Linear Learning vs Adaptive Software: What’s the Difference?

By Surgent CPA Review

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Becoming a CPA is going to change your career and the trajectory of your life. Career doors will open and you’ll be able to work in a variety of settings around the globe. But, as we all know, passing the CPA Exam is a step we all must take to get there.

Luckily, there are plenty of learning materials out there to help you pass, although they’re all very different. Some focus on “tried-and-true” traditional learning methods, while others focus on highly promising progressive learning.

With all the options out there, it can be hard to decide which learning materials will work best for you. Should you stick with a traditional model or go for something more individualized? Let’s look at the two methods of teaching presented in most Exam prep materials to help you decide which type of learning will help you pass the CPA Exam as quickly as possible.

Linear Learning: the “Traditional” Method

Linear learning centers around every individual learning via the same trajectory; everyone learns from the same materials and takes the same steps. You start with step one, then proceed to step two, and so on until you’ve mastered a concept.

Linear learning is considered “traditional” because it’s the learning that’s been employed in the public education system for decades. Before you learn multiplication, you need to learn addition and subtraction. Before you start to read, you learn the alphabet. This type of learning is cost-effective, because it can be applied to large groups of individuals with pretty good results.

Linear learning is practical for teaching the masses, but isn’t necessarily the best way for individuals to learn. Over time, and with the advent of technology in learning, we’ve realized that other methods of learning might be more effective.

Building Networks Through Non-Linear Learning

Truly traditional learning is not step or textbook driven. Think about a baby learning to speak. The alphabet and corresponding letters aren’t introduced slowly; the baby hears people speaking and observes gestures from the day they’re born. In the beginning, the child has no awareness for the sounds and movements, but over time develops a sense of language through continued observation.

We make connections between ideas and we learn to recognize patterns. We know this approach works because, despite our unique familial and social upbringings, we all end up fluent in our native language before we even start school.

The non-linear approach to learning focuses on variation and change, connecting the dots as opposed to following a straight line. Instead of learning through steps, we learn a variety of topics at the same time, and by changing up the topics we make more connections and learn more efficiently than a traditional straight-line method.

Research shows this type of learning is more efficient, and it helps us retain information better over time. So why not employ this type of learning for the CPA Exam?

Adaptive Learning: An Individual Model

Adaptive learning individualizes learning based on your strengths and weaknesses. Software built around adaptive learning starts you off with a test of topics to see where you’re proficient. Then, it tailors your learning to what you need to know. You don’t continuously go over topics that are strengths, but rather spend time on weak areas to reinforce new or challenging concepts.

As time goes on, the software adapts to your specific needs and builds a learning plan that works for you. It jumps between topics in a rational manner, allowing you to connect information together without having it in a strictly sequential order and offering bite sized models of different topics to keep the material interesting.

Choosing What’s Best for You

All of us want exam materials that will help us pass as quickly as possible. So how do you decide which materials are best for you?

Since adaptive technology is truly individualized, it’s generally a better choice when it comes to CPA Exam prep material. It caters to your learning needs and develops a plan that will get you through the Exam more efficiently. But if you’ve had good success with traditional learning methods in the past, maybe check out options that provide that type of teaching.

One of the best ways to go about deciding on a good course for you is to look at pass rates. Think about the following questions as you decide:

• How many people are passing the Exam with certain materials?
• How much time are they spending studying?
• What are the ratings saying about the materials?

Even better, sign up for a free trial to get a hands-on feel of the software and all of its features. Pretty soon, you’ll be well on your way to finding learning materials that help you pass the CPA Exam!

This post was written by Surgent CPA Review