What's a Cheap But Effective CPA Review Program?

If you have a CPA exam question for me, get in touch and I'll try to put down the IPA long enough to give you a somewhat coherent answer.

Hey Adrienne,

From what I've read, Becker seems to be the way to go for CPA review... if you don't have to pay for it.  Since I have to pay for it and I'm a stickler for value, I'm trying to figure out the best bang for your buck way to study for the CPA exam.  Since I learn best through experience, immersion and interaction, I'm trying to tailor a program in this manner without spending too much money.  So far, since I'm a student member of my states accounting board, I was able to purchase the Lambers ebooks for all for sections for 2012 for $10.00.  I'm using the NINJA notes from another71 to supplement with the books for $140 and possibly going to buy the Wiley Test bank along with the cpareviewforfree questions.  Thoughts?  Advice?

First, obviously I can't fully answer this since I used to work in CPA review and that could be seen as a conflict (though it's not like I secured some lifetime sponsorship deal with my former employer when I quit). So I'm counting on all you cheap-asses out there to throw in some good suggestions based on what's worked for you.

From what I've heard, Lambers is effective but underrated. It isn't as popular as Becker or as advertised as Roger or Yaeger but it's been around for a long time and their iPod course was a revolutionary study alternative at the time it was introduced. In my experience, an exciting delivery method (iPhone, iPod, even software when it was introduced years ago) isn't always superior, but just because it is offered in those formats doesn't mean it sucks either. The fact that you don't hear much at all about Lambers - good or bad - might be a good sign.

You make a good point about professional memberships coming in handy for CPA review discounts. Many review courses have deals with state societies of CPAs to provide discounted courses to their members and student membership (meaning those who aren't CPAs yet) is cheap or even free. So you're already saving some money there but for anyone out there who hasn't taken advantage of this, get on it.

It's hard to say if your planned amount of practice questions will be enough for you. Working with thousands of CPA exam candidates, I learned that no one had the same set of needs. That might be enough for you or it may not. The Wiley Test Bank will allow you the opportunity to do "final" exams that can tell you long before you actually test whether or not you'd pass at that, point so take advantage of that early on. Between the books and software, you should have plenty of practice but it's difficult to say without knowing you; you'll have to figure that out for yourself (hopefully early on in the study process) and adjust accordingly. The only change I would suggest is purchasing both books and software out of the gate and mix up formats when studying. Like I mentioned, the fact you can take final exams on the software will come in handy later and you might discover you prefer one method over the other. You don't necessarily need both though so if you only do one, make it the software.

I haven't heard anything terrible about the NINJA notes, I'm sure like with the rest of the programs you chose, you did some due diligence before committing to anything. It is entirely possible to Frankenstein together a few CPA review materials to customize your own program, although doing so means being extra cognizant of your needs (sounds like you are), wants (you have that too) and reality (money is a funny subject, sometimes saving a few pennies means spending a lot more later on down the road anyway).

My last recommendation for you is to be prepared to shell out more money for a traditional review package early on in your exam-taking if you find you've bombed your first section. A common mistake candidates make is to stubbornly stick with a method that isn't working for them because they don't want to spend more money or waste more time. I'm not saying this is bound to happen to you, just be conscious that it can.

Hope this helps. If anyone has any experience with the methods mentioned above and would like to help this guy out, you know what to do.