Surgent CPA Review (formerly known as Surgent Kolar CPA Review) is founded by John “Jack” Surgent and Liz Kolar in 2013.
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Background and Overview
Jack is CEO of Surgent McCoy CPE, a major provider of tax and financial-planning seminars to CPAs in the US. He also manages a CPA firm specializing in taxation and financial planning for high-net-worth individuals and closely held businesses.
Liz has been teaching CPA Review in the US for more than 20 years. She has experience in public accounting at Coopers & Lybrand and teaching full-time in several universities.
Surgent CPA Review Offering
This is an integrated and guided review course with video lectures, proprietary textbooks, study notes, practice questions and practice exams presented in one online platform.
You can take the self-study course at the comfort of your home (or office), at any time of the year, and at your own pace. There is unlimited viewing and free trial.
1. Video Lectures
The lectures are viewed online, either on desktop or on portable devices including iPads, tablets and android devices. There are 350 videos available.
If you read my book, you know I am a big fan of “active learning”. Traditional CPA review courses have long lectures that drag on for 3-4 hours. I personally don’t think this type of passive learning is effective.
I am glad to know that Surgent CPA’s lectures are often 10-20 minutes, and total number of lecture hours is fewer than most courses. This way, you can spend more time on active learning through practice questions.
2. Study Notes
Study notes, together with the video lectures, are developed in house.
3. Practice Questions
There are over 6,700 multiple choice and 260 task-based simulations to help you get familiar with how the actual exam works. These questions are presented in an adaptive-learning software to help you focus on weaker areas.
4. Other Features
- The online Study Planner calculates the required study time by entering the date of the exam and days of the week you plan to study.
- Students can contact by phone and email. The turn-around time is typically 24 hours or less.
- Surgent CPA review courses are offered in some local colleges in Pennsylvania for academic credit to help meet the 150 credit-hour rule.
My Thoughts on the Strengths and Weaknesses
1. Award-Winning Lecturers
Liz is not only an experienced teacher, but a great one. She has won awards such as PICPA (Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs) Outstanding Educator of the Year.
Jack has personally presented over 1,800 live seminars in the past 25 years and has been named Outstanding Discussion Leader by various professional organizations.
Liz and Jack not only teach the materials, but also go over 100 multiple choice and simulations in the lessons, which I find very helpful.
2. Adaptive-Learning Software
The software creates a “reference report” that shows a list of recommended reading based on questions you have done wrong (i.e. your weaker areas). Students can rely on this report for more targeted review vs the traditional method where students are expected to read the book from cover to cover.
3. Pass Guarantee and Free Trial
If students fail the CPA exam after studying with Surgent, they will refund the tuition to the course, or provide continued access to the program until they pass (please refer to the terms of conditions for details).
I also like the free trial, because it shows the team is confident of their product. Some other providers have longer trial period (14 days vs Surgent’s 3 days) but in my opinion 3 days is enough to make the decision.
4. One of the Most Affordable Guided Review
- After lowering the price in April 2016, Surgent is now among the best value for money if you use the 20% discount code below.
5. 89.7% Pass Rate!
Need I say more?
1. Relatively Expensive Most CPA review course (with a notable exception of Becker) price their review courses slightly below $2,000. Surgent Kolar CPA review complete set costs $2,199. The difference is small, but something to consider if you have a tight budget. Note: With the 20% off discount code below, the price becomes $1,759 which is in line with the rest.
2. Better Suited for PC-based Learner
Since everything is delivered online, if you are a type of learner who needs “live support” (a real person to explain something to you, either in person or by phone); or if you are accustomed to highlighting, circling and dropping notes on the side of the textbooks, then Surgent CPA may not fit your learning style.
3. New Brand: Need More Time to Build Reputation
I have taken a good look at Surgent’s powerful adaptive learning technology, videos and the many features they offer. I like it a lot, but my CPA review course evaluation relies heavily on first experience of my readers.
Surgent CPA is relatively new and understandably I am still collecting feedback from readers. So far, I have received a few raving reviews on their products, and that’s why I’ve decided to put them on my top 5 recommended list. Time will tell if Surgent can rank among the other established providers.
If you don’t mind the relatively new brand, Surgent has all the goodies — great lecturer, adaptive learning, online tracking, free trial and pass guarantee — all in one nice package.
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