One Piece At A Time
CPAexcel is a great course for those with busy schedules and do not have large chunks of time to study. I personally used this review course and was able to pass all four sections on the first try while working 50 hours a week. I used Wiley textbooks as a supplement for my weaker sections, however, I attribute most of my success to CPAexcel’s bite-sized lectures which made it easier to absorb and retain information.
This program is specially designed to help you learn more in less time and would be great for any student who prefers self-study courses or has a busy schedule. Each main topic is broken down into smaller subsections which typically take between 30-45 minutes each. This offers you the flexibility to fit in a quick section whenever you find time in your day.
I have expanded this review as I am more familiar with CPA excel because I used their course material almost everyday for 9 months. Feel free to skip to the pros and cons at the bottom if you start to feel sleepy : )
Each subsection includes the following:
- Study Text – A reading assignment which is typically 2-6 pages in length
- Proficiency Questions – A true/false quiz
- Exam Questions – A multiple choice quiz that is presented in the exact same computer format as the CPA exam. It is a timed test that allows an average of 2 minutes per question. This is great practice and prepared me well for the actual CPA exam. Your quiz is graded after you finish or run out of time and reveals the questions you missed, what the answer was, and a description of why that answer is correct.
- Flashcards – Double-sided digital flashcards containing important definitions and key topics. As of January 2013, CPAexcel includes 4,100 digital flashcards.
- Task Based Simulations – These are not included in many of the subsections but are typically found in the larger ones. As of January 2013 they offer 250 task-based simulations, however, I remember many of these being identical problems with just some of the numbers changed around so this number is a little misleading. I would definitely supplement with the CPA Review For Free simulations as they are only $32 for all four parts and will give you a larger variety of question types.
The number of true/false and multiple choice questions depends on the length of the section and ranges anywhere from 5-30 although you will typically receive around 8-12. Each topic has a Diagnostic Exam which tests you on all the material in found in its subsections. It touches on the main subjects and typically pulls 2-3 of the most important questions from each subsection.
After you have completed all the course work for that exam there is a Simulated CPA Exam which is exactly the same format as the real one. It is broken down into three separate multiple choice sections and a task basked simulation portion and is timed just like the live exam. At the end of the test it grades your responses and gives you a breakdown of which topics you did well on and which ones you need to go back and study.
CPA excel not only tells you which ones you missed but also give a good explanation of how the correct answer is calculated. A large portion of my learning happened here as I would take this test many times and review each wrong answer until I regularly scored in the 85-90% range. You will be given a lot of new questions each time you retake the test which gives you the repetition and practice necessary to pass the CPA exam.
1. Exam-Identical Software
The practice exams and simulations are presented in the same exact computerized format you will see on your test day including the proper time limits, break policies, and rules for moving through the exam content. This familiarizes you with the CPA exam format as well as the functionality of the built in calculator and flagging system.
2. Bite-Sized Topics
Each section is broken down into small 30-45 minute sections which makes the CPA exam seem a lot less overwhelming. This is also great for anyone who has a full-time job or children and doesn’t have large chunks of time to study with.
3. Multiple Choice Questions
With over 5,000 multiple choice questions you will definitely be able to get the repetition you need to pass the CPA Exam and don’t have to worry about seeing the same questions over and over again.
There is no limit on number of computers their software can be downloaded and used on. Their course is also accesible from your smart phone on both the Android and iOS operating systems which includes the iPhone, iPod Touch, Samsung Galaxy, and iPad. Another great feature is that CPA excel gives you unlimited use of their videos, quizzes, and course material and they NEVER expire!
5. Mobile Smartphone App
It took about a year for CPAexcel to work out all the bugs, but after testing the new updated version out for myself, I was very impressed. This gives you access to 4,600 multiple choice questions and answers as well as 4,000 flashcards on the go. You can adjust the length of the quizes anywhere from 1-100 questions which makes it easy to use even if you only have a few minutes to fit one in. The app releases updates much more frequently now and is free with the purchase of 1 or more sections. They also offer a free version even if you didn’t purchase a section but it does not include all of the MCQ.
1. No Instructor Support
There is a message board where you can post your questions but their responses can take a few days and are often not very clear. You can buy or upgrade your course package to include their “Professor Mentoring” service in which they will respond in 24 hours via email. I bought this feature but only ended up asking one question throughout all my studies that I ended up figuring out before they got back to me.
2. Video Lectures
They have several different instructors that rotate throughout the different sections which helps to mix things up a bit but I didn’t find any of them particularly engaging or interesting. I have talked to students that are more visual/auditory type learners who were able to pass by skipping the majority of the reading portion altogether and ONLY watching the videos! (While taking extremely good notes and doing tons of MCQ I’m sure)
3. Self-Study Is Only Option
There are no live classes or people to talk to in person. If you learn best from human interaction or need one-on-one help then this is probably not the best choice for you.
CPAexcel is great overall course, especially for anyone who has a full-time job, kids, a spouse, is pregnant or any other serious time commitments in their life. If you are accustomed to learning from your computer and feel comfortable studying on your own, then I would highly suggest CPA excel.
If you are an Auditory or Visual Learner, I would consider buying the Video Self-Study Course instead of the Video Gold Medal Course. This will save you around $200 and includes everything but the Professor Mentoring option. You can always go back and add this option at anytime if you think you feel like you need it.
Considering the 40-50 hour work week that I had to juggle while studying, I don’t think I would have been able to pass all 4 sections in 9 months with any other CPA review course. In my opinion this is the only way to go if you have a busy schedule and do not have the luxury to devote all of your time to the CPA exam.