When you’ve decided to become certified by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), you must first pass the CPA Exam and will require a practice exam course package to prep you. Choosing a CPA Review course can be a confusing process. With the number of learning platforms on offer with a range of features, it can be tough. But there are a few core offerings to consider when you choose a CPA Review course to make your learning process much smoother. To help you make this decision, we’ve put together a list of 5 things to consider to ensure you choose the best CPA Exam Review course for you.
1. Does it fit your learning style?
When choosing a CPA Review course, you’ll quickly realize that there are multiple kinds of learning processes – whether that’s a linear approach, which runs through the CPA study materials and physical textbooks in chronological fashion, or a personalized approach that generates study material based on your knowledge level of each area of content. Ideally, your CPA exam review course should have technology that lays out a learning plan for you and adjusts to your competency level.
Specifically, you should look for courses that implement adaptive learning technology. Surgent’s CPA Review course takes a completely adaptive approach. A.S.A.P.® Technology identifies your strengths and weaknesses early on and adapts as you learn and develop new strengths and weaknesses. This provides a completely individualized learning experience to prepare you for exam day.
Lastly, look for technology that helps you know when study time is over, and you’re ready for the real deal. We all know that one of the most difficult decisions for CPA candidates is actually deciding that you’re ready to sit. Surgent CPA Review course packages offer ReadySCORE™, a feature providing real-time feedback on your exam readiness. There’s no guessing about progress, because ReadySCORE does it for you – in fact, students who achieve a passing ReadySCORE pass the CPA Exam 88% of the time.
2. Does it include a practice exam?
Having a great study program is most of the battle, but if you aren’t prepared for the exam format, it can throw you off and cost you valuable time during the exam. To avoid this dilemma, choose a CPA course that offers practice exams that are very similar to the real CPA Exam, even basing practice questions and sections off CPA Exam blueprints.
The best CPA Review courses should implement features to make the course material as close as possible to the actual CPA Exam, using multiple choice questions similar to those used in the exam.
Other than the material, you want practice tests to also mimic the timing format of the CPA Exam, have a simulation format like the exam, and provide the same tools available on the exam. Look specifically for these offerings when you choose a CPA Review course.
Also, keep in mind that Excel is the spreadsheet tool used on the current exam, and course providers that offer Excel training will help you go into the exam prepared. Surgent’s Ultimate Pass has Excel training to help you familiarize yourself with the software, an essential training for both the exam and your career.
3. How long do you have access to the course?
Believe it or not, some courses don’t give you access until you pass – in fact, many of the big names like Roger CPA Review and Becker CPA Review only give you access for 18 months, or require you to buy a more expensive plan if you want longer or unlimited access.
But the reality is, this isn’t a cram course – life happens and sometimes it takes longer than 18 months to pass all of the CPA Exam sections. In those cases, you don’t want to have to scramble to find a new CPA prep course, shell out more money to extend your course access, or purchase a new one that doesn’t expire. Ideally, you would purchase a course that has unlimited access and a pass guarantee, like all of Surgent’s CPA Review courses and study planners, so you’re covered if you need to come back to the exam in the future.
4. Is there self-study support?
Some people enjoy a completely individual approach to learning, but some CPA candidates learn best with a support system or might need some one-on-one time with a personal counselor to tutor you on specific topics. You should look for a CPA Exam prep course that offers more than video lectures and digital flashcards but can provide personalized support to help you fully prepare for the exam.
Both Surgent’s Premier Pass and Ultimate Pass offer three 30-minute exam strategy sessions with a CPA Exam Success Coach. These sessions help you strategize for the exam with targeted practice questions, develop techniques and provide detailed explanations to help your efficiency and effectiveness on the exam.
The level of support offered by your CPA prep course also matters on a customer service level. You should search for a prep course with customer support if an audio lecture refuses to play, or your digital flashcards won’t download. This kind of support is crucial when studying if you run into technical difficulties with any of the learning technology.
5. How much does it cost?
While cost is the last consideration we’ll talk about, we can’t pretend it isn’t a huge factor. CPA Exam Review courses at full price can run $3,000 or more, so you want to make sure you’re getting as much bang for your buck as possible.
Be sure to really scrutinize any CPA Exam Review courses you look at and be sure they offer the features above, with a high pass rate. After you’ve really narrowed it down to two or three online courses that seem like they have what you need, consider courses that offer interest-free financing options. This allows you to spread your cost out over several months (deferred liability, anyone?) and have a more realistic approach to paying the full price. Surgent offers 0% interest payment plans over 3 to 6 months, helping you get started on your CPA journey with a smaller initial investment.
Passing the CPA Exam is a launching pad for your career and can open doors into full time positions at a variety of different fields and companies. By digging into these 5 considerations, you can choose a CPA prep course ideal for your self-study learning style and help you to gain entry into the world of elite accounting professionals on your first try.
Ready to start studying for the CPA Exam?
Megan Bierwirth graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and passed the CPA exam within six months of graduation. She worked in both public accounting and industry while becoming a CPA and now runs a virtual bookkeeping company focused on preventive, integrative and complementary medicine professionals.