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Wiley vs Gleim CPA
Our head-to-head comparison of the Wiley and Gleim CPA review courses
Comparing the Wiley CPA Excel and Gleim CPA Review courses on paper, there are numerous similarities between these two prep companies. But when you dig in and take a closer look, it becomes evident that these review courses differ in subtle, but important ways. No matter how you look at it, this makes choosing the best course for your needs rather difficult. So how do you know which one to go with? Our detailed and comprehensive comparison of these two popular courses covers everything you need to know to make an informed decision.
This is a fairly detailed and lengthy comparison, so we’ve added helpful jump-to links above for easy navigation.
Gleim vs Wiley CPA Review Video
In the video above, John from the Test Prep Insight team (who by the way is also a CPA), compares the review courses from Wiley and Gleim. For more detail, be sure to continue reading our full comparison below.
Gleim takes a slightly more streamlined approach to their course offerings, providing just two courses from which to choose. These two courses are the Traditional Review System and Premium Review System. The Traditional Review System is the package most similar to Wiley’s Essentials package, offering no video lessons or other real instructional work apart from the text. This package is all about the practice material, and should be the point of focus for only those students that don’t need full scale instructional material. This package runs right around $1,600, making it a couple hundred dollars cheaper than Wiley’s analogous course.
Gleim’s higher end, and much more popular, course is their Premium Review System. This prep package includes everything Gleim has to offer, including 450+ video lessons, practice problems and simulations, hard copy and digital textbooks, and unlimited access. This is definitely the go-to course for students that need full-scale review for the CPA exam and prices out right around $2,000. This again makes the comparable Wiley package about $200 more expensive.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication.
Gleim’s Study Plan and Coursework
Although Gleim offers one of the more affordable price points in the CPA review industry, it does not show in their coursework. They offer a comprehensive curriculum that stands up toe-to-toe with Wiley, Becker and the other big-name review companies. Gleim breaks down the material within each section of the exam into 20 or so logical groupings.
You start each study unit by reading a passage from one of Gleim’s legendary textbooks. These prep books have been around for nearly 50 years and have been revised to perfection. They are designed in a succinct, outline style without dense passages or lengthy sections. The points are quick hit and easily digestible, improving overall comprehension and retention. In our team’s collective opinion, these Gleim books are better than Wiley’s study guide texts.
Following each text assignment, Gleim delivers a bite-sized video lesson that covers the same material. These videos average roughly 20 or so minutes in length and generally start with a mini-review before proceeding into a quick demonstration with 2 or 3 example problems. The mini-reviews are helpful, with your onscreen instructor covering just the most important details and adding a visual element with bullet point lists and digital effects. While these videos don’t have quite the production value of Wiley’s lessons, we think they are more slightly engaging and better executed.
Backstopping this instructional approach is a mountain of practice material similar to Wiley’s. Gleim delivers 10,000+ multiple-choice questions and 1,300+ simulations. Clearly, Gleim focuses on simulations, which we love for good reason, as described more fully below. But before moving on, it is worth noting that the quality of Gleim’s practice material is just as impressive as the crazy volume of work. These are very thoughtfully designed and well-written questions.
Gleim CPA Review makes task-based simulations a point of emphasis, and this is a very good thing. Given that simulations make up roughly 50% of your overall CPA exam score, it is critical that this component not be neglected. Unfortunately, many prep providers don’t give this aspect as much attention as it deserves. But not Gleim. They deliver 2x as many simulations as the next closest prep company and more than 3x as many as the average review company.
Of the 1,300+ task-based simulations that Gleim offers, 350 or so have accompanying exhibits. This is a major benefit, as many of the simulation types you will see on exam day have corresponding exhibits that you must open and analyze. This provides a realistic exam-like experience. In addition to the sheer quantity of practice simulations, Gleim also provides a helpful explanation with each. These solutions break the simulations down in detail and describe how you should attack it, step by step. These explanations are almost as important as the simulations themselves.
Wiley provides students with three different course options from which to choose, each with varying levels of features, access and resources. These three packages include:
Essentials Review Course
Pro Review Course
Platinum Review Course
Starting with the most basic package, Wiley’s Essentials Review Course offers the bare necessities. That is, this package provides digital textbooks for substantive review and practice problems for the practice component. That’s it. There are no video lessons, live classes sessions or print books with this course format. As such, this offering carries a lower end price tag of around $1,800.
At the next level up, Wiley’s Pro Review Course is their most popular option. This course runs right around $2,200. For just $400 more than the Essentials course, you get video-based lectures, live class sessions, and hard copy prep books. It is a lot of extras for just a few hundred dollars more and is no wonder that most students upgrade to this package.
Finally, Wiley’s Platinum Review Course offers students wanting all the resources they can get their hands on in their top shelf prep offering. This prep package generally offers the same exact materials as the Pro version, but adds in Wiley’s all-important CPA 11th Hour Final Review Course. The addition of this final review cram session jumps the price up by about $300 to the $2,500 price point.
As a whole, this pricing structure is generally more expensive than Gleim’s pricing. There may be some seasonal variance based on promos and coupon codes, but generally speaking, Wiley will cost you more than Gleim as seen in more detail below.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication.
Wiley CPA Excel Lessons and Coursework
Wiley CPA Excel delivers one of the most well-developed and comprehensive course curriculums in the CPA review space. Their study plan covers every topic that may appear on the CPA exam, and does so in an efficient manner. To maximize your gains, Wiley employs adaptive technology through its performance trackers to optimize your study schedule. While this kind of adaptive tech is not unique to Wiley (most every other prep provider uses some form of adaptive tech by this point), Wiley’s is very, very good.
Starting with the instructional work, Wiley’s lessons are led by their video-based lectures. These video lessons have excellent production, but ultimately receive slightly-above average grades from our team – and below the marks that we give Gleim’s videos. The video lessons feature your instructor onscreen in front of a digital whiteboard, and as they speak, text and graphics appear around them. These bullet point lists and quick blurbs that pop up are punctuated with bold, neon colors and underlining, making for a very engaging and effective means of communication. However, these videos lack vigor. The instructors are a little dry and boring, making the video lessons as a whole somewhat tedious. That said, if you can cut through the dull delivery, there is over 140+ hours of extremely informative material contained in these lectures.
Beyond the video lectures, Wiley also provides live classes – a benefit you don’t get with Gleim. These live class sessions are not as vigorous as Becker’s offerings, but serve as a very nice complement to your core video instruction. The Wiley live classes take place once or twice per week via webcast and provide some helpful material. And to further supplement the video-based instruction, Wiley also provides its students some really fantastic study guide-style texts. These prep books are very thorough and strike a nice balance between detail and brevity.
However, while the video lessons, live classes and textbooks are all solid, it is the Wiley’s practice work that really shines. Boasting 12,000+ multiple-choice questions, Wiley provides more multiple-choice practice than any other provider. It just so happens, however, that Gleim has the next most with 10,000+ multiple-choice questions. And while Wiley wins on number of multiple-choice problems, Gleim wins on number of task-based simulations with 1,300 (to Wiley’s 500). Either way, you’re talking about a TON of practice work with either company as both offer some industry leading numbers in this category.
On the topic of practice material, this is the highlight of the Wiley CPA Excel course. As mentioned, Wiley has the best multiple-choice question numbers in the game and the second most practice simulations. But more importantly than volume alone, the Wiley practice work is also really darn good in terms of quality. Their test questions and simulations are both thoughtfully written with realism in mind. The problems closely track the style and type of questions you will see on exam day, providing some excellent learning and practice opportunities.
In addition to the multiple-choice and simulations, Wiley also offers other practice in the form of 5,000+ true/false drills and 4,000 digital flashcards. You won’t see these sort of question types on the exam, but these mediums of practice are super high-quality as well, making the complete bundle of practice near best-in-class. To be honest, there is a very good chance you will never get through all of this practice work – there is just too much. But better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
Wiley CPA Excel and Gleim CPA Review are similar in a number of ways – namely their large quantities of practice questions and simulations, and style of video-based instruction. However, they also differ in many regards, including live class sessions, textbook style and pricing. We hope this guide has been helpful in comparing and contrasting the two CPA review courses and has given you enough info to make a decision on which course is right for you. However, if you’re still on the fence, here is our final verdict, point-by-point:
Curriculum and Study Material – Edge: Wiley. While our team is a big fan of Gleim’s bite-sized video lessons, the Wiley CPA Excel curriculum is simply too comprehensive and deep. The Wiley coursework is first-rate all the way, with high production value video lessons, live online class sessions and tons of practice material.
Pricing – Edge: Gleim. Given Gleim’s lower price points, they easily win on price. Dollar-for-dollar, Gleim is about the best value in CPA test prep.
Prep Books – Edge: Gleim. We absolutely love Gleim’s concise, outline-style textbooks and place them right up there with Becker for best-in-class. The succinct explanations, bullet point lists and neat organization significantly increase retention.
Practice Exams – Tie. Both prep providers allow students to generate as many practice exams as they wish from their test bank of questions. And each further offers testing interfaces similar to that of the real CPA exam. As such, we give them a tie here.
Interface and User Experience – Edge: Wiley. While both companies provide a practice test software very similar to the real CPA exam interface, that isn’t the only factor. We generally prefer Wiley’s easy-to-use and sleek digital platform – though not by much.
Supplemental Resources – Edge: Gleim. Gleim provides a handful of useful study resources, including personal coaching and support from exam counselors, technical accounting support from CPAs, blog posts, webinars, an interactive study planner, and more. Wiley provides a number of extremely helpful resources themselves, but we just found Gleim’s study aids slightly more beneficial.
Content Access Period – Edge: Wiley. Though both prep providers’ most popular offerings include unlimited access periods, the Gleim basic package only includes 18 months of online access, while Wiley’s starter course gives unlimited access. Hence, the edge goes to Wiley here.
Which CPA review course costs more – Gleim or Wiley?
Wiley’s course offerings are generally more expensive than Gleim’s. The Gleim course packages range in price from around $1,600 to $2,000, while Wiley’s prep products cost anywhere between $1,800 and $2,500.
What’s the main difference between the Wiley and Gleim CPA review courses?
The main difference between Wiley and Gleim is the instructional work. Gleim provides hundreds of helpful, quick hit video lessons, while Wiley provides lengthier, more traditional videos that are supplemented by live class time online.
Which company provides more study material, Wiley or Gleim?
Gleim provides more task-based simulations (1,300 to Wiley’s 500), while Wiley provides more multiple-choice questions (12,000 to Gleim’s 10,000).