CPA Course Hidden Truths: Adaptive Technology Comparison

Recently, many CPA Review course providers have started describing their courses as adaptive. Once you take a closer look at their software, it becomes pretty clear that most simply are not what they're claiming them to be.

Take Roger's SmartPath™ Technology for example, a software described as "a personalized learning experience." In truth, students' scores are only compared to those of other Roger students; study material does not actually adapt to performance. At the end of the day, choosing your CPA course is a big decision, and one that should be made carefully. Don’t be caught off guard! Continue reading to discover the hidden truths we’ve uncovered about adaptive learning claims by review course providers.

Overall Adaptive Rankings by Provider

Surgent's A.S.A.P. Technology™: Overall Adaptive Rating – 5 Stars

Pre-assessments identify student’s strong and weak areas and create a study plan based on result. As the student uses the program, the software continually adapts and delivers study plans guiding the student toward weaker areas and away from stronger areas. The student does not need to study all of the material.  

Becker's Adapt2u™ Learning Technology: Overall Adaptive Rating – 2 Stars

Student takes a short pre-assessment at the beginning of each section. While quiz results determine the order of the material the student should study, it does not affect what material the student should study. Study material does not change along the way in response to student progress. Student is instructed to study all of the material. 

Gleim's SmartAdapt™ Technology: Overall Adaptive Rating – 2 Stars

Student creates a test planner; the software then inserts course assignments into a calendar. There is a short pre-assessment that does affect the order in which the student completes the sections or the student’s planner. Student is instructed to study all of the material. 

Wiley's Efficient Learning Platform™: Overall Adaptive Rating – 1 Star

Student takes a short pre-assessment at the beginning of each section; score determines the order the student should study, not what material the student should study. Study planner is a simple calendar (not student-specific).

Roger's SmartPath™ Technology: Overall Adaptive Rating – 1 Star

While students are now able to compare their score against other Roger CPA Review students, this course does not have any adaptive features, neither in the form of adapting to student progress along the way, nor in creating a customized study plan based on individual strengths and weaknesses. In fact, course provides no assessment to determine a student's starting point. 

Adaptive Technology Feature Comparison

1. Assessments

A true assessment will thoroughly assess the student's knowledge of all CPA Exam topics. What we’ve uncovered with other review courses is that these “assessments” are simply a gimmick. They ask a small number of questions in the guise of assessing the student’s knowledge; however an 8-question quiz cannot possibly accurately test a candidate’s knowledge level on a large topic area. We've also found that -- with many other courses -- nothing is done with the results; study material is not adjusted AT ALL.

At Surgent, we realize that both quantity and quality of assessment questions are critical to getting an accurate read of each student's starting point. That's why the questions on Surgent's assessment are carefully selected to cross all topic areas of the CPA Exam section. At the end of your assessment, you'll receive a ReadySCORE -- which is a highly accurate measure of your baseline exam readiness -- as well as a comprehensive diagnostic report. Assessment results are also used to create study sessions for each student, guiding them to the areas they most need to improve, based on their assessment performance. No other CPA Review provider does that. 

Provider Assessment
Becker's Adapt2u Learning Technology 1 8-question quiz
Roger's SmartPath™ Technology No assessment
Wiley's Efficient Learning Platform Short assessment at the beginning of each category
Gleim's SmartAdapt™ Technology 18 question quiz
Surgent's A.S.A.P. Technology™ 10 quizzes comprised of a total 450 questions pulled from all CPA Exam categories.

2. Study Planner

Many leading CPA courses have study planners in some capacity or another. Some place tasks on a static calendar, while others use a spreadsheet. No other courses' study planners adjust to accommodate student progress.

Our software actually calculates how much time a student needs to spend on each of their study days in order to be prepared by their selected exam date. In addition, our course adjusts the study time per day as a student progresses in the course.

Provider Study Planner
Becker's Adapt2u Learning Technology Static calendar. Software does not calculate study time per day.
Roger's SmartPath™ Technology Spreadsheet that cannot be customized.
Wiley's Efficient Learning Platform Static calendar. Software does not calculate study time per day.
Gleim's SmartAdapt™ Technology Static calendar. Software does not calculate study time per day.
Surgent's A.S.A.P. Technology™ Study planner calculates necessary amount of study time per day based on student's chosen availability, and adjusts that study time based on performance.

3. Customized Study Material

Most CPA Review providers instruct students to go through all course material, even for topic areas that the student has already mastered. This results in longer study times and can contribute toward fatigue and frustration.

With Surgent CPA Review, the amount and content of recommended study material is customized to each student. Factoring in the results of the assessment phase as well CPA Exam content weightings, the Surgent software will drive the student to study activities in the areas where they are showing the least amount of proficiency, instead of wasting their time on material they already know.

Provider Customized Study Material
Becker's Adapt2u Learning Technology No tailored study plan
Roger's SmartPath™ Technology No tailored study plan
Wiley's Efficient Learning Platform No tailored study plan
Gleim's SmartAdapt™ Technology Software directs users to specific categories based on assessment results.
Surgent's A.S.A.P. Technology™ All study material is generated based on assessment results and CPA Exam content weightings.

4. Adaptability to Student Progress

When choosing an “adaptive” CPA Review course, students should question how the adaptability actually functions. They’ll be surprised to find that most CPA Review providers aren’t adapting to the student at all. Students are still required to complete all of the tasks within the software, and most in a very linear approach.

Surgent's adaptive learning software continuously adapts to the student’s performance. Our software drives the student to their more problematic areas, while focusing far less on topics where the student is already proficient. Real-time algorithms factor in student progress, continually refining study material so study time is spent far more efficiently. This means shorter study times (students save up to 400 hours compared to study times with other courses!) and improved proficiency in troublesome areas.

Provider Adaptability to Student Progress
Becker's Adapt2u Learning Technology No continuous adaptation
Roger's SmartPath™ Technology No continuous adaptation
Wiley's Efficient Learning Platform No continuous adaptation
Gleim's SmartAdapt™ Technology Updates somewhat, although does not appear to update based on performance.
Surgent's A.S.A.P. Technology™ Real-time algorithms ensure study material is always adapting to the student's progress.

5. Content Category Weightings

It should go without saying that understanding how heavily the AICPA will test each content area is critical; students need to make sure they are putting enough emphasis on the more heavily tested topics. We uncovered that no other course takes into consideration content weightings.

With Surgent’s course, category weighting is factored into the algorithm used to determine what questions to deliver to the student. The software will make sure students are spending adequate time on the more heavily tested areas. 

Provider Content Category Weightings Truth
Becker's Adapt2u Learning Technology No content category weighting
Roger's SmartPath™ Technology No content category weighting
Wiley's Efficient Learning Platform No content category weighting
Gleim's SmartAdapt™ Technology No content category weighting
Surgent's A.S.A.P. Technology™ Assessment quizzes, daily study material, and practice exams all factor in exam content weightings.

6. 1-on-1 Support

The cornerstone of adaptive learning is personalization, and we believe that extends to student support. The truth is, some providers may claim to offer live coaching or training, but we’ve found that students aren’t actually provided a designated mentor. Instead of being able to personally contact someone for help, you’ll need to submit a support ticket…and wait.

At Surgent, we’re committed to getting our students across the finish line. Through our scalable student support options -from CPA Exam success coaches to professor tutors- we’re going along the journey with our students. Success coaches help with accountability, study strategies and test-taking tips, while professor tutors help students master those difficult topics. All of our mentors can be contacted directly by the candidate.

Provider 1-on-1 Support
Becker's Adapt2u Learning Technology No coaching
Roger's SmartPath™ Technology Homework Help Center via email. Response time is typically 1-3 days.
Wiley's Efficient Learning Platform Support available via email
Gleim's SmartAdapt™ Technology Coaching available
Surgent's A.S.A.P. Technology™ 1-on-1 support includes CPA Exam success coaches and accounting professor tutors, who are able to be contacted directly by the student.

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Check back often as we uncover more hidden truths about what CPA review course providers are truly offering!

Note: These reviews were conducted by Surgent product experts, based on public information available, access to actual exam courses, and updated as of 3/15/2018. No external interviews were conducted. The information presented above represents the views of those Surgent product experts only. Updates of these reviews may occur as new information is made available.