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Whether you're about to graduate from college or you've been wanting to get your CPA for years, you know that it's a big commitment. Taking the four sections of the CPA exam is not only challenging but expensive. Because of the constantly-changing nature of the content of the CPA exam, it can be very difficult for even the best students and seasoned professionals to pass the test without using a very rigorous preparation program.
For nearly half a century, CPA Review programs have helped aspiring accountants to know what to study to succeed on the required tests. Of course, as times have changed, so have many of these providers: what used to be available only in textbooks and later on CD-ROM has now evolved into a format that can be accessed virtually anywhere, using a tablet or laptop to take adaptive practice tests, using a phone to listen to lessons on MP3, and so on.
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Surgent is an expert in Professional Education, offering continuing ed programs and test prep in accounting, tax, and other career paths. The company has been in business for more than 30 years and offers more than 10,000 credit hours across all of their courses.
Impressively, Surgent CPA Review wants you to know exactly how their program works before you make a commitment. You can participate in a live, interactive demonstration of their learning system; it takes 30-45 minutes, and you can ask questions of the demo leader in real time. Also, attendees receive a discount code on their program purchase. We found that link in the FAQ or under the Buy Now heading near the top of the site. You can also try Surgent free for 5 days - just click on the Try For Free link at the top of the page.
There are three course packages available with Surgent CPA Review:
Individual exam sections can be purchased a la carte; all are regularly priced at $549.
Keep an eye out for extra savings. When we visited the site, we got a pop-up offering a $500 discount on a complete 4-course purchase: there was no need to sign up for a mailing list or any other requirement, just a coupon code to enter at checkout. This discount was not available for courses purchased on a payment plan. There was also a 35% discount on the Essentials and Premier packages in a banner on the site.
Have you tried another CPA Review program but still didn't pass? Surgent will offer you a discount from 30-45%, up to $900, with proof of purchase of any competitor product. Plus, Surgent CPA Review has several advantages over other exam prep programs. First, if you choose to use their payment plan rather than pay for everything at once, you won't be charged interest or application fees. Second, your course access has no expiration date: whether you take 6 months or 6 years to study for the CPA exams, you'll always be able to use your Surgent CPA Review materials.
Surgent also is one of the most up-to-date programs available. While many CPA Exam Review programs only update their course materials once a year, Surgent refreshes their content, multiple choice questions, simulation questions, and videos every week based on changes that are made by authoritative bodies like the IRS or FASB. Finally, every Surgent CPA Review client is assigned a Personal Success Coach that can be contacted directly with any questions they have about the course materials, test questions, and so on.
You'll also appreciate Surgent CPA Review's guarantee: if you use their program to study ,but still fail the CPA exam, they'll either refund your tuition or allow you to use the program until you pass, at no extra charge. There are some eligibility requirements for this guarantee - taking all four parts within a year of enrollment in the review course, and viewing all video lectures, for example. Still, this is an impressive feature not commonly found among test prep courses.
Surgent enjoys an "A+" rating with the Better Business Bureau - a good indicator that they deliver what they promise. But, an even better yardstick for their success is their reputation with their students. We found numerous compliments describing the effectiveness of the Surgent CPA Review method, especially the adaptive technology. Some people said they had tried studying with other programs, many of which we also reviewed, but they got bogged down in videos and texts that didn't actually help them know where they should focus their efforts. Surgent, by comparison, allowed them to see exactly what they needed and not what they didn't; the adaptive testing then gave them questions that focused in on their weaker areas of knowledge. Students also praised Surgent's mobile-friendly platform, using their tablets and other devices to catch a few minutes of study during their commute or between other tasks.
Surgent CPA Review is a terrific choice for your CPA Exam test prep needs. If you're looking for a comprehensive program that helps you spend your time on the right topics and gives you unlimited access to your course materials, this is an ideal fit. For all of these reasons, Surgent CPA Review earns our highest rating as the best CPA Exam Review program available today.
The Gleim CPA Review system has been on the market since 1974, one of the longest providers in the industry with more than one million exams passed using their study materials. Their program aims to help students gain as much knowledge as possible without spending time in areas that aren't helpful, using a system that focuses on analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
Gleim offers a free trial, giving prospective customers unlimited access to the first Study Unit in their CPA Review program. We highly recommend that you take advantage of this complimentary access: Gleim's exam prep is known for being heavily geared towards students who are most comfortable using a self-study format, rather than listening to lengthy lectures, which may or may not be what works for you.
When choosing Gleim CPA Review, you'll have three main options:
Be sure to understand what you're getting with each package. For example, you will only be able to get support on your learning path if you choose the Premium tier. That level is also the only CPA review plan offered by Gleim that offers any kind of guarantee: namely, that you'll be able to access all of your study materials for as long as it takes to pass all four sections of the CPA exam.
So, does the Gleim CPA review system work? The company doesn't advertise their pass rate - possibly because they allow students in the Premier plan to keep their study materials until they do pass - but we found plenty of happy customers who used the program and passed all four sections on the first try. Students say that the adaptive study plan really helped them to stay focused. The company also enjoys a solid "A" rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Overall, Gleim CPA Review enjoys a strong reputation spanning decades, and although their program may be best suited for students who don't need long video lessons and can study independently, their comprehensive package comes in at an affordable price.
Becker is one of the most recognized names among CPA Review companies, having started in 1957 and currently with over a million students who've used their program to pass the CPA exam.
This is the only company in our review that offers four approaches to test prep:
If you start the Becker CPA Review program in one format but decide to switch to a different structure, you can do so for a fee of $195.
Most students opt for the Becker Bundle at $3,487, which includes all 4 parts of the CPA Exam, along with these features:
What happens if you don't pass? You may be able to take advantage of the "Becker Promise"; there's a long list of eligibility requirements, but in general you'll get a tuition waiver for reusing the Becker materials for a second round. However, the fine print says that you'll pay a $195/part material and license fee for each section you need to retake, and you'll only have a year to use it. If you don't qualify for this tuition waiver, you are eligible to buy the Becker program again at a discount of 50%. Of course, if you don't pass it the first time, you may not want to pay for it again, even at half-off.
Becker Professional Education, the company that provides the CPA Review program, has an excellent "A+" rating as an accredited business with the BBB. But, what do the students have to say? For those who use the online platform, the feedback is almost entirely positive. They especially like that the Becker mobile app keeps track of their learning and syncs up seamlessly from tablet to smartphone to laptop and back again. They also appreciate that the study time is completely customizable to fit their life, whether they're trying to fit in a few lessons between classes or juggling a full-time job.
On the other hand, those who've used the live classes haven't always found the instructors to be helpful or effective. If you want the live format, you may do better with the LiveOnline program, which gives you the ability to switch instructors to ones that are a good match for your learning style, rather than being obligated to study with the ones that are in your geographic area in the live not-online classes.
Obviously, the biggest drawback of the Becker CPA Review system is the cost: almost double the price of several competitors' test prep programs. And, that cost isn't limited to the program itself: remember that if you don't pass, you will still have to pay money to reuse the course materials for your next attempt at passing the CPA exam.
Becker is still well-respected by the Big 4 accounting companies, because of their longstanding reputation and flexible study options that include live classroom lessons. Their CPA Review can probably help you pass the exam - if you can afford their test prep program.
Founded in 2001 by Roger Philipp, a CPA himself, Roger CPA Review aims to help students make connections with what they learn, in order to better remember important information and apply it both on the test and in real life.
The company's motto is "if you study, you will pass." Their program is comprehensive and can absolutely help you with those studies. Your options with Roger include three main packages:
Financing plans are available through Affirm. You'll see those options listed by each course's price; just be aware that your interest rate will probably be somewhere between 10-30% APR, so it might not be the best option if you have other payment choices (like paying upfront or using savings).
Roger CPA Review offers a free two-day trial of their programs. This is a great way to try out their SmartPath Predictive Technology and see if it's a good fit for the way you learn best. This technology uses data from students who have passed the CPA exam to keep the course up to date, with more than 6,200 multiple choice questions, task-based simulations, and questions released by the AICPA.
This company also has a fantastic reputation, as shown by an "A+" rating with the Better Business Bureau. More importantly, many users of the Roger CPA Review say that the video lectures are engaging - even entertaining - and absolutely accomplish the company's goal of making subjects that might be dry or complex into something memorable and applicable to real-world scenarios. Some customers mentioned having tried other programs with limited success, but finally succeeding in passing all four sections of the CPA exam through using the Roger program.
On the other hand, Roger CPA Review doesn't offer any kind of pass guarantee. Their advertised pass rate is 88%, so you'll have to decide if you like their teaching style well enough to take your chances on those odds with no refund safety net if you're one of the 12% that doesn't pass the exam.
Rogers CPA Review is a solid choice for your test preparation needs, especially with video lectures that have been well-demonstrated to help you easily remember the course materials. You'll just need to spend more for this course than many other options on the market and be willing to accept that there's no guarantee that you'll pass.
Unlike most CPA Review programs, Lambers does not have an all-in-one package. Instead, you'll have to pay for each section/course component individually. Most of their MP3 courses cost $199.95 per class, while the Test Prep software is $149.95. That can really add up, when you start multiplying by the four sections of the exam.
Their testing software is divided into three modes: Pretest, Adaptive Drill, and Simulated Exams. The pretest determines what you've mastered, so that you don't have to spend your time reviewing knowledge you already have. Then, in the Adaptive Drill mode, a custom study plan places heavy emphasis on your areas of weakness and provides explanations with links to your electronic textbook - to help you better understand and review. Finally, the Simulated Exam pushes you in the same way the actual test does, with time limits and tough questions just like what you'll get on the real exams. As Lambers puts it, "There's a right answer, a wrong answer, and then there is the AICPA answer... We teach you and prepare you the way the AICPA wants you prepared."
One of the main advantages of using Lambers for CPA review is their "No Pass, No Pay" Guarantee: if you fail any of the four required exam sections twice, notify Lambers within 30 days of receiving your notice from the test vendor and they will give you a full refund of your purchase.
But, even though this guarantee is extremely customer-friendly, is it enough to make up for a less than up-to-date learning platform? That's up to you to decide, so we recommend that you go through the Lambers Test Prep "Features Tour" to see for yourself. You can also click on the "Free Training" button at the top right corner of the page, to get free CPA practice exams and see if they're a good fit.
Another big drawback to using Lambers is that you have to pay for any support you might need. Known as "Ask the Expert", you should expect to pay just under $300 if you need study tips or other content-specific help during your studies. Many of their competitors include that with their CPA Review services.
We love Lambers' guarantee and their long history in the industry, including an "A" rating with the Better Business Bureau. But, they're definitely one of the more expensive options out there, even though their methods of instruction are a little behind the times. (Do you even have a disk drive on your laptop?)
HR Training Center is part of the Training Center brand, which offers instruction across a variety of careers, such as Engineering, Banking, Insurance, and Human Resources. They offer connections to several different online training courses to prepare you for the necessary exams to get your CPA.
If you prefer to study using DVDs, you can choose a package that includes video lessons for AUD, BEC, FAR, and REG along with PDF textbooks you can print on your own. Interestingly, this course is the Lambers CPA Review Package: one of the competitor CPA Review courses we examined. This is priced at $1,199.80
In fact, the more we dug into it, we found that HR Training Center is just a reseller of other programs. We found most of the other programs we reviewed, from Lambers to Yaeger, all sold at the same price or higher than when buying directly from the company that produced the course.
Browsing the site trying to find the right coursework was confusing. The website is outdated, and not all courses are featured in easy-to-locate places. For example, when following one link to the HR Training Center courses, we found an online video self-study course through CPA Excel, priced at $1,455. But, when we visited the site later and tried to find the same course using the Exam Prep or Certifications links, we couldn't find it. Instead, we were taken to a more expensive course produced by Kaplan.
We found only negative reviews about Training Center products: customers said that they paid the business for their coursework and got nothing, or they were handed off to a third-party service for the review they paid for.
CPA review courses aren't cheap. Why go with a lackluster, third-party reseller if you can work directly with the companies that make the courses? Given that HR Training Center has no listing with the BBB, no positive customer reviews, and hard-to-navigate website, we strongly recommend that you choose one of the higher-ranked CPA prep programs in our review.
When deciding on the best CPA Review program for your needs, you should carefully consider your options based on your learning style, budget, and timeframe. These programs vary widely, and it's important for you to know exactly what you're getting before making a significant financial investment.
In other words, as you compare what different companies have to offer, keep in mind these factors:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best CPA Review Programs available today. We hope this information helps you find the best study plan that will lead you to success on the CPA Exam!
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