An In-Depth Review of the CPAexcel Review Course

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CPAexcel is a review course for the CPA exam, and it is the review course I personally used to pass all 4 sections.

It has everything you'll need to "excel" on the exams, and in this review I'll guide you through how to use CPAexcel in the most effective way possible.

Summary

  • 5 out of 5 stars

    This is the course that I used to study for and pass all 4 sections of the exams. What else can I say. There are a few things they could improve on, but overall CPAexcel will teach you what you need to know to pass the exams.

  • The Lectures Are Great - When I Used Them

    This goes along with the idea of byte-size lessons, but having the lectures on very specific topics was very helpful when I got stuck and had to go back to learn certain topics.

  • Bite-Sized Topics for When You Need to Brush Up Quick

    If you’re like me, many topics on the CPA exam are just a review of something you’ve had in a class before. Other CPA review courses group many topics into just a few huge video lectures, so it’s hard to jump around to specific topics when you want to find something fast. With CPAexcel, you have topics broken into subtopics, and the lessons are very small and specific- which also makes it easier to remember which formulas and concepts correspond to other topics, and which don’t.

  • Over 5,000 Multiple Choice Questions with Excellent Answer Explanations

    Simply answering questions over and over will(should) be the bread and butter of your study plan. With CPAexcel, you will have un-ending questions that you can hone your skills against. The explanations are very clear and detailed- and simply by doing questions and reading the explanations you’ll be able to nail most topics.

  • The Mobile App- The Best Study Partner You've Ever Had

    When you signup for CPAexcel you’ll also have access to the mobile app. The app was what bridged the gap for me studying and passing the exams while working full-time(during busy season). I would pull this baby out and hammer out topics 5 questions at a time.

  • Discussion Forums With the Actual Instructors

    Each mini-topic has its own forum thread where you can read past questions and responses, and ask your own. On many of the harder topics, I found the past discussions highly valuable as I tried to grasp the topic. I also found the discussions among other students very helpful.

Course Setup

This is what an individual topic page looks like.

  • Lectures. Each lesson has its own lecture. There are different instructors for different topics which helps break up the monotony.
  • Slides. You have the slides for each lesson that the video lecture is based on. You'll find yourself using these a lot as you go back to find a formula or concept as you're working through the questions.
  • Study Text. The study text is the meat of each lesson. Actually it's the whole cow. The study text for each lesson is very, very detailed. I definitely didn't read every word of every study text, but if you ever get confused on a certain topic, you can be sure that the answer will be somewhere in the study text. The study texts are very well-written and easy to understand, and they're filled with examples that help the concepts make sense. Here's a snapshot of what 'study text' looks like:
  • Proficiency Questions. These are true and false questions that will quickly test whether or not you know a topic. I didn't use these on every lesson, but they are helpful when reviewing because you can go through them so fast.
  • Exam Questions. These are where you should spend your time. Again, since the lessons are broken down into very specific topics, you won't usually have more than 10 exam questions for any given lesson. This really helps you not feel overwhelmed- it's eating an elephant one bite at a time. You can take the exam questions in study mode or exam mode. In study mode, you'll see the answer and explanation after every question. In exam mode, you take all the questions in the lesson at once and you'll see the answers after you're done. To study I recommend plowing through the questions in study mode and reading each explanation until you fully understand the what and why.
  • Flashcards. I didn't use these for quite a while when I first started using CPAexcel, but they're very useful - especially on the more difficult topics. The flashcards are setup to test you on the rules and concepts behind each topic, so that if you master the flashcards for a given topic, you'll be able to answer pretty much any question on that topic. You are also able to access all the flashcards from the mobile app. Spending any extra 5 minutes you have through your day going through flashcards will really help cement the concepts in your brain.
  • Mentored Discussions. This is the forum for each topic where you can ask questions and an instructor will answer. The answer does take at least 24 hours usually, but on most topics someone has probably already asked your question and so it's sitting there at all times for you to refer to. Just reading through the forum on hard topics will give you a lot of insight or ideas for approaching problems that you probably hadn't thought of.

Recommendations

There are 3 different levels of CPAexcel. All 3 of them come with the core materials which means the simulations, the exam questions, and the electronic study text.

Here's a breakdown of each level and what they include:


Platinum CPAexcel Review Course

The platinum course includes everything you could want for your study journey. If you're someone who wants it all, or you feel like you need all the help you can get, then the Platinum course is for you.

The platinum course includes:

  • Proficiency questions, exam questions, and practice sims
  • Access to forums where you can ask questions from instructors
  • Video lectures and the slides for each lesson
  • Course textbooks
  • Focus notes which include formulas, mnemonics, exam tips, and other condensed key topics
  • Flash drive which contains the course for travel if you can't take your computer
  • Physical set of the flashcards
  • Access to the virtual classroom series
  • CPA online test bank questions- these are additional questions above and beyond the 5,100 original questions
  • No expiration date- you have access until you pass

The platinum course is for you if: 

You want access to everything that Wiley has. Having physical flashcards are something that a lot of people want, and access to the extra CPA questions is a huge benefit.


Video Gold Medal Course

The video gold medal course is what I used. The main difference between the Gold video course and the Platinum course is that the gold course does not include the physical flashcards, the focus notes, or the virtual classroom sessions. To me, not having the virtual classroom sessions is not a big deal. Keep in mind, this is an individual preference... if you feel like attending some virtual sessions with a live instructor would really cement the ideas in your head, then it might be worth it to you to go with the platinum course.

The Gold video course is for you if: 

You're more a self-studier. You'll still have access to the digital flashcards, and you can use them on the mobile app, you just won't have the actual physical flashcards.

The Golf video course does include the physical textbooks. If you learn really well reading out of a book and you want the physical books so that you can underline and highlight things, then the Gold video course is your best bet.


Silver CPA Review Course

The Silver course contains the basics. The main thing you need to know is that it includes everything the Gold course includes except the physical textbooks.

Like I mentioned above, I used the Gold video course, but I never used the physical textbooks. I would have gotten the exact same results with the Silver course.

The Silver video course is for you if: 

You are a self-studier and you don't care about having the physical textbooks.

Like I mentioned, I had the Gold course but I never touched the textbooks. If you want to save yourself some money and still have more study materials than you'll ever use, then the Silver course is what you should go with.


Have a question/comment? Ask below!

4 Comments

  • Theresa

    Reply Reply August 6, 2014

    I was hoping to sit for AUD at the end of August but the application process has taken longer than I realized. Now I am planning to proceed under pretty much the exact time frame and season as you did. Since I plan to take both AUD and FAR close together in early to mid October, can you tell me if you studied for them simultaneously the whole time or if you did one then the other then both? I would like to know more details about how you prepped for these two sections at one time using CPAexcel with the study schedule features. Thanks in advance!

    • admin

      Reply Reply August 9, 2014

      Hi Theresa- So I had FAR scheduled first, and so I was primarily studying for FAR. I would try to fit in one hour of AUD per day for about a month before AUD, but that probably only happened half the time.

      I had started work as an auditor for about 3 months before that, but I feel that even that short of time helped a lot with the AUD exam.

      After I took FAR, I had exactly one week until my AUD exam, and I simply crammed as much as I could in the mornings before work and then after work again. I would use the CPAexcel mobile app during the day whenever I had a few minutes, and that helped as well.

      I did a very poor job of going through each lesson- I primarily did sets of 30 cumulative MCQs over and over and over… but that must have worked.

      The key is to read every answer explanation to each question, and to think it through and explain it to yourself out loud until you understand it. It’s easy to just click through questions and not learn anything. You’ve got to “actively” study.

  • Jerry

    Reply Reply August 20, 2014

    I don’t know if things may have changed since you purchased CPAexcel, but you mentioned that the Silver course “includes everything the Gold course includes except the physical textbooks.” According to the CPAexcel site all three course options allow you to “get your Course Outlines in printed textbook format or eBook format on your computer or mobile device.” The only difference I see in the Gold and Silver is that the Silver doesn’t include the Professor Mentoring. Am I overlooking something?

    Also, I’m conflicted as to whether the “5,100+ AICPA Past Exam Questions with Answer Rationales” and “5,400+ Proficiency Questions” is sufficient, or if it’s really worth the extra $575 to purchase the Prometric type “CPA Online Test Bank” and get 148 Enhanced Simulations, 4400 Questions with Detailed Answers, etc. Based on your own experience, do you think that’s necessary, or does that seem a bit like overkill or an unnecessary complication? Thanks!

    • Nate

      Reply Reply August 22, 2014

      Jerry-

      Yes you’re right. Even the Silver course comes with the textbooks.

      As far as the test bank is concerned, for most people the 5,000+ questions that come with CPAexcel are more than enough. Just personal preference I think if you cruise through all of those and want even more practice.

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