Beat The CPA Review Policy
The goal of Beat The CPA is to provide readers like you with concise and accurate reviews of noteworthy test prep courses. We’ve spent a lot of time looking through the many different options available to CPA candidates in order to come up with our list of the best CPA review courses you can take.
But what do we look for in our reviews? What are the most important features that a CPA review course needs to have? And how do we identify fraudulent companies or poor quality content?
Check out our review policy below and see what goes into a Beat the CPA review:
When choosing a product or service to review, we research and test it for the following criteria:
Whether it’s a narrated slideshow, pre-recorded lecture, or a live classroom setting, we keep an eye out for the best CPA exam prep lectures. Some questions we ask about each course’s lecture content include:
- Quality: Are the lectures up-to-date with the latest CPA exam blueprints? Can you clearly see and hear the lecture content?
- Quantity: How many subjects do their lectures cover? How many hours of lecture content are included with the course?
- Availability: Can you listen to audio-only lectures? Can you download lecture content to access offline? Can you access lectures on smart devices like phones and tablets?
Aside from lectures, the next best way to prepare for any exam is to practice with test-like questions. That’s why most test prep companies provide question banks full of multiple choice questions, exam simulations, written prompts, logic games, and more. Here’s what we look out for:
- Quality vs. Quantity: Are there enough practice questions to adequately prepare candidates for their exams? Are they challenging enough to accurately replicate the exam itself?
- Relevance: Do these questions cover all relevant sections and subjects on the exam? Are questions updated to match changes to the exams they cover?
- Explanations: Do you receive explanations for correct answers while working on practice questions? Are there correlations between practice questions and other course content (videos, textbooks, etc)
Extra Study Materials
While lectures and practice questions are the most popular and effective study tools for online exam prep, many of the best courses offer even more. These are extra materials and features we look for and evaluate in our reviews:
- Flashcards: How many flashcards does the course offer? Are they available in digital format, as physical cards, or both?
- Software: Does the course offer adaptive learning technology to track your progress or generate a custom study plan? Are their study materials optimized for mobile and tablet users? Do they offer dedicated mobile apps?
- Final Review: Does the course offer some form of accelerated final review, like a cram course or cheat sheet? How effective are these materials at condensing the subject matter while still being helpful?
While this ranks among the least important factors for our reviews, price is often the most important factor for a lot of students. These are some price-related criteria we look for in our reviews:
- Affordability: How does this course’s price compare to other test prep courses in its niche? Do they offer financing plans for students who want/need to pay in installments?
- Variety: Does the course offer differently-priced versions of their prep courses? Do they sell extra study materials or add-ons?
- Guarantee: Can enrollees receive a refund if they’re unsatisfied with the course? Can they renew their access if they fail their exam on the first try?
One of the most important aspects of any online product or service is the quality of their support. To ensure all the courses we review are able to resolve unexpected issues, we judge them on the following:
- Accessibility: Can you contact support via phone, email, chat, and/or social media? Do they have a dedicated support phone number with a real person on the other line?
- Speed: When contacting their support team, how quickly do they respond? How long does it take for the company to resolve support issues?
- Legitimacy: Are responses to support questions automated, or do real people communicate with you? Is the company recognized as a legitimate resource for professionals in its niche?
What We Avoid
There are some companies, products, and services that we choose not to cover in our reviews and comparison charts. This can be because of a few different reasons, such as:
Fraudulent or questionable behavior
When determining if a company’s online course should be reviewed, we check to make sure they follow good online practices. If a company doesn’t provide you with the ability to safely browse their site and pay for their products, we won’t cover it.
In order to provide a worthwhile educational experience for candidates, a good online course needs to be designed properly. If a course we review is too difficult to navigate, or if their app suffers from frequent slowdowns and crashes, we won’t review their content.
Lack of Experience/Accreditation
You don’t always have to be an expert in your field to make a great educational product. However, we look out for companies that hire knowledgeable staff that can teach their material with authority. A course or staff that doesn’t have any recognition from established professionals won’t receive any coverage from us.
Irrelevant or Outdated Content
In order to actually prepare candidates to pass their exams, a good prep course needs to have up-to-date material that directly relates to a specific exam. If a company hasn’t updated their materials to match recent changes to an exam — or they only offer general ed courses relating to a professional field instead of a full certification prep course — then we won’t write a review.