When choosing a CPA Exam prep course, don’t be intimidated by all of the options and features available. Understand the factors that make the biggest difference:
- How the course will help you save time
- How the course measures progress
- What learning formats are available
- Tutoring and support
Take a look at key differences between Surgent and Becker to help you determine your best fit.
Course expiration and cost
Surgent: Whether you purchase an individual study course or a four-part package, Surgent gives you course access until you pass. Additionally, all Surgent courses are continuously updated to reflect new exam additions and updates by the AICPA.
See Surgent’s pricing below:
- Individual Section (BEC, REG, AUD, or FAR) $599
- Essentials Pass (includes all four sections) $999
- Premier Pass (includes all four sections) $1,599
- Ultimate Pass (includes all four sections) $1,999
Surgent also offers a money back guarantee for all purchasers who complete their course and meet requirements.
Becker: Becker’s top three tier courses feature unlimited access; other Becker review courses have an expiration window of 24 months. See Becker’s pricing below:
- Individual Section (BEC, REG, AUD or FAR) $849
- Advantage (includes all four sections) $2,499
- Premium (includes all four sections) $3,099
- Pro (includes all four sections) $3,799
- Concierge (includes all four sections) $5,999
For most courses, Becker’s pass guarantee states that they refund $250 per section, and no more than $1000 total if you meet qualifications. As an exception, Concierge purchasers are eligible for up to a 100% refund of the purchase price if they meet requirements.
Overview of the technology and exam prep
Below, we’ll cover the essential parts considered in adaptive learning technology, and how well Surgent and Becker stack up in each category.
Assessing your knowledge
One of the key features of adaptive learning technology is its ability to judge how much you already know and compare it to what you need to know in order to pass. The whole idea behind adaptive learning technology is it improves your weaknesses and fortifies your strengths, helping you study less overall. Pre-study assessments must be thorough enough to identify your weaknesses; once you finish them, the results should directly impact what you study and for how long.
Surgent – The A.S.A.P.® Technology features an Assessment Phase consisting of 10 quizzes with a total of 350 questions. These quizzes contain questions pulled from all areas of the exam. You answer these questions using the knowledge you currently have; Surgent then creates a detailed diagnostic report and shows you your ReadySCORE (score prediction metric) once you finish answering.
This baseline ReadySCORE correlates to what you would get on the exam should you take it that day, giving you an idea of how you stack up against the exam before you even start studying. Your results in the Assessment Phase are directly reflected in your personalized study plans; the algorithm will create an individualized study path for you.
Becker – The Adapt2U technology, powered by a third party company, has one brief quiz at the beginning of each module to assess your knowledge. It then provides a recommended self-study path based on that quiz.
True adaptive learning technologies should include an interactive study planner that takes into account when you can study, for how many hours, and your exam date. The study planner should adapt to how well you’re progressing through the material so you study the correct material and correct amount on each day.
Surgent – The Study Plan is built to close the gaps identified in your Assessment Phase, taking into account when you say you can study, as well as your exam date. The planner (along with which material you see) continually updates based on how you’re progressing through the materials.
Becker – A static study plan is created based on the recommended study path created after the brief pre-assessment quiz.
Adaptation throughout the course
Since the point of adaptive learning technology is to optimize the learning path for each student, what a student needs to study should be continually updated as they progress throughout the course. If they excel in one area and are weak in another, the materials should adjust to help them work on weaker areas. This type of adaptation gives CPA candidates a truly individualized experience and has them study the right content at the right time for them.
Surgent – The real-time algorithm is constantly adapting to the student’s progress, while also considering real CPA Exam content weighting. Unique study recommendations are presented via the Daily Surge, where a student can choose to answer multiple choice questions, watch bite-sized video lectures, review reading materials, or practice simulation questions.
A student’s ReadySCORE is also continually updated to reflect any changes in progress. As the ReadySCORE improves throughout the review course, students get an accurate reflection of what their actual exam score would be in real-time.
Becker – Interactive tools to assess readiness are presented as camdidates progress throughout the course. However, there is no continuous adaptation. Students work through the recommended study path. Content is structured based on the original, brief quiz. Recently, Becker partnered with a third-party company to include “personalized review sessions” (PRS) at the end of each module. The PRS includes questions that students have skipped, gotten wrong, or even gotten right from each module. The PRS is not an adaptive platform. It does not influence study plans, nor will it reduce study hours. In fact, it may increase overall study time.
Final exam review
Before taking the exam, candidates need to make sure they’re prepared for aspects beyond subject matter comprehension, including how to manage their time and how to use exam resources. Below, we’ll look at the final exam review portion of both Surgent and Becker CPA Review courses.
Surgent – Students may take unlimited practice exams which mimic the real CPA Exam, with both multiple-choice practice questions and simulations. The exams include the same timing and tools as the real CPA Exam so candidates can practice time management and get familiar with the tools presented on the actual exam. Students are also presented with their cumulative ReadySCORE; a score of 80 or more means candidates are likely to sit and pass.
Becker – The final review is meant to strengthen a candidate’s performance on the most heavily-tested topics. Unlimited practice exams are available per exam section in CPA Study Packages. These exams are meant to mimic the actual exam so candidates can practice time management and become familiar with the tools on the actual exam.
Average study hours
CPA Exam candidates often lead busy lives, whether they are just out of school or are working full-time. It is therefore essential that candidates choose a course that helps them pass as efficiently as possible. Below are the estimated average number of study hours per part of the CPA Exam for Surgent and Becker CPA Review.
Surgent hours reflect actual recorded average times of all students using the course. Since the experience does not change for individual students using the Becker course, hours are estimated based on the amount of time it would take an average student to study all of the materials in the course.
Surgent – 109 hours for the full exam
- These hours reflect the average study hours for students who self-reported scores in 2022.
Becker – 190 hours per part
- These hours are estimated based on the amount of time it would take an average student to study all of the materials in the course.
Support outside of the course
Your CPA course’s CPA Review study materials will be your number one tool to prepare for the CPA exam, but sometimes candidates need a little extra boost from a real person to help them pass. Below, we’ll compare the resources offered outside of the CPA Review materials for Surgent and Becker CPA.
Your CPA course’s study materials are an important piece in preparing for the CPA Exam, but most candidates would benefit from help from a real person.
Below, we’ll compare the CPA Exam tutors and resources offered outside of the exam prep materials.
Surgent – Both Premier Pass and Ultimate Pass come with three 30-minute 1-on-1 sessions with a CPA Exam prep success coach.
- Coaching – Similar to SAT prep, a Surgent exam coach helps you learn the techniques to study and test smarter. When you learn how to study effectively and answer test questions more accurately, you’ll progress through your course quickly and improve your exam score.
- Course content support – Furthermore, all Surgent courses come with content support. Reach out via email for any questions regarding course material, and an expert will get back to you in two days.
Becker – Becker CPA Exam Review offers a one-hour call as an add-on, or five one-hour tutoring sessions as part of their Pro package. These calls include guidance on difficult questions and course material.
Unlike Surgent coaches, Becker tutors are more focused on helping you with difficult concepts than test-taking strategies. It’s up to you to find your weaknesses and reach out for help on specific questions.
Remember, choosing a CPA Review course is a highly personal decision. How you study, what baseline knowledge you have in each section based on your schoolwork and/or work experience, and how long you have to study may be vastly different from another student looking to pass the exam. When choosing study materials, make sure you choose the review course that is individualized to your needs, and you’ll be opening that passing score report on your last exam in no time.
|Surgent CPA Review
|Becker CPA Review
|All of our courses give you full access until you pass.
|Becker allows unlimited course access for its top three tier courses, and 24-month access to the rest.
|Options for 1-on-1 coaching sessions, focusing on test-taking skills
|Options for 1-on-1 tutoring, focusing on course material
|Customized study plan
|A.S.A.P.® Technology works continuously throughout the course to help you identify your weak areas, focus your studies and reduce study time.
|Adapt2U technology provides a custom plan that does not adapt as you learn. While certain material is prioritized, candidates must ultimately study everything.
|Payment plan fees
|Surgent offers 3, 6, or 12 month payment plans through Affirm. Rates vary from 0-30% APR, which is the only fee associated with the loan. Affirm does not charge late fees, service fees, repayment fees, or any other hidden fees.
|Becker offers 6 or 12-month installment plans through Flexpay. A non-refundable processing fee of $49-$99 may apply.
|Surgent offers a money-back guarantee if basic requirements are met.
|Becker’s guarantee depends on the course purchased, offering varying amounts.
|Number of practice exams
|Unlimited practice exams
|Unlimited practice exams
|Free course updates
|Updates are free and made continuously, so you can be sure you’re always studying the most up-to-date material.
|Online content and software updates are free. Printed text is $25 for new content upgrades.
|Four-part course prices range from $999-$1,999
|Four-part course prices range from $2,499-$5,999
|Average study hours
|109 hours for the full exam
|190 hours per exam part
|An initial quiz includes 150 questions pulled from all CPA Exam categories, followed by a detailed diagnostic report. This is just the starting point – adaptive technology will guide you through the remainder of your studies.
|An initial quiz identifies priority material, but there is no follow-up to guide you through new priorities as you learn.
|Study planner calculates the necessary amount of study time per day based on student’s chosen availability, and adjusts that study time based on performance.
|Static calendar. Software does not calculate study time per day.
|Adaptability to student progress
|Real-time algorithms ensure study material is always adaptive to your progress. Plus, a student’s ReadySCORE™, the industry’s first measure of CPA Exam-readiness, adapts in real time.
|No continuous adaptation
|Category content weightings
|Assessment quizzes, daily study material, and practice exams all factor in exam content weightings
|No category content weighting
Ready to learn more about Surgent?
See what Bryce from Crush the CPA Exam has to say about what sets Surgent CPA Review apart from Becker:
If you’ve previously used another CPA Review course, like Becker, you are eligible to save up to $1,000 when you switch to Surgent!
For a more in-depth look at how Surgent CPA Review’s course technology compares to that of other leading CPA Review course providers, check out our course comparisons.
Liz Kolar, CPA, CGMA, has been teaching CPA Review for more than 25 years in the United States, has personally taught more than 2,500 live sessions, and has helped thousands of candidates pass the CPA Exam. She founded Pinnacle CPA Review and co-founded Surgent Kolar CPA Review.
She is a recipient of the ASWA Business Woman of the Year Northeast Region, Distinguished Faculty Member of the Year, and PICPA Outstanding Educator of the Year. Liz began her career in Public Accounting with a Big Four accounting firm auditing financial service clients after graduating from Pace University with an MBA in Public Accounting. Liz’s teaching career spans almost 30 years. She has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels at Pace University and Seton Hall University and is currently a professor at Delaware Valley University.