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 and provides live classes in major cities around the world. As a result, Becker CPA commands a significantly higher price for its products — $3,393.
So, is Becker CPA THAT good? I am a past Becker student and I would like to share my experience.
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 firsthand experience.
Becker is one of the oldest and most established brands in the CPA Exam prep market. It has rolled up a few competitors to become what it is today, with endorsements from Big 4 and partnerships with thousands of CPA firms and big companies.
The Becker brand also covers other accounting certifications, such as ACCA and CMA exams.
As a past student of Becker, I have to say Becker’s notes are pretty 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.
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
I personally find the practice questions a bit too “matching” with the lecture notes, as in, there are few surprises, tricky questions. I would like to see more out-of-the-blue questions to train us to think on our feet.
In any case, the multiple choice questions are close to the actual ones. The explanations and answers are also well written. They help pound in the concepts and get you well prepared.
The Becker student must view 100% of the Skills Practice, and correctly complete 90% of all multiple-choice questions and simulations for each section. As long as you work hard and put in the time, it is doable.
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.
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.
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.
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 9 am to 6 pm with a 1-hour lunch break in between. Typically, I tried to stay focused for the first 2 hours, then for the third, I would inevitably zone 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.
I can understand that you may feel more comfortable sticking with a top brand in the CPA review industry. They do have good notes and practice questions. In this case, I recommend the self-study Becker course.
If you prefer a cheaper course with good quality, check out these Becker CPA competitors.
I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites
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