Posts Tagged ‘Bisk’
Reviewed and Updated January 15, 2012
Bisk is the second largest CPA exam review course provider behind Becker. It is also the second most expensive. Bisk CPA review chooses not to report a pass rate for its students due to the inherent difficulties in getting an accurate number.
Bisk offers two main self-study options – online and classic. It also offers limited live classes in certain cities. In addition, Bisk sells a dizzying array of additional products for preparing for the exam.
1. Online Review – The online review is handled like a live class, but is delivered online. This means you need to sign up during the enrollment periods and study according to the schedule set forth by the instructors. The online review includes online access to streaming video lectures, study guides, textbooks, multiple choice questions, and support forums. It is all online – you will not receive any physical products (e.g. no CD’s or books).
2. Classic Review – The classic review can be done at your own pace. There is not a set schedule or class to follow. This option includes several CD’s that will be mailed to you. The CD’s are for your computer and include electronic versions of the textbooks, multiple choice questions, video lectures and weekly assignment notebooks.
Price – $525 per part / $1,980 for all 4 parts (Online and Classic review have the same price)
3. Optional Products:
Software – You can buy the multiple choice question and simulation software separately if you do not want to purchase the entire review course. The software also includes electronic versions of the textbooks. This costs $640 for all 4 parts or $160 per part.
Texbooks – You can buy textbooks for $199.80 for all 4 or $49.95 each if you want a physical book. Only the electronic versions are included in the Online and Classic reviews.
Audio – Bisk offers audio only CD’s for $519.80 for all 4 parts or $129.95 each. These audios allow you to listen to lectures in the car or put them on your MP3 player. They include 40 hours of lectures in the complete set of all 4 parts.
Video – Bisk offers DVD videos for a huge range of specific topics, but not for the core review course lectures. These are called “Hot Spots” and are meant to be in depth reviews of specific topics (e.g. pension accounting). If you are having trouble in a specific area, you can buy the Hot Spot for that topic to get more instruction. These videos range in price from $99 to $799.
1. Bob Monette – Bob Monette is the lead instructor for Bisk and he gets rave reviews. Most students enjoy his lectures and are able to understand and retain the information he goes over. He does not do all the lectures, though, so many students report that the lectures the other instructors handle are very painful and difficult to get through.
2. Custom Exams – The Bisk software has a wide variety of custom exam options that allow you to focus on your weak areas. This can be done manually or you can use the software’s recommendation for a customized exam based on your past results.
3. Practice Exams – Many students have found that the practice exams are a good indicator of what they are likely to score on the actual CPA exam.
4. Discounts – Many students have reported success at calling Bisk and asking for discounts rather than paying the price on the web site.
5. Hot Spots – Even though these cost extra and are not part of the review courses, the Hot Spot videos are widely regarded as very helpful study tools. If you are having particular difficulty in an area covered by one of the Hot Spots, it may be worth considering purchasing that video.
1. Multiple Choice Explanations – Many people complain the explanations to questions are thin so it is difficult to understand why an answer is correct or incorrect. Multiple choice questions are the core part of the CPA exam, so relying on thin explanations for why an answer is right or wrong puts you at a significant disadvantage when taking the exam.
2. REG – REG is generally considered to be poorly covered by Bisk. Many REG topics are tested heavily on the exam, but are glossed over by the Bisk materials and lectures.
3. Textbooks – Many students feel the textbooks make concepts difficult to understand. The Wiley books generally do a better job of explaining the concepts so they are easily understood and remembered. In addition, only the electronic versions of the textbooks are included. If you want printed copies, you will need to buy them separately.
4. Lack of Options – There is no USB option and the lectures are not available on DVD. You either have to watch the lectures while you are connected to the internet or on the CD’s provided for your computer. You will not have the option of watching lectures on your DVD player.
5. Software – Some students complain the testing software is slow and that you cannot split the screen when studying simulations, so you have to switch from screen to screen. Some students also reported problems using the software on Microsoft Vista.
6. Lecturers – Aside from Bob Monette mentioned above, many students say the other lecturers talk too fast and rush through a lot of the material. This makes some of the topics difficult to understand.
7. Slow to Change – In the past, Bisk seems to have changed its material more slowly than other review courses in response to changes in the exam.
8. No Mobile Access – You cannot access the Bisk materials from your iPhone, iPad or other mobile device.
The Bottom Line
Bisk has some good features, but also has some significant drawbacks. In my opinion, it is too expensive given that the negative items can have such a big impact on your preparation for the exam. Yaeger is generally a better choice, especially if you want to get an in-depth understanding of the material and are looking to get the most for your money (see my Yeager review here).
The Bisk Hot Spots are very good supplements you should look into if you are having difficulty with a particular topic.