Choosing a CPA review course to help you prepare for the CPA exam is a very important decision because it directly impacts whether or not you’ll pass your exams and become a Certified Public Accountant. Finding the right CPA prep course will make or break your attempts to pass this notoriously difficult test.
With so many top-rated CPA study materials out there to choose from, how are you supposed to know which ones will actually work for you? The key is to look at each CPA prep course and see how it fits your learning style and strengths.
Trust me. The entire process of becoming a CPA is challenging, but the exam is the biggest hurdle. This is why choosing the best CPA exam prep course is crucial. Quite honestly, the difference between successfully passing the exam or failing it depends largely on how well your study materials prepared you.
There are many who end up purchasing the wrong CPA review courses the first time around, fail the test and end up having to pay for two CPA courses before they find the right one. Using the wrong CPA prep course could cause you to fail a section or two and cost you months of CPA study time along with the feeling that you can’t do it.
Unfortunately, most people who fail a section get discouraged because they think they aren’t smart enough to pass. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Most people who fail a section do so because their CPA exam prep materials didn’t prepare them well enough.
Think smart and pick the CPA review materials that will work for your study habits and lifestyle. I know you can pass the CPA exam with the right course just like I did. That’s why I’ve personally used and tested all of the major online CPA exam review courses out there and summarized their pros and cons to help you pick the best one for you, no matter which section of the exam you take first. I hope this comparison chart and my product reviews will help you make the right decision and find the best one, so you can start your career as a CPA!
Our Top 2 CPA Exam Review Courses & Study Materials
- Video Lectures: 250+ hrs
- Test Bank Questions: 9,200+
- Simulations: 580+
- Unlimited Access: Yes!
- Final Review Included: Yes!
- Free Trial: Yes!
Top 7 Best Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam Review Courses: 2021 Comparison Guide
Compare the Best Online CPA Study Materials and Certified Public Accountant Prep Courses of 2021 :
Now let’s review the top 10 best CPA Review Courses listed below, noting their teaching styles – make sure they match your preferred learning technique.
To help you start your search, here’s an overview of ten of the best-known CPA exam review courses – read on and take your pick!s.
How do you rate Becker CPA Review?
The best-known CPA review course is undoubtedly Becker CPA Review.
It’s highly recommended for its large bank of relevant practice questions, well-written textbooks, and the structured materials. Its cost can be intimidating, and some of the live lectures have been criticized by students, but it’s still the best option for CPA students as a whole.
If you need structure and are an auditory learner, Becker is a great choice. And if you’re only worried about the price tag, it could still be a great pick thanks to its flexible financing options. Keep reading to learn more!
Becker has partnered with Sana Labs to bring their students award-winning technology to enhance their Adapt2U exam technology. As you progress through the course, your abilities are gauged and the AI gives you harder questions where you’re really good, and gives you more practice in areas you’re struggling. They also have the best instructors, all are experts in their field, they are also very engaging. Becker instructors like to use mnemonics that you’ll never forget and include a little splash of humor to keep you listening. With a collective 60+ years of experience, you will always have support while studying for the CPA exam. Becker is the only provider that offers instructor-led TBS videos. They have over 400+ SkillMaster videos that provide step-by-step instruction. Very important considering half the exam are Task-Based Simulations. Becker offers self-study, live-online classrooms and live-in person classrooms. All these options ensure that you get the perfect experience for you.
The lack of audio courses is glaring when you consider the cost of Becker’s study materials. And while you can work around this with their video content, it’s just not the same.
Despite these concerns, rest assured that this is still the best choice for CPA students if they want to start their accounting careers in the best way possible!
Becker CPA Review Discount & Promo Codes
Surgent CPA Review Course
Surgent CPA Review is a great choice for CPA candidates looking to master their certification exam. If you want to learn the ins and outs of public accounting with the most advanced learning technology, give Surgent a shot.
Some of Surgent’s features include:
- Adaptive learning tools that make custom study plans for each student
- ReadySCORE rating system that accurately predicts exam readiness
- Free content updates applied automatically
- Over 350 video lectures and over 7,700 practice questions
Surgent’s Adaptive Study, Accelerated Performance (A.S.A.P.) system is what sets its CPA review course material far above and beyond any other prep course. It ensures that each and every enrolled student receive a tailor-made study schedule that makes the most of their valuable time. The result is the shortest exam-ready time frame, on average, their students are exam-ready in 58 hours.
Students enrolled in Surgent CPA Review won’t be left in the dark wondering how ready they actually are for the exam thanks to their ReadySCORE technology. This feature updates as candidates complete their coursework, providing an overall readiness metric that correlates to their chances of obtaining a passing grade with frightening accuracy.
CPA candidates who spring for Surgent’s Ultimate Pass will receive all the mentioned features as well as an audio version of their lecture content, an integrated test bank, and the ultimate customer support.
If you’re on a tight budget and can’t pay full price in one go, Surgent offers financing plans ranging from 3 months to one year.
The bad news is that Surgent doesn’t have a mobile app for most of their prep course. However, they do provide mobile compatibility with most smart devices and a separate flashcard app.
As far as cost goes, Surgent CPA Review is on the higher end of the spectrum. However, every cent of its price tag is justified due to the powerful adaptive learning technology and a huge library of educational materials included.
Surgent CPA Review Course Discounts & Promo Codes
Save $1,150 off Surgent CPA Review Ultimate Pass
Save $1,100 off Surgent CPA Review if you’ve failed the exam
Save $1,000 off Surgent CPA Premier Pass!
Save $350 off Surgent CPA Essential Pass!
Surgent CPA 0% Financing
Gleim CPA Review
Gleim is another affordable alternative that stands out through its extensive material.
With an impressive number of multiple choice questions and task-based simulations, detailed textbooks and both video and audio lectures, Gleim is the way to go if you are ready to put in the effort and need the right study materials to support you.
Priced at around $1,999, Gleim CPA Review is more affordable than Becker and includes an audio review for each section of the CPA exam for free.
They provide students with over 100 hours of video and audio lectures. The audio content in particular is extremely helpful since you can download it offline and take it with you on the go. This is a huge deal if you like to study while washing the dishes, walking the dog, or while engaging in similar activities.
With over 13,000 multiple choice questions and 1,300 simulations, Gleim supports the old adage that “practice makes perfect.” But if you’re worried about getting lost in all that sauce, they’ve implemented SmartAdapt technology to guide you through your studies.
The various types of simulations available will help you feel confident and prepared before the exam. The modular approach to studying, thoughtful design and helpful videos create a great overall experience.
By being part of the Gleim CPA Review System, you will also benefit from the help of a Personal Counselor in finding difficult answers and creating your own study plan.
The textbooks are very comprehensive and detailed and feature a lot of technical jargon. While this may suit some users, others may find themselves overwhelmed.
As the course is available in Premium and Traditional formats, some important features are only available to Premium users at a higher cost.
These include access to expert help and instructor videos as well as unlimited access until you pass the exam.
Gleim CPA Review Discount & Promo Codes
UWorld Roger CPA Review Course
UWorld Roger CPA Review course is known for being motivational and entertaining.
A mixture of:
- Attention-grabbing lectures
- 24/7 online support
- Great mobile app
- Long access period
make this review course one of the best on the market.
Roger Philipp teaches the course in a style known as the Roger Method. This is a style that will keep you from dozing off during the lectures.
Roger’s personality and visual teaching will help you get through many hours of difficult concepts. Furthermore, it’ll also help students to understand topics in depth.
If you’re a visual learner and find it difficult to maintain attention and motivation, this is a big advantage.
The course also presents you with useful memory aids to make recalling essential information easier. The important concepts are covered without overwhelming you.
The textbooks themselves are laid out in an intuitive fashion and explore the content in more depth.
If you tend to do most of your studying online, you will appreciate the Roger CPA online platform, which allows note-taking during video lectures and video bookmarking to review difficult sections at a later time.
The lectures may be a little fast-paced for some students, although you can adjust the speed and add captions. But if you prefer slower lectures, this may be a problem.
What’s more, the lectures can sometimes explore areas that are not relevant to the exam.
Another issue with the Roger course is that it has an expiration date – access is valid only for 18 months with their popular Premier package. However, their newly redesigned Elite-Unlimited tier offers unlimited access and many more appealing benefits!
Finally, there’s the Study Hub. It’s a great resource if someone has already asked your question; and out of their library of 17,000+ submissions, that’s pretty likely. However, you can only ask questions if you’re a member of the Elite-Unlimited club.
UWorld Roger CPA Review Discount & Promo Codes
Fast Forward Academy CPA Review
Are you looking for an affordable, personalized review course that doesn’t spoon-feed you? If so, Fast Forward Academy has a review course for you!
Nobody will hold your hand through the course. However, you’ll get feedback on the areas in which you need to improve and you’ll be able to manage your time better.
As you take practice exams, the Fast Forward Academy Course will point you towards the information that you need to review in order to improve.
A new personalized simulation will then test your knowledge in those specific areas.
The feedback will help you concentrate your efforts towards the areas that matter most.
Another main advantage of Fast Forward Academy is the over 6,800+ multiple choice questions drawn from previous CPA exams.
This extensive database will ensure that you’ve had plenty of practice before the big day comes.
Other features that make Fast Forward Academy an attractive choice are the:
- unlimited access
- free updates
- friendly interface allowing for color-coded notes and highlighted text
In addition, you can access free trials of other features such as the study planner or more multiple choice questions (in case the thousands already available aren’t enough).
Finally, the course is affordable (around $850 for the online version) and can be paid in four installments.
While the Video Explanations will help you with the most difficult questions in each section, the Fast Forward Academy course does not contain video lectures. If you are looking for structure and guidance, this may not be the course for you.
But if you study well independently and learn through practice, the course has everything you need. You can also use it to complement other study materials with its large question database.
Fast Forward Academy is relatively newer and less established than other review courses, so it may be more difficult to assess its quality before enrolling.
On the flip side, students may find that the lower cost compensates for that.
Fast Forward Academy CPA Discount & Promo Codes
Yaeger CPA Review
Yaeger CPA Review is known for its in-depth material and traditional style lectures.
Based on the Wiley books and accompanied by explanatory instructor videos, Yaeger is an affordable alternative for those wishing to explore the study material extensively.
The video lectures explain concepts step by step, ensuring a deep understanding of exam topics. You will navigate difficult problems and multiple choice questions with the help of qualified instructors.
The Yaeger course is probably the closest to a classroom experience, so it can be a perfect fit if that’s your ideal studying setting. Over 4,000 multiple choice questions will help you practice what you learn.
The Yaeger course is also well-known for great customer support, with a live instructor hotline to provide personal assistance with any challenging questions that you might encounter.
The instructors on this course do their best to be available to students at all times.
The traditional lecture format may not be everybody’s cup of tea – after all, you’ve already taken plenty of accounting classes.
If you feel like you learn faster independently, this course may not be for you.
Other drawbacks are the extra fee charged for an audio course (over $400) and the expiration date (access is provided for 18 months).
Lambers CPA Review
With a streamlined set of video lectures and practice questions, this course is constantly updated with new material to match all changes to the CPA exam. It’s also very affordable, especially if you only need help with one or two exam sections.
Unfortunately, you won’t get any flashcards or audio lectures if you enroll in Lambers. They also don’t offer as many videos or practice questions as Gleim— but they still provide enough to help you pass the exam.
Universal CPA Review
Lambers CPA Review
The less-known Lambers course has been on the market for a long time and offers a combination of:
- study materials
- video lectures
- as well as an effective audio course.
The Lambers Review course is affordable, yet established, having been around for over 45 years. It also offers a money-back guarantee should you use the course and fail the same exam twice.
A strong point of the Lambers course is the audio review, which makes it easy to study on the go.
Listening to Lambers’ professors work through difficult problems can be very helpful, especially if you learn well from explanations.
The iPod course also helps you utilize the time spent on your commute or in waiting rooms.
Most of the video lectures are well-structured and very clear. Qualified instructors explain concepts and work through problems to ensure an in-depth understanding of the topics.
There are over 130 hours of lectures and many live webinars that can be accessed without restrictions for as long as you need to. And as a bonus, the software is also easy to navigate and includes one year of free upgrades.
Finally, the course also includes around 4,300 multiple choice questions to help you prepare for the exam.
On the downside, the Lambers video lectures are not very entertaining and can vary widely in terms of quality.
Mistakes may also creep up in the simulations or the textbook itself. Hence, you should make sure to double-check concepts that you don’t understand well.
Furthermore, some topics may benefit from further explanation. Consequently, this may not be ideal for somebody who has been out of university for a while.
Another issue with Lambers is that it doesn’t have a widespread customer base. Thus, it is much more difficult to gauge whether it is the right choice for you.
Common CPA Exam Review Course Questions
Do I need to buy CPA review course in order to pass the CPA exam?
Although I would like to say you don’t need one, the truth of the matter is, yes, everyone should buy some type of CPA prep materials. You’ll need a set of CPA study materials for a variety of reasons.
- College doesn’t teach you everything that’s on the exam. You can’t really rely on your college class to fully explain it every topic that’s covered on the exam. That’s where CPA review courses step in and fills in the holes.
- Even if it did teach you everything, you can’t remember everything you learned in college. It’s impossible to remember everything you learned in all of their college classes. Plus, the exam is weighted differently than your college classes. Some topics are worth more than others and some topics are covered at all. A proper CPA exam study guide will not only help you fill the knowledge gaps from your college courses, but it will also help you study the things that are actually going to be on the exam.
- It’s just plain smart to get one. The cost for a study guide is far cheaper than having to retake one or two sections multiple times. Not to mention all of the wasted time and built up stress you’ll have if you fail an exam section because you didn’t have a study guide to help you prepare.
It’s not impossible to pass the exam without having a study guide, but I wouldn’t recommend. :)
How Do I Choose What CPA Exam Prep Course is Right for Me?
Choosing the right CPA prep course comes down to understanding four things about yourself:
- Learning style
- Current knowledge of accounting topics
If you sit down and think about each one of these things, picking the right CPA course will be pretty easy. Let’s look at each one in more detail.
How do I identify my strongest learning style for my CPA review course?
A learning style is related to the idea that people learn differently and understand information better when it’s presented in different ways. You might have subconsciously realized this while studying for some of your college classes. For instance, you might understand information better when it’s presented to you in an example by an instructor, while your friend might learn better just by reading the textbook. This makes sense and you should take advantage of this when studying for the CPA exam. But first, we need to figure out what learning style you are.
Here are four main different types of learning styles that students generally gravitate to:
- Visual Learning – learn by watching others
- Auditory Learning – learn by listening to others
- Interactive Learning – learn by doing
- Independent Study – learn by independently reading study materials and working problems
Different review courses specialize in different teaching techniques. The key is to pick the CPA course that matches your learning style. We’ve noted these for you in each product review.
How much should I spend on my CPA review course?
CPA exam study materials are not cheap, but they don’t have to break the bank either. Just because one course is more expensive than the other doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily better or that’s even right for you. Before you start looking at price tags, you should ask yourself these four questions:
- Are you paying for your study materials yourself?
- How much can you spend?
- Will your employer be covering you?
- Can I get a CPA scholarship?
First, figure out what your learning style is and look at the courses that apply to that style. Then figure out how much money you have and how much you can afford to spend on the study materials. One thing to remember is that this is an investment. Successfully passing the CPA exam will likely improve future pay, give you access to promotions, enable you to take on more responsibilities.
Don’t go straight to the least expensive review course. Trust me; failing the exam of one or two times is more expensive than just buying the right CPA review course to begin with.
If you haven’t asked your employer or looked for CPA exam scholarships, make sure to do so.
Are expensive CPA study guides better than a cheap CPA review course?
As consumers, we are trained to think that the more expensive product is somehow always better and higher quality. That’s not always the case, but there are benefits that you can only get with a premium course.
For example, Gleim costs more than Lambers but offers twice the amount of practice questions. Do you need a large test bank to study effectively? If so, the extra price is worth paying. But what if you can’t fit it into your budget?
In these situations, the best course of action is to look for some kind of financing option or payment plan, such as the ones offered by Becker and Surgent. Alternatively, you can opt for a lower-priced tier, such as Gleim’s CPA Exam Mega Test Bank. This way, you can get the best of both worlds.
How do I make a CPA exam study schedule?
Everyone has different responsibilities in life. Some people are married, some have kids, and some people are working two or three jobs. Everyone has a different schedule, so naturally, everyone will have a different study schedule.
The important thing is and when you study; it’s that you study. The key to passing the exam is study consistency. You need to figure out when you can set aside one or four hours a few days a week to do nothing but study.
Keep your schedule consistent, so that you’re studying the same days each week at the same times. I know this sounds crazy structured, but it’s the only good way to make consistent steady progress.
If you pick your exam date, map out your study plan or study schedule, and actually stick to it, you’ll have no problem passing the exam. As the saying goes: studying for the exam is a marathon, not a sprint.
How much does a CPA review course cost?
According to the AICPA, the average cost of a CPA review course is about $1,500. Here’s a list of the most popular CPA study materials along with their prices:
|CPA Review Courses||Study Material Cost / Price|
|Surgent CPA Prep||$2,559|
|Wiley CPAexcel Review||$1,985|
|Becker CPA Review||$3,393|
|Roger CPA Review||$1,985|
|Gleim CPA Study Materials||$1,799|
|Fast Forward Academy CPA||$1,399|
|Yaeger CPA Review||$1,295|
|Ninja CPA Review||$67 Monthly|
|ExamMatrix CPA Review||$60|
|MDS CPA Review||$1,799|
|CPA Review For Free||FREE|
How much is the Becker CPA Review Course?
|Becker CPA Review Course||Cost / Price|
|Single Section Price||$1,131|
|Cost to Repeat the Course||$$565 per section|
Becker CPA is by far the most expensive course on the market today, but just remember that more expensive isn’t always better. Some people have a lot of luck with Becker and some people hate it and end up failing the exams several times in a row. The price tag doesn’t make the course good or right for you.
You should be focusing on a course that fits your learning style and one that’s going to help you pass the exam not necessarily the one with the biggest price tag and the biggest name.
How much does it cost to get a CPA and become a Certified Public Accountant?
According to the AICPA, the average cost to become a CPA is approximately $1,500– not including any study materials. Here’s a breakdown of all the major costs associated with becoming a CPA and getting in your CPA license.
|Steps to become a CPA||Costs and Fees|
|Total Exam fees:||$850|
|AICPA Ethics Exam fee:||$100|
|State License fee:||$250|
|CPA Review Course||$1,500|
Keep in mind that all of these fees vary from state to state, as do the requirements. For example, some states don’t require candidates to complete an ethics exam at all. Alternatively, other states only charge $50 for a CPA license. Contact your state board or NASBA for the exact cost to become a CPA in your state.
What is the CPA Exam Pass Rate?
According to the AICPA, the CPA exam pass rate averages approximately 50% for each CPA section. In 2019, the average pass rate was 53.2% with the hardest section being FAR. This average varies slightly from one testing window to the next and from one year to the next. This only makes sense since the exam format changes almost every year. Additionally, the overall information covered on each exam section changes as well.
Generally, the first two testing windows have lower CPA exam pass rates from the second two testing windows. There’s a lot of speculation as to why this is the case, but no one really knows for sure and the AICPA isn’t explaining the differences.
Personally, I think the differences and past rates between the first half of the year and the second half come down to new exam formats and working schedules. Typically the format of the CPA exam coincides with the calendar year. Thus, the first group of candidates taking a new exam format is in the first quarter. It makes sense of the first group of people would have a harder time with the new format than later groups.
Likewise, many people take the CPA exam are also working during tax season. It’s understandable that many of these people will fail the exam in the first quarter because they’re busy working 80- 100 hours per week and trying to study at the same time.
Don’t let these CPA pass rates scare you. Anyone can past the exam their first time if they’re willing to set a schedule, stick to it, and study consistently.
Can I get my CPA License of Certification Online?
The short answer is, no, you cannot become a CPA completely online. However, you can get an online accounting degree that will meet the minimum educational requirements to sit for the CPA exam. Additionally, you can also take an online CPA Study prep course to prepare for the exam.
You will, however, have to take the CPA exam at a Prometric testing center. You can’t take the actual CPA exam online wherever you’d like.
How long does it take to become a Certified Public Accountant?
According to the AICPA, the average time it takes for a candidate to become a Certified Public Accountant is approximately 6 years. This timeframe includes:
- 4 years – Bachelors degree
- 1 year – Extra 25 college credit hours to meet the 150 requirement
- 1 year – Pass the CPA exam
Obviously, these are just rough averages. Many people are able to become certified in much less than six years while others take almost a decade to get their license.
Can you become a CPA without an accounting degree?
Yes, you can become a Certified Public Accountant without an undergraduate accounting degree. However, if you don’t have a bachelors degree in accounting, you might be out of luck. Essentially, most states require that you have a masters degree in accounting or business. These two meets the minimum required accounting courses.
Keep in mind that educational requirements are set at the state level, so you stay has different requirements. If you were thinking about becoming a CPA and don’t know if you meet your state’s minimal requirements, you should contact your state board and send them your college transcripts.
What if I fail a CPA exam section? Is that okay?
Don’t worry about it if you fail one CPA exam section. You’re in good company. The vast majority are Certified Public Accountants failed at least one exam part during their certification process.
Believe me. No one is going to ask whether you passed all four sections the first time or whether you failed one or two of them. The only thing employers care about is whether you have your CPA or you don’t.
Don’t worry about failing. Just take the exam as many times as you need to pass.
How do I overcome a failed CPA exam attempt?
Feeling a section of the CPA exam is tough mentally, psychologically, and physically. You work for weeks on end studying for a section just to find out that you weren’t good enough and you failed it. It’s a huge blow to your self-esteem and downright depressing thinking about having to start all over studying again.
Don’t worry it is possible to come back from a failed CPA exam attempt. You just need to stay positive and look on the bright side. Studying for a section should be easier the second time around, right?
Try to think about what you did wrong on the exam and what you did wrong in your previous study sessions. Figure out what you need to study more like the areas you had a hard time with on the exam. Also, take a look at your last study schedule and see how you can improve it to have more focused study sessions this time around.
How do I overcome CPA exam stress?
Stress and test anxiety is one of the biggest reasons why people fail the CPA exam. It’s difficult to read questions and analyze answers when you are worried about taking the exam!
The best and easiest way to overcome CPA exam stress and test anxiety is just to be prepared. Pick out a CPA exam prep course that fits your learning style and helps you focus on the key topics that’ll actually be on the exam. This will go a long way towards reducing or eliminating your stress.
Which CPA exam section should I take first?
A lot of people have a lot of different opinions on this topic, but I’m the only one who’s right. :)
You should take the CPA exam section that you feel most comfortable with first. For example, if you worked for the last several years as a tax accountant, you should probably take REG first.
Taking your most familiar section first will help you pass it and give you a boost of confidence for your next section. Additionally, it will also provide useful insurance in case you are up to 18-month window toward the end of your CPA journey.
For instance, if you were unable to pass all four sections in the 18-month window, your first passed section would expire. Hence, you would have to take it over again. Therefore, if you took your hardest section first, you have to take it again. This isn’t a great plan. I would much rather take my easiest section twice than my hardest section.
CPA Exam Prep Strategies – Summary
Whether you thrive on video lectures, mnemonics, self-study, relentless practice or audio explanations, there is a CPA review course for you – and indeed many that feature all of these elements.
Shop around before making a decision, as your studying will be structured around the CPA review course that you choose.
If you know your study habits and your needs, the right course will guide you through these difficult months, motivate you and keep your studying efficient.
Most students find that independent reading and freely available simulations are not enough to help them pass – and with a 49% CPA exam pass rate, you don’t want to be taking any chances.
Find the right balance between price, study material, practice questions, and software – even if that means combining several different sources.
In the end, it’s your own hard work and effort that will help you pass the CPA exam; make sure you choose the CPA exam review course that can focus your efforts in the right direction. That makes sitting down in front of your computer every day a little bit easier.