Gleim EA vs Surgent EA: What’s the better EA exam prep?

If you’ve been wondering about Gleim EA vs Surgent EA, you’ve come to the right place. After all, passing the Special Enrollment Examination (or SEE) is a lot easier with an EA exam review course that matches your learning style. For instance, both Gleim EA Review and Surgent EA Review reviews the exam material, but with slightly different approaches.

So in this article, I’ll explain which EA course is better, depending on how you study. I’ll even share a Gleim EA discount. And I have some Surgent EA Review promo codes, too.

Comparison Chart: Gleim vs Surgent EA

EA Review Feature Gleim Premium EA Review System Gleim Traditional EA Review Gleim EA Test Bank Surgent EA Review Ultimate Pass Surgent EA Review Premier Pass Surgent EA Review Essentials Pass
Access until you pass
Access to accounting experts
Number of MCQs 3,500+ 3,500+ 3,500+ 1,800+ 1,800+ 1,800+
MCQs have detailed answer explanations
Uses adaptive e-learning
Gives detailed performance reports
Printed or digital textbooks Both Both Either Both Digital
Video lectures
Audio lectures
Unlimited practice exams
Personalized study planner
Access to exam coach
Hours of free CPE included Up to 72 0 0 2 0 0


gleim enrolled agent courseGleim EA vs Surgent EA: Which is better?

Since Gleim EA Review is our top-rated EA exam course, it outranks a Surgent EA course in several categories. With a Gleim online EA course, you can access a personalized study planner, video and audio lectures, and several full-length mock exams. Plus, Gleim’s test bank of sample questions is the biggest one available. What’s more, Gleim uses an adaptive e-learning platform called SmartAdapt that guides your studies. And at the end of the day, more Enrolled Agents have passed their EA exams with Gleim compared to other review courses.

However, is Surgent EA good? Even though Surgent has a significantly smaller test bank, many EAs have used Surgent. Why? Well, Surgent uses an adaptive platform, A.S.A.P. Technology, that analyzes your content weaknesses in real time. Then, it directs you away from the material you’ve mastered and toward what you haven’t. In this way, Surgent claims to be able to reduce the amount of study time by 40%. Therefore, Surgent EA Review could be best for EA candidates with limited study time.

Background of Surgent EA Exam Review and Gleim EA Prep

Surgent and Gleim are education companies that have been around for a long time. Dr. Irvin Gleim, a former Professor from the University of Florida, started Gleim over 40 years ago. His goal was to teach students how to understand—not just memorize—accounting concepts. Since then, Gleim has developed exam review courses for Enrolled Agents as well as CPAs, CMAs, and even CIAs.

Similarly, Surgent has been in the accounting education business for over 35 years. And like Gleim, Surgent also has exam reviews for EAs, CPAs, CMAs, and CIAs and candidates trying to pass the SIE exam. But Surgent’s main focus is to help EA candidates study less yet still pass their exams.

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Gleim EA vs Surgent EA Platform

Surgent and Gleim both use e-learning, but the platforms differ. Therefore, let’s examine how Gleim and Surgent EA reviews the SEE material.

Gleim’s SmartAdapt approach

The Gleim Premium and Gleim Traditional EA courses use SmartAdapt. This e-learning platform constantly analyzes your performance as you answer practice questions. Then, it actually learns what content you need to study more and gives you detailed feedback on topics to review.

To start, the course first helps you set up a personalized Gleim EA study guide. You’ll begin by inputting your anticipated exam date. And based on the amount of weekly study time you have, your study planner will suggest what you should study and when. This process helps you stay on track.

Next, it asks you to take some diagnostic quizzes. Although it’s tempting to breeze through them if you’re busy, take some time to answer the questions the best you can. Besides, the SmartAdapt software uses these baseline responses to guide the rest of your studies.

Finally, close to your EA exam date, you should take the full-length mock exams included with your Gleim course. These practice tests use actual questions from old EA exams, so you can get used to the difficulty level of the SEE. Plus, they closely replicate the look and feel of the EA exam, and you can practice your pacing with a timed exam.

Gleim EA Practice Exam

Surgent EA prep course: ReadySCORE and A.S.A.P. Technology

Surgent EA courses are adaptive, too. They use an e-learning platform called A.S.A.P. Technology. However, the Surgent courses are specifically developed to help you study less. Basically, they accomplish this by not expecting you to study every single topic on the SEE. That is, most EA candidates probably already know some of the SEE topics from their education or careers. Therefore, they just need to learn certain content.

So, Surgent’s A.S.A.P. Technology uses a proprietary algorithm that analyses your content mastery as you take a series of initial quizzes. Afterward, the course directs your studies based on the content you still need to study. And in this way, you can greatly reduce your total number of study hours.

What’s more, Surgent EA exam review also has a performance tracker called the ReadySCORE. In short, this score uses your performance on practice questions to estimate your EA score if you took the exam that day. Furthermore, Surgent also claims that your ReadySCORE is accurate about 95% of the time. That is, if your ReadySCORE equals the SEE passing score, then there is a 95% likelihood that you’re ready for exam day.

Surgent EA Assessment

EA Surgent Review Compared to Gleim EA Exam Materials

All of Surgent’s and Gleim’s courses include standard study materials like books, sample multiple-choice questions (MCQs), and practice tests. However, they have differences, and some courses have more learning tools than others.

Gleim EA test bank vs. Surgent MCQs

The test bank included with the Gleim EA prep course is the biggest collection of EA practice questions on the market. Specifically, Gleim EA has 3,500+ MCQs, which is a lot more than Surgent’s test bank.

Gleim EA MCQ

And even better, the Gleim questions are a little challenging because they include MCQs from other Gleim prep courses, like the CPA review course. This variety helps you be prepared for the most difficult questions on the EA exam.

Gleim also uses questions released by the IRS from previous SEE exams. Just as importantly, all MCQs include detailed answer explanations for both the right and the wrong answers. After all, it’s just as useful to understand why an answer is wrong as it is to understand why an answer is right.

Each Surgent EA review course, in contrast, only has 1,800+ MCQs. But still, since Surgent’s main goal is to help you study fewer hours, you might also find that you’ll need fewer MCQs.

Surgent EA MCQ

Time and access limits

Keep in mind that some courses only give you access to online materials for a limited time. Others, in contrast, give you access until you pass the EA exam. Although these “access until you pass” options can cost a little more upfront, they also might save you a lot of cash in the long room.

For example, let’s say that you pick a course that only has access for 12 months. Although that might seem like long enough, what happens if you get busy and study as much as you originally planned? In that case, you’ll have to re-purchase your review course when it expires.

Consequently, I recommend using a course with unlimited access. The Gleim Premium and Surgent Ultimate Pass courses, for example, both come with this important feature.

Gleim EA review book vs Surgent textbooks

Do you have a preference between digital or hard-copy textbooks? If so, that’s something to consider when picking a review course. Nevertheless, Gleim and Surgent have options available depending on your preference.

Also, you should note that the Gleim books are a little more like outlines or reference texts. But the Surgent books are more like the traditional textbooks you might be used to.

Gleim EA vs Surgent EA’s support from accounting experts

More and more, exam prep courses are giving users many ways to connect to accounting experts when they have questions. Or, others are providing access to so-called exam coaches. Basically, these coaches help you plan and stick to a good study plan. And for many users, this kind of support can be the difference between passing or failing the EA exam.

But thankfully, both Gleim and Surgent provide personal support, but with different approaches. For instance, when you purchase a Gleim EA course, you’ll also get a Gleim Personal Counselor. In short, your counselor will guide you through studying for, taking, and finally passing the SEE. Plus, if you have questions about the exam content, you can email or call Gleim’s team of accounting professionals.

In a similar way, Surgent also gives Ultimate Pass users access to EA exam experts. Surgent also has customer support when you have content or technical questions. And normally, users receive a reply within 1 business day.

Gleim EA Discount: Save up to 36%

Videos lectures

If you’re someone who likes to learn through lectures, then keep in mind that Gleim and Surgent really differ in the number of video hours included.

For example, the Gleim Instruct series included with the Premium EA Review has over 30 hours of lectures. Nate Wadlinger (attorney, EA, and CPA) from Florida State University leads all of the videos. And although they are kind of like PowerPoint presentations, his lectures break down complicated problems in a way that helps you understand the exam topics.

In contrast, Surgent has short videos that are only 10-20 minutes long. Basically, they are deep dives into tough topics. And although they are short and concise, you only get 25+ videos in the Ultimate Pass course. So definitely, Gleim has more EA exam videos.

Gleim and Surgent flashcards

Both Surgent EA and Gleim have flashcards if you like to use them to study. They can help you remember definitions and other bits of information. However, not all courses include flashcards. For instance, Surgent’s Ultimate Pass course has printed flashcards only. And Gleim’s Premium EA Review only includes digital ones.

Audio lectures

Do you like books on tape? If so, you might benefit from access to audio lectures. Although the Gleim test bank doesn’t come with audio lectures, both Gleim EA training courses do. These lectures can also be downloaded onto a mobile device for listening when you don’t have an internet connection. Plus, Surgent’s Ultimate Pass course has audio lectures, but not the Tradition or Essential Pass courses.

Supplemental material from Surgent and Gleim EA

Although Gleim’s courses have all the tools to pass the EA exam, Surgent throws in an extra perk with the Ultimate Pass course. Specifically, Surgent gives Ultimate Pass users access to another on-demand Surgent course, Excel for Accounting Professionals.

CPE included with course

Remember that even after passing the EA exam, you need to keep up your education to keep your Enrolled Agent certification valid. That is, you need to enroll in continuing professional education, also called CPE or CE. And Gleim and Surgent both have course options that include CPE access you can use after you become an EA.

For example, Surgent’s Ultimate Pass course has 2 CPE hours for an Ethics for Tax Professionals class. But Gleim includes even more CPE hours. That is, the Gleim Premium EA Review has up to 72 hours of CPE.

Surgent EA exam vs Gleim pass rates

Readers are always curious about pass rates for a course. That is, the percentage of course users who actually pass their EA exams. But consider that a course’s pass rates don’t necessarily mean that you will or won’t pass the SEE. Rather, it’s most important to find the EA course that matches your learning style and then create—and stick to—a good study plan.

That being said, Surgent publishes that 96% of their users pass the SEE. Gleim, however, doesn’t publish its pass rates. Still, Gleim EA claims that about 99% of their users were happy with their experience.

Learning style for Gleim vs Surgent EA

When picking an EA review course, it’s important to first consider how you best learn. Do you like to take notes in hardcopy textbooks? Or listen to audio lectures in the car? Likewise, maybe you already anticipate that you’ll need to be able to ask an accounting expert questions as you go along. These factors all contribute to determining which EA prep will work for you.

For instance, Gleim is our #1 EA course, in part, because so many types of learners can use it. Therefore, Gleim is good for anyone who likes video lectures. Plus, the Gleim test bank has more MCQs than Surgent, which is great for people who learn from practice. What’s more, the SmartAdapt platform will make sure you stay on track with your studies.

Surgent, in contrast, could work for EA candidates who are low on study time. After all, Surgent’s A.S.A.P. Technology could save you study time by focusing on your content weaknesses. Plus, the ReadySCORE and detailed feedback can help you be confident that you’re ready to pass the SEE.

surgent enrolled agent ea prepSurgent EA Discount Codes and Gleim EA Coupon Code

We also have coupons for both Surgent and Gleim on our sister site,

FAQs for Surgent EA Exam Prep and Gleim EA Review

Course costs for Gleim EA vs Surgent EA?

Gleim EA courses (before our Gleim EA discount)

  • Premium: $799
  • Traditional: $699
  • Option to purchase the test bank only: $499

Surgent EA courses (before discounts)

  • Essentials Pass: $499
  • Premier Pass: $699
  • Ultimate Pass: $999

Plus, Gleim and Surgent both have financing through Affirm.

What are the Gleim EA and Surgent EA Review renewal fees?

To start, remember that you don’t need to worry about renewal fees if you pick a course with access until you pass. But if you pick a course that expires, then you’ll need to repurchase your course to keep studying.

Can I get a Gleim or Surgent refund?

Yes, both Gleim and Surgent have refund policies. Specifically, Surgent accepts refund requests within 10 days of purchase. But note that you can’t use the coaching sessions or practice questions if you might anticipate a refund. Plus, if you want to refund the Ultimate Pass course, Surgent charges a $150 cancellation fee.

Gleim also offers refunds. But to start, Gleim gives you a much bigger window. In fact, you have 30 days to refund your Gleim purchase. However, you can’t return opened hard-copy materials like textbooks. And you can only return an online course if you’ve only accessed a single study unit.

Is there a Surgent EA Review app?

Surgent doesn’t have an app, and neither does Gleim. However, don’t let that deter you. After all, both classes are accessible online. So whenever you have an internet connection, you can study on the go.

With Gleim, how long does it take to study for the EA exam?

In order to pass the EA exam, Gleim suggests 10-20 hours of study time per week. What’s more, Gleim recommends about 260 study hours to pass all sections of the SEE.

What’s the Surgent EA study time?

According to Surgent EA, their users only need 47 hours to study for and pass one section of the 3-part SEE exam. But depending on your level of experience, you might need more than this average.

What about a Surgent or Gleim EA boot camp?

Neither Gleim nor Surgent has an EA boot camp.

Which is Better? Gleim EA vs Surgent EA

Even though the Surgent EA Exam A.S.A.P. Technology is known to save users lots of study hours, Gleim EA is still our #1 course. After all, Gleim has the most MCQs and more video hours than Surgent. Plus, Gleim uses the SmartAdapt e-learning system and gives you access to accounting professionals, expert-authored textbooks, and audio and video lectures, too. Therefore, the Gleim Premium EA Review System could be the course you need to pass the EA exam.

Should You Pick Gleim EA or Surgent EA?

Course Features Gleim EA Courses Surgent EA Courses
Video lectures 1 .5
Access until you pass 1 1
Help from experts 1 1
Size of test bank 1 .5
Overall course quality 1 1
CPE hours included 1 .5
Total 6/6 4.75/6


Although Surgent and Gleim share a lot of features, Gleim still edges out over Surgent. Gleim has a much larger test bank and more hours of video lectures. What’s more, Gleim’s Premium course gives you up to 72 hours of CPE to use later. And although Gleim’s price point is higher, you can use our Gleim promo code for EA courses to save money.

Still, Surgent has plenty of strengths, too. For example, Surgent’s A.S.A.P. Technology could help you save study time. Up to 40%, in fact. And the ReadySCORE is a good tool for making sure you’re prepared for exam day.

Final Thoughts about Gleim EA vs Surgent EA

If you’re curious about Gleim EA, definitely take advantage of the Gleim free trial. Believe it or not, the Gleim trial gives you access to an entire study unit for 18 months. And if you decide that Gleim is right for you, don’t forget to use our Gleim EA Review coupon.

About the Author S ML

Susan L. is one of the biggest cheerleaders on the I Pass the CPA Exam team. She loves seeing our readers succeed. You'll often find her writing about all things accounting.

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