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Surgent CPA Review
We take an in-depth look at the Surgent CPA Review course
Surgent CPA Review is all about AI-driven, adaptive learning. In fact, with the study efficiencies gained through their various algorithms, they promise to get you a passing score on each section of the CPA exam in about half the study time of their prep course competitors. But will their focus on scoring gains through efficiency and fancy learning software work for you? We closely examine and review the Surgent CPA Review course in this detailed guide.
Surgent offers its students three comprehensive CPA exam review options from which to choose. These prep packages generally differ by level of resources and accessible content.
Their most affordable option, the Essentials Pass, will cost you right around $1,600. This basic package provides you access to ASAP, Surgent’s proprietary smart software that customizes your study plan as you progress (more on that below). It also offers students video lessons, practice questions and access to E-books, but that is it. There are no frills or add-ons with this course option.
At the next level up, Surgent offers students a middle of the road selection with its Premier Pass. This is Surgent’s most popular course and typically carries a price tag of $2,400 or so, though can often be found on sale for less. This course option has all the same content and access as the Essentials Pass, but adds on hard copy textbooks, flashcards and 1:1 tutoring with a Surgent CPA pro.
Finally, Surgent offers its Ultimate Pass course as a deluxe package for students looking for it all. This prep package contains everything the Premier Pass does, but throws in extra practice material, audio lectures and customer support, in addition to a few other add-ons.
All things considered, these are fairly well-priced packages given the breadth and depth of resources that you get with each prep option, and are really only beaten in terms of value by Yaeger CPA Review. In addition, all three of these packages can regularly be found on sale, so keep your eye out for a promo code or coupon.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication.
The Surgent CPA Coursework and Study Materials
Surgent CPA makes its name with speed and smarts. Built on a foundation of adaptive learning, Surgent takes a different tact from most other CPA exam review courses. Rather than giving you a set of material that you work through in a linear and systematic fashion, they take a very surgical approach to prep.
Their various algorithms, which they refer to as ASAP, pick out your weak points and target improvement in these areas to see a massive jump in your score. They don’t waste time hitting concepts you’ve already mastered trying to eke out some minor incremental gains. Instead, they look for the low hanging fruit.
It is clear Surgent’s intent isn’t to get you a 99 on every section of the CPA exam. And it shouldn’t be! There are no brownie points for getting a score greater than 75, so why bother wasting the time. Surgent is all about efficiency and getting you across the finish line as fast as possible. And that is why they rank so high on our list of best CPA review courses.
To that end, Surgent’s course starts with an assessment. This is the first task you undertake when you log in and it is not a light assignment. The assessment for each section is roughly 350 questions. Don’t log in at 10pm thinking you’ll just do some light studying to kick off your course. This assessment takes time, but it is also critical to Surgent’s study plan.
Their entire AI-driven, adaptive approach is built around getting an initial set of data. And once they get that, they utilize your study plan to optimize study hours and raise your scores across the board. So don’t take the assessment lightly, and definitely don’t skip it. It goes to the heart of what you are paying for with Surgent.
Once you are done with your assessment, Surgent’s smart technology will provide you a “ReadyScore.” This ReadyScore is a predictive score tool that estimates what your grade would be if you sat for that particular section of the CPA exam today. Based on your proven knowledge and progress through the course, it accurately predicts your readiness for the exam through some intelligent analysis. And when I say it is accurate, I mean very accurate. Surgent claims that its ReadyScore tool can predict passing score readiness with 99% accuracy.
This is a fantastic tool and I personally love it. It’s incredible to watch the % chance of passing tick up as you watch videos and work practice problems. There is something extremely satisfying about finishing a quiz and watching the needle jump. With other review courses, you study, and study, and study, and have no measurable way of tracking gains. So this resource is very valuable. And trust its accuracy!
Once you finish your assessment for the section and are given your initial ReadyScore, you will be directed with respect to what to study through your “Daily Surge.” Your Daily Surge is essentially your dashboard for all your study content and it directs exactly what to study in detail. It will tell you what to read, what practice questions to take and which video lessons to watch.
The Daily Surge is an output of the Surgent AI software. As you progress, your Daily Surge will update in real time to reflect re-allocations of study time. It is a pretty incredible tool and I was genuinely very impressed with it. Again, Surgent doesn’t want to waste time studying stuff you already know. They’re just trying to get you in a position where they feel confident that you’ll get at least a 75 based on topic weightings in previous CPA exam administrations.
Another cool adaptive feature that Surgent builds into its study plan is the “MyMCQ” function. MyMCQ is a feature that adapts the difficulty of multiple-choice problems as you work them. If you are crushing multiple-choice questions in your practice sessions, they will ratchet up the difficulty. Or alternatively, if you’re struggling with a subject, they will take it down a notch so can establish the fundamentals before moving on. It is a very cool and helpful tool. There is no sense in going backwards in terms of difficulty, and you always want to be on an upward trend as you learn more. This will make the actual CPA exam a breeze, so I was a big fan of this feature.
Moving beyond the software and functionality of their platform, Surgent offers some great hard resources as well, which are right up there with Becker CPA’s materials. Boasting 7,700+ multiple-choice questions, 400+ simulations, content-rich study books, and 350+ video lessons, there is no shortage of study material.
Starting with the video lessons, Surgent keeps things simple. There are no 2 hour+ video lectures with a professor droning on. They keep their videos short and to the point. Each one is 10 to 20 minutes or so in length and covers a very discrete subject (such as Federal Tax Procedures or Individual Tax Deductions in the REG section).
The videos generally feature your instructor on camera, with a slideshow running in the bottom corner of the screen. Sometimes the layout is reversed with the slideshow taking up the main portion of the screen and your instructor in the bottom corner, but more often than not your teacher takes up the bulk of the screen.
The instructor presents their lesson as the slides roll along, and a transcript below the video container updates with highlighting for a text format of the lecture. There is also a digital notes tool below the transcript that allows you to take some quick notes on your computer as you watch. These notes can be easily accessed later from the dashboard for a fast review.
In my opinion, the video lectures are thorough, but boring. Most of the time the instructor just reads from the slides with waning enthusiasm and little interjection of helpful tidbits (very unlike the Roger CPA video lectures). To be honest, these video lectures were probably my least favorite part of an otherwise stellar course. The video lessons have such potential with solid production value, good content and execution, but have lackluster onscreen talent. If the instructor was just more passionate about the material and added some substance to what’s on the slides, it would go a long way.
This is not to say the video lessons are not good. They are very thorough, clear and succinct. Each covers a distinct topic in great detail and you will definitely know everything you need to know about that subject after the lesson. They could just afford to be more engaging, that’s all.
In addition to video lectures, working practice problems will be at the center of your study plan. As you progress, Surgent’s software knows where you need work and will assign you varied practice sets. This is a key part of your studies. The multiple-choice questions that are assigned are pulled from a bank of 7,700+ questions. Each is well-written and closely replicates what you will see on the actual CPA exam.
Each of the 7,700+ problems are also accompanied by a text explanation. I found these explanations to be fantastic. The explanations break the question down in detail and cover each answer choice, providing well-articulated reasoning and even citing references such as the IRC and regs. In fact, I can’t believe Surgent provides such detailed explanations for thousands of problems. These provide true value and should not be overlooked as a study tool.
As multiple-choice questions only make up roughly half of your score, Surgent additionally gives you access to 400+ simulations. The simulations range widely in type and style, which helps prepare you for the exam. You never know exactly what you’re going to see with the simulations, so having a varied practice material base is valuable.
I thought Surgent’s simulations were pretty good in paralleling real CPA exam simulations, though I wish they popped up on the Daily Surge more often like they tend to with Gleim CPA Review. It seems there was much more emphasis on multiple-choice than simulations in the daily plan, but perhaps that was the plan they customized for me.
All things considered, I think Surgent CPA does an excellent job of wrapping some smart software around a solid bundle of study materials. The video lessons are a little lackluster, though I like the structure and content. I also found the practice questions (both multiple-choice and simulations) to be solid, and their accompanying explanations and model answers are excellent. All in all, I was very impressed with the Surgent coursework and study plan.
Surgent CPA Study Books and Flashcards
Another core component of the Surgent course is the set of hard copy books that go along with the online materials. The Essentials Pass only provides the books in digital form, but you will be mailed a set of print books with the purchase of an upper tier course option. Once you get them, you will be directed nearly daily to read passages from the books, which isn’t the most exciting task.
These prep books are crazy detailed and cover every micro-topic that could ever come up on the CPA exam. Each book is hundreds of pages long. They are basically content bibles for each section of the exam. Fortunately, Surgent’s smart study plan only directs you to read those sections where you are weak. If you had to read each and every book in its entirety, you’d be blind by the end.
Luckily, you can surgically target the areas where you need that level of detail, and in that regard these books are immensely helpful. They are well-written and very clear. If you’re looking to really brush up on a certain topic, turn to the books.
In addition to the prep books, if you signed up for the Premier or Ultimate course, you will be sent flashcards as well. In my opinion, the flashcards are nice, but not a make or break resource. I didn’t find myself reaching for them often. They are great in their own right, with a good breadth of topics covered and detailed definitions, but I got more lift personally from the practice problems and video lessons. But for those learners that like flashcards, you will dig this resource.
User Experience and Interface
Given that Surgent CPA Review’s course revolves around speed, smart software and performance trackers, it is a good thing they deliver an excellent user experience and interface. The cool technology behind Surgent CPA is not just behind the scenes, it also seeps through on the user end.
The dashboard is clean, well-laid out and gives you quick access to your most important features and metrics. You can jump right into your daily tasks (through the Daily Surge), look at your performance trackers, or adjust your study schedule. The look and feel are very modern, and the functionality stacks up as well.
Beyond the dashboard, the rest of the interface is very aesthetically appealing. The practice session screens are sharp and undistracting, and I like how the explanations pop up right away along the right side of the screen in different colors. And the entire digital platform is snappy and responsive. There is never any real lag time.
In addition, the navigation bar easily and clearly directs you to your other resources, and tracking down metrics or finding a study tool is not hard. All in all, it’s a great interface and user experience.
What Supplemental Resources Does Surgent Offer?
As a bonus to your core course materials, Surgent offers a bundle of nice resources ranging in usefulness from “you’ll never look at it” to “you’ll use it almost every day.” Some of these resources include:
Glossary of terms
AICPA released questions
Not a bad bundle of resources, right? My clear favorite (and I’m sure the most used resource) is the set of performance trackers. Surgent is very data driven and provides some excellent trackers to show you how you’re progressing. This includes everything from how many minutes of video lessons you’ve watched, to your % correct on a narrow subtopic of questions, to correct streaks. They track everything and give you some valuable insights through cleverly presented data.
I also found the AICPA released questions to be a great resource. These questions give you a good sense of what real questions will look like on the exam and Surgent provides some excellent accompanying explanations. The other resources provide varying levels of worth, and whether you will use them generally depends on the type of student you are.
1:1 Tutoring with Surgent CPA Review
Both the Premier Pass and Ultimate Pass courses each provide 1-on-1 tutoring with a Surgent CPA exam expert (similar to the mentoring services offered by Wiley CPAexcel). You can use this time however you’d like – to create a plan of attack for studying for the final days before the test, for content review, to discuss testing techniques and strategies, whatever. It is totally up to you. These coaching sessions are not unlimited though, so use them wisely.
I found these sessions to be quite helpful. I used them to design a plan of attack for studying the last 2-3 days before the exam, to maximize my cramming. My coach also answered a few unresolved content questions that I had jotted down as I was studying. The whole session only took 30 minutes, but was super helpful.
My advice would be to go into them with a preset list of questions or topics to discuss. If you go in with no agenda, your coach will just ask more general questions about how you’re feeling about everything and how things have been going. Don’t waste either of your time with such filler – be prepared and make the most of your expert’s knowledge.
Unlimited Online Content Access
While some CPA prep courses will limit your access to their online materials to 12 or 18 months, Surgent leaves the door open until you pass. That’s right – unlimited, lifetime access. This is very nice feature, particularly if you’re already working. As a full-time professional you don’t have much time to study, so taking sections can stretch out months, or even years. So knowing you’ll never run up against a wall with Surgent is a nice benefit.
The Mobile App
As a complement to its core course, Surgent CPA provides a mobile app for studying flashcards. Other courses provide apps that provide access to your underlying course materials, allowing you to work practice problems and watch lectures from your phone. So it is a little disappointing Surgent only provides flashcards through the app. That said, it is not a bad resource at all. There are a ton of flashcards and they all contain well-written and detailed definitions and explanations.
And honestly, for students like me that prefer to learn on desktop anyway, it won’t really matter. I think this flashcards app makes for a nice on-the-go resource when you’re on the train or waiting at the airport and want to catch some quick studying, but that’s about it. It likely won’t become a huge component of your study plan.
Surgent’s Pass Guarantee
It should be noted that Surgent CPA Review does have a money-back pass guarantee, but it carries strict terms. Some of the requirements include failing all 4 sections of the exam consecutively and quick score reporting timelines, which makes the availability of the actual tuition refund a little unlikely for most students. But if you do comply with the terms you can get your money back. Just hope you don’t have to!
Is There a Refund Policy?
Yes. For those students that change their mind about Surgent within 10 days of purchasing the course, you can request a refund. Just note that Premier Pass and Ultimate Pass students will have to pay a cancellation fee. But if life events come up right after committing to Surgent that prevent you from studying for the CPA, it’s nice knowing you can get out (at least for short period of time).
Verdict: Surgent CPA Review
For those students seeking to pass the CPA exam with as little effort as possible or trying to maximize the little study time they have around work, Surgent CPA Review may be just what you need. Driven by some very smart AI, Surgent aims to optimize student’s study plans with efficient gains. Using proprietary algorithms, Surgent looks at a student’s initial assessment and progress to customize a study plan and continually update it in real time based on where they can maximize score increases. This is a huge lift for students with limited time, and the value of their smart tech cannot be overstated.
While I wasn’t crazy about their video lectures, finding them to be a little dry and lacking in the enthusiasm department, the hard study materials are top shelf. The video lessons still deliver some very high-quality substantive content in digestible chunks, and the practice questions are excellent. Each practice question and simulation are accompanied by an incredibly well-written and thorough explanation and/or model answer. In short, Surgent provides a first-rate all-around course for student’s looking to pass the CPA quickly without breaking the bank.
How much does Surgent CPA Review cost?
Surgent CPA Review offers three comprehensive prep options ranging in price from around $1,600 up to $3,000, through most students opt for their Premier Pass option, which runs about $2,400.
Are the Surgent CPA Review lectures live?
The Surgent CPA Review courses are all on demand and ready for viewing when your schedule allows.
Will Surgent CPA Review increase my odds of passing?
Very likely, yes. CPA candidates who study with Surgent CPA Review have historically had an 88% pass rate.