In this detailed comparison, I’ve listed my favorite CPA review courses, and because I’ve experienced many of these courses firsthand, I’m confident that one of these courses will be right for you. Disclosure: The I Pass Team may earn a small amount of compensation if you purchase from our links; however, our team uses these revenues to maintain the site and produce awesome free content just for you!
Most Popular CPA Review Courses
|Bite-sized lectures||Best questions & simulations||Adaptive learning technology||Fun and engaging|
|Biggest brand name|
in the market
|# Lecture hours||80||100+||100+||100+||100|
|# MC questions||12,000||9,200+||6,700+||5,000+||~7,000|
|# Sim questions||600+||1,000+||260||200+||~300|
|Audio Review ||$449 extra|
|Flashcards ||$136 extra||$179 extra|
|Final Review /|
|$970 extra||$495 extra|
|Access ||Until You Pass||Until You Pass||Until You Pass||24 months||12 – 18 months|
|Pass Rate||9 out of 10||—||89.7%||88%||Twice non-Becker students|
 Included for free in Roger’s Elite Course.
 Conditions apply. Please check with the respective review course providers for details.
Top 5 CPA Review Course Comparison
Here is a more extensive and comprehensive list of the top CPA review courses along with my analysis of their strengths and weaknesses.
- Bite-sized lectures. Similar to Surgent CPA, the Wiley lectures are just the right length for learning without getting overwhelmed or bored. The lecture length ranges from a couple of minutes to ~ 30 minutes. The lecturers are actively-teaching professors from various renowned universities.
- Unlimited upgrade. Most generous in the industry — a real, no-gimmick, no-nonsense offer. No more pressure to finish within 12 months or have to pay an extra $1,000 for a retake!
- State-of-the-art technology. CPAexcel fully utilizes the capabilities of online connectivity by churning out a personalized exam plan and a collection of diagnostic charts and analyses for you, which I (as a financial analyst by profession) find very attractive.
- A Bit Confusing at First. Candidates can pick and choose what they want, and I found it quite intimidating when I first visited the site. But when you think about it, the fact that they give you a choice could be a good thing if you are willing to spend some time to look around and learn about the various offers.
- Better Suited for the PC-based learner. If you need live support throughout your studies, like someone who will talk to you in person or on the phone to provide answers and explanations, you might take issue with the heavily-computer based Wiley system. Similarly, if you like to interact with your textbook by taking notes, highlighting sentences and circling terms, Wiley may not be right for you.
- Another highly recommended program – “9 out of 10” users pass, and the course is endorsed by one of the Big 4.
- Especially suitable for busy candidates juggling work and family commitments.
- Strong backing from Wiley.
- Check out my evaluation on CPAexcel.
Gleim CPA Review Courses
- Great practice test prep software. Practice questions are tough and great for those who want more confidence for passing the exam. This test prep is also a good supplementary offering to other lecture-heavy courses.
- Thoughtfully designed. An easy-to-navigate adaptive course that teaches you how to effectively study. Videos are included in the course and feature experienced university-level professors going over difficult CPA Exam topics and multiple-choice questions.
- Great help from Personal Counselors. If you sign up for the Gleim CPA Review System, a personal counselor will be assigned to take care of your needs on your CPA journey. These counselors aren’t accounting gurus but they coordinate with the in-house experts to get you the answer; additionally, they help you customize your study plans and cheer you up.
- Affordable. The full 4-part CPA Review System costs $1,999 for the Premium version and $1,599 for traditional version (further 25%-50% off here) — one of the most affordable among the full review course providers. Gleim also has a CPA test bank that candidates really like because of how many questions it has.
- Some features only available for Premium customers. With the launch of the Premium course, some of the features are no longer available in the Traditional course. Examples include instructor-led videos, the Access Until You Pass guarantee, and access to accounting experts.
- Books can be overwhelming. They are very detailed. While some of my readers really like the comprehensiveness, others seem to think it’s too much. You must to pick and choose what you need to study.
- Excellent choice for those who prefer self-study but need occasional help through a Personal Counselor and accounting experts.
- A great alternative to Wiley test bank if you are looking for additional online test practice questions.
- Check out my evaluation on Gleim CPA Review.
Surgent CPA Review
Surgent CPA Review (formerly Surgent-Kolar CPA Review) is a relatively new brand, but their founders, Jack Surgent and Liz Kolar, are both well-respected veterans in the industry.
What’s special about Surgent CPA is its adaptive learning course. It’s a system that feeds students questions based on their weaker areas. According to Surgent, their students can use this tool to lower prep time to less than 100 hours, and at the same time, contribute to the overall 89.7% pass rate of their student pool.
- Short lectures. Excellent choice for those who hate long lectures as much as I do. Each lecture is 10-20 minutes. Lecturer Liz Kolar has won awards such as PICPA’s Outstanding Educator of the Year.
- Amazing adaptive learning technology. Super efficient for first-time candidates and a godsend for retakers.
- Free trial and pass guarantee. A big plus, but be sure to read the fine print of the pass guarantee. It’s probably one of the most complicated guarantees, aside from Becker’s, that I’ve ever read.
- One of the most affordable. The pricing remains to be a more affordable option, especially if you utilize the discount code on this site.
- Better suited for the 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 over the phone), or if you are accustomed to highlighting and circling terms or taking notes on the side of the textbooks, then Surgent CPA may not fit your learning style.
- Very Long Diagnostic Quiz. Surgent requires you to take a huge diagnostic quiz from the get-go: a whopping 400 questions, according to their rep.
If your budget isn’t too tight, Surgent has all the goodies — a great lecturer, adaptive learning, online tracking, free trial, and pass guarantee — all in one nice package.
- Check out my evaluation on Surgent CPA Review
Roger CPA Review Courses
- Entertaining lectures: Roger Philipp (the founder) has a very unique teaching style — entertaining and intense. Many of his students are die-hard fans.
- Guaranteed quality. Roger writes his own notes. He also records the lectures for every class so you know for sure who is teaching you.
- No more live classes. Roger CPA stopped offering live classes since Feb 2013. Watching him on video isn’t as entertaining as seeing him in person.
- May skim over details. Roger purposely wants to skip the non-critical part of the exam content. Some students love it, while others may struggle a bit to catch up.
- If you like an instructor who can make accounting interesting, give Roger a try.
- Check out my evaluation on Roger CPA Review.
Becker CPA Review Courses
- Excellent lecture notes, MCQs, and software. The materials are comprehensive and user-friendly.
- Big 4 endorsement. The live lectures are recommended by the Big 4.
- Materials constantly kept updated. Becker has a professional team to update the materials on a very regular basis. Their proof-reading has also done well, so there are few typos and errors. If there are errors, Becker does a good job of posting the updates to their website to let everyone see.
- Overpriced. If you are paying full price on your own, then you are subsidizing those who get deep discounts from their employers through Becker’s partner program. Not fair!
- Way overrated live classes. They show you a pre-recorded lecture in a classroom, tell you to “circle this, highlight that” for 8 hours straight. Additionally, the quality of “lecturers” (whose main job is to turn on and off the pre-recorded video) is really mixed. Check out my experience with the Becker CPA Review Course.
- Expensive re-take. Software license expires in 12 months, and this is often not enough time for many candidates. Re-taking the classes costs $1,000+ (50% of retail price) and includes a demanding attendance rate, which I find ridiculous.
SKIP Becker. They do have great notes, but so do Roger (for lectures) and Wiley / Gleim (practice tests). Unless you are so lucky to get a star lecturer (who tend to set up their own shops), live classes are, in my own opinion, a waste of time.
Other Major Review Course Providers
These providers are not on my general recommended list, but they are among the better ones in the market.
Wiley CPAexcel (Book and Test bank only)
Wiley CPAexcel is the overall brand, but for most of us, Wiley CPA Review is the “original” Wiley product. This product consists of (1) textbooks and (2) practice questions (aka the test bank). You can also purchase the books or test bank separately.
- #1 Selling Review Book and Test Bank. The book and test bank (test prep software) are both very popular and proved to be useful for many CPA candidates.
- Affordable. A good bargain in the world of CPA exam prep courses: the test bank costs
$150$127 for single parts and $575$495 for a complete set (discount is available at my site here).
- Book Can Be Overwhelming. When there is no guided review, going through the entire guide can be discouraging. Too much material, in my opinion.
- Get the test bank if you need additional practice questions as a supplement or if you are a retaker.
- Check out my evaluation on Wiley CPA test bank.
Lambers CPA Review Courses
- Established Provider. Lambers CPA Review has been around for 45 years, although it is now part of a company called ExamForce.
- AUD Is The Hidden Gem. Professor Garland is excellent, and I can feel his passion for teaching and helping the candidates. I only watched his first lecture, but what he said makes so much sense.
- Good But Not Great. I really like the AUD lecturer and one of the lecturers in FAR, but others remind me of very average accounting professors.
- Rather Aggressive Salespeople. I bet the salesperson has never taken the exam or even seen the study materials before, so stand firm and make the decision based on your own preference.
- Few People Talk About Lambers. Similar to the issues faced by Kaplan (who is now defunct).
- Get AUD module if you don’t like your existing provider.
- Check out my evaluation on Lambers CPA Review.
MDS CPA Review Courses
Formerly known as Martin, Dalton, Spettle CPA Review, MDS is now headed by Steve Martin and is based in Ohio. Steve has been teaching CPA review courses since 1985. He is a former law update instructor and editor for the Becker course.
- If you live in Ohio and are looking for live classes, the MDS CPA Review looks like a great option.
- I personally like Steve’s style — he’s a down-to-earth type of guy who has experience teaching CPA review courses and writes his own lecture notes.
- I haven’t received access to the product so I won’t be able to comment on the features and the specific product offering. However, at $1,895, I can’t say it has a very attractive price or product offering when compared to other major CPA review providers.
- Go to this MDS CPA page for my preliminary evaluation.
Yaeger CPA Review Courses
- Champion of the Old-School Approach. If you like someone who writes on the board and explains concepts to you in an old-fashioned way, you’ll appreciate Yaeger. I personally like the way they “hold your hand” and explain the multiple-choice questions and possible tricks.
- Live Phone Support. This is quite unique, and you can often reach and talk to the owner (Phil Yaeger) himself.
- Good Value For Money. One of the most affordable guided review courses out there.
- Old School. Obviously, this can be a turn-off for some people.
- Somewhat Unorganized. There are times when you would expect the team to retape the recording (e.g., when a typo appears on the whiteboard or when the guy accidentally talked to his wife), but Yaeger just lets it go into the finished product. The ones I spotted did not affect the quality of the course, but it could be a nuisance.
My General Recommendations
I try to keep this list of CPA review courses as objective as I can, but since many of you ask which provider I generally prefer, here you go…
Go for Wiley to:
- Watch short, bite-sized videos to keep you from dozing off
- Enjoy a detailed performance tracking platform
- Learn from a course with an impressive record (9 out of 10 passed)
- Benefit from the free trial
Go for Gleim to:
- Self-study effectively
- Get personalized support from real people
- Keep your CPA review affordable with a full version below $1,600
- Benefit from the free trial and money-back guarantee
Go for Surgent to:
- Study efficiently with 10-20 minute videos and the intelligent adaptive learning technology
- Track how much and how well you study using Surgent’s robust analytical system
Thanks for going through this long post with me. Drop me a note below if you need a specific recommendation. And if you’re on the fence about purchasing a CPA review course, check out the section below.
Do You Really Need a CPA Review Course?
Almost every CPA candidate will need a CPA review course. Unless you’ve just graduated and have a photographic memory like Sheldon Cooper, you will need the guidance and practice questions that only a course can offer. The AICPA does provide a free practice exam, but because there are only a handful of questions included, this isn’t a complete resource. While the AICPA also shares some very general information about what’s on the CPA Exam, it would be very challenging to ever study for the Exam only using the AICPA’s resources.
What Do Most CPA Review Courses Include?
Unless they are supplements or up-and-coming courses, most courses include everything you could ever need to pass (minus the determination and willpower to keep studying — that’s up to you, of course!). Video lectures, practice multiple-choice questions and simulations, and study planners are some components that just about every CPA review provider offers. You’ll find some nice-to-have features like flashcards, audio lectures, and adaptive technology in most courses as well. The elite courses include convenient guarantees like access that doesn’t expire. These guarantees are especially handy if sitting for the exam takes you longer than 18 months (which is the access length for some courses).
How Much Does CPA Review Cost?
The cost of a CPA review course varies by review provider, but the average cost is a little below $2,000. There are review options priced well above this dollar amount and a couple below it, but review courses costing right around $2k pack a lot of value into this price point. For the sake of your wallet, you should know that you might pay more in the end if you purchase a course that doesn’t have unlimited access. You’ll also pay even more if you start with a course that you eventually realize doesn’t work for you. So, be sure to 1) choose a course with a generous access policy, and 2) decide which course should work the best for you based on reviews (like the ones above), the features included in each course, and your own personal study style.