Surgent CPA review is a new, modern exam prep course that utilizes adaptive learning technology to help you learn and retain information faster. Unlike other courses that walk you through a set lesson plan, this study guide actively changes as you answer each question to helps you focus on topics you need to study more instead of wasting your time reviewing information you already know. The course shows you what areas you need to review and what topics you already know. Makes sense, right? Why waste time studying things you don’t need to?
Although, they aren’t the first company to introduce this type of system, they have greatly improved it. The course was designed and created by Liz Kolar, a veteran CPA instructor of more than 25 years, using the adaptive technology acquired from ExamMatrix. This is a perfect merger of experience and innovation. Liz Kolar has been helping candidates pass the exam for decades and the adaptive technology is truly cutting edge.
Combining these two factors, Surgent estimates that their system can save you up to 50 hours of study time. That’s huge, especially for those of us who want to have a life outside of studying for the exam. 🙂
Let’s take a look at the Surgent CPA review study materials and see if it’s right for you. Here is their official demo video. I’m currently working on my full walk through video and should have it up shortly.
Let’s see what makes it right for you.
Unlike many of the other courses out there, Surgent’s course selection is simple. They don’t offer tons of different options with 10 bonus packs that you don’t need. They simply offer the individual section guides or a complete set for the entire exam. Obviously, the complete set is by far the best deal. The course includes the following:
Multiple Choice Questions: 6,000
Task Based Solutions: 250
Video Lectures: 350+
Custom Study Planner
Advanced Study Analytics
Free Flashcard App
To be honest, I was excited when I first heard that Surgent was coming out with a study guide because I’ve used CPENow and Surgent McCoy CPE webinars ever since I passed the CPA exam. I’m a fan of the company and love their products.
This course is no exception. I think they’ve done a great job laying it out and making it easy to use. But before we get into the course itself, I think we need to tackle the most obvious question.
How is the 2017 Surgent CPA Review Different?
There are tons of courses out there, so what makes this one special? Like I said before, this is not your traditional review course. You don’t simply go through it chronologically like reading chapters in a book. It uses intuitive software to test your understanding of topics, help you learn the topics you are unfamiliar with, and review everything you learned.
This adaptive approach allows the course to change over time by creating reading lists, making custom quizzes, and suggesting video lectures that identify and target your weak areas.
This is one of the main navigations inside the course that shows how it is divided into three main phases: assessment, adaptive learning, and review.
The first phase assesses how well you know a broad range of information by asking multiple-choice questions. After you have answered enough questions, their algorithm analyzes your answers and assesses your knowledge.
Based on this assessment, the course moves into adaptive learning mode and structures a guide designed to help you learn the topics you are uncomfortable with.
The last phase is the review mode where you review what you’ve learned and prepare for your exam day.
This navigation is also kind of cool because it tracks your progress through the software. It shows your score, hours studied, percentage completed, and days until your exam date.
Now that we know what’s included and how the format differs from traditional review programs, let’s walk through each section of the course.
The dashboard is the main control panel of the system. It’s split into three main sections: your progress, performance by category, and the sidebar.
Your Progress Section – This shows the three phases of the course (assessment, adaptive learning, and review) along with a thermometer style chart that displays your completion percentage. As you can see, the completion percentage in the picture is 2 percent. This section also displays your overall score, total number of study hours, and the number of days until your exam. I like it that Surgent put these stats up front and right in your face. It’s a good way to keep motivated.
Performance by Category Section – This area shows the different topics in the course and gives stats on your questions and percentage complete/score. This is also where you access the videos.
Sidebar on the left hand side – This area lists important links to the different study methods, resources, and analytical reports.
Now that we know our way around the dashboard, let’s dive into the materials.
Study Planner –
The Surgent CPA study planner is really simple and effective. All you have to do is click the days until test button on the dashboard to pull it up. You can set your exam date and pick what days you want to study each week. The software will automatically calculate how many hours you should dedicate to studying each day.
That’s it! The study planner will take care of the rest. It will create a course designed specifically for you and your schedule. You just need to log on and follow the schedule. Pretty simple, huh?
Video Lectures –
Video lectures are important to many people because they learn better by listening and seeing a lecturer. That’s why Surgent CPA has included over 350 videos with their course.
These lectures have a good blend of professional and personal presentation styles. Unlike some of the other review courses, these videos aren’t too horribly boring or comically cheesy. I’ve always liked the Surgent lectures. That’s why I use them for my professional CPE classes.
Each one of the videos is short and concise. You aren’t going to have to sit through a 2 hour-long lecture in this course. These videos are easy to follow, and are displayed with tons of study materials. The video screen has three main sections: the video lecture, table of contents, and slideshow.
The best thing about these videos is that everything is timed. You can click through the table of contents, pick a new slide, or forward the video and everything tacks to the new spot in the lecture.
There is also a place to write notes and save bookmarks to come back and review later.
Although these videos are helpful, they aren’t designed to be a full course. They are just designed to supplement the adaptive system. If you try watching all of the videos from start to finish, it will take more time and take away from the adaptive power of the course. Just a tip. 🙂
Questions and Practice Exams –
This is where the real power of the Surgent CPA review course comes into play: the practice questions. After you take several sets of adaptive questions, the software will begin to understand what you know and what you don’t. It will then pick out question sets for you to work through.
Each question screen is divided into three parts: question, answer/explanation, and resources. The question is displayed at the top with multiple-choice answers. Once you choice an answer, it will tell you whether it was right or wrong and give you and explanation. Under the explanation is a resource bar that lists any related terms you can look up in the glossary, subsections of the study you can reference, and authoritative literature.
The resource section is pretty cool because you can click back to the study text or glossary word on any question without leaving the question mode.
Huge Tip: use this section the most out of anything. Do as many multiple-choice questions as you can. Trust me. You learn the most when you are actively analyzing a question and trying to answer it. Answer the questions and read the explanations. You will learn way more doing this than reading the study text.
Plus, that’s how this adaptive learning system is designed to work. As you answer question correctly, it recognizes that you understand the information and removes them from your guide. The opposite it true if you get them wrong.
There’s also a section where you can go outside the adaptive learning system and create custom quizzes on any topic you want if you just want to test yourself on a single section.
Course Analytics –
The Surgent course has a pretty robust set of tools and reports for analyzing your score results and performance. After you complete a question set, you can check your progress and score by category.
It gives tons of details like correct answers, questions not seen, total attempts, score, time, and more. This is extremely helpful when you are trying to focus on your problem areas. All you have to do is look at your report.
Surgent did an awesome job on the analytics inside their software.
Study Textbook and Materials –
The Surgent CPA review study text is pretty simple. There are a lot of bullet points and lists of things to review and memorize. This is not an accounting textbook by any means. It doesn’t really explain concepts because it’s not supposed to.
The lectures are there to explain the concepts and the multiple-choice question explanations give more clarity to the questions. If you keep getting questions wrong in a specific category, the book might not be much help. I’d go back and watch the lecture again for more explanation.
The textbook isn’t intended to be read from cover to cover. You are supposed to utilize the adaptive technology of the course and focus on working through the questions.
The study text materials are simply a supplement to help you. Also, a printed version of the book does not come with the course. You get a digital copy of it and can request a printed copy if you really want one.
So you might be thinking where is the flash card section on the dashboard or in the category section. There isn’t one!
Instead of putting the flash cards into the system, Surgent made a separate iPhone and Android app for its flash cards. This way you can take them with you no matter where you go.
The app is very clean, easy to use, and includes more than 2,200 flashcards. The best part of it is it’s free! Yup, FREE! You can download the flashcard app totally for free. Most other review courses charge at least $150 for a mobile app like this or set of flashcards. I have to give it up to Surgent for doing this. It’s really cool.
Pass Guarantee and Unlimited Time Limit –
Unlike some of the other companies out there, Surgent gives you access to their software until you pass the exam. That’s awesome. There’s no extra fees or worries about whether you are going to get hit with some kind of extension fee because you had to retake one of your exam sections.
Surgent CPA Review believes in their system and stands behind it. That’s why they guarantee you will pass using their system. If you don’t pass, you will get a full tuition refund. You can’t really go wrong with a guarantee like that.
Obviously, the most distinguishable aspect of this course is the adaptive learning component. Surgent has finely tuned this system and believes that you can shorten your study time by almost 50 hours by using it. Although this type of system isn’t for everyone, it has been tested to be very efficient.
Lots of Video Lectures
One big complaint that people have about other adaptive courses is that they lack other traditional elements that standard review course have like lectures. Surgent did a great job with its lectures and included more than 350! I love the lecture style of Jack Surgent and Liz Kolar. They do an awesome job.
Who can’t forget about the pass guarantee. If you don’t pass with this course, they will refund your tuition. How awesome is that? Also, there is no time limit. You can use until you pass. No ridiculous extra fees.
I know what you are thinking, “I thought adaptive learning was a pro.” Well, it is and it isn’t. It’s not for everyone. Some people like to sit down and go through a book or a linear review course. It makes sense to them. The adaptive nature of this course, can be a little bit of a struggle if you aren’t willing to work with it. If you aren’t sure whether you will like it or not, you can try a free trial and test it for yourself.
Compared with other adaptive courses, Fast Forward Academy and ExamMatrix, this one is pretty pricey. Although the competitors don’t have nearly as many lectures as Surgent does, Surgent admits that the lectures aren’t intended to be a main section of the course. They are just meant to be supplements.
Don’t forget. You can get a Surgent CPA coupon code to save 20 percent on your purchase by going to my coupons page.
Few Textbook Examples and Explanations
As I said before, the textbook is really just a few hundred pages of bullet points and lists. It’s almost more helpful as a table of contents or a list of things you need to memorize than a textbook. All of the examples and explanations are in the videos and multiple choice question answers.
I think this is a great CPA review course for people who are willing to try and use the adaptive technology. The software is awesome if you let it do it’s thing, but it will be extremely frustrating if you try to use this as a traditional review course.
So if you are looking for a traditional course, this one isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you tried traditional course and it didn’t work, Surgent is a good option.
Tons of people love the adaptive approach and you might be one of them. You can test drive the course for yourself and see what you think about the adaptive technology. Try it out for yourself with a free trial.
Remember this course doesn’t go into tons of detailed explanations. That’s part of the efficiency / adaptive learning style. You learn enough and move on.
This typically isn’t great for people who have been out of college for a while or have a limited understanding of certain topics. You will probably spend more time researching, reading, and trying to understand the topics than the time saving benefits that the technology creates. In other words, it might be a zero-sum game.
Does that mean I wouldn’t recommend the course? Absolutely not. The Surgent CPA Review course is a great prep course because it covers the most important aspect of studying: practicing multiple-choice questions.
I think they’ve done a really good job on this course. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to use an adaptive system and has a fresh understanding of accounting topics. It will help you pass the exam, or they will give you a refund. 🙂