Universal CPA Review differs from other CPA courses because it focuses on visual learning. So if you’re bored with traditional approaches to studying for the CPA Exam, you might want to give Universal a try.
Number of MCQs: 3,300+ | Number of TBSs: 120+ | Access: Unlimited | Cost: Options range from $149 (monthly subscription) to $999 before our exclusive discount.
Two CPAs founded Universal CPA Review after realizing that traditional review courses just don’t work for everyone. Joey Reeve, CPA, was teaching CPA review in New York City. At the same time, his friend Matt Reinhold, CPA, worked at PwC. Although they both passed the CPA Exam, they didn’t enjoy the study process. So, they decided to build a better method of CPA Exam prep and started their own company.
At first, they only tutored CPA candidates in the NYC area. Based on their own experiences, they created a course that focused on visual learning. After their NYC-based customers started giving them positive feedback, they expanded. Now, Universal CPA Review is entirely online, so anyone across the globe can study with them. What’s more, Universal added content experts like additional CPAs and a visual learning specialist to round out their team.
Universal CPA Review has separated itself from the rest of the competition through visual learning. That is, most CPA prep courses follow what I’d call traditional learning. To start, they send you big textbooks to pour through. And then, you’re supposed to follow up by watching videos, and some companies have reputations for very dull deliveries. It’s no wonder that CPA candidates can get bored with this type of instruction, especially people who are visual learners.
According to Universal’s experts, you process visual information up to 60,000 times faster than textual information. Why? Well, visual content stimulates a different part of the brain. And basically, visual learning helps you understand information much faster than just reading or hearing the content. What’s more, Universal CPA Review also claims that visual learning leads to retention rates that are 42% higher than traditional learning. The theory is that visual content creates emotions that stimulate lasting memories and increase your motivation to learn. Interesting!
Studying for the CPA Exam is no easy task. After all, about 50% of CPA candidates fail at least one section of the 4-part exam on their first try. The reasons for these low CPA pass rates vary but can include studying with the wrong materials. In other words, we all learn differently. I really thrive on reading textbooks and taking notes in the margins. But other people would rather learn from live classes, webinars, or video lectures. And still, others need tutoring or highly personalized support.
Therefore, Universal CPA Review was specially crafted for visual learners. Universal has copywritten what it calls a “mental map methodology.” This systematic approach to reviewing CPA content combines video lectures, an image-driven study guide, and practice questions in an online format. Furthermore, Universal explains accounting concepts in easily digestible ways. And the focus on visual learning helps users better comprehend difficult information.
Universal CPA Review primarily relies on three methods to get you ready for the CPA Exam.
Do you get bored with accounting videos of instructors sitting in front of a camera, talking on and on without pause? If so, you should look at Universal CPA Review. The videos are similar to animated PowerPoint presentations. Basically, visual images and text on the screen are reinforced by an instructor in the background who gives you additional information about the topic at hand. The videos use charts, graphs, and upbeat visual aids to break down the CPA Exam’s hardest topics. Plus, the videos are short and sweet.
The Universal CPA Review study guides are basically a series of eBooks that you can read from your online course dashboard. They systematically review the CPA Exam content and are mapped to the AICPA blueprints. You can take notes in an attached notepad right from the dashboard as you read through the study guide.
The study guides are much easier to read than traditional textbooks. Firstly, they use fun colors and graphics to organize information and highlight important formulas. And although that might not sound like a big deal, the light-hearted feel is refreshing. After all, if you’re going to spend hundreds of hours studying for the CPA Exam, why not have a little fun? Plus, the study guides are concise and brief.
Universal CPA Review’s Complete Package includes 3,300+ MCQs (multiple-choice questions) and 120+ TBSs (task-based simulations). Furthermore, they have appeared in previous CPA Exams that the AICPA has retired.
What’s more, each and every Universal CPA Review MCQ and TBS includes a detailed video explanation of the answer. So when you answer a question, you receive a link to a video explanation in case you need more instruction. Right now, Universal is unique with its inclusion of a video explanation for all of the MCQs and TBSs.
You can use Universal CPA Review as a stand-alone course. Or, you can purchase the Individual Test Bank as a supplement to another CPA review guide. Plus, you should note that all of Universal’s materials come with unlimited access that never expires.
Here’s more specific information about what you can expect in every exam section from Universal CPA Review.
|Video Lectures||Study Guides||MCQs + Hours of Detailed Answer Explanation Videos||Task-Based Simulations|
|AUD||190 mini-lectures (11+ hours)||450 pages||715 MCQs (24+ hours)||23 with video explanations (but no authoritative research simulations)|
|BEC||100 mini-lectures (10+ hours)||300 pages||740 MCQs (31+ hours)||30 with video explanations|
|FAR||340+ mini-lectures (24+ hours)||675+ pages||1,000+ MCQs (36+ hours)||42 with video explanations (but no authoritative research simulations)|
|REG||225+ mini-lectures (14+ hours)||485+ pages||700+ MCQs (23+ hours)||22 with video explanations (but no authoritative research simulations)|
|Totals||855+ mini-lectures (59+ hours)||1,910+ pages||3,155+ MCQs (73+ hours)||117 with video explanations|
Universal CPA Review tries to keep your costs low by only giving you the essentials to pass the CPA Exam. That is, it doesn’t come with a lot of extras offered by other companies, like adaptive learning platforms, physical textbooks, flashcards, or live classes. Plus, you can save even more with our exclusive Universal promo code at the end of this article.
I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a tech-savvy person. Therefore, when I try out a new CPA Exam review course, especially one that’s entirely online, I’m looking for ease of use. And that’s exactly what I found with Universal CPA Review. Plus, the content is logically organized into chapters. I was able to find the videos, study guides, and practice questions without a problem.
Universal CPA Review uses short lessons to guide you through the material. These bite-sized lessons are great for two reasons. First, our brains are more likely to remember smaller chunks of information than larger chunks, so you can retain what you just studied better. And second, if you have a busy schedule, you’ll be able to squeeze in these short lessons whenever you have a break in your day.
If you think that Universal CPA Review might be right for you, I suggest taking advantage of the company’s free 7-day trial. With this promotion, you get complete access to the course for a full week. And what’s more, you don’t even need to give your credit card information to get started.
Did you fail the CPA Exam after using another course? Some of Universal CPA Review’s users started their CPA journey with a different prep course. After failing an exam section and becoming frustrated with their studies, they switched to Universal. And some users say that Universal’s instructors were finally able to explain the CPA Exam’s most complicated content in an easy-to-understand way. This enhanced comprehension of tough topics gave them the extra few points they needed to finally pass the CPA Exam.
If you get stuck with a problem, you can submit your question to an online forum via the Ask Joey button on your dashboard. And then, co-founder Joey Reeves or another Universal expert will answer your question and post the answer so all users can read it.
All Universal CPA Review packages have unlimited access and free updates. Therefore, you don’t have to feel rushed to study because your access to the online materials won’t expire. Plus, if any of the Universal materials are updated, you won’t have to pay for updates.
This course is entirely online. Therefore, you can’t access your materials if you’re offline. In fact, you can’t even download or print notes that you took in the platform’s notepad while reading through the study guide. In contrast, many other CPA Exam review providers (like Becker and Surgent) have options to purchase print materials in addition to online access and proprietary apps to study on the go.
As I was testing out the Universal study materials, I noticed several typos, grammar issues, and minor formatting mistakes in the videos and study guides. Although these aren’t a deal-breaker for me, they can distract from your studies. However, the IPass team talked to the Universal staff, and they plan to fix these issues as they continue to add content to their course.
Many Universal CPA’s users like the course because of the engaging video lectures that present the content via a multi-media presentation. And I’ll admit—some of them are even quite funny, and that’s refreshing in a CPA course. However, other videos are not as engaging as I was expecting. For example, in some of the videos I tried, several minutes would pass while an instructor talked in the background without the screen changing. And others had screens that were very text-heavy, meaning that you needed to read the screen while also trying to listen to the lecture.
Personally, I thought that a course focused on visual learning would have more engaging videos. For instance, I find Becker’s videos more interesting than some of Universal’s videos, even though Becker’s reputation isn’t necessarily built on engaging videos.
Although you can create your own quizzes and chapter tests, none of the Universal CPA Review packages include timed mock exams that replicate the exam-day experience. I think this is unfortunate since taking timed practice tests can be a good way to prep for the CPA Exam. After all, one of the biggest exam hurdles is learning how to pace yourself so that you have enough time and don’t have to skip any questions. Plus, it’s good to practice the mental stamina you need to keep your focus for the length of the entire exam.
To keep costs low, Universal CPA Review doesn’t include any supplemental learning tools that other review providers have developed. For example, it doesn’t have a mobile app, audio lectures, flashcards, live classes or webinars, physical textbooks, flashcards, or a study planner.
However, many candidates enjoy learning from a variety of materials to keep up their interest while studying for the CPA Exam for weeks at a time. I think that’s why other companies include a wider variety of learning tools than just a small test bank, an online textbook, and some videos. For instance, Becker’s courses also have flashcards, a fun accounting learning game called Accounting for Empires, live online and in-person classes, a Final Review course, and even personal tutoring.
Likewise, Universal CPA Review doesn’t have performance tracking tools. By comparison, Surgent is known for its analytic tools that give you valuable insight into your study progress. Surgent uses adaptive e-learning to tailor your studies to your content weaknesses. What’s more, Surgent also has a ReadySCORE indicator that predicts (within 4 points, on average) your actual CPA Exam score.
Universal CPA Review gives you a smaller test bank of practice MCQs and TBSs than many of its competitors. For example, Universal’s Complete Package has 3,300+ MCQs and 120+ TBSs. By comparison, Becker’s Pro package has 8,100 MCQs and 500+ TBSs. Even better, Gleim’s Premium Review System has 10,000+ MCQs and 1,300+ TBSs.
Right now, the Universal CPA Review course does not include authoritative research simulations. However, we learned that Universal does have the technology to integrate these simulations into their course. What’s more, the company plans to add several authoritative research TBSs once they receive the applicable literature from each of the governing bodies.
Furthermore, the course has very few simulations in the BEC section, including 2 written communication samples. And since simulations make up 35% of your BEC score and written communications are another 15%, it’s unfortunate that you can’t practice these critical BEC questions.
Therefore, I suggest checking out another one of the best CPA review courses, like Becker or Surgent, that includes all types of simulations.
For each exam section like AUD, BEC, FAR, or REG, the Universal course is divided into 6-9 chapters. Then, each chapter is further divided into 5-10 modules to give you small lessons with a manageable amount of information. During your study sessions, you can pick the duration (number of questions) and question type (like ones you previously answered and flagged as difficult). From the course dashboard, you’ll see the results of your sessions, including your study time and the percentage of questions you answered correctly.
If you pick Universal CPA Review, I would go with the Universal Complete Package. After all, it’s the only package that includes study material for each section of the 4-part CPA Exam. Additionally, the 30-minute CPA Exam Strategy Session could be useful since the course does not include a personalized study planner.
Right now, Universal CPA has three different offerings:
Yes! In fact, I have an exclusive Universal CPA Review promo code. Use the code IPASS25%OFF at checkout to save a bundle on your CPA study materials!
No. All Universal CPA Review materials come with unlimited access and free content updates. In the case of the monthly subscription package, you will receive access as long as you continue to pay the monthly fee.
All of Universal’s products have a 7-day money-back guarantee. (In comparison, other companies give you a refund if you study with them and don’t pass the CPA Exam. For example, Becker and Surgent both have better guarantees than Universal CPA.)
Start with your CPA Exam Strategy Session if you get the Complete Package. This 1-on-1 talk with a member of the Universal CPA staff will help get you started on the right track. Then, work through the modules in each chapter of your course. Read the study guides and watch the videos, taking notes as you go. Follow-up by working through the test bank; flag difficult questions and return to them later. Watch the video explanations of the questions, especially the ones you miss.
Depending on your learning style, Universal CPA Review could help you pass the CPA Exam. However, since the course does not include timed mock exams, I suggest taking the practice tests provided by the AICPA and time yourself.
Unlike many of the other top CPA Exam courses, Universal CPA Review has not published the pass rates of its users. Basically, the company is too new to have an average pass rate. Therefore, it’s hard to truly gauge how many people are finding success with Universal. However, before the company expanded to offer online courses, they used these same visually-enhanced materials to tutor 200+ students at their home base in New York. Among these early students, they had a CPA Exam pass rate of over 95%.
Every CPA Exam review course has its pros and cons. And I hope that this article highlights some of Universal CPA Review’s strengths if you’re considering purchasing it. Universal might have the CPA Exam study materials for you if:
If you decide to go with Universal CPA Review, drop me a line – I’d love to know how it’s working for you!
If you think Universal CPA Review could be the right study course for you, then use my promo code to save 25%!
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.