best video lectures in the CPA review space.
The Video Lectures
Video lessons can have all the digital effects in the world and Hollywood level production value, but can still be absolutely useless if there is no onscreen talent. Conversely, you can have very basic audiovisual tech and a traditional approach to video instruction, and still have killer video lectures if you have the right person on camera. And Roger CPA Review proves this point.
Though the instructional videos lack the production value and sharp picture of other companies’ video lectures, the presence and energy of Roger Philipp more than makes up for it. He is passionate, personal and downright entertaining. He is constantly in motion on screen, taking notes on the whiteboard, telling stories, and using analogies and mnemonics to make points. You are always engaged and your attention never wanes. It is like listening to an old friend tell jokes and reminisce about stories you missed out on – it just holds your attention. And with 100+ hours of these engaging and informative video lessons on tap, this is the highlight of the Roger CPA Review course.
Useful Cram Courses
If you’re the type of student that tends to wait until the last minute, or not really pay attention until it really matters, you are going to need a killer cram session. Fortunately, Roger CPA provides some very useful crash course style lessons that are designed to aid your studies in the final days leading up to the exam. These condensed and highly intensive courses are intended to hit all of the most heavily weighted topics in short order to find you a quick boost.
Do not be confused – these courses definitely don’t have all the detail you need, and are not intended to replace the actual course lessons, but act as a very nice summary for those students needing a last-minute recap. Other courses also provide these cram course final review sessions, but Roger CPA Review does a particularly noteworthy job, especially with Mr. Philipp’s video reviews leading the way.
The CPA exam is one of the toughest professional exams on the planet, and our team knows from experience just how difficult the test is. So to help make things easier on CPA candidates, we provide $1,000 in prep assistance each year to one lucky CPA candidate. Just email us at [email protected] for more info. Best of luck!
CPA Exam Information Guide
About the CPA Exam
Used by the United States’ territories of Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, as well as all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, or CPA exam, is a credentialing test given to individuals interested in becoming licensed as a Certified Public Accountant.
How the CPA Exam is Structured
The CPA exam is a computer-based exam, and is comprised of four separate 4-hour sections: (1) Auditing and Attestation (AUD), (2) Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), (3) Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), and (4) Regulation (REG).
Sections can be taken on separate days, or examinees can take up to two sections in one day. Section topics and proportionate breakdowns of each subject are outlined below.
Auditing and Attestation (AUD)
Ethics, Professional Responsibilities, and General Principles (15% – 25%)
Assessing Risk and Developing a Planned Response (20% – 30%)
Performing Further Procedures and Obtaining Evidence (30% – 40%)
Forming Conclusions and Reporting (15% – 25%)
Business Environment and Concepts (BEC)
Corporate Governance (17% – 27%)
Economic Concepts and Analysis (17% – 27%)
Financial Management (11% – 21%)
Information Technology (15% – 25%)
Operations Management (15% – 25%)
Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR)
Conceptual Framework, Standard-Setting and Financial Reporting (25% – 35%)
Select Financial Statement Accounts (30% – 40%)
Select Transactions (20% – 30%)
State and Local Governments (5% – 15%)
Ethics, Professional Responsibilities and Federal Tax Procedures (10% – 20%)
Business Law (10% – 20%)
Federal Taxation of Property Transactions (12% – 22%)
Federal Taxation of Individuals (15% – 25%)
Federal Taxation of Entities (28% – 38%)
How Often is the CPA Exam Offered?
The CPA exam is offered during four time frames annually. Sections can be taken in any order, and there is no requirement to pass a section prior to applying for another section. You are not allowed to take the same section more than once during any given window. The testing windows are as follows:
January 1 – March 10
April 1 – June 10
July 1 – September 10
October 1 – December 10
Preparing for the CPA Exam
Determine your exam dates. Making a plan that includes when you intend to take each section can help ease some of the stress around the exam.
Create and maintain a study schedule. In order to reduce anxiety and ease the stress that comes with CPA exam test prep, it is imperative that you develop a study routine. Once your schedule is set, make every effort not to deviate from the study routine you establish. Your schedule should include the time blocks you intend to spend studying, the locations you will study (switch it up to break up the monotony sometimes), the specific topics you want to concentrate on, the assignments you want to complete (including practice tests), and self-care. Set goals and keep a calendar.
Eliminate distractions. Your study time should be just that, study time. Turn off the television, put your phone away, and let friends and family know your study routine so they can support you by not bothering you during your prep time.
Practice self-care. Studying for the CPA exam can be stressful, but it will be far less manageable if you don’t take care of yourself. Be sure to stay hydrated, eat healthy meals and take time for physical exercise daily. Don’t skimp on sleep. Practice mindfulness daily, and stay connected with friends and family.
Take practice exams. Not only will it help you in determining the areas you need to study for score improvement, it will also help you in becoming familiar with the actual format of the test itself.
Do I need a CPA review course?
Almost every candidate who is serious about passing the CPA exam will need a review course. Without one, there is simply too much material to pull together from different sources and learn efficiently. CPA review courses streamline your prep by offering all the necessary content in an organized and efficient manner.
How much does a typical CPA review course cost?
Without considering sales and promos, CPA review courses typically cost anywhere from $1,000 up to $3,500. That said, most students spend somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000 on their course. Unfortunately, it is just part of the cost of doing business.
Will a CPA review course raise my score?
Yes. As compared to taking the exam with no prep work, a CPA review course will almost certainly raise your score. Relying on your knowledge from work experience and old undergrad classes alone is usually never enough to get you a 75 on each section of the exam.