How do I evaluate the best CPA exam prep courses?
Through my expert knowledge and consultation with many CPA industry experts, I select the best CPA review course companies to review and provide expert insight. Below are some important CPA review course attributes I evaluate.
How Important is CPA Review Course Flexibility
Like any prep course, the absolute most important feature for most people is the flexibility of course content delivery. Historically, live in-person prep courses were the only option available, but technology has made online options available. For people with busy schedules, either a live online or self-paced course are great options. Having the flexibility to miss a class when needed and easily watch the recorded class during your own time is extremely important to your success.
What are the most critical course flexibility attributes?
- Online Recorded Video Access – This is HUGE! It allows students the ability to access a pre-recorded video lesson so they can schedule their review based on their busy schedules.
- Live In-Person Courses – Students can take advantage of pre-defined class structure and the instructors knowledge and expert insights.
How Quality is the CPA Exam Review Course Content?
Most would assume that content, for the most part, is the same across prep course companies. That’s not necessarily true. So, here is how it works. The AICPA releases a CPA exam content outline every year for the prep course companies. This outline is at a very high level and acts as a content creation guide for the prep companies. From year-to-year not much changes, but the prep course companies pay very close attention to it. With that said, it’s up to the prep course company to determine how in-depth they will go on each topic area. Some prep course companies hit the content creation right on the nose, and others miss the mark. You want to ensure that the prep course you purchase is not giving you information overload (i.e. wasting your valuable time), but you also want to ensure that you’re not getting too little information.
What are the most critical CPA review content attributes?
- Books – The company provides quality prep books that display an appropriate level of content delivery.
- Flashcards – The company provides quality flashcards that appropriately compliment the prep course content and student CPA exam prep needs.
- Online Course Content – The online prep course material follows the prep books from a content perspective, and no prep area is neglected.
How Quality Is the CPA Review Course Practice Question Banks & Tests?
Having a sufficient amount of practices questions is HUGE! Even more huge though, is how in-depth the prep course company explains not only the right answer, but also the wrong answer. We can’t stress enough how important this is. Now, lucky for you, most all CPA exam review course companies license the same historical practice questions from the AICPA. The key though is that the AICPA does not provide answer explanations to the prep course companies. Thus, it’s extremely important that you select a CPA exam review company that takes pride in going through those questions in detail and providing detailed answer explanations. Also, there are companies that go above and beyond to create practice questions in addition to the questions they license from the AICPA. So, there can be MAJOR differences between CPA exam review course companies.
What are the most critical CPA study material attributes?
- Practice Question Banks – The company provides an appropriate amount of practice questions with a high level of care put toward providing detailed answer explanations.
- Full-length Practice Tests – The company provides multiple full-length CPA exam review practice tests that not only look similar to the official CPA exam, but also that are of equivalent or higher difficulty level.
- In-depth analysis reports – The prep course provides the student with a detailed analysis of their practice question and test results. The results analysis reports at a granular level that allows the student to focus their studies to areas of weakness.
CPA Exam Review Course Instructors
Having an understanding of the review course instructor personalities is CRAZY HUGE! You are going to be glued to your chair for 100’s of hours listening to these instructors. You better make sure that the prep course instructor personalities match your learning needs and/or your personality preference. There is a MASSIVE difference between the CPA exam review course personalities, and choosing the wrong one is detrimental to your chances of success. The personalities must meet your needs!
What are the most critical course instructor attributes?
- Matches Your Learning Needs – The company has instructors that match your learning needs. Some people need and/or want extremely high energy instructors. Others have a preference for calm, cool, and collected content deliver. Some even want their CPA exam review instructors to be similar to their college professors. Whatever your preference is, make sure you verify that the instructors of the review course you’re interested in meet those preferences!
- Engaging – Company review course utilizes engaging instructors what students will actually want to sit and watch for hours at a time.
- Knowledgeable – Company review courses utilizes instructors that are a wealth of knowledge in their designated subject areas.
CPA Review Course Student Support
A high quality CPA exam review course should always incorporate exceptional student support features. Whether you’re a CPA exam student looking for technology support or one just looking to bounce a quick question off of an instructor, the support should be there.
What are the most critical CPA review student support attributes?
- Phone – Students can easily pick up the phone and get their questions answered.
- Live Chat – Students can easily send a quick message online to a live support representative.
- Email – Students are guaranteed to receive a response to their emails within a 24 hour period of time.
- Passing Guarantee – Students who can evidence completion of every course module receive the ability to repeat the course if needed at little to no additional cost.
Note: I realize there may be other quality prep courses available on the market. I will continually be working to add those reviews to this webpage.
Other courses for consideration: Roger, Wiley, Fast Forward Academy, & ExamMatrix