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.