In this detailed comparison, I’ve listed my favorite CPA Exam review courses on the market. I have firsthand experience with many of these courses, so I’m confident that one of them will be right for you. Please use this information to learn more about your review course options so you can pick the course that best fits your learning style. 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!
 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 Exam review courses. I’ve also included my analysis of their strengths and weaknesses.
Bite-sized lectures: 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. Furthermore, the lecturers are actively-teaching professors from various renowned universities.
Partner Until You Pass Guarantee: This policy is the most generous in the industry: a real, no-gimmick, no-nonsense offer. Knowing you have free online content and courseware updates until you pass means there’s no more pressure to finish within 12 months or have to pay for a retake!
State-of-the-art technology: CPAexcel fully utilizes the capabilities of online connectivity by churning out a personalized study planner and a collection of diagnostic charts and analyses for you. As a financial analyst by profession, I find this quality very attractive.
A slightly confusing course catalog: When I first visited the site, I found the course catalog a little intimidating because you can apparently pick and choose what you want in your course. But when you think about it, the fact that they give you options for your CPA Exam prep can be a good thing, as you only pay for what you want. If you’re willing to spend the time to look around and learn about the various offers, you can get everything you need.
Better suited for e-course learners: 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.
Wiley has a highly recommended program. According to Wiley, 9 out of 10 users pass. Additionally, the course is endorsed by one of the Big 4 firms.
This course is especially suitable for busy candidates juggling work and family commitments.
Most unique course technology: The new SmartPath system that Roger has developed is like no other on the market. It uses predictive technology to help you study efficiently, but what we find most exciting is the new way it helps students learn. The course tracks your progress toward targeted goals, serves you the right questions (not just more questions), adapts to you, and guides you on a clear path to success.
Entertaining lectures: Roger Philipp (the founder) has a very distinct teaching style — it’s 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 who is teaching you and what their qualifications are.
No more live classes: Roger CPA stopped offering live classes in February 2013. Watching Roger on video is a good experience, but it’s just not as entertaining as seeing him in person.
Not very detailed: Roger purposely skips the non-critical parts of the exam content. As a result, some students love it, but others may struggle to catch up.
The new course platform is excellent. The technology sets Roger’s course apart from any other CPA Exam prep and should be a big help to many candidates. If you would prefer an instructor who makes accounting interesting and technology that saves you study time, give Roger a try.
Great practice test prep software: The Gleim practice questions are tough and great for those who want to build more confidence for passing. The Gleim CPA test bank is also well-loved for the huge number of questions it has. This test prep is a good supplement to other lecture-heavy courses.
Thoughtfully designed: With SmartAdapt technology, the Gleim system is easy to navigate and adaptive. It also teaches you how to study effectively by encouraging you to strengthen your weak areas and learn from your mistakes. Plus, the course includes university professor-led videos lectures that go over difficult CPA Exam topics and multiple-choice questions.
Help from Personal Counselors: When you purchase the Gleim CPA Review System, you’ll receive access to a Personal Counselor for the entirety of your CPA journey. These counselors aren’t accounting gurus, but they are very knowledgeable, supportive, and encouraging. They coordinate with the in-house experts to get you the answers you need, and they also help you customize your study plans and stay on track for success.
Affordable: The full 4-part Gleim CPA Review System costs $1,999 for the Premium version and $1,599 for the Traditional version (save an additional 20%-50% here). These prices make Gleim one of the most affordable among CPA Exam prep providers.
Limited feature availability: When the Premium course launched, some features that were once part of the Traditional course were no longer part of that package. These features include the instructor-led videos, the Access Until You Pass guarantee, and access to accounting experts.
Somewhat overwhelming books: The books are very detailed. As a result, some of my readers really like the comprehensiveness, but others think it’s too much. Sometimes, to get through the books, you have to pick and choose what you need to study.
Gleim is an exceptional choice for those who prefer self-study but need occasional help from a Personal Counselor and accounting experts.
Gleim’s test bank is a great alternative to the Wiley test bank if you’re looking for additional online practice questions.
New company, familiar faces: Surgent CPA Review (formerly Surgent-Kolar CPA Review) is a relatively young brand, but their founders, Jack Surgent and Liz Kolar, are both well-respected veterans in the industry.
Short lectures: Similar to Wiley CPAexcel, the Surgent lectures are an excellent choice for those who hate long lectures as much as I do. Each lecture is about 10-20 minutes. Additionally, lecturer Liz Kolar has won awards such as PICPA’s Outstanding Educator of the Year.
Amazing adaptive learning technology: This system feeds candidates questions based on their weaker areas, so it’s super efficient for first-timers and a godsend for retakers. According to Surgent, candidates can use this tool to lower CPA Exam prep time to less than 100 hours per section. Yet, at the same time, they can still contribute to the overall 89.7% pass rate of Surgent’s user pool.
Free trial and pass guarantee: This guarantee is a big plus, but be sure to read the fine print. It’s probably one of the most complicated guarantees, aside from Becker’s, that I’ve ever read.
Very affordable: Surgent’s prices position their courses as very economical options, especially when you utilize my discount code.
Better suited for the e-course learner. Since everything is online, the course doesn’t cater so much to social learners. Surgent may not fit your learning style if you need live support, like a real person to explain something to you in the flesh or over the phone. This course also may not be the best choice for you if you’re accustomed to highlighting and circling terms or taking notes on the side of the textbooks.
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 and their free course trial.
If your budget isn’t too tight, Surgent has all the goodies — a great lecturer, adaptive learning, online tracking, free trial, and pass guarantee — in one nice package.
Excellent lecture notes, MCQs, and software: The materials are comprehensive and user-friendly.
Big 4 endorsement: The Big 4 recommends the live lectures and often provides the online course to employees.
Constantly updated materials: Becker employs a professional team to update the materials on a regular basis. Also, even with the consistent updates, there are very few typos and errors. If there ever is an error, Becker does a good job of posting the updates to their website for everyone see.
Overpriced: If you use your own money to pay full price for this course, then you’re subsidizing the deep discounts Becker offers to companies through its partner program. Not fair!
Greatly overrated live classes. In the Becker live classes, the “lecturer” shows you a pre-recorded lecture in a classroom and tells 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: The course software license expires in 12 months, which is usually not enough time for many candidates to finish their studies. On top of that, re-taking the classes costs $1,000+ (50% of retail price) and includes a demanding attendance rate, which I find ridiculous.
SKIP Becker. They have great notes, but so do Roger (for lectures) and Wiley / Gleim (practice tests). Unless you are so lucky as to get a star lecturer (who tend to set up their own shops), the live classes are, in my own opinion, a waste of time.
Other Major CPA Exam Review Course Providers
These providers are not on my main list of recommended courses, but they are among the better ones on 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 (A.K.A., 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 have proven to be very useful for many CPA candidates.
Affordable: This product is 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 (my discount is available here).
Somewhat overwhelming books: When there is no guided review, going through the entire book can be discouraging. Consequently, it’s just too much material for me.
Get the test bank if you need additional practice questions as a supplement or if you are a retaker.
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 prep courses since 1985. He is a former law update instructor and editor for the Becker course.
Good local resource: If you live in Ohio and are looking for live classes, the MDS CPA Review looks like a great option.
Relatable lecturer: I personally like Steve’s style — he’s a down-to-earth type of guy who has experience teaching CPA prep courses. He also writes his own lecture notes.
Limited availability: I haven’t received access to the product, so I won’t be able to comment on the features and the specific product offering.
Potentially high cost: 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
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 feature is quite unique. You can often reach and talk to owner Phil Yaeger himself.
Good value for money: One of the most affordable guided review courses out there.
Old-school approach: This positive can also be a negative. People often love it or hate it.
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 talks to his wife), but Yaeger just lets these mistakes go into the finished product. The missteps I spotted did not affect the quality of the course, but you might find them to be a nuisance.
Keep your CPA review affordable with a complete course costing less than $1,600
Benefit from the free trial and money-back guarantee
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 course, check out the sections below.
What Is a CPA Review Course?
A CPA review course is a collection of self-study resources designed to prepare CPA Exam candidates to pass by teaching them about the exam content. You can access most CPA course components online. Unless they are supplements, most courses include everything you need to pass, such as:
Digital or physical books
A bank of practice questions and simulations
A study planner
Performance tracking software
Customer service access
Limited time access
Some must-have CPA study materials from this list include books, practice questions and simulations, and a study planner. Helpful but less essential elements would be video lectures, flashcards, audio lectures, and adaptive technology. Finally, elite courses offer convenient guarantees like access that doesn’t expire. These guarantees are especially handy if finishing the exam takes you longer than 18 months (which is the length of access for some courses). You can purchase CPA prep courses for each exam part separately or as a complete set. Once you purchase a course, the only other thing you need to pass is the determination and willpower to keep studying!
Do You Really Need a CPA Review Course?
In short, yes. Almost every CPA candidate does because of the nature of the CPA Exam. The CPA Exam is a challenging test covering an extensive amount of information. The exam’s purpose is to ensure that candidates possess the knowledge and abilities required of modern Certified Public Accountants. To tackle this noble goal, the CPA Exam features 4 sections with hundreds of questions each and assesses candidates at very high levels of skill. So, unless you’ve just graduated and have a photographic memory like Sheldon Cooper, you’ll need the guidance and evaluation that only a CPA course can offer. In general, CPA study material benefits candidates in 3 specific ways.
1st CPA Review Course Benefit: Content Coverage
The best CPA review courses cover and present the exam content in a convenient and efficient way.
The AICPA does provide a free practice exam, but because this exam contains only a handful of questions, it can’t replace a CPA test bank. The AICPA also shares some very general information about what’s on the exam in the form of the CPA Exam Blueprints. However, these documents are an inadequate substitute for a review course as well because they don’t go into great detail. Consequently, filling in the gaps would require countless hours of additional research. Thankfully, a CPA prep course gathers and distills all this information you for you. A quality review course features expertly-authored materials that address every area of the exam content. So, purchasing a review course frees you to focus on mastering the material rather than compiling it for yourself.
2nd CPA Review Course Benefit: Knowledge and Skill Development
The best CPA review courses ensure that you reach the levels of knowledge and skill that you need to pass in time for exam day.
A good CPA course not only delivers the exam content, but it also measures your study progress. Tools such as performance tracking software and study planners ensure that you efficiently review all of the exam material. A review course also monitors your understanding because the CPA Exam expects you to reach certain levels of skill with the exam content:
Remembering and Understanding: The perception and comprehension of the significance of an area utilizing knowledge gained.
Application: The use or demonstration of knowledge, concepts, or techniques.
Analysis: The examination and study of interrelationships of separate areas in order to identify causes and find evidence to support inferences.
Evaluation: The examination or assessment of problems and use of judgment to draw conclusions.
The CPA Exam uses multiple-choice questions, simulations, and written communications to determine if you have reached these skill levels. To this same end, CPA review courses include test banks of practice questions. These questions let you apply what you’re learning so your skill levels increase. An exam-emulating test bank also allows you to get comfortable with the exam format and functionality in advance. This familiarity builds your confidence and minimizes any surprises you may encounter.
3rd CPA Review Course Benefit: Support System
The best CPA review courses supply a support system for additional information, advice, and encouragement.
If you’d rather not take on the CPA Exam alone, I’ve got good news: Most CPA review courses provide some form of customer service. Depending on the course, you may be able to rely on friendly exam mentors to answer your questions, help you create your study plan, coach you through the course, encourage you during study struggles, and keep you on track to reaching your goals. Your course may also come with the aid of a technical team for resolving computer or course issues. Finally, you may even get to the chance to have questions and concepts explained to you by accounting experts and professors. You can usually talk with these members of your CPA Exam team via your phone, email, or course.
How Much Does CPA Review Cost?
The cost of a CPA course varies by review provider, but the average is a little under $2,000. As you can see from the chart, some review course prices rise well above this dollar amount, but plenty of courses pack a lot of value into a $2K price tag. 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 CPA study material that you eventually realize doesn’t meet your needs. So, be sure to choose a course with a generous access policy. Also, do your homework before you buy so you can be sure you’ve purchased the course that’s best for you.
How to Pick the Right CPA Review Course
When you’re ready to pick the best CPA prep course for you, evaluate your options based on the following traits:
How customers have reviewed the course
How well the course components fit your learning style
Who has written the materials
Who presents the lectures
How much value you will get for the price
How long the course provider has been in the industry
What kind of customer service and support you will receive
How many practice questions are included
What guarantees and course access periods are included
How often the course is updated for the current exam version
Whether you can preview the course before purchasing
How well the course replicates the exam experience
This list is long and not in order of importance. So, prioritize these qualities according to your personal needs. Then, weigh each review course against your standards and preferences. Remember, different courses suit different candidates, but I believe you can find the best CPA review course for you and use it to achieve CPA Exam success.