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Wiley CPA Excel Review
Our comprehensive analysis of the Wiley CPA Efficient Learning review course
Offering high quality video lectures and some best-in-class practice material quantities, test prep giant Wiley has helped over 500,000 candidates pass the CPA exam with their CPA Excel course. Focused on efficiency gains and maximizing limited study time with adaptive technology, Wiley has made a name for itself as a prep favorite among working professionals with busy calendars. But solid historical passage rates and stacks of practice materials don’t always necessarily mean a review course will be the right fit for you. We discuss all of the strengths and weak points of the Wiley CPA Excel prep course in this full-scale review.
Wiley offers students three varying course options from which to choose, with each ascending course offering additional features. These three courses include:
Essentials Review Course
Pro Review Course
Platinum Review Course
Starting with the Essentials Review Course, Wiley offers CPA candidates an entry level course with limited resources. This prep package is targeted at students who either need a head start on studying for the CPA, or who only need partial access to all Wiley has to offer. While the price tag may sound appealing at roughly $1,800, be aware that this bare bones option lacks many of the most important features. Notably missing from this course’s list of attributes are the video lectures, expert mentoring support, final cram course, hard copy books and many others.
At the next level up, Wiley offers its standard Pro Review Course. This prep package is Wiley’s middle-of-the-road option and gives students most everything that they will need. Adding in video lectures, print flashcards and prep books, mentor support and more, the Pro Review Course has almost all the features the Essentials Review Course lacks. This package will run you around $2,200 and is generally regarded as Wiley’s flagship offering.
Finally, for students not wanting to take any risks in their prep, Wiley offers their Platinum Review Course. This prep package is actually identical to the Pro Review Course, with one exception – it adds in the “11th Hour Final Review Course.” These intensive, last-minute sessions (one for each CPA exam section) pack in as much high-yield material as possible to ready you for the exam. In other words, these are the perfect cramming modules to get you through the final push before test day. These sessions come at a price though, as this course option costs nearly $2,500 (or $300 more than the Pro Review Course).
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication.
Quality of the Wiley CPA Excel Study Material
The quality of most every CPA review course can be measured by the strength of its curriculum, and fortunately for Wiley, they have a very respectable coursework plan. Within each section of the CPA exam, Wiley takes all of the material called for by the relevant AICPA blueprint (the guiding CPA exam material document), and breaks it down into subsections. They then create a discrete assignment for each subsection that needs to be studied.
It is a very practical and straightforward approach to structuring coursework. From your online dashboard in the Wiley CPA Excel portal, you are directed to complete daily assignments. Each assignment generally has the same format. You are taken to that assignment’s master page, which houses a lesson overview, video lecture, text study guide, and an assessment.
The overview basically just sets out what will be learned through the assignment. The real learning then starts in the video lecture. Altogether, there are 140+ hours of video lectures, including 60+ deep dive visual lessons. In terms of format, each video lecture takes the shape of your instructor standing before a digital whiteboard, which is typically a colorful or image-based background (not just sterile, plain, and white). The instructor then gives their lesson while notes and text roll across the screen beside them.
A cool feature is that the text is typically highlighted, colored or bold to emphasize the most important points. This really draws your eye to concepts of emphasis and helps with retention. These lessons are delivered in digestible, short chunks, typically lasting 10-30 minutes depending on the topic.
In my personal opinion, these video lessons add true value to the learning process. The production quality is very strong. The visuals are sharp, the audio is crisp and the digital effects are first-rate. And the instructors clearly break down each subtopic in detail, while keeping the material manageable and understandable. If there was one aspect of these video lectures that I am not keen on, it is the instructor’s enthusiasm levels.
While extremely informative, the instructors are on the boring side. That is not to say these videos are not engaging, they actually are. But they are about as engaging as a university accounting class (which is probably not a shock given most classes are taught by accounting professors). I would just like to see them teach these lessons with more vigor and enthusiasm, similar to Roger CPA Review. But all in all, the video lessons are rock solid and they are absolutely a benefit to the overall experience.
Following each video lecture, you read a section from Wiley’s CPA Study Guide. Essentially, they paste in the relevant section from their prep book that is keyed to the video lesson. These text passages are super detailed and informative, but without being dense. They seem to strike just the right balance of detail with conciseness.
And I really like the 1-2 punch they provide with the video lesson. It is always best to learn content multiple ways, as it helps with comprehension and retention, so I like the fact they structure their curriculum to follow video with text.
Finally, to round out each assignment, you are directed to take an assessment. In other words, it’s quiz time. Each assessment is generally 5 to 15 questions depending on the scope and size of the assignment. These questions test your knowledge of the material you just learned and help to reinforce the most important concepts. Following each quiz you are taken to a results page, which shows your performance. For every question you are given an answer explanation.
On the point of practice problem explanations, this is the one other component of the Wiley CPA Excel course that I was not a huge fan of. Other companies provide in-depth explanations of each and every question in their arsenal, breaking down each problem in detail and covering each answer choice thoroughly. And this is important, as review is generally a big part of the learning process.
Wiley, on the other hand, provides more of a cursory review. The explanations are typically just a couple sentences long, noting why the correct answer choice is correct. While this is usually sufficient to show why you got the problem wrong and provide a brief takeaway (or confirmation of your reasoning if you got it right), it is not ideal.
I would personally like to see Wiley add some more detail around these explanations, particularly each possible answer choice. That said, I recognize Wiley offers a mammoth 12,000+ multiple-choice questions and doing so would be a massive undertaking. Yet I would note Gleim CPA has nearly as many questions (with 10,000+) and they provide such depth in their explanations.
Continuing with the topic of practice material quantity, Wiley CPA Excel’s numbers simply cannot be touched. They offer some outrageous levels of practice materials, including:
12,000+ multiple-choice questions
500+ task-based simulations
4,000 digital flashcards
5,000 true/false drill questions
40+ written communications
Wrap your head around those numbers. Doing every single one of these questions and drills would take you weeks, which is a good and bad thing. It’s good in that you’ll never have a shortage of diverse and high-quality material that allows you to learn by doing. But on the bad side, if you’re a working professional you’ll never be able to get all that done. And that’s where Wiley’s award-winning “FocusMe Technology” comes into play.
This adaptive software developed by Wiley analyzes your performance and adapts your study plan as necessary. It makes practice questions harder or easier where necessary, and re-allocates study time from subjects where you’re strong to subjects where you need improvement. It is a very slick tool, and is what makes the level of practice material manageable. You’ll never have to work every single one of those problems because Wiley’s study plan will have you work only what is necessary to optimize your readiness for the big day.
This cool software is pervasive throughout your coursework and you can see it working in real time. If you take an assessment and do not do well, you can see it shift your study schedule around to accommodate more of those types of questions and material. This is a huge benefit to Wiley students, particularly working professionals, as it makes your efforts much more efficient.
All things considered, I was very impressed with the quality of the Wiley CPA Excel curriculum and coursework. The video lectures are informative and incredibly well-produced, though the engagement factor was a little lacking. And the practice materials are top notch in terms of both quality and quantity. If I had to change one thing, I would request Wiley add a little more detail around the multiple-choice problem explanations, but that’s it. This course is otherwise rock solid and contains more than you will ever need to prep for the CPA exam, yet still keeps things efficient.
Oftentimes one of the best methods of preparing for an exam is to take practice exams under real test-like conditions. So to help you fully prepare for the CPA exam, Wiley allows you to create unlimited practice tests. There is no preset, dedicated practice exams – they recycle questions from their test bank to accommodate this – but it is a great feature nonetheless. The Wiley questions are very high quality, so you are getting practice content that will bring you up to speed.
Additionally, Wiley’s practice software closely resembles the real CPA testing software. Again, practicing under exam-like conditions is critical to getting fully prepared, including the format of the test. So having access to an interface that replicates the real thing is a major advantage.
Wiley CPA Excel Prep Books
In addition to some great video lessons and top flight practice materials, Wiley also provides students access to their prep books, the CPA Study Guides. This is a four-volume set, with each volume covering a section of the exam. As referenced above, various sections of these study guides are pasted in to the individual assignments, but the prep books pull them together in one place with additional content.
In my opinion, these books are a valuable resource, particularly for those individuals who learn well through reading texts. The books are detailed, while managing to stay succinct. They are almost more like topic outlines, breaking matters down in a very organized fashion and containing bullet lists, abbreviations and mnemonics. They distill down the most important stuff into an easily readable format and are seriously helpful.
Students taking the basic Essentials Review Course will only have access to these books in a digital medium (i.e. eBooks). However, students taking the Pro and Platinum course options will get them in print version. Note this if you are a kinesthetic learner that likes to actually feel your prep books.
Wiley’s Live CPA Review Classes
In addition to 140+ hours of on demand video lessons, Wiley also offers some live classes. This is fairly unusual in the CPA prep course industry, as Becker is the only other company that really does this. But while Becker offers fairly robust live offerings, Wiley’s are much more limited. The on demand, pre-recorded lessons make up the vast majority of their lectures and the live classes act as more of a supplement.
There are just a couple per week and you log into a webcast at a pre-set time. I attended a few and found them to be quite helpful, though I think I prefer the on demand lectures. The beauty of the recorded lectures is that everything is scripted, rehearsed and edited to perfection, so there is no wasted time. The live classes on the other hand are just like the classes you are used to. The professors are very knowledgeable and offer interesting lessons, but the classes just aren’t as streamlined.
So I would say the live classes are more of a complement to the recorded video lectures, and while you should attend, don’t bank on them being the heart of your study plan.
User Experience and Digital Platform Interface
Given that almost all of the work you will be doing through your Wiley CPA Excel course is online, it is important that the platform is easy to operate and visually appealing. And I must say, the digital interface of the Wiley CPA Excel platform is worthy of note.
The navigation spans the left-hand side of the screen and directs to all of your resources, including your current assignment, the test bank, flashcards and metrics, among others. It is cleanly laid out and intuitive to operate.
The general appearance is professional and modern, while keeping it simple. There are no distracting images, GIFs, colors or design breaks. It is just clean and straightforward, while staying visually appealing. Basically, it’s what you would expect from a major company like Wiley. And the functionality is fantastic. The portal is snappy and responsive, and load times are next to nothing.
If there was any issue at all, it would be that you can access your current assignment from almost too many places. I know that is odd to say, but you can get to your next assigned task from multiple angles – the dashboard, the assignment timeline, your exam plan, or the current assignment. It’s almost too much – though too much access is really not that big of a deal.
To complete its core coursework, Wiley provides students with a number of excellent study resources. These study aids are intended to benefit students in a number of ways and like myself, most students will use some of these resources frequently, and others never. In any event, here is a list of all the supplemental resources:
1-on-1 mentoring sessions with Wiley’s CPA experts
CPA blog articles and webinars
Personalized exam planner
Additional 1,000 printed flashcards
Printed “Focus Notes”
Task-based simulation video reviews
24/7 customer care support
I will start by pointing out that all of these resources (with the exception of the blog articles and webinars, customer support and exam planner) are all exclusive to the Pro and Platinum courses. So for those eyeing the Essentials package, please bear in mind that you will only get those most basic add-ons if you opt for the starter package.
My favorite of these resources is the 1-on-1 tutoring with Wiley’s CPA experts. Wiley contracts with some very distinguished professors and CPA’s to provide personalized coaching sessions for students in need. Whether you want to talk about test taking strategies or review a particular subtopic, you can access one of these experts for help.
I personally found this to be a major benefit and perhaps second only to Yaeger CPA Review in terms of mentoring helpfulness. I used one of these sessions to game plan a study strategy for the final days leading up to the big day. The coach assigned to me was extremely knowledgeable about the CPA exam and proper techniques for attacking it. I found her to be very smart and she doled out some great advice. I would advise utilizing these sessions and focus on higher level discussions around strategy.
Also of note are the “Focus Notes.” These are basically attack sheets to ready you in the last few days leading up to the test. They contain all of the relevant material distilled down to its most important form and most likely to appear on the exam. They are concise, well-written and also make for great memory aids. I really liked these attack notes.
Content Access Period
When it comes to content access, Wiley has a lifetime partner pass program. Essentially, you get unlimited access to your online study materials until you pass the CPA exam. This is not an uncommon pledge these days (Surgent CPA Review does this as well), but is extremely valuable nonetheless. Though you hope you never have to study for a CPA exam section again after taking the test, it is very comforting knowing you won’t need to buy another course if necessary.
Is there a Mobile App?
To give students maximum flexibility in how and where they study, Wiley provides a mobile app with full access to course materials. Whether you’re sitting on the train on your way home from work, or killing time at the airport, you can access all of your video lectures, practice questions, notes and more.
This is a fantastic benefit, especially considering most other CPA review courses only offer limited mobile app access. In addition, it’s not just the access that makes this feature special. The functionality of the app is incredible. The app is well designed and easy to navigate, even when you’re on a 3-inch screen. The large font and simplified layout make it easy to view your materials and work through practice problems.
For students that are constantly on the go, make sure you factor this into your decision when evaluating Wiley. I am personally a big fan of this mobile app.
Is there a Pass or Money Back Guarantee?
While some test prep companies offer a “pass or money back” guarantee, Wiley does not. This is unfortunate, but not the end of the world. Rather than offering cash back if you don’t pass, they instead give you a lifetime partnership to help you pass. Until you can get across the finish line, you will have full access to all updated Wiley materials. And to be honest, the “pass or money back” guarantees that other prep courses offer are very onerous anyway, oftentimes with such restrictive terms that you couldn’t get your tuition back if you tried. So this isn’t a major loss in my book.
What is the Refund Policy?
If you’re not totally satisfied with your Wiley CPA Excel review course, you can return it within 10 days of purchase for a full refund (less shipping and some other minor costs). This is a very generous policy as compared to other CPA review courses and should give you some level of comfort if you’re on the fence about Wiley.
Verdict: Wiley CPA Excel Review Course
Wiley delivers an all-around sound CPA review course that most any candidate can depend on to get results. Designed to maximize study time and focus on areas that will provide you the biggest gains efficiently as possible, Wiley’s award-winning adaptive technology will be especially appealing to working professionals. Your evolving study plan will focus your efforts on high yield topics through video lessons, text-based study guides and tons of practice problems.
Of note, their video lectures are some of the better ones available in the CPA review market. They are incredibly informative and well-produced, with the highlight being their colorful and visually appealing onscreen notes and graphics. In addition, Wiley boasts some industry-leading practice material quantities, with 12,000+ multiple-choice questions and 500+ simulations. My only two complaints about the Wiley CPA Excel course relate to the video lecturers being a tad on the boring side and the text explanations that accompany the practice problems being somewhat brief. Apart from those minor cons though, Wiley delivers an otherwise stellar CPA review course that rates out very highly on our team’s best CPA review courses list.
How much does the Wiley CPA Excel review course cost?
The Wiley CPA Excel review course ranges in price from around $1,800 up to nearly $2,500, with most students opting to take Wiley’s middle road or most expensive course option.
What is the highlight of the Wiley CPA Excel review course?
The highlight of the Wiley CPA Excel review course is the quantity and quality of available practice problems. Offering 12,000+ multiple-choice questions and 500+ simulations, it is hard to compete with this level of practice material.
Is Wiley CPA Excel worth it?
After a full review, our expert team believes the Wiley CPA Excel review course is worth the money. Boasting excellent video lectures, high quality practice materials, and some very helpful support, it is a great all-around course for working professionals.