CPA Exam Review Course Rankings
Reviewed and Updated April 15, 2012
I have reviewed all of the major CPA exam review courses and summarized what I discovered in several comprehensive articles. Below are my rankings and links to each of the reviews.
Links To The Detailed Reviews
#1 – Yaeger CPA Review
#2 – Roger CPA Review
#3 – Becker CPA Review
#4 - CPAExcel CPA Review
#5 – Bisk CPA Review
If you choose any of the top 3 courses – Yaeger, Roger, or Becker – you give yourself an excellent chance of passing the CPA exam. All 3 have a proven track record and will help you prepare for the exam as long as you are willing to commit to the time and effort required by each course.
Which course you choose comes largely down to 3 factors – your learning style, your budget, and the way you want the course delivered (e.g. online, DVD’s, USB, etc.).
Yaeger is the lowest cost of the 3 if you use the coupon code SPRINGCLEANFULL (for all 4 parts) or SPRINGCLEANPART (for 1 part). The other big advantage Yaeger has is it is the only learning course, meaning they teach you how to understand the material rather than just relying on memorization. This is why it gets my highest ranking.
Roger is an entertaining and engaging course that relies on memorization, mnemonics and efficiency. It is the second lowest cost of the 3 if you choose the online version. It gets my #2 ranking because, while it is a good course that will keep your attention, it does skip over some material in the name of “cutting the fat,” and relies heavily on memorization which I think is not as beneficial as truly understanding the material.
Becker is the most widely-used CPA exam review course and is used by many of the top accounting firms. Like Roger, Becker also relies heavily on memorization and mnemonics. It is by far the most costly review course. If you are paying for the course yourself, Becker is not a wise choice in my opinion, because the other two courses offer more value. Becker is also notorious for poor customer service. The combination of these factors is why I ranked it #3 overall.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which part of the exam should I take first?
You will find many different recommendations of which part to take first from many different people. Traditionally, many people recommend the order of BEC, AUD, REG and FAR. The thinking behind this order is you go from what most people consider to be the easiest part of the exam (BEC) to what is generally thought of as the most difficult (FAR).
This approach has the benefit of building up your confidence by hopefully passing one or more of the first parts you take. By the time you take FAR, you have taken at least 3 exams and are very familiar with the process, so you can concentrate more on content rather than the exam process and procedures.
The disadvantage of this approach is that the hardest section for most people is saved for last. If you pass BEC early and have a failure or two on other parts of the exam, you will likely be up against the 18 month expiration date for your BEC credit and you still have the most difficult part to pass. You have a very real risk of having your BEC credit expire and needing to retake that part of the exam even though you already passed it once.
This brings us to the second common recommendation. Others will recommend starting with the section you believe will be most difficult. Typically this is FAR. The disadvantage is that it may take you more than one try to pass that section, so it may be hard to stay positive and motivated.
The advantage is that you are much less likely to have one of your credits expire due to the 18 month window. If you pass the most difficult section first, you are in a great spot to be able to pass the remaining 3 sections within the deadline.
The approach I recommend is to start with either AUD or REG. The philosophy you use to pick which one depends largely on your own personality. Would you rather take a difficult section first or a comparatively easy section first to gain some confidence? Are you more comfortable with audit concepts or tax concepts? That will guide which section you take first.