Test Prep Insight is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
Surgent vs Becker CPA
Our extensive comparison of the Surgent and Becker CPA review courses
Surgent CPA Review and Becker take very different approaches to CPA exam prep. Surgent takes a very surgical approach to prepping their students by using some smart AI and algorithms to target easy and efficient score gains. On the other side, Becker uses a more heavy-handed approach and loads on the study material, ensuring you get a healthy dose of learning across every possible CPA exam subject. So how do you know which company is right for you when they have such different methodologies? We break down each review course in detail in this comparison guide so you can assess which prep package is right for you.
Similar to Becker, Surgent CPA offers students three course options. Unlike Becker, however, their prep packages are generally priced more affordably. The three Surgent course options include:
The Essentials Pass offers some very basic study materials, including video lessons, digital textbooks and access to practice problems, but that is about it. There are no extras or cool features with the Essentials Pass; it is really the no frills package. Priced out at around $1,600, this course is about $800 cheaper than the analogous Becker course.
Right above the Essentials Pass, you have Surgent’s Premier Pass. This is their most popular option and generally considered their flagship course. It includes the same material and access as the Essentials course, but tosses in print textbooks, flashcards and a few hours of private 1-on-1 time with a Surgent CPA pro. This prep package costs approximately $2,400, making it a more affordable option than Becker’s standard course. Note though that Becker provides features that Surgent does not, as more fully described below.
Finally, Surgent provides its Ultimate Pass as its top end offering. This course package kicks in a thousand or so extra multiple-choice problems, audio lessons, personalized customer support and a few other more minor extras. This course offering prices in at around $3,000, or $500 less than Becker’s deluxe package.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication.
Surgent Curriculum and Coursework
Surgent CPA Review is all about smart, targeted test prep. Claiming to get you across the CPA finish line in about half the time of their competitors, Surgent places clear emphasis on efficiency. Their very smart AI-driven software, known as ASAP, analyzes your initial assessment and performance throughout each study unit to constantly update your study plan in real time.
The Surgent algorithms detect your weaknesses and the areas where you can make quick point gains. It then re-allocates work to these topics, never wasting time on topics you’ve already proven to be proficient in. In short, Surgent goes after easy points to get you a quick 75+ and onto the next section. This is reinforced with their “ReadyScore” tool, which tells you with 99% accuracy when you’re ready to take and pass an exam section. This adaptive tech makes for a powerful ally in your studies.
Beyond the adaptive, smart software, Surgent CPA also provides some solid lesson work and study materials. Their instructional content is led by a series of 350 or so bite-sized video lessons. These videos are short, sweet and to the point. They are informative and highly digestible. But if there is one complaint with them, it is that they are on the boring side. They just lack the engagement factor that many other courses have, including Becker.
On top of the video lessons, you are also provided a set of digital and printed textbooks from Surgent. These pep books are crazy detailed, and when used in conjunction with Surgent’s targeted analysis, are a great study tool.
To back up the instructional work, Surgent CPA boasts 7,700+ multiple-choice questions and 400 or so simulations. This is contrasted against Becker’s 9,000 or so multiple-choice questions and 400 simulations. So for those keeping score, Becker has more multiple-choice problems, but the same number of task-based simulations. Surgent’s practice work, while not as voluminous, it very high-quality. The practice questions closely parallel real CPA problems and the testing interface is dead on. Moreover, the text explanations that accompany each multiple-choice question are incredibly thorough and are actually better than Becker’s in our opinion.
For working professionals and busy CPA candidates with little free time on their hands, the Surgent CPA adaptive tech will be a Godsend. This AI-driven software narrowly targets the easiest point gains and grabs them where possible. There is no point in eking out minor, incremental gains in CPA prep. You need your studies to be efficient and effective. To that end, the first order of business is always grabbing the low hanging fruit. And that is exactly what Surgent does.
You’ll notice in your studies with Surgent that as you get a great score on a quiz, you likely won’t see that topic much (or maybe even at all) again. The point is to not waste your time with stuff you already know. Surgent’s algorithms and smart software are clearly the biggest winner of this prep package.
Like Surgent, Becker offers its students three different prep packages to choose from. These course options include:
Becker’s starter package, called the Advantage course, offers students a no-frills prep package with just the bare necessities. This includes video lessons, practice problems, and textbooks, but not much else. In addition, content access is limited with the Advantage course to 24 months. Becker prices this package out right around $2,400, making it a much more expensive option then Surgent’s base-level course. However, it should be noted that Becker provides a bit more than Surgent here, including print textbooks and 12 simulated exams.
Becker’s next step up, the Premium course, is their go-to, standard course for most students. This package generally includes the same materials and resources as the starter course, but adds in live class work, a couple thousand extra practice problems, and unlimited access. For this additional content and access, Becker charges $600 or so more, giving this course offering a price point right around $3,000. Again, this price point is higher than Surgent’s comparable product, but you also get more.
Lastly, Becker offers its Pro course for students wanting it all. This package includes all the same materials and access as the Premium offering, but adds in-person classes and tutoring with a Becker CPA expert. This option carries a price tag of around $3,500 – meaning it is about $500 more than Surgent’s top shelf product.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication.
The Becker Curriculum and Coursework
While Surgent’s curriculum is defined by adaptive tech, Becker’s is defined by utter comprehensiveness. With Becker, you will never question for a second whether their curriculum and study materials will get you prepped for the CPA exam. Their material coverage is robust and their study plan streamlined to go over everything you need to learn in a methodical fashion. In short, Becker provides a deep and cohesive course that takes no risk in getting you fully prepared.
This goal is accomplished in a large part by Becker’s varied presentation of content. The lesson work starts with their prerecorded video lessons. These lectures take the form of an interactive textbook onscreen and a Becker instructor voicing their lesson over it. The instructor notes key points in the margins, circles and underlines essential details, and generally highlights for you everything you need to remember. It is definitely not your old school approach to video instruction and is a huge value add to the overall course.
As an alternative to the video lessons (or a supplement depending on how you look at it), Becker students are also given the ability to take their lessons live. These are discussed more fully below in the course highlight section, but this is a major advantage to Becker students that Surgent just can’t compete with. And backing up the lessons, both video and live, Becker provides students with some first-rate books. Our team rates these coursebooks as some of the best in the CPA review space. They are detailed and thoughtfully-organized for increased retention.
In addition to the instructional work, Becker provides a slate of very solid practice material. As mentioned above, Becker offers slightly more multiple-choice practice opportunities than Surgent and about the same number of simulations. And similar to Surgent, these practice questions and task-based simulations are very, very good. Becker’s team of experts have obviously put in thousands of hours crafting these well-designed and developed problems. They closely resemble what you will see on test day and provide excellent learning opportunities. If there is one knock on Becker’s practice material though, it is that their text explanations are a little thin around their multiple-choice questions.
Far and away the best feature of this course, the Becker live classes are superb. No other course offers this type of benefit to students, except Wiley, and even that is on a much smaller scale. Premium and Pro students get access to these live class sessions, and Pro students can actually choose between taking the class live online or in person.
These classes generally cover the same material that is in the on demand video lectures, but the live format gives it a more personal and free flowing medium. Many students prefer to learn in a live setting rather than watching a prerecorded video, and for these types of learners, these classes will propel your studies. The Becker instructors are extremely knowledgeable about all things CPA and allow for questions and clarifications that you just don’t get with prerecorded lectures. For students who want a different approach to CPA review instruction, Becker is the clear winner here.
As explained above, Surgent and Becker take very different approaches to CPA prep and each offers different benefits to their respective students. Our team hopes this comparison has been useful in demonstrating these subtle but important differences, and has helped you determine which course is best for your needs. But if you still can’t quite make up your mind, here is our final verdict:
Lessons and Coursework – Edge: Becker. While our team loves Surgent’s tactical and efficient approach to test prep, Becker’s curriculum and bounty of study resources is just too strong. Becker’s comprehensive coursework plan and excellent practice material wins out in this category.
Price – Edge: Surgent. At each level of course option, Surgent offers a better price point. Their pricing is definitely easier on the eyes and the wallet.
Books – Edge: Becker. While Surgent’s content-rich textbooks are extremely detailed and thorough, Becker’s books get our vote for their masterful balance of detail and conciseness. The Becker books have been continually updated and revised for decades, so it is no shock they are about best in class.
Simulated Exams – Edge: Becker. A beneficial feature exclusive to Becker’s course is the set of simulated exams that follow the lesson work of each exam section. In total, Becker provides 12 full-length simulated exams, all with never before seen content. This provides an unparalleled opportunity to practice under exam-like conditions.
User Interface and User Experience – This is a tie. Both courses check all our review boxes and pass with flying colors. Each prep companies’ digital platform is professional, easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing. No complaints from our end.
Supplemental Resources – Edge: Surgent. Both courses offer a nice roster of supplemental resources to their core curriculums, but Surgent’s performance trackers are stellar, and win this category for them. Surgent tracks all kinds of data and presents it in a very digestible visual format that helps users make adjustments in their studies.
Online Content Access Period – Becker and Surgent each offer unlimited access to their online materials through their flagship courses, making this a clear tie.
Which CPA review course costs more – Becker or Surgent?
Surgent CPA Review’s course options are generally less expensive than Becker’s and range in price from around $1,600 up to $3,000. By comparison, Becker’s courses range in price from around $2,400 to $3,500, but include more features.
What’s the main difference between the Surgent and Becker CPA review courses?
The primary difference between Surgent and Becker is that Surgent’s study plan focuses on efficiency gains through adaptive technology, while Becker provides a more vigorous and traditional curriculum.
Which company provides more study material, Becker or Surgent?
In total, Becker provides more practice material than Surgent. Becker provides 9,000+ multiple-choice questions and 400+ simulations to Surgent’s 7,700 multiple-choice problems and 400 task-based simulations.