dYour choice of CPA exam study materials is a key determinant of your success.
Since there are dozens of providers, we’ve created a step by step action plan to help you find the right CPA exam study materials for your learning style and budget.
How to Choose a CPA Course
Your CPA course is the second most important determinant of your success.
A few things should be taken into consideration when choosing a CPA course.
- What is your learning style?
- Your schedule?
- What is your budget?
Answer these questions to find the best CPA Study materials for you.
Do you know your predominant learning style? Some CPA candidates do better in classroom settings, where they can get feedback from instructors and peers. Other students are visual learners and learn more effectively with video lectures. Some students are better at learning through text and reading. If you can pinpoint your learning style, you will be more accurate in choosing the best CPA Study materials for you.
Each CPA course offers many different formats of study. Most offer online programs, some offer live classes, all offer textbooks and independent study courses. When you have looked at your schedule, you will know better what will work. For those that have jobs, live classes may not fit into their schedule. For those that are not well-disciplined, self-study courses may not be the best option.
Each CPA course differs drastically in the price. Some are much more expensive than others. Becker is one of the higher priced programs, but many previous CPA candidates say that it is worth it. Wiley is less expensive and most CPA students praise the software yet find the textbooks to be confusing. Look into each program and read the reviews from other users on each one.
CPA Exam Study Materials
There are three main types of CPA exam study materials:
1. CPA Review Course
This is the most expensive part of your CPA exam study materials. You might be shocked to know that some courses cost over $3000! You can refer to our comparison of the different CPA review providers to help you breakdown their offerings.
2. CPA Summary Notes
CPA review material is thousands of pages of information that no one can fully learn nor memorize. Subsequently, most students prefer to use summary notes in the last month of studying. It is no different than using summary notes before a college exam. For the CPA exam, students usually use 100 pages of notes that only highlight the most important concepts. Summary notes are not useful for learning concepts because summaries are not detailed enough. Rather, summary notes are used to reinforce key concepts from your CPA study materials.
3. CPA Practice Exams
Most students practice with 500-1000 questions for each individual section (BEC, FAR, REG, AUD). Take a diagnostic test to get an idea of your baseline score. Practice questions each day in the last month of studying. In your last week of studying take another diagnostic test and monitor improvements. You can start by taking the AICPA sample test.
CPA Review Courses
Most CPA candidates want the most effective, robust and budget friendly program. Here is a breakdown of what you find in the best CPA Study materials.
Each CPA candidate has their own learning style, and most institutions offer a variety of formats to match their individual needs
There are dozens of different CPA exam companies that specialize in optimizing your study time and preparing you to take (and pass) the CPA exam. Some of the most well known companies include Becker, Yeager, Gleim, and Roger CPA.
Some of the commonly used CPA review courses include online videos that you watch on your own time. The videos are mainly lectures by reputable instructors. This is a great option for those that like a classroom lecture setting and want to watch videos on their own schedule.
Live courses are offered via the internet or at a physical location in many cities around the US. This is popular for students that learn best in a classroom setting and rely on instructor and peer feedback. This is a very interactive way to study for the CPA exam if your schedule allows it. If you tend to get distracted easily a live course is the way to go.
Self Study Programs
Self Study programs are the most popular type of CPA Review product. These programs are adaptable and flexible. Most candidates work full time and do not have the luxury of studying 40 hours a week. The self study programs allow the candidate to study on an individual schedule. Many companies offer a hotline, or a help chat option. Self study usually includes text books, flashcards, lectures, and other helpful learning tools.
Even if you do not purchase a full CPA review course you can often buy the CPA study material as a stand alone product. There are a variety of CPA Books out there for CPA candidates to choose from.
CPA Books vary a great deal in terms of content and writing style. Each of the CPA books has their ups and downs. Some people learn better with really technical books (usually very detail oriented people) and others find them confusing and hard to get through. Below is a quick overview of some of the CPA Books out there and what their strengths and weaknesses are:
Becker CPA Books
Becker CPA is a well established company with materials endorsed by the Big 4. They claim to have double the pass rate of any other study program. However, like most things in life, you get what you pay for. It is the most expensive program out there yet CPA candidates feel the price tag is worth it. Becker also offers more than just CPA books. They offer live courses, self-study programs and more. If money is no option, or it is worth it to you, definitely check out Becker CPA.
Our CPA Students Say:
“Becker CPA review books are the gold standard. The CPA study material is user friendly and since the big accounting firms use Becker, I’m sure that the material is updated and top notch.
Wiley books are updated every year. It is one of the least expensive options as far as CPA materials go. They also have an online test bank that includes 3-4,000 practice exam questions. The test bank is in a format similar to the Prometric exam. Some CPA candidates complain that Wiley books are hard to read and difficult to get through on your own. Many CPA candidates choose Wiley only for the practice questions.
What our CPA candidates say:
“Wiley books are the cheapest of CPA review books out there, and the practice exams and practice questions are very helpful. However, Wiley CPA review books are too technical and the book is overwhelming and difficult to get through on your own.”
There are other great options for CPA books out there. Yeager, Roger, Gleim, and many more. Check into each one to find out what program will work best with your schedule, learning style and your budget.
Yeager CPA Review Books
Yaeger claims to have an 88% pass rate. They are famous for their excellent instructors and customer service. Yaeger offers a “hotline” if you have questions. It is much less expensive than bigger competitors such as Becker, but it is much more comprehensive than Wiley.
CPA Students Say:
“Yeager’s CPA review books come in the form of a home study program. The modules can be confusing, and it is not as user-friendly. It is a great middle ground between Becker and Wiley. Yaeger has more information than Wiley. Unfortunately, the lectures are a bit casual and maybe even a little unprofessional. I like the fact that Yeager is a family business meaning that the customer service is top notch. Yeager is a great option, especially for the money invested.
CPA Summary Notes
The next most important type of CPA Study Materials are summary notes. After you have been working with a CPA Review Course you will have about 1400 pages of information that you have taken in. As your Prometric exam date nears you will want to use focus notes and study from 100 page notes.
Supplemental study guides are often notes from previous CPA candidates that can give you tips, hints, study guides, study schedules, trackers, flashcards, etc.
Most Popular CPA Summary Notes
- CPA Army – the leader in CPA summary notes. A basic CPA study guide is only $47 and the materials are updated for free.
- CPA Review For Free – they used to offer a lot of CPA review material for free (hence the name). However, now it mainly just reviews other CPA Review providers
- Another 71 – Ninja study material is now subscription based at $67 per month. This can get quite pricey as it auto renews each month. You know how a gym membership works when you don’t use it. They have some neat tools like voice recorded audio for people who want to listen to summary notes on their phone or MP3.
CPA Practice Questions
After you have chosen the right CPA Review course and the right CPA summary notes you will most likely want to practice some CPA questions before the exam. Most students use at least 500 practice MCQ’s before the actual exam date.
You will definitely want to add some CPA Exam questions to your arsenal of CPA study material.
You can also find some practice exams on the AICPA website. However, the sample testlets will only have sample MCQ’s.
CPA Simulation Questions
Since a larger part of the exam is the SIMs you can also practice with SIMs. It is important to get used to the formatting and layouts. The topics are difficult to study for as there an infinite number of topics that you might be tested on. Any of the CPA review providers mentioned above will also offer some SIM practice questions.
Choosing the best CPA Study materials is not a complex task if you ask yourself the right questions. You must know your learning style, budget and work schedule before plopping down $3000 on a CPA review course. After committing to a course, augment your CPA Study Material with summary notes and some practice questions.