When it comes to choosing a CPA Exam review course, you want to make sure you’re getting the best course for the value and, more importantly, the best course for you. The best CPA Exam prep courses help you build a study plan individualized to your learning, reducing your study time, increasing your study efficiency, and helping you pass on the first try. In this post, we’ll compare Surgent with Wiley CPAexcel® Review to help you decide which review course is right for you.
Course expiration and cost
Whether you purchase an individual study course or the Ultimate Pass, Surgent’s CPA courses have no expiration date. All courses are also continuously updated to reflect new CPA Exam changes and updates by the AICPA. See Surgent’s pricing below:
Individual Section (BEC, REG, AUD, or FAR) $599
Essentials Pass (includes all four sections) $1,599
Premier Pass (includes all four sections) $2,399
Ultimate Pass (includes all four sections) $2,999
Surgent has a money-back guarantee if you meet the requirements.
Wiley CPAexcel’s packages all offer a pass guarantee in the form of unlimited access until you pass the CPA Exam. Content and software updates to the online course are free. See Wiley’s pricing below:
Individual Section Silver Course $600
Silver Course (includes all four sections) $2,100
Individual Section Gold Course $650
Gold Course (includes all four sections) $2,275
Individual Section Platinum Course $800
Platinum Course (includes all four sections) $2,800
Wiley offers a full refund (less shipping fees) if the product is returned within 10 business days of purchase.
Overview of the technology and exam prep
Below, we’ll cover the essential parts considered in adaptive learning technology, and how well Surgent’s CPA Review course and the Wiley CPAexcel Review course stack up in each category.
Assessing your knowledge
One of the key features of a sophisticated adaptive learning software is its ability to judge how much you already know and compare it to what you need to know in order to pass. The whole idea behind adaptive learning technology is improving your weaknesses and fortifying your strengths, helping you study less overall. Pre-study assessments should be thorough; once you finish them, the results should directly impact what you study and for how long.
Surgent CPA Review – A.S.A.P.® Technology features an Assessment Phase consisting of 10 quizzes with a total of 350 questions. These quizzes contain questions pulled from actual areas of the exam. You answer these questions using the knowledge you currently have; Surgent then creates a detailed diagnostic report and shows you your ReadySCORE™ once you finish answering. This baseline ReadySCORE correlates to what you would get on the exam should you take it that day, giving you an idea of how you stack up against the exam before you even start studying. How you did in the Assessment Phase is directly reflected in your future study materials and the algorithm will create an individualized study path for you.
Wiley CPAexcel – The Efficient Learning™ software presents a diagnostic assessment at the beginning of each category within a specific exam, but does not have a full-length category assessment before any study begins.
True adaptive learning technologies within a CPA Review course should include an interactive study planner that takes into account when you can study, how long, and your exam date. The study planner should adapt to how well you’re progressing through the material so you study the correct material and correct amount on each day.
Surgent CPA Review – The Study Plan takes into consideration your study performance, when you can study, as well as your exam date. The planner is updated daily based on how you’re progressing through the materials.
Wiley CPAexcel – The Exam Planner creates a study plan based on your exam date and availability to study. It then creates a study guide for you displaying what you need to study on each day in order to take the exam on your desired date. It also shows how much time the specific content area will take the student if they review the bite-sized content and tools; the review of supplemental materials for each exam section are not included in the time it takes to complete a content area. The study planner does not automatically update based on the content you are learning, but can be updated manually.
Adaptation throughout the course
Since the point of adaptive learning technology is to develop an individualized plan, students’ study materials should be continuously updated as they progress throughout the course; you shouldn’t just be slogging through the same material over and over if you’ve made progress. If you’ve excelled in one area and show weaker understanding in another, the materials should adjust to reflect that. This type of adaptation gives CPA candidates a truly individualized experience and has them study the amount of time that’s right for them.
Surgent CPA Review – The real-time algorithm is constantly adapting to your progress while also considering real CPA Exam content weighting. Unique study recommendations are presented via the Daily Surge, where you can choose to answer multiple-choice questions, watch bite-sized video lectures, study reading materials, or practice task-based simulations. Your ReadySCORE is also consistently updated to reflect any changes in progress. As the ReadySCORE improves throughout the review course, you can get an accurate reflection of what your actual exam score might be.
Wiley CPAexcel – The Efficient Learning software is not adaptive, but provides bite-sized audio and video lectures and score comparisons to successful CPA Exam candidates. The diagnostic exams and performance metrics are meant to be self-assessed; candidates must use these tools to see where they are weak, and then use Wiley’s resources to bolster their knowledge in these areas. Wiley includes a large online test bank and focus notes, but the software does not automatically or continuously adapt to a candidate’s performance making it more of a self-study course. Candidates must study everything or create their own adaptations based on course feedback.
Final exam review
Before taking the exam, candidates need to make sure they’re prepared for the physical aspects of the exam, including how to manage their time and how to use exam resources. This is best accomplished through a final review and practice exams. Below, we’ll look at the final exam review portion of both Surgent and Wiley CPA Review Courses.
Surgent CPA Review – Unlimited CPA practice exams are meant to mimic the real exam, with both multiple choice practice questions and task-based simulations. The exams include the same timing and tools as the real CPA Exam so candidates can practice time management and get familiar with the tools presented on the actual exam. Students are also presented with their cumulative ReadySCORE; a score of 80 or more means candidates are likely to sit and pass.
Wiley CPAexcel – Unlimited practice exams use a Prometric testing environment to mimic the real exam; the tools and physical appearance are the same as the real exam, as well as access to exam questions (multiple-choice questions and simulations). Wiley updates the candidate with their current score and remaining time after each testlet, which is unlike the real exam.
Average study hours per section
CPA Exam candidates often leave busy lives, whether they are just out of school or are working full-time. It is therefore essential that candidates choose a software that helps them pass in as few hours as possible. Below are the stated average number of study hours per part of the CPA Exam for Surgent and Wiley CPAexcel.
Surgent – 46 hours per section (232 hours of total study time)
Wiley – 281 hours per section (1,125 average hours of total study time)
Support outside of the software
The software your CPA study materials have will be your number one tool to prepare for the CPA Exam, but sometimes candidates need a little extra boost from a real person to help them pass. Below, we’ll compare the resources offered outside of the CPA Review materials for Surgent and Wiley CPAexcel.
Surgent CPA Review – Premier and Ultimate Pass both come with three 30-minute sessions with a CPA Exam success coach.
Wiley CPAexcel – For the Platinum and Gold courses, you can contact a mentor anytime during the review course about a specific lesson. The response time is 24 hours. All candidates can ask questions on Wiley’s online forum.
Remember, choosing a CPA Review course is highly individualized. How you study and how long you need to study may be vastly different from another student looking to pass the exam. When choosing study materials, make sure you choose the review course that is individualized to your needs, and you’ll be opening that passing score to your last exam in no time.
|Surgent CPA Review||Wiley CPA Review|
|Course Expiration||None of our courses expire. We’re with you ’till you pass!||Unlimited access to all courses until the student passes the CPA Exam.|
|1-on-1 Coaching||Surgent offers virtual 1-on-1 coaching from a CPA Exam expert.||No 1-on-1 coaching; Students seeking help must post on Wiley’s discussion forums.|
|Customized Study Plan||A.S.A.P. Technology™ works continuously throughout the course to help you identify your weak eares, focus your studies, reduce study time, and improve your pass rate.||Wiley’s Efficient Learning Platform™ does not provide a tailored study plan.|
|Payment Plan Fees||Surgent offers 3, 6, or 12 month payment plans through Affirm. Rates vary from 0-30% APR, which is the only fee associated with the loan. Affirm does not charge late fees, service fees, repayment fees, or any other hidden fees.
|No payment plan options.|
|Money-Back Guarantee||Surgent offers a money-back guarantee.||Full Refund (less shipping fees) will be issued if the product is returned within 10 business days of purchase.|
|Number of Practice Exams||Unlimited practice exams||Unlimited practice exams|
|Free Course Updates||Updates are FREE and made continuously, so you can be sure you’re always studying the most up-to-date material.||Online content and software updates are free.|
|Course Price||Full-course prices range from $1,599-$2,899||Course price ranges for $2,100-$2,800|
|Average Study Hours Per Part||46 hours per part||281 hours per part|
|Assessment||10 Quizzes comprised of a total 350 questions pulled from all CPA Exam categories, plus detailed diagnostic report||Short assessment at beginning of each category|
|Study Planner||Study planner calculates necessary amount of study time per day based on student’s chosen availability, and adjusts that study time based on performance.||Static calendar. Software does not calculate study time per day.|
|Adaptability to Student Progress||Real-time algorithms ensure study material is always adaptive to the student’s progress. Plus, a student’s ReadySCORE™, the indsutry’s first measure of CPA Exam-readiness, adapts in real time.||No continuous adaptation|
|Category Content Weightings||Assessment quizzes, daily study material, and practice exams all factor in exam content weightings||No category content weighting|
If you’ve previously used another CPA Review course, like Wiley, you can save up to $1,200 when you switch to Surgent!
I wish you all the best, and hope to help you become a CPA!
For a more in-depth look at how Surgent CPA Review’s course technology compares to that of other leading CPA Review course providers, check out our Technology Comparison Grid.
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Liz Kolar, CPA, CGMA, has been teaching CPA Review for more than 25 years in the United States, has personally taught more than 2,500 live sessions, and has helped thousands of candidates pass the CPA Exam. She founded Pinnacle CPA Review and co-founded Surgent Kolar CPA Review.
She is a recipient of the ASWA Business Woman of the Year Northeast Region, Distinguished Faculty Member of the Year, and PICPA Outstanding Educator of the Year. Liz began her career in Public Accounting with a Big Four accounting firm auditing financial service clients after graduating from Pace University with an MBA in Public Accounting. Liz’s teaching career spans almost 30 years. She has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels at Pace University and Seton Hall University, and is currently a professor at Delaware Valley University.