Becker FastPass/Intensive CPA Exam Review Reviews
Overview: I had tremendous success using Becker's CPA review program. I have also met many associates who used this program and had similar results. I had a short window of free time between graduating from my Master's program and beginning my career that I decided to dedicate to passing as many parts of the exam that I could. Becker provides a "Fast Pass" program that helped me accomplish my goal. It was basically a full-time prep course that included a schedule to prepare and pass each of the four parts of the exam in a condensed, more intense period. I graduated in June 2011 and was beginning my career in public accounting the following September. While I knew that I wasn't going to have much of a summer after graduation, I wanted to have this important part of my professional life complete (or nearly complete) so I could focus on my career when it started. The course involved four, 8-hour days in a classroom each week. The classes were presented at a local university by instructors that were certified by Becker. Each section was taught during the day, and we were given multiple choice questions created by Becker to complete before the next class. These questions were related to what was just learned and followed similar format to the actual exam. There was some flexibility with dates and times you wanted to schedule the sections of the exam, but the course was developed to plan most of it for you. Each section of the exam had its own textbook and we would move through the course accordingly (each textbook took between 1-2 weeks to get through). Some applicants would schedule their exams immediately after getting through each section (i.e. we would complete AUD on a Thursday and they would schedule an exam that following Saturday morning, leaving basically one full day of self-review before sitting). Personally, I decided to wait until the entire course was over and schedule each test about a week apart. I felt more comfortable having a week to self-review each section before sitting, rather than just a day. Some people think and prepare differently, and choosing how and when to sit was completely a personal preference.
Pros: Offers a way to get through the exam in a condensed period of time; numerous forms of review/study material, which provides flexibility based on personal learning preferences; review questions and practice tests are in nearly identical format to the actual exam; computer programs and applications are user-friendly.
Cons: The study and prep timeframe can be very intense for some people based on personal lives, timing, etc.; some instructors of the material are better than others, and it can affect the ease of learning; the majority of the course is self-study, so it involves a high level of time management and allocation ? especially if applicants are balancing other jobs.
My Personal Recommendation: Whether applicants decide to take the Fast Pass route or the traditional route, I feel that I was able to get much more out of this program by completing the practice tests/questions rather than listening to all of the lectures and taking notes and reading the text books. I went through each question at least 3-4 times before sitting for each exam (between the reviews and practice tests, there are hundreds of questions for each part). Becker develops these questions to mirror the actual exam, so it made me feel much more comfortable during test time because I was looking at something familiar. For many study sessions I didn't even open a book. Answering the questions incorrectly is even beneficial, as Becker's computer application provides you with the correct answer and an explanation. Many people, including the instructors, who I have spoken to have had similar experiences using this preparation style. Therefore, if I was to give one piece of advice for current and future applicants it would be, "Problems, problems, problems!"
What made this preparation method effective was that it was multi-faceted and comprehensive. You had to read the chapter, then review the chapter from an instructor in class, page-by-page. This not only reinforced the material, but also allowed the students to see exactly which portions of each page were most important, based on what the Becker insructors told us. Obviously this also allowed for asking questions and obtaining clarification. I can't think of ways to make this course better. Perhaps it is overkill for some people who are very smart, but my thinking was "I do not want to sit for any parts of this exam more than once, so I will try and do what it takes to get it passed the first time around, even if that means reading and then re-learning the material in the classroom." I would definitely recommend this approach, and have done so to some friends. There were different instructors for each section of the exam, and each was passionate about his/her portion of the material. The instructors were excellent. The CD software also contained video lessons from the national Becker instructors, and these (not surprisingly) were also outstanding. Both live- and CD-instuctors emphasized which lines of the text to highlight, circle, and annotate in order to help us study key pieces of information. Plenty of acronyms also helped us memorize key concepts.