Archive for the ‘CPA Exam Reviews’ Category
Reviewed and Updated April 10, 2012
Wiley CPA review produces the most widely-used study materials in the world. The textbooks, multiple choice question (MCQ) and simulation software provide a proven way for students to study for and practice the exam.
Textbooks – The textbooks are organized by topic – AUD, BEC, FAR, REG – and have sections you can read about preparing for the exam, a summary explaining each topic, dozens of MCQs for each topic and several simulations.
Price = $35 – $39 per part /$148 for all 4 parts
You can buy the Wiley books at Amazon.
Wiley Online Test Bank - The test bank is software that allows you to practice MCQs and simulations, track your results, and focus on the areas you need the most help in. In prior years, you used to be able to get the test bank on CD. In 2012, you can only get the test bank online. Later in 2012, Wiley is planning to update the software to allow you to download question packs to practice offline and then sync your answers when you are back online. The date of this update has not yet been announced.
Price = $79 – $88 per part /$191 for all 4 parts
Here are the Amazon links for the test bank software:
1. Over 4,000 MCQs – Wiley has a huge number of MCQs both in the textbooks and in the test bank software. They increased the number of MCQs by 10% for 2012.
2. Proven Method – Wiley textbooks and software have been used by thousands of students and are chosen by several review courses as the primary study materials (notably Yaeger and Roger).
3. Annual Updates – Wiley updates their material annually, ensuring you have the most up-to-date information when you are studying for the exam.
4. Over 200 Simulations – Wiley does a nice job of providing a wide variety of simulations for you to practice. Some will argue that you should not practice simulations at all, but I think this is a mistake. It is good to familiarize yourself with the types of questions they will ask you in the simulation section.
5. Good Predictor – The scores you get on the MCQ software are generally considered to be a fairly accurate predictor of your score you will actually get on the exam. I recommend consistently getting 80% on the MCQs before you feel comfortable that you know the material well. This will allow you a little latitude on the exam if you get surprised by one or two of the topics that get tested heavily.
6. Low Price – Compared with other review materials, the Wiley CPA review materials are inexpensive, especially considering the quality and quantity of material you get.
1. Not All-Inclusive – The Wiley study materials are typically not used as a stand-alone review. They are usually supplemented by video courses that help explain the material and MCQs in a more interactive fashion than just reading a book or computer screen.
2. Updates Cost Extra – If you buy 2012 materials, but do not take the exam until 2013, you will need to buy the updated books in order to ensure you are studying all of the materials that are likely to be covered on the exam, including new pronouncements and regulations.
The Bottom Line
It is hard to go wrong with Wiley CPA review, especially considering their proven track record and low price. The Wiley books and software can serve as primary study materials if you feel confident in your knowledge of the topics or as a significant supplement to a video study course as with Yaeger or Roger.
There are many places you can purchase the Wiley materials from, but the best price is found on Amazon. If they are not included in the price of your review course, Amazon will get you the best deal.
If you order from Wiley directly or from other CPA web sites, you will end up paying $65 per part for each book or $260 for all 4 parts and $97 – $105 per part for the testbank or $277 – $299 for all 4 parts. At Amazon, you get the books for $35 – $39 per part or $148 for all 4 parts and the testbank for $79 – $88 per part or $191 for all 4 parts. That is huge savings compared to any other site.
Note – This post was written in October 2011. By February 2012, most major review course providers have their 2012 materials available for sale. Please check out each individual review for specifics on the review course you are interested in.
If you are in the market to purchase a CPA exam review course but are worried because the 2012 materials are not out yet, there are options you should be aware of. Many of the review course providers have options for you to ensure you don’t miss out on the 2012 update.
Yeager – The Yaeger option is called the “Now and Then Plan.” To qualify, you have to purchase all 4 parts. You have 2 choices – you can either elect to take delivery of 1 part or 2 parts now. The other 2 or 3 parts will be delivered in late December or early January when the 2012 update is released. You only pay for the parts when they are delivered to you. So, if you elect to take 1 part now, you only pay for 1 part. You pay for the other 3 when they are delivered in December or January.
If you want to get one more part of the exam in this year, this is a great option. Best of all, any discount codes still apply (the code scoresfull gets you $200 off).
Roger – Following Yaeger’s example, Roger is offering split shipments on its review materials. When you check out, you simply click on which part(s) you want to receive in 2011 and which parts you want to receive when the 2012 update is complete. Unlike Yaeger; however, it appears you need to pay for all 4 parts now rather than paying for the 2012 parts when you receive them.
Becker – Similar to Roger, Becker offers split shipments so you can order all 4 parts now to qualify for the 4 part discount, but you can choose which part(s) you want to receive for 2011. Like Roger, you have to pay the full amount now.
CPAExcel – CPAExcel is unique in that it offers free online updates of its materials to all of its students. If you have DVD’s, a USB or printed books, these updates are still delivered online – not through physical products.
Bisk – Bisk has no official program for updates. Many students report that Bisk sends free electronic updates via PDF file.
Lambers – Lambers offers free software and video updates for one year. Text books and flash cards do not qualify for free updates
Kaplan – Kaplan offers free content updates for 2 years, but these are PDF updates only, not updates to the videos.
Reviewed and Updated January 15, 2012
Gleim CPA review provides many types of test preparation courses for various accounting and aviation certifications. For the CPA exam, Gleim is commonly used for supplemental multiple choice questions (MCQs). The company offers several different types of study materials for sale.
Audio Lecture CD’s – Gleim sells audio lectures on CD. Each part of the CPA exam has 10 hours of lectures. These lectures come on either 8 or 9 CDs depending on which part you are studying. For all 4 parts, there are 34 CD’s in total. These cost $90 per part or $360 for all 4 parts.
MCQ Software – The MCQ practice software is downloaded from the Gleim website. It includes performance tracking so you know how well you are doing on the different exam topics and allows you to take simulated exams. The software has over 8,000 MCQs.
- AUD – 2,000 MCQs
- BEC – 2,200 MCQs
- FAR – 2,100 MCQs
- REG – 2,500 MCQs
It costs $55 per part, or $220 for all 4 parts.
Simulation Wizard – This includes 20 simulations per part of the exam (or 20 essay questions for BEC). These are accessed entirely online so you need an internet connection to use it. It costs $90 per part or $360 for all 4 parts.
Online Review – This includes 18 months of online access to audiovisual presentations, true/false study questions, study outlines, multiple choice quizzes, and 1 task based simulation per part. It costs $170 per part or $680 for all 4 parts.
Full Review – As part of the full review package, Gleim includes textbooks, MCQ software, audio lecture CD’s, simulation wizard access and access to a personal counselor.
Price – $275 per part / $990 for all 4 parts
1. Price – At $990 for the full review for all 4 parts, it is the cheapest of any of the review courses.
2. Lots of MCQs – There are over 2,000 MCQs per part (8,000 in total). This is well above every other review course. The next-closest is CPAExcel with 6,000 MCQs.
3. Listen On The Go – The audio CD lectures can be listened to in your car, so you can get some study time in while commuting.
4. Windows Mobile Access – If you buy one or more sections of the full review, you get access to the MCQs on your Windows Mobile device. This is nice for studying in places where you may not have your computer or books.
5. Free Mobile App – Gleim offers a free mobile app that includes a 40 question multiple choice test for each part (160 question total for all 4 parts). It has a timer to simulate exam conditions and allows you to review correct and incorrect answers.
1. Not A True Guided Review – Gleim only has 10 hours of lectures per part, or 40 hours in total for all 4 parts of the exam on the audio CD’s. The other guided review courses (except Bisk) have 100 or more hours of lectures.
2. Difficulty – Gleim MCQs are notoriously difficult. Many people who use Gleim in addition to another review course report they consistently get lower scores on the Gleim MCQs than on their other review course. Keep this in mind if you use the Gleim materials.
3. No Ability To Ask Questions – There is no ability to contact instructors or get help with parts of the exam. In the full review, you have access to a personal counselor, but this is more like a college adviser than an instructor. The counselor can help you devise a study plan and offer motivation, but he or she is not an expert in the content of the exam. If you have a question on pension accounting, you will have to look elsewhere.
4. No Pass Rates – Gleim does not publish the passing rates of its students. It may be because this is difficult to track since Gleim has less interaction with its students than some of the more hands-on review courses or it may be because it is a low passing rate. Whatever the case may be, it makes it difficult to determine how effective the materials are without actually using them to prepare for the exam, and then it may be too late.
5. MCQ Software Not Mac Compatible – Unfortunately, if you have a Mac, you cannot use the MCQ software.
The Bottom Line
In my opinion, Gleim is not robust enough to use if you are looking for a guided review course. If you already know the exam topics well or are already using another review course, the Gleim MCQ software makes a good supplement if you need it. I would definitely recommend signing up for the free mobile app to get a little extra studying in while you are on the go.
Reviewed and Updated January 15, 2012
CPA Review For Free has gained a lot of popularity among CPA exam candidates because, just like the name says, it is free. The site offers 2,200 multiple choice questions (MCQs) for free once you register. They can offer this service at no charge because they show you ads and offer you premium content you can buy if you choose.
The premium content they offer consists of “essential content,” “points to pass ™,” and PDF downloads of the MCQs.
Essential Content – This is an online subscription to additional study materials. It includes slides written in outline format, a study guide, and 10 simulations. The Essential Content costs $15 per part for 1 month of access ($60 for all 4 parts), $30 per part for 3 months of access ($120 for all 4 parts), or $39 per part for the ability to print the materials ($156 for all 4 parts).
Points To Pass™ – This is online access to “algorithmically generated questions.” The facts of the question change each time it is presented to you so you can test yourself over the same general question unlimited times with different facts and answers each time. This eliminates memorizing the questions and answers since they change each time. FAR is the only section this is available for and the cost is $30 for 1 month and $90 for 3 months.
PDF Downloads – This option allows you to print all of the MCQs and answers so that you can have printed copies to take with you for times when you do not have access to the internet. The cost is $30 per part or $100 for all 4 parts.
1. Free – You can’t beat the price.
1. Difficulty – The questions are hard. Most CPA exam candidates say the CPA Review For Free questions are much harder than those from other review courses.
2. Not A Full Review – It is important to note, that despite the name, CPA Review For Free is not a full review course. It consists of MCQs only. Even if you purchase the supplemental material, you are not getting videos, so it is really not comparable to other review courses.
The Bottom Line
CPA Reveiw For Free is definitely worth signing up for if you would like supplemental MCQs from a source other than your primary review course. Keep in mind that the MCQs are typically harder than what you see in other courses and what you are likely to see on the CPA exam. Do not let lower scores on the free questions kill your confidence. Rather, understand that the MCQs are supplements to help you learn the material in a different way. Unless you feel that you understand the material very well, I would not use CPA Review For Free as your primary study aid.
Reviewed and Updated January 15, 2012
Kaplan CPA Review is best known in CPA circles for creating a new CPA exam review course, then getting out of the market. Over the past 10 to 20 years, Kaplan has started and then stopped its review course several times. In their current iteration, Kaplan offers 2 versions – the live online course and the self-study course.
Live Online – The live online course includes online access to lectures, textbooks, multiple choice question and simulation software, the ability to contact instructors through email, online access to additional supplemental study videos, a study calendar, mp3 audio study supplements, and flashcards. The live online course follows a set schedule. You will need to check to see if the schedule matches up with when you plan to take the exam.
Self-Study – The self-study course offers all of the materials included in the live version, except that the lectures are provided on video CD. The self-study course does not follow a set schedule, so this is obviously the choice for you if the live schedule does not line up with when you plan to take each part of the exam.
Price – $399 for 1 part / $749 for 2 parts / $1,099 for 3 parts / $1,399 for 4 parts (self study and live online are priced the same)
1. Lots of Study Materials – Kaplan includes a lot of things the other review course do not provide or charge extra for. Flashcards, mp3 audios and supplemental study videos are all included at no extra charge.
2. Price – At $1,399 for all 4 parts or $399 for 1 part, Kaplan is cheaper than all of the other guided review courses.
3. Expiration Date – Like many review courses, Kaplan has an expiration date, but it is a fairly generous 24 months. This should be plenty of time for you to study for and pass the exam.
1. Pass Rate – Kaplan does not publish their students’ pass rate, but Roger CPA reports that the pass rate for Kaplan students is only 69%. This is far lower than any of the published passing rates of the other review courses.
2. Lack of Practice Questions – Kaplan only has 2,000 multiple choice questions and simulations combined. This is less than half of the 4,000 or more combined MCQs and simulations the other guided review courses have. The lack of practice questions means you will likely not get enough practice on the key concepts you will be tested over and you may have to purchase supplemental MCQs from another review course. This would raise your cost of review materials beyond Kaplan’s low initial price.
3. Lack of Responsiveness to Questions – Students only have access to instructors through email and several complain that answers do not come back from instructors for several days.
4. Lecture Format – The lectures are delivered with a small video of the instructor’s face in the top left corner and a PowerPoint slide taking up most of the space. Many students find these lectures to be hard to stay interested in.
5. Continued Support – Will Kaplan do as it has done several times in the past and discontinue its CPA exam review course? It is hard to say, but it is a risk to keep in mind before you make a purchase.
6. No Mobile Access – You cannot access the materials on your iPhone, iPad or other mobile device.
The Bottom Line
There are not a lot of downsides to the Kaplan review course, but in my opinion, those negatives are significant. Be sure to watch the Kaplan demo videos before purchasing.
The pricing is the main advantage Kaplan has going for it. If the price outweighs the negatives for you and you feel you will not need to purchase additional review materials to supplement, Kaplan may be a good choice for you.
If you will need to purchase supplemental MCQs from another review course, your cost will go up to be comparable with Yaeger. In my opinion, Yaeger offers the best value for your money – giving you the best chance to pass the exam at a price that is not much higher than Kaplan.