Becker CPA Review is the most well-known guided review course in the accounting industry.
The live lecture course is endorsed by the Big 4. Becker has partnerships with prestigious MBA courses such as Kellogg to provide a hassle-free way to fulfill the CPA exam requirements for the candidates. Becker is also the only major company that provides live-classes in major cities around the world.
As a result, Becker CPA commands a significantly higher price for its products –
$2890 $3,065 $3,315 $3,360 $3,393 in any format (live class, home-study, online).
So, is Becker CPA THAT good? I am a past Becker student and I would like to share my experience.
Becker CPA Review Course Revealed
In order to provide a fair and objective review of all major CPA review courses, I decided to give a thorough and impartial evaluation of the program, in addition to my personal view based on first-hand experience.
What’s Great About Becker CPA Review
1. Excellent Lecture Notes and Multiple Choice Questions
As a past student of Becker, I have to say Becker’s notes are very good. They are comprehensive and the layout is user-friendly. They try to use different font and format to highlight important areas and leave plenty of space to write your own notes.
The multiple choice questions are also well written and help you sink in the concepts you just learned and get you prepared for the exam very well.
This is a typical testimonial from Becker CPA’s website:
Becker’s approach to review is concise and focused. It doesn’t overload you with extraneous or esoteric material. It teaches you to rely on your own understanding to get to the right answer.” – Tyler S. Wright
What’s Not So Great about Becker CPA
1. Live Classes are Overpriced and Overrated
The live classes are a waste of time, my time at least.
My classes were simply a group of people sitting in front of a screen watching the Becker DVD. There was no interaction and no live lecture from the tutor, whose main job was to turn on and off the DVD and announce it’s time for lunch.
Note: I understand that there are live classes with “real lecturers” instead of just the screen. For your own protection you should check whether this is the case in your area; if not, you might consider taking the self-study course instead.
2. Content of The DVD: Circle This, Highlight That
Let’s talk about the DVD. The lecturer in the DVD is supposed to guide you through the lecture notes, but what he does really is to read out the notes and asks you to “circle this, highlight that”… I could be wrong but I don’t pay $3,393 for this elementary school type of instruction. This research from the University of Mississippi has shown the ineffectiveness of this method.
3. “Unreliable” Quality of In-Class Teachers
The in-class tutors have little value-add. Their task, other than turning on/off the DVD, is to assign and correct your homework as well as to check attendance and see if you are qualified for the “Becker Promise”. I see them as a bunch of junior accountants hoping to make extra bucks on the weekends. Absolutely no passion with minimal teaching experience.
Note: this is my personal experience, and I understand that there could be Becker CPA courses exist somewhere with excellent lecturers or TAs. Ask around for the reputation of the course in your area and make an intelligent decision.
4. Long, Boring Class
With this type of classroom setting and quality of tutors, it isn’t hard to imagine that the classes are extremely boring (I know accounting is boring, but still…)
As if it isn’t enough, the classes run from 9am to 6pm with 1 hour lunch break in between. Typically, I tried to stay focused for the first 2 hours, then for the third I would inevitably zoomed out… after lunch I had to keep doodling (or mechanically circling and highlighting as told) to stay awake. At the end of the class, I would be lucky if I still remembered the content in the first 2 hours.
5. I Gave Up
I concluded that it was such a waste of time that I skipped the last one month and a half and switched to self-study at home. It was much, much better. But because of the low(er) attendance rate I was not qualified to retake the class at a discount if I fail the exam — something I find ridiculous when compared to what Becker’s competitors are offering.
A Note on Price
As you may notice Becker CPA charges >$3,300 for the 4 classes, a substantial premium to any competitors. You may not realize, however, that the Big 4 and most accounting firms get a deep discount from Becker.
For example, my readers told me (one working in a mid-sized accounting firm in the US, another at HSBC in India) who can get Becker lower than Yaeger’s price. As they advertise on their site, there are 1,500 such “partnerships”.
What does it mean? It means that if you are paying a full fee like me, you are subsidizing everyone else and are being, in my opinion, ripped off.
I can understand that you may feel more comfortable sticking with the #1 brand name in the CPA review industry. If this is the case, I would recommend self-study course over the live classes.
But I urge you to check out Becker’s competitors that may better suit your background, budget and learning style. You can find my CPA review comparison on the pros and cons of 10 major CPA review programs: