7 important questions to ask BEFORE
you buy a CPA study guide
Are you getting ready to take the CPA exam and not sure which review course to use? Or not sure you even need a review course?
There are so many out there it’s hard to choose between one or the other. Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself to help you find the right CPA study guide:
Question #1 – Do you even need a CPA review course?
Unless you have a photograhic memory and can pass any test with little studying, you should probably use a CPA review course. A good review course will help you:
- organize the topics
- minimize your study time
- improve your chances of passing
The CPA exam is a big deal (obviously) so to invest that much into your career and leave passing the exam to chance is not wise. Just make sure to pick a study guide that matches your needs, your learning style, and your budget. Here are the top 3 CPA review courses we recommend. It definitely makes sense to use every advantage you can get, and using a good review course is one way to do it! If you’re taking the exam for the first time, select one that has a balanced combination of classroom instruction, self-study materials, and a good amount of practice opportunities to monitor your progress.
Question #2 – What is your preferred learning style?
There are lots of different formats for CPA study guides.
- Audio recordings.
- Live classes.
- Online classes.
Most review programs offer some combination of delivery methods. So you need to decide which formats are best for you. Sure, you need to consider other factors, like price, quality, and reputation. But if you need to be in room with your instructor so you can feel comfortable, and ask questions right away, then a live class is probably best. For most people, an online or self-study format is more convenient. Especially since most programs offer multiple teaching methods. That way you study when you want, review at will, and develop a study plan that fits your needs.
Although all CPA review courses cover similar accounting principles, each instructor or program can explain the concepts in a slightly different manner. Most study guides offer some type of free trial or free demo so you can get a good idea about how the review program will be run. Also, some programs give you lots of information so everything is covered. Others condense the materials into a format most likely to be on the exam. Ideally, you want one the covers enough for you to be prepared, without covering so much that you have no idea what is most important.
What are students saying about Yaeger CPA?
“I have to give my appreciation to Dr Yaeger. I wrote you earlier about the extreme difficulty of the simulations on the REG exam. I just received my score for REG a few minutes ago and scored an 86!!! So far, I am three for three with Yaeger (FAR 77 & AUD 82)!!!! Thank you so much!!!”
Question #3 – Should you spend more time learning or practicing?
Don’t make the mistake that many first-time CPA exam takers make – spending way too much time listening to lectures and not enough time working on problems. The key to passing the CPA exam on the first try is to complete as many exam style problems as you can.
Sure, you need to learn the theory and concepts behind the problems so you can understand what you are learning. But the more practice problems you do, the more prepared you will be for the test.
However, some CPA review courses will give you every possible test question that has even the slightest chance of being on the CPA exam. While this may sound good, and be a safe approach, it is very time consuming and not the most effective way to study. So you need to find a study guide with the right balance of learning and practicing, that contact questions and problems that are most likely to showing up on the exam.
Question #4 – Is there good support?
A high quality review course that is well organized and presented clearly should be the number one factor. But no matter how good it is, you will have questions. So you need to make sure that your questions will get answered in a timely manner. Different CPA review courses offer different levels and methods of customer support.
- If you tend to ask a lot of questions, and would prefer to talk to your instructors over the phone, then make sure the review course you choose offers that kind of support.
- If you don’t usually ask lots of questions, or prefer to get help online or by email, then a study guide with online message boards and forums might make more sense for you.
A good review course will minimize the need for questions, so focus on finding the best CPA review course. But in general the less you spend on the course the less support you’ll get, so it all depends on what your expectations are for getting help.
Question #5 – Are there frequent updates?
Due to the way accounting-related legislature changes regularly, your CPA exam study materials should be updated regularly. Studying outdated concepts and rules is a waste of time, and hurts your chances of passing. These days most review courses update their study materials or provide additional updates at an appropriate pace, espcially with so much competition, so it shouldn’t be a problem. But it is still worth investigating how often the updates occur before you spend your money on a review course.
What are students saying about Yaeger CPA?
“This morning, I found out I passed my last section, BEC, with an 83! I cannot thank you enough for providing such great instruction and support. Using the Yaeger HomeStudy course, in combination with my hard work, I passed all four parts of the CPA Exam on my first try. Thank you for making such an effective course.”
Question #6 – Is it affordable & do you get good value?
Becoming a CPA can be very lucrative. And the exam itself is very challenging. Therefore, most study guides are quite expensive. So focus more on the quality of the course, and how it can help you get to the level of CPA, and don’t risk failing the test because you wanted to save a few bucks. Buying a review course is not much different than buying any other product – you usually get what you pay for. The more expensive courses are more detailed, and well organized. The cheaper ones are usually comprehensive but less focused and more like an encyclopedia.
If available, sign up for a free-trial program or free newsletter to get an idea of the type of program being offered, before you buy. You should be able to get some idea of the style of the material so you can decide if it is right for you. Ideally, the CPA review course should closely resemble the exam experience, while matching your learning style. Some programs offer realistic exam simulations. Others give you a bunch of test questions in exam format.
(Also, make sure you understand the guarantees, and what happens if you don’t pass. Of course, you expect to pass after going through a review course. But just in case, make sure you are familiar with the terms of accessing the materials if you don’t pass.)
Question #7 – Are you ready to start studying?
It won’t matter how good a CPA review course is, if you aren’t ready or you aren’t serious about studying, put it on hold. Here is an overview of the testing experience. If you buy a course now and don’t end up taking the exam, you might end up with an outdated study guide.
On the other hand, there is no better time than now to take the exam. Your life will only get busier and busier as you get older, so rather than waiting until “life gets in the way” take the exam now. And reap the benefits of being a CPA for the rest of your working life!