What is the best CPA review course, Becker or CPAexcel? This is what tons of students ask me on a regular basis. I always tell them the same thing. It depends on you. Each course has different pros and cons. That’s why I decided to write this article.
Since I’ve used both of these courses to study, it’s pretty safe to say I know my way around them. I’m going show you what I’ve learned and compare the overall courses side-by-side along with their study texts, online platforms, practice exams, and everything else in the courses, so you can decide which one is best for you. Here are the topics that I think are most important in a study guide.
CPAexcel and Becker CPA Price Comparison
CPAexcel is one of the most affordable full line courses starting at only $1,800 unless you purchase it with a discount. You can also purchase individual sections for $600 a piece.
Becker, on the other hand, is the most expensive course available. Everyone knows this and for some reason associates price with quality. Just because you pay a premium for this course, doesn’t make it better than any other one. The full four-section guide will cost $3,393. That’s almost twice as much as CPAexcel. Or, you can purchase single sections for $1,131.
Becker also charges you to repeat any section. You will have to pay either $195, if you meet Becker’s Promise criteria (which is kind of difficult to do), or you’ll have to pay $566 per section plus a registration fee. CPA excel, on the other hand, is yours until you pass all four sections. There are no repeat fees.
Here’s a table to summarize everything.
|Repeat Fees||Free!||$195-$566 plus fees|
|Final Review Course||Free!||$495|
Flat out – Becker CPA costs more than CPAexcel every step of the way!
CPAexcel vs Becker CPA Course Time Limit
CPA Excel does not have a time limit. Let me repeat that. CPAexcel never expires. Once you purchase the course you can use it until you pass even if it takes you five years! After one year, you will just have to contact them to renew your account. Don’t worry; it’s free! Then after you pass the exam, you can use your account for a full year.
Becker has a very strict 12-month expiration date on the live classes option. They do give you 18 months for the online software. After that you will have to pay for additional sections at 50% their original price whether you took them and failed or just never had a chance to take them. This means you could be buying the same course multiple times in order to pass the exam once. Just remember as soon as you purchase the course, the time starts ticking.
|Time limit||Unlimited!||12-18 months|
|Clock begins||N/A||As soon as you purchase it|
|Cost to renew||Free!||$195-$566 plus fees|
Why would you ever want a study guide that expires?
Course Structure and Format
CPAexcel includes a self-study course and virtual classroom option. It utilizes innovative course software that is organized into bite-sized learning segments. Each segment includes a targeted video lecture, study text, flash cards, proficiency questions, and multiple-choice exam questions. You can also get all of these materials in a physical copy or offline digital copy, so you can study anywhere you go.
The virtual classroom is a mix between the self-study versions with live lectures you can attend online.
Becker has three different formats for its guide: self-study, live, and online. The self-study course is similar to CPA excel’s guide in that you use a software package that contains all of the materials, but that is about it. Becker lectures tend to be longer and cover more info per lecture. This is great if you have a longer attention span. Otherwise, it might be difficult to get through them.
The live and online packages are exactly the same except the live version requires you to drive to a campus and attend a lecture in person. The online version allows you to attend the lectures virtually. Both of these options are instructed and guided, so you don’t need to be a “self-motivated” person to keep up with the lessons. You just go to class.
Going to class can be a pain. I’d rather study on my own time!
CPAexcel vs Becker CPA Study Text
The CPAExcel books are well laid out and cover all the necessary information. They can be a little dry to read because they are filled with bullet pointed information. The books are very basic without a lot of color, flash, or pictures, but that’s what the videos and online program is for. 🙂
The Becker CPA books, on the other hand, are very colorful and professionally laid out. There are a lot of graphics and eye-catching features. More importantly, they tend to make up more useful extras than just sticking to the script. For example, the Becker study text includes much more mnemonics and memorization strategies. They kind of have to though. They’re sections aren’t broken into smaller pieces, so you need strategies to remember all the info at once.
Let’s be honest. Every review textbook covers the same basic material. It’s based on the AICPA published exam information. Do you need flashy pictures?
Multiple Choice and CPA Exam Questions
The Wiley CPA Excel course includes over 5,100 AICPA past exam questions that you can take either as regular multiple choice questions or in exam mode. The also include more than 5,400 proficiency true and false questions that help you gauge how well you understand the information in each section. Each question includes a detailed explanation of the right and wrong answers.
Becker has more than 6,500 multiple-choice questions that automatically link back to the explanations in the study text. There are no proficiency questions included in this course, but they do have homework problems.
Just my opinion, but who wants to do homework problems?
Practice Exams and Task-Based Simulations
Wiley CPAexcel’s CPA exam simulator is identical to the real thing. This simulator will give you crucial exam experience. If you study using it, you will feel comfortable on exam day. They look, feel, and act exactly the same.
CPA Excel also includes more than 460 task-based simulations. This is way more than the industry standard. If you can make it through all 460, you will feel more than confident when you get to the task-based problems on the exam.
The Becker course also has a practice exam simulator, but it doesn’t seem to mimic the actually exam as closely as the CPAexcel one does. In addition, Becker CPA only includes 250 task-based simulations.
Although 250 task-based simulations is a lot, why wouldn’t you want more? Almost 2x more!
CPA Excel comes standard with over 4,100 digital flash cards that you can use on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. These cards have great questions for reinforcing concepts and testing your knowledge when you only have a few minutes. A set of printed flash cards even come standard with the platinum package!
Unfortunately, the Becker course does not include a set of flash cards at all. You can, however, buy a digital copy for an extra $100 or a printed copy for $180 if you want.
Who wants to pay extra for flash cards?
CPAexcel vs Becker CPA Final Review
Every single Wiley CPAExcel package comes standard with a final review at NO extra cost. You can use this as a wrap up during your last week of studying before you sit for the exam. It’s basically a complete 3-4 hour long mock exam covering all course materials and includes 50-100 questions from the 5,100 question test bank and multiple task-based simulations. The best thing is that you can take this as many times as you want. The questions and simulations just keep getting randomized, so you will never have the same mock exam twice! This is really nice to practice with and prep during the week leading up to the exam.
Becker, on the other hand, does not include a final review in any of its courses. You can, however purchase one for an additional $165 per section or $495 for all four. If you do want to fork out another $500, you’ll get 30 hours of new video lectures, 700 new multiple choice questions, and 85 different task-based simulations.
A final review is important and necessary. There’s no way around it, but $500 is pretty steep.
CPAexcel is constantly updating their materials. Everything from the study text and multiple-choice questions to the flash cards and lecture videos are updated regularly and in real time. That’s right. As soon as they make an update, it hits your account and your materials are up-to-date. There is no waiting around. Plus, all updates are FREE! This means your course will always be up-to-date until you pass.
Becker CPA does a good job of keep their course current. The only problem is that they don’t pass the updates on to their existing customers. Instead, every time the exam changes or adds new information, you will be stuck with an outdated course. The only way to get the updates is, you guessed it, pay an additional fee for it.
Why would I want an outdated course?
CPAExcel vs Becker CPA Pass Rates
Just about every CPA review course publishes the pass rates of their students. The problem is that there is no uniform measurement to compare these “results.” Even worse, most companies phrase their results so specifically that they can’t possibly be real. For example, Cpaexcel states 87% of their students passed based on a customer survey. Ummm yeah… I used CPAexcel and never got a survey. Hmmm.
Becker is even worse. They say, “It’s a fact: Students who prepare with Becker pass the CPA Exam at double the rate of non-Becker candidates.” What is that even supposed to mean? They go on to say, “Data verified by an independent, third-party firm.”
I’m not sure I believe any of these.
Instructor Mentoring and Support
CPAexcel’s mentoring system is basically a forum that you can post questions to. There is a huge archive of previously asked questions. They guarantee a response with clarified lecture points and demonstrations within 24 hours of posting the questions.
Becker offers “unlimited academic support” and the ability to talk with the instructors at the live lectures if you pick that course.
The Outcome and My Recommendation
Both of these courses are excellent and have helped tons of people pass the exam. There’s no doubt about that. So which one do I think is the best? I have to give you the classic accountant answer. It depends. Everyone learns differently and needs different learning formats. It really depends on what you need.
If I were purchasing a course to study again, I’d probably want something that doesn’t charge you more money every step of the way and is completely unlimited with never ending updates. That’s why CPAExcel is awesome. Plus, they keep innovating and improving their products at no additional cost to you!
Becker CPA, on the other hand, spends a lot of money on marketing and charges you for new products. The decision’s yours. Ha Ha