CPA Review Competitor Hidden Truths

Hidden TruthsCPA Review course providers make many claims about their course pricing, technology, pass rates and more. Uncover the hidden truth about what they’re really offering CPA candidates!

Deciding to take the CPA Exam is a big step. When you’re ready to sit for the CPA Exam, choose your CPA Review course carefully. Don’t be in the dark or get caught off guard and end up paying more, spending more time studying, or having to take the exam again because you didn’t receive the support you needed. You’re making an investment in your future!

Below are several hidden truths that reveal more transparency related to common claims by CPA Review course providers.  Know before you decide:

Pricing – Payment Plans

Did you know some courses’ payment plans come with hefty interest charges or hidden fees? You may end up having to pay interest on payments or an application fee just to be considered.

    • Interest Charges: While Roger CPA Review does not charge an application fee, their ”Study Now, Pay Later” payment plan option may come with potentially hefty interest charges. Candidates are charged between 10-30% APR. That means for every $1,000 you pay for the course, you will be charged $100 to $300 dollars in interest over the life of your loan, assuming a 12-month payback. Even if you take advantage of a promotion, you’ll give the money back in interest.
    • Hidden application fee: Becker CPA Review states its financing option is “interest-free,” but candidates are charged a $125 non-refundable processing fee.
    • With Surgent CPA Review, you can make easy payments over 3, 6, or 12 months through . Rates from 0-30% APR. Affirm does not charge late fees, service fees, repayment fees, or any other hidden fees. Learn more.

Click here for more hidden truths behind payment plans.


Adaptive Technology

Many leading CPA Review courses claim to utilize adaptive learning technology, which delivers content matched to a student’s demonstrated skill level and continues to adapt as the learning progresses based on the student’s answers and demonstrated competence. But are all courses truly adaptive? Several leading providers, including Becker CPA Review, Gleim, and Wiley, claim to be adaptive, but only Surgent is truly adaptive.


Pass Rates

Below are the national pass rates for the 2019 CPA Exam, as reported by the AICPA.

Section Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Cumulative
AUD 48.56% 55.11% 51.94% 52.06%
BEC 58.00% 59.74% 63.04% 60.45%
FAR 44.43% 49.37% 50.29% 48.30%
REG 50.23% 58.66% 58.41% 56.51%

Almost every leading CPA Exam Review course provider claims a pass rate that is significantly higher (~30%) than the reported national rates. Since these are the leading courses, which means most CPA candidates are enrolling in these courses, how is it possible that these rates are accurate? Try to find an explanation for how a provider’s rate is calculated, and try to assess how accurate the pass rate might be by researching online customer and expert reviews. Stay tuned as we uncover more hidden truths about pass rates!


Exam Content

The FASB, GASB, IASB, AICPA, SEC, PCAOB, IRS, and other authoritative bodies may make changes to existing standards, regulations, and laws at different points in the year. However, most CPA Review course providers only record their videos and publish their textbooks once a year, so their courses contain outdated content. These providers will notify candidates about changes via email or by supplements provided in PDF form, but since the content in the course isn’t updated, it can be very difficult for candidates to keep track of the changes. Surgent CPA Review’s course content is updated weekly with new content, including multiple-choice questions (MCQs), simulation questions (SIMS), and videos. Our course technology enables us to upload the new content directly to the course.


Study Time

The average CPA candidate is busy, and many don’t need to spend time studying what they already know. But the less personalized a course, the more likely a student will have to study all of the course material. Here’s how the leading providers stack up when it comes to study time:

Course Provider Average Study Hours Per Part Average Total Study Time
Surgent CPA Review 46 232
Becker CPA Review 190 758
Gleim CPA Review 309 1,234
Wiley CPA Review 281 1,125
Roger CPA Review 192 769


Based on actual observed study time for Surgent CPA Review. For other CPA Review providers, average study time was estimated based on the following factors:

    • Student watches all videos one time.
    • Student reads all textbooks one time (time estimate: 10 pages per hour).
    • Student views each multiple-choice question (MCQ) an average of 2 times (time estimate: 1.5 minutes per question).
    • Student completes each task-based simulation (TBS) one time (time estimate: 20 minutes per question). 


Expiration of Course Access

No two CPA candidates are the same, so why would the time it takes two candidates to pass be the same? Unfortunately, some CPA Review courses expire after a certain amount of time has elapsed since the purchase date, whether the candidate has passed the exam or not. All Surgent CPA Review courses have no expiration date! 


Customer Support

For most consumers, customer service goes a long way, and CPA candidates are no different! Customer Support for exam review courses ranges from email, to chat, to live support. Some providers claim to offer live coaching or training, but did you know that doesn’t mean you’ll have a coach specifically assigned to you? Did you know that also means you can’t personally contact someone, but instead you’ll have to submit a support ticket? Be sure to thoroughly investigate the service levels of support by provider. Surgent CPA Review provides 1-on-1 virtual coaching with Premier and Ultimate Pass, and Ultimate Customer Support with Ultimate Pass. Note: The information above was based on information available and updated as of 11/6/19.