Wiley CPA Books and Focus Notes: 3 Pros and Cons (plus Discount!)

2016 Wiley CPA BooksWiley CPA Books (officially known as Wiley CPAexcel Exam Review) is a collection of study tools offered by this top text book publisher. It is the #1 seller of review materials in CPA exam preparation for many years.

What is Wiley offering and why is it such a hot seller?

More importantly, is it suitable for your needs?

What You can Expect from the Wiley CPA Books

If you are a first-time candidate, you will find the first 4 chapters of the book pretty useful. It introduces the basics of the CPA exam including how gradings are done, the computerized format of the test, and what to do/not do at the exam site.

Chapter 5 is the main section of the book with the study materials, multiple choice questions and simulations. Then, there are 3 appendices with a FAR sample exam as well as some released questions from AICPA.

What’s Great about the Wiley CPA Review Books

1. Comprehensive and Well-Written

Considering the need to squeeze everything on financial accounting in one book, I think the Wiley CPA book are organized and well written.

Using the FAR book as an example, the content is divided into 14 modules covering concepts and standards for financial statements, identification and calculation of various items in the statements and transactions, accounting and reporting for governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations.

Each module is around 30-50 pages of study materials with with lots of multiple choice questions and simulations for you to practice.

2. Content Enough to Get You Pass without the Frills

Since the CPA exam covers a huge number of topics but never goes too deep in any subject, the Wiley CPA books serve this purpose well. It does not give a lot of background information on the accounting concepts because the authors assume that you know the material.

It is a hard-core, no-nonsense book — It covers just enough materials to get you pass. With Wiley alone you probably won’t score 99 and be able to show off your Watts Sells Award… but for me, who cares. I pass the CPA exam and that’s enough for me.

3. Great Value-for-Money

The CPA exam fee costs a fortune and you want to save every penny. Totally understandable.

If you don’t need a real person to talk to you or video instruction to go through the concepts again, this set of Wiley CPA books is the best deal.

For example, the book is retailed at $260 and together with the Test Bank (which you MUST get) for $127 per parts, the whole package is selling at $768. Better yet, you can often get a good discount, as shown below.

When compared to most other CPA review courses which sell at $2,000+ these days, The Wiley book and test bank combo is costing less than 1/2 of the price. When compared to Becker at $3,393… it’s a steal!

Bonus: Live Classes are Using Wiley as their Text Books

Many live classes across US universities use Wiley’s books and test bank to complement their lectures. The instructors spend a lot of time going through Wiley’s MC questions as a way to clarify the accounting concepts. This shows that Wiley’s book + test prep software is the best in trade.

The Cons

1. “Too” Comprehensive?

I guess the flip side of being very comprehensive is that it can be overwhelming — While Wiley seems to be addressing this long-time issue with more bullet-points, the FAR book is still, again, a huge, scary, 1,000+ page of condensed text.

I guess as a textbook it is doing as best as they can, but I can see that some students would prefer the materials delivered in, say, video format with some interaction discussion on the practice problems.

2. Relatively Poor Touch and Feel

Since you could be purchasing the book online without physically flipping through the book, I’d like to bring this to your attention. All books in this Wiley series are printed on newspaper print, which may not sound like a big deal but is surprisingly a common compliant from my readers.

3. Not an Integrated Approach

This may not apply to everyone, but for those who need a lot of hand-holding on learning / relearning the concepts, a guided review, be it a live class or online self-study, is usually a more integrated and thus better approach.

This is not a criticism to the Wiley CPA books but an acknowledgement on its limitation, considering the Wiley’s significant price discount.

If you are a qualified CA or CPA from another country, an accounting major, or an accountant or auditor, I don’t think you need to worry about this — you are likely ok with Wiley CPA Books + Test Bank.

Thanks… But Should I Get the Books or Not?

If you have forgotten all your accounting or you have never taken an accounting class, I suggest that you pick a comprehensive CPA review course on this list here.

If you are relatively familiar with accounting, capable of intensive self-study for at least several months, and don’t mind reading pages and pages of small texts, then this set of Wiley CPA books is the logical choice. Many candidates pass the exam with these books alone.

You Can Now Get These Books at a Good Discount

This is the latest version. This version is good for the 1Q 2017 exam (i.e. before exam changes in April)


Latest Wiley CPA Exam Focus Notes (July 2016 version)

These notes are essentially the summary of the Wiley CPA Review Books. They cannot be used as a replacement of the text books, but it is a good tool for your review or as supplement to other review courses.

I suggest that you write your own notes on flash cards for better retention of exam materials (and your money). However, if you don’t have the time or you are just not the note-taking type of person, these notes are created just for you:


Wiley Test Bank Review

The Test Bank, with thousands of practice questions in computerized format, is an integral part of your CPA exam preparation.

In my opinion this is the best among the Wiley’s products and you can get a detail pros and cons analysis here, plus a discount of $92!

About the Author Stephanie Ng

I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley), and I also passed all 4 sections of the CPA Exam on my first try. Additionally, I have led webinars, such as for the Institute of Management Accountants, authored featured articles on websites like Going Concern and AccountingWeb, and I'm also the CFO for the charity New Sight. Finally, I have created other accounting certification websites to help mentor non-CPA candidates. I have already mentored thousands of CPA, CMA, CIA, EA, and CFA candidates, and I can help you too!

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