Becker Online Self-Study CPA Exam Review Reviews
If there is one thing Becker knows best it is definitely what needs to be known to pass the CPA exam. The Becker self-study aids are lengthy and intense but very detailed and exactly on point to the real exam. I used the text books and Becker testing software for all four exams and found that the testing software literally had some of the same questions on my exams (which I took in 2009 and passed on the first try).
The Becker books are in, what I would call, a detailed outline form. Meaning each topic is divided into sections and each section is divided into subsections, all containing concise paragraphs. These sections and subsections each have a main point highlighted above the text supporting the subsection so you can easily scan the pages when you are reviewing and find the section you want to review. The text in these sections are very straight and to the point, it gives you exactly what you need ? if it is a definition it is clearly defined, if it is a formula (ie on BEC) the formula is in basic terms and usually comes with a self-proclaimed Becker acronym, if it is a key term you will most definitely be told to know it.
I found the textbook helpful because it was easy to navigate and corresponded directly to the test questions. I would usually detail review the text in the textbook and then briefly go through some of the hard topics as a second round. I would then take a practice exam the first time through using the textbook to understand the background of the question and then go back through the exam a second time (either that night or the next day) without the book to see what I learned. After the exam I would again review my incorrect answers or hard questions (which I would keep track of on paper) with the textbook trying to identify what topic the question was hitting. I also think the textbook is written in a 'quick read' format which makes it easy to pick up and read during a random few available minutes throughout the day.
Though I think the textbook is necessary for all four parts of the exam, if I had to choose two of the four to purchase I would choose BEC and Financial. REG would be a close third. Audit can likely be learned by using your old audit textbook from college. The BEC textbook is great because my BEC exam had a ton of formulas on it and the Becker BEC book did a great job identifying the formulas that would be on the exam. Additionally, I don't think BEC really has a college class that directly corresponds to it as it is a jumble of courses in one (financial = financial accounting, audit = well, audit, and reg = business law and tax). I would also choose the financial textbook because financial is a beast of a test that could cover an endless amount of topics learned over 5 different college classes. Becker does a superb job at identifying the most commonly tested topics on the exam and dumbing down the explanations to help us test takers remember every possible piece of the puzzle. It breaks down journal entries, reasoning, and definitions while working in some tips as to how to get some 'gimme' answers on the exam.
The only real con to the textbook is that if you solely rely on the textbook then you are solely relying on yourself to read it. In contrast, the online and live classes will basically highlight your textbook for you and guide you to the most important parts of the exam. That being said if you take the exams then you will be able to figure out the most heavily tested sections and go back on your own to those sections, you just won't have a clear cut way of how to identify them.
Test Software Review
Let's just be clear here, this test software is what you need to pass the exam. While the textbooks are great pieces of supplemental sources of information and they give color to every question on the exam, the test software is the exam! If I were to put a number on it I would say that 60% of my multiple choice questions were substantially similar or identical to the practice questions in the software and there was some rendition in the Becker software of every simulation I had on all parts of the exam. I do realize you need a 75 not a 60 to pass the exam, it is sure nice knowing you will have seen such a high percentage of the questions at least once before entering the exam.
Additional pros to the testing software is that it is organized in sections as well as testing all topics overall, it gives detail explanations to all questions, it provides citing to the textbook, and the format matches the actual exam. You can guarantee that if you read through an explanation of a question you will have a 'ah-ha' moment and realize where you went astray on the question. If you don't have that 'ah-ha' then be sure to follow the link to the text of the textbook where that will be sure to answer any remaining questions.
I gave a recommendation in the textbook section of this review that gives my personal approach to how I approached the practice tests. As for the simulations, I found it more helpful to go through the answers of the simulations in detail rather than try to solve the simulation myself as they are draining frustrating exercises that one would only want to experience a limited number of times. But seriously though, I think your time is best served understanding the answer versus trying to be correct as they virtually matched what was on my exam.
The cons of the testing software is that the testing gets frustrating, you may get demoralized if you continue getting questions incorrect, and you have to be aware that you are actually getting the questions correct versus memorizing the answers (while this may help in some instances, chances are you will get the same question worded differently on the actual exam and you will have a hard time remembering the answer plus this strategy does not work on Financial as the numbers will differ). You can easily get demoralized as the questions are burdensome and you may not be in the best study mood that day ? you just have to try your best to stay positive and remember that you are practicing for a reason. The most important thing to take from this is be sure not to memorize the answers, you have to focus on learning and be sure to adapt to the question. A helpful hint would be to change up some of the numbers to redo your math or change the wording in your head to answer the question more ways than one.
My review could be appear somewhat biased since other than the Becker CPA Exam Review I did not use any other test preparation materials. Based on my own research and conversations I had with my colleagues at the CPA firm I worked for and my classmates at the graduate school, Becker Professional Education provides the best available CPA test preparation course. Additionally, Becker Professional Education visited the campus of the graduate school I attended (University of Nevada, Las Vegas). I was able to talk to the representatives and get some sample course information and other useful information, which increased my level of confidence in the course.
Based on the research I described above, I determined that I wanted to use Becker for test preparation exclusively. I remember briefly looking at other test preparation programs, such as Wiley and Kaplan, but they did not interest me as much.
The other issue for me was the relatively high cost of the Becker CPA Exam Review course, especially when compared to other similar products. All 4 parts of the course exceeded $3,000! Luckily for me, the CPA firm I worked for at the time sponsored the course for me entirely. My colleagues were familiar with the course and when I spoke to my supervising partner about taking the course, my request was approved and the cost to me was zero. From what I understand, CPA firms get a discount with Becker if they register directly with the learning company and have their employees take the course.
I purchased all 4 sections of the course all at once, but my plan was to study and to take the sections of the exam individually over a period of time. The course proved to be excellent! Relevant information was laid out in a clear manner. I followed the instructions using the computer software and highlighted items that were important right in the book. After each exam, questions were available to test my knowledge of the specific material I had just read. Becker made a claim that all questions were based on questions taken from real, past CPA exams. I believe that the claim is true because when I took the real CPA exam, I was astonished to see how many questions were similar to the ones in the Becker Review.
I would recommend this course to any CPA candidate serious about passing the CPA exam. I can speak of it from personal experience as I passed all 4 sections on the first try. I did not use any other preparation materials or textbooks. Becker CPA Exam Review was the only learning material I used and, looking back, proved to be the only material needed for success.
I did not expect Becker to be as useful for me in passing the CPA exam as it was. They have been in business for a very long time and have collected a number of sample questions through the years from actual CPA exams.
This company is the leader in what it does and its experience in the field is second to none. What is amazing about Becker is that they do not require you to have had extensive experience in Accounting. They simplify accounting topics so that virtually anyone, with a little work and practice, can pass the CPA Exam.
Becker has plenty of questions for students to practice. They have collected actual exam questions throughout the years and have selected the types of questions that candidates are most likely to see on exam day. In fact, some questions may even appear on the exam itself as they appear on the Becker site. Even though they have been around for sometime, Becker constantly updates its material based on each year's CPA Exam changes.
Finally, the software Becker provides is very user friendly and very helpful in tracking your progress throughout the course. There are various performance measures that give accurate feedback of where each candidate stands throughout the course. For an additional cost, Becker even provides flash cards that some people might find useful, and even a final review before your test date.
The only real negative that I can think of about Becker is its cost. It is over $3,300 for all four parts, and moreover, Becker only offers the software for only 18 months. Once the software has expired, Becker offers its former students to re-purchase the courses for half the cost.
I guess you get what you pay for, and by using Becker you are sure to get the best preparatory CPA Exam software in the industry.
Becker CPA offers several different study options: online, live, intensive, and self-study. This review is for self-study only as I have no experience with the other formats. My materials consisted of the section books, related CDs with video presentations, and flash cards. I chose Becker through word of mouth. Although Becker is the most expensive of the most common study materials, my firm would pay for any course I chose. The materials were comprehensive and are usable for almost any type of learning personality.
The flash cards worked best for me because they were to the point. If memorization is your method, you would be served well to purchase the flash cards alone (note: these are an add-on). I found the books and accompanying video lectures verbose and very time consuming. I think they covered the material well, but were full of attempted humor and anecdotes which I assume were to lighten the mood while studying accounting principles. I found them distracting.
The good: Comprehensive coverage of CPA material. Multiple formats for different personalities.
Improvements: Compress the lessons to the essentials. Updates are not always timely (it was noticeable that I was using a book written two years previous). For over $3k, Becker can certainly update material more than two or three times a decade.
Summary: If using my own funds, I would've chosen a simpler program of study such as Gleim. However, for the amount of materials and various methods of study provided, Becker met expectations and allowed me to pass the CPA exam with 90's in each section.
I passed all four parts of the CPA exam in 2010 using Becker CPA review and I passed all four on the first try while working full-time in public accounting. I decided to go with Becker for the following reasons:
* My company offered to pay 75% of any CPA exam resource and was also being given an extra discount by Becker (Note: My company didn't offer 100% like most companies because they wanted us to take some responsibility in paying for the exam).
* The Becker Guarantee: Becker has a guarantee that if you watch all the lectures and get at least 90% on all the homework, YOU WILL PASS. If you don't, Becker will renew your license.
* My co-worker was using it and seemed pretty happy with it.
I decided to use the self-study because I'm not someone who can sit through 4 hours of lecture and retain information from it. In addition, because of my busy schedule, I didn't want to do the online class in case I had to move things around in my schedule.
Here are some of the great features in Becker:
* Becker allows you to create a study timeline. You can enter in your exam date and Becker will allow you to track what needs to be completed by when in order to stay on course.
* Becker's lectures follow the textbook. You are literally reading along in your textbook with the lecture. The instructors show you what to highlight and what notes to write.
* The instructors are awesome and tend to keep you entertained. By the end of the course, I felt like Tim and Pete were people I actually knew.
* The software can be installed on up to three computers so I was able to install it onto my work laptop and my personal laptop.
* You don't need the internet to use the software.
* They focus on the parts that will be mainly covered in the exams.
* They have an enormous amount of test questions. There are some questions that were almost verbatim from the course that were on my exams.
* Becker breaks down each chapter into lectures and each lectures into sub-lectures. After each sub-lecture, there is homework to complete. I believe I learned best by completing a sub-lecture and then completing the corresponding homework, rather than completing four hours of lecture first and then completing the homework. I would save the supplemental questions for my final review.
Here's what I disliked about Becker:
* They don't put enough emphasis on simulations. I'm not sure how the program is now but when I took the exam in 2010, the emphasis on the simulations just wasn't there. They provided two practice simulations, but that was it. However, I feel like the rest of the course did prepare me enough that I was able to get through the simulations but I was more confident on the questions.
Overall, I would definitely recommend Becker as a CPA review course. It is pricey, but if you work for a company that's willing to help pay for it, go for it. Even if you don't, I think that it's still worth it. You'll be saving if you have to keep repaying for exams by using some other resource. I used Becker, watched all the lectures and got 100% on all the homework, and I was able to pass all four exams on the first try.
The best thing I like about Becker's is that it is concise, clear and cover topics relevant to the Content Specification Outline (CSO) for the CPA exam. The video lectures are easy to follow and focus on the exact structure corresponding to the course book. In addition, the examples/practice questions are very helpful to reinforce the material. The difficulty level of questions on some topics is more than what is tested on the exam - I consider this an advantage because if someone can do those difficult practice questions, the actual exam would be easier to pass.
However, there are certain things which may go against Becker in my opinion. The review material is expensive, cost about $3,000 while other review courses are available at half the price or less. In most cases, the employer pays for cost of review material CPA candidates, hence, cost may not be an issue for many CPA candidates though. In addition, given the concise nature of the review material, it is best suited for the candidates who are new graduates or recently completed studies. The course content assumes that you know/understand the basics of accounting/finance/taxation/business law topics well and hence emphasize on helping you pass the exam. Some candidates might find it hard to understand the topics which are difficult.
Therefore, someone who wants to understand the content like for the first time or someone who has been out of school for a very long time must either use an additional resource such as college text books or another CPA review course as supplementary resource. Also, the explanations for the topics such as Governmental Accounting and Not-for-Profit Accounting were not clear which made me use Bisk CPA review for those topics. Becker could have done a better job on these two areas.
Considering the Pros and Cons above, the I would still recommend Becker to the following candidates:
1. Those who can afford to pay the relatively high cost of Becker material or if their employer is willing to pay for it upfront/reimburse the cost.
2. Those who already have good understanding of the course material before starting the study.
3. Those who are looking to pass the exam fast as this course is concise which is good to pass the exam but provide limited learning opportunities.
I think Becker is one of the best CPA study guides on the market. I honestly don't think I would have passed the exams as quickly as I did without them. The book itself has easy to read pages with good size font that doesn't make your eyes go crazy from reading (and we all know how many hours are spent reading!). Becker breaks up and organizes the chapters incredibly efficiently with practice questions after each topic. Additionally each book comes with computer software that holds thousands of multiple-choice questions (most of which are actual questions from previous CPA exams). They also provide practice simulations and two full-length CPA practice exams for each part of the CPA exam. In all honesty, I never made it through every practice question available to me on any of the exam parts so you never have to worry about running out of study materials.
The only negative aspect of Becker is the cost. If you are currently out of school and employed I would recommend talking to you're your employer to see if they offer any reimbursement (partial or full) for the materials. I worked in public accounting at a Big 4 accounting firm when I took the exam and they covered the cost of the materials in full as they wanted me to pass the exam just as badly as I did. If you don't have the luxury of having the materials paid for, Becker offers 0% financing and you can finance the materials over a year or two to help alleviate some of the financial burden. My personal belief is you get what you pay for. One could easily save money and buy less expensive study materials only to end up failing each part multiple times and wasting all their savings in exam costs. If you attempt a less expensive study guide and don't come close to passing your first part I would stop and reconsider Becker.
Overall, I would highly recommend Becker for your study materials. There are even more great advantages to their program now compared to when I took the exam. Now you have the choice between the self-study option (what I did), online learning or live classrooms. There is something for every type of learner.
The Becker self-study program helped me to pass all 4 sections of the CPA exam the first time. I was not sure how well the program would teach to the test, since it was my first time studying for the exam, but in hindsight I realize that the program highlighted the most important information and glazed over the topics that were not as heavily tested. I will admit that the instructors got to be incredibly annoying after listening to the self-paced, pre-recorded lectures for a number of hours, but they were also incredibly helpful.
My problem heading into the test was that I had forgotten much of the advanced accounting material I had learned in my junior/senior years of college. I also had a couple of professors that taught accounting treatment a very specific way, which did not make it easy to apply to complex, open-ended questions on the CPA exam. The Becker study system really aimed to teach the underlying accounting topics so you have a solid foundation heading into the exam. I felt that I understood many of the concepts that I had learned in college much better after going through the self-study course.
You definitely have to be disciplined in order to watch all the lectures, stick to a strict study plan, and work to teach yourself topics that you're struggling with. You don't have the structure of a live classroom to keep you motivated - you have to motivate yourself using the self-study courses - but I definitely recommend the program. I liked being able to watch the lectures on my own time, and pause and rewind sections that I need to re-review. This is definitely a great program. I did not need to use any supplementary study materials outside of the Becker materials, and went into the exams feeling extremely well prepared.
I would highly recommend Becker Self Study CPA Exam Review. The material is in an easy to understand format, organized well, and the exam tips, acronyms, etc. are very useful. Some of the material seemed redundant. This was probably done to re-enforce ideas, but if they condensed the materials a little, it may not feel so overwhelming which for me cause much unneeded stress. I did not enjoy the videos. I felt as if the instructors read from the book too much and one instructor makes you highlight everything it seems. However, the notes they mention in the videos that tie together the information in the book was helpful. They would also emphasis syllables of words or repeat phrases multiple times throughout the lecture that would help with memorization (example: take the Lesser value with Leases). The online Self Study has a pdf copy with all of the suggested notes and highlighting. I would suggest to either listen to the videos or read through the pdf that has the notes and highlight; not both. It would have been nice to have an audio version of the book to listen to in the car. It would also be nice to have the website update automatically with new materials or updates instead of being sent to Becker's website and printing out updates of pages or questions.
When I decided to get serious about studying for the CPA exam, I knew attending live classrooms would be difficult due to my work schedule. When I discovered the Becker CPA review online option, I watched a few demo videos before making a commitment. After watching a few videos, I purchased the course and began studying. I watched each video about 10 times. During my daytime working hours, I used earphones and constantly listened to the videos. I answered the multiple choice questions about 10 times to make sure that I understood why the questions were right, and why the other questions were wrong. The Becker teachers speak very clearly and get to the point. The mnemonics that are used really help during the test time. Becker is a good source to start with, but depending on your background and experience, it may not be the only resource to use. Using only Becker I scored back to back 74's on Regulation which left me devastated. As a result, I also used the Wiley online CPA test bank, Wiley books, and the Another 74 audio and printouts. Using all of these resources enabled me to pass all four parts of the CPA exam.
Becker's Online Self-Study CPA Exam Review is the most comprehensive and useful resource to prepare for the CPA exam. While other resources may provide a variety of practice test questions and other materials, Becker is the only test prep that provides access to tools that facilitate different styles of learning and review. The CPA exam is primarily about remembering a vast amount of information and processing the correct decision given certain facts and circumstances. Becker's tools will prepare test takers to recall information at the appropriate time and remember the necessary details to answer questions correctly.
I purchased the entire package of test materials at one time and studied intensely for several months, and attempted to take as many tests as possible. My general approach, which was time consuming, but effective, was as follows:
1. I watched the Becker videos online and followed along in the book. If you are a auditory learner, the online videos are a great resource to focus on the most important details on the test. While the information can be repetitive and the instructors can become annoying, the videos provide a framework for the information in the review books, as well as the practice tests.
2. The review books are organized well and presented as an outline. However, there are certain facts within the outline that are more important that others. I highlighted the items that I knew would be important to review later, and made notes in the margins of acronyms and other tips to remember items. The examples within the review books were particularly useful, as they allowed me to see how the theory connected to a practical example.
3. Once I had completed a section of a video, I would go back through and read the book a second time. If there were items that were particularly important, I would create a flashcard with the relevant facts/acronyms/formulas. While Becker does sell pre-made flashcards, I found that studying the review books and creating my own flashcards solidified the information I needed to know.
4. Once I had reviewed a section a second time, I took my first practice test. The key with the Becker tests is to not get discouraged the first time, or even the second time through. The questions are copied from prior year test banks, so the questions are difficult and not always intuitive. Once the test is finished, Becker allows you to see the questions that were answered correctly and those questions that were incorrect. Furthermore, when reviewing a question, you can see the specific page from the review materials that have the correct answer. I would always make a note on my books of the concepts I needed to study further.
5. Finally, once I had watched the video and studied the review books for all sections of a particular exam, I took as many practice exams as possible. Becker has many tests, so you will not run out of practice problems or simulations.
While my particular experience is unique, Becker's model allows for comprehensive study of the information across the four exams.
The pros of the materials are as follows:
* Outline format of the review books, which highlights the most important aspects of every section.
* Acronyms of key facts that are repeated throughout the videos and books that stick with you for years.
* A large test bank of questions that were used on past exams. On the actual exam, I noticed that about 30% of the questions were direct copies of the questions from the Becker practice exams. So by taking many practice exams beforehand, you are guaranteed to see copies of the questions on the actual exam.
Cons of the materials are as follows:
* The cost of the materials is quite prohibitive. The firm that I worked for reimbursed me for all of the materials, but the cost could turn some people away. If I had to choose, I would purchase the books and the practice exams before the videos, but all three items are invaluable if you have the opportunity to purchase them.
* There is a significant amount of information on the books and the videos take time to watch. If you are looking for a shortcut or a quicker way to learn the material, different materials may be a better tool.
In summary, the CPA exam is a large test covering vast amounts of information. Becker has the best materials to prepare for the exam and ensure you will recall the information necessary at the most critical moments. It was worth every penny.