Best CPA Exam Prep Course Guide for 2020
Studying for the CPA exam is a significant decision. Between keeping a full time day job and studying for the test, it really requires dedication and time. One of the most efficient ways to prepare for the four exams is to utilize a CPA prep course that offers a high quality study program. When I studied for the exam, I followed a self study program. I found that the single most effective method was to regularly practice test questions from a software program that offered adaptive question algorithms.
By regularly using practice questions and paying attention to the results, it was much easier to identify my weaknesses. Once I identified areas of improvement, I use the the video lessons and study notes to improve. In between I would regularly use the practice questions in those topic areas to make sure I retained the necessary information.
Additionally, by using practice questions, it was also far easier to identify sections that I didn't need to spend as much time studying. With so many available CPA prep course options, it can be overwhelming to identify the right program for you. I created a detailed chart highlighting the major differences among the best prep course providers so you can make a more informed decision.
We will continue to update the page over time with more CPA prep course providers.
Best CPA Study Materials
(note: if your viewing the chart on a mobile phone, use your finger to scroll the chart to the left of your screen to see all columns).
$2,100 to $2,800
$1,599 to $2,899
$2,399 to $3,499
$299 to $999
Over 7,700 & 1,000 additional
Online & Hard copy
Online & hard copy
Online & Hard copy
Online & Hard copy
Over 140 hours
Over 350 videos
Over 100 hours
Over 120 hours
Over 40 hours
Access via mobile & tablet
Optional Payment Plan
Wiley entered the CPA prep course market through its acquisition of Efficient Learning System's CPAexcel prep course. Since the acquisition, Wiley has retained the original CPAexcel brand name and dramatically expanded the core course offerings.
Students have the ability to purchase 3 core study course programs or they can purchase individual courses related to the specific section of the CPA exam they are taking. Wiley also offers a wide range of supplemental products like flash cards, focus notes, and extra practice questions. Wiley has a strong reputation for quality products and a long history of students successfully passing the CPA exam.
For more information, see our full Wiley CPAexcel review.
Premium Course Option
Access to core learning platform with diagnostics, bite sized lessons, performance metrics, and unlimited practice exams
Over 6,000 multiple choice questions and task based simulations
Digital and Physical textbooks
Enhanced Course Option
All features included in the Silver Course
Access to Professional Mentoring
Premium Course Option
All features included in the Gold Course
Virtual Classroom Series
Supplemental Online Test Bank with 6,000 additional questions
Focus Notes & Flashcards
Surgent's CPA review program is focused around advanced adaptive learning technology combined with leading instructors focused on only the most relevant topics covered on the exam. Surgent backs up its curriculum with a Pass Guarantee. If you use the Surgent program and fail the CPA exam, Surgent will refund your tuition to the course or continue to provide access to the study program until you pass. Another notable element of the Surgent program is free access to coaches.
Surgent offers three main courses that cover each part of the CPA exam. You also have the option of purchasing single courses for each of the 4 CPA exam sections separately.
See our Surgent CPA Review for more information about their prep course options.
Basic Study Plan
Full Access to online curriculum until you pass
Over 7,700 multiple choice questions and 400 task based simulations
Over 350 video lectures with study notes
Detailed analytics and personalized study plan
E-books for all 4 exam sections
Flashcard based app
Online, phone, and email support
Comprehensive Study Plan
All features included in the Essential plan
Printed textbooks for each of the 4 sections of the exam
Three half hour sessions with a CPA coach
Self Study and Tutoring Plan
All features included in the Premier plan
1,000 additional multiple choice questions; over 8,700 total multiple choice questions
Audio lectures for all 4 exam sections
4 hours of tutoring from an Accounting professor
Excel for Accounting Professionals online course
Becker is probably one of the most well known CPA review providers on the market. Based on their reputation for quality products, Becker is able to charge a premium compared with other CPA review course providers. We created a simple guide to help you choose between Wiley vs Becker.
For students that are not as comfortable with the underlying material and might be interested in the most comprehensive study solution available, Becker might be the right choice.
Becker offers two primary comprehensive self study options: the CPA Review and the Becker Bundle. You also have the option of purchasing a single course for each of the 4 section of the exam.
For more information, see our full Becker CPA review.
Core Self Study Course
Core Self Study Course with Enhanced Features
Universal provides students with comprehensive study material at a very competitive price point. The Company's comprehensive bundle includes access to a dedicated test bank product and study material that covers all 4 exam sections. The video based product also includes step by answer explanations for multiple choice and task based simulation questions.
Students also have the ability to mix and match their product access based on their study needs. That means you can purchase each product by itself for all 4 exam sections or you can purchase a single product for a single exam section.
One of the best ways to retain information on the CPA exam is to regularly practice test questions from as many different sources as possible. Universal gives students the ability to purchase extra practice questions. This is especially helpful for students that already have study material, but would like to access to extra practice questions.
Read our full Universal CPA Review for additional details.
Test Bank Product
Supplemental Practice Questions
Dedicated Test Bank Product
Over 4,200 multiple choice questions and 200 task based simulations
Covers all 4 exam sections
Licensed AICPA questions
Single test sections available at lower price points
Text & Video Study Material
Comprehensive Study Materials
Text & Video based study material package
1,500 pages of text book material covering all 4 sections.
40 hours of video based material covering all 4 sections.
Includes video & audio step by step solutions for MCQ & TSB questions.
Single test sections available at lower price points.
Test Bank & Study Materials
Access to Test Bank & Study Materials
Unlimited Access to both products
Includes comprehensive coverage of all 4 exam sections.
Test Bank & Study Material bundles available for single exam sections.
Purchasing a CPA review course is a major time and money investment. Yaeger has positioned itself as a more cost effective alternative to the larger CPA study material providers. Rather than overwhelm you with multiple options that include different features and benefits, Yaeger offers one simple comprehensive program that includes all available features at an extremely competitive price point. Students also have the ability to purchase individual sections of the main course for each of the 4 main sections of the exam separately.
Click here for our full review of Yaeger CPA.
Primary 4 Course Bundle
Comprehensive Self Study Package
Covers all 4 sections
Online & print textbooks
Over 120 hours of video lectures
Test bank practice question and full exam simulator access
Flash cards & Cram Course
Audio access to course lectures
18 month access with the ability to extend to 24 months
Customized to your needs
4 Individual Comprehensive Courses limited to the material for each of the 4 exams - $425 each
Test Bank Access - $97 or $350 for all 4
Audio Lectures - $125 each or $445 for all 4
Cram Courses - $275 each
CPA Exam Training & Resources
Many students prefer bundled course options. They provide significant value by offering a comprehensive study program at a lower cost then if you chose to purchase the material separately.
- Use our CPA exam Course Comparison tool to choose the best option for your learning style.
However, some students may already have core study material and they just want to purchase an extra practice question bank, cram course product, CPA exam flashcards, or purchase material for a single section of the CPA exam. We have included a few additional resources for people interested in exploring other options:
- Best CPA Mock Exams
- Information on supplemental CPA Exam Practice Questions
- CPA Exam Review Course Discounts
Many people prepare for the CPA exam using self study material that includes video based classroom lectures. However some people also prefer the benefits of personalized instruction and want to use a CPA exam tutor.
Studying for the CPA exam is like running a marathon. It's really important to pace yourself. The final 1 to 2 months of your study schedule are critical for your success. Many people benefit from specialized CPA exam cram courses. These courses are designed to give you a final push in the most important exam topics before you sit for the exam.
How to Prepare for the CPA Exam
Passing the CPA exam is a major commitment that involves passing 4 tests within an 18 month window. This means you need to have a study plan strategy to manage your time most efficiently. Should you take the hardest section first or should you take the easiest section first. We help answer that question with our CPA Exam Study Plan.
We also have important resources to help you decide which CPA Exam Testing Window you should choose and additional information about the four CPA Exam Parts and Sections. We also have information about taking AICPA practice exams.
Maintaining a CPA License
Passing all 4 CPA exams may be the hardest and most time consuming aspect in the journey to becoming a licensed CPA. However passing the exams are not your only requirement.
Depending on where you live, you need to be aware of the CPA licensing requirements by state.
Keep in mind all licensed CPA's need to maintain continuing professional education requirements. Each state has different requirements for how often you need to meet the CPE requirements. See our Best Online CPE course guide for additional information.