CPA Course Hidden Truths: Adaptive Technology Comparison

Surgent CPA Review personalized learning

Recently, many CPA Review course providers have started describing their courses as adaptive. Once you take a closer look at their software, it becomes pretty clear that most simply are not what they're claiming them to be.

Many review courses use persona-based adaptive technology. This type of software cannot account for real-time changes, such as CPA Exam updates, since their software won't have enough user data to adjust their personas until well after the exam has already changed. Plus, persona-based software doesn't account for candidate growth factors like area of employment, time since graduation, learning efficiencies.

Take Roger's SmartPath™ Technology for example, a software described as "a personalized learning experience." In truth, students' scores are only compared to those of other Roger students, and the study material does not actually adapt to a candidate's performance.

At the end of the day, choosing your CPA Review course is a big decision and one that should be made carefully. Don’t be caught off guard! Continue reading to discover the hidden truths we’ve uncovered about adaptive learning claims by review course providers.


Is it Really Adaptive? Surgent Vs. Other CPA Review Courses
Surgent's A.S.A.P. Technology™ Becker's Adapt2u™ Learning Technology
Roger's SmartPath™ Technology Wiley's Efficient Learning Platform™
Assessments
    
10 quizzes comprised of a total 450 questions pulled from all CPA Exam categories
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One brief quiz
No assessment
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Short assessment at the beginning of each category
Study Planner
    
Study planner calculates necessary amount of study time per day based on student's chosen availability, and adjusts that study time based on performance
  
Static calendar. Software does not calculate study time per day
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Spreadsheet that cannot be customized
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Static calendar. Software does not calculate study time per day
Customized Study Materials
    
All study material is generated based on assessment results and CPA Exam content weightings
No tailored study plan
No tailored study plan
No tailored study plan
Adaptability to Student Progress
    
Real-time algorithms ensure study material is always adapting to the student's progress
No continuous adaptation
No continuous adaptation
No continuous adaptation
Content Category Weightings
    
Assessment quizzes, daily study material, and practice exams all factor in exam content weightings
No content category weighting
No content category weighting
No content category weighting
1-on-1 Support
    
Virtual 1-on-1 support from CPA Exam expert
No coaching
 
Homework Help Center available via email. Response time is typically 1-3 days
Support available via email




Overall Adaptive Rankings by Provider


Surgent's A.S.A.P. Technology™: Overall Adaptive Rating – 5 Stars

Becker's Adapt2u™ Learning Technology: Overall Adaptive Rating – 2 Stars

Wiley's Efficient Learning Platform™: Overall Adaptive Rating – 1 Star

Roger's SmartPath™ Technology: Overall Adaptive Rating – 1 Star


Surgent's A.S.A.P. Technology™ Overview

As the only award-winning adaptive learning software in the CPA review space, Surgent’s A.S.A.P. Technology™ truly helps candidates pass the CPA Exam faster. The proprietary adaptive learning software in Surgent’s course assesses candidates’ current knowledge level and serves them only the content and multiple-choice questions they need to see to pass the exam. The result is that Surgent students are exam-ready in on average 58 study hours per exam section.

Assessments

Surgent CPA Review has 10 quizzes totaling 350 questions pulled from all categories of the CPA Exam. These quizzes help our software to determine your knowledge level across all topics covered on the exam. At the end of the assessment, you will receive a comprehensive diagnostic report and a ReadySCORE, our exam readiness metric that tells you what you would score if you were to sit for the CPA Exam with your current knowledge level. Surgent’s ReadySCORE has been proven to be within 4% of students’ actual CPA Exam. Assessment results are then used to create study sessions personalized to each student’s needs, guiding them to the areas they need to improve most based on their assessment performance. Surgent’s latest addition to their course, MyMCQ™, pairs with A.S.A.P. Technology™ to serve students both the content, and now also the multiple-choice questions, that they need to see to get exam ready quicker. No other CPA Review provider’s course guides students like Surgent.

Study Planner

Surgent’s study planner calculates the necessary amount of study time per day based on the student’s chosen availability so that the student is prepared by their selected exam date. Plus, the course continually adjusts study time based on the student’s performance throughout the course.

Customized Study Material

With Surgent CPA Review, the amount and content of recommended study materials is customized to each student based on their results during the assessment phase and CPA Exam content weightings. Surgent’s proprietary adaptive learning software drives students to study materials for the areas where they show the least amount of proficiency, instead of encouraging students to waste time covering materials they already understand.

Adaptability to Student Progress

Real-time algorithms ensure study material is always adapting to each student’s unique progress. Surgent’s software drives students to their more problematic areas, while focusing far less time on topics where the student is already proficient. By refining study materials so students only study what they need, Surgent students are getting exam ready in just 58 hours, on average.

Content Category Weightings

Exam content category weightings are taken into account in Surgent’s algorithm to determine which questions and content to deliver to each student. The software makes sure students spend an adequate amount of time on more heavily tested areas by factoring in exam content weightings in assessment quizzes, daily study material, and practice exams.


Becker’s Adapt2U™ Learning Technology

Becker encourages all of their students to take a “study everything” approach, leading students to spend hundreds of hours studying per exam section. Becker’s Adapt2U Learning Technology does not customize study plans to target students’ knowledge gaps, even if students take the short pre-assessment quizzes at the beginning of each module.

Assessments

Students take a short pre-assessment at the beginning of each module, usually no more than 8 questions. While quiz results determine the order of the material students should study, Becker’s Adapt2U does not customize study plans to target students’ knowledge gaps. For example, in FAR, students are expected to complete over 70 modules, in addition to optional “personalized review sessions.” Becker’s new “personalized review sessions” (PRS) encourage students to take another quiz at the end of each module, including questions that students have skipped, gotten wrong, or even gotten right, to help show “exam readiness.” The PRS also does not impact the students’ study plan and does nothing more than prolong study time by re-serving students questions that they would already see throughout the course.

Study Planner

Becker’s course includes a static calendar. The software does not calculate study time per day. Plus, students’ study plans do not change along the way in response to their progress. Students are instructed to study all of the material, regardless of their pre-assessment or PRS results.

Customized Study Material

Becker offers no study material that is customized to individual study needs. The course is designed for students to go through every topic on the CPA Exam like it’s the first time they’ve seen it, regardless of their proficiency in any given topic area.

Adaptability to Student Progress

Even with PRS and pre-assessments, Becker’s software does not adapt to student progress. Each student is expected to go through every lecture, book page, multiple-choice questions, and simulation to be considered “exam ready”.

Content Category Weightings

Not only does Becker not weigh their course’s content based on the AICPA’s category weightings, Becker’s course does not follow the AICPA’s exam blueprint. The course includes sections that are not included on the CPA Exam blueprint, meaning that you could be over-studying for an already very time-intensive exam.


Wiley’s Efficient Learning Platform™

Wiley’s CPA Review course is known for providing the most multiple-choice questions and task-based simulations in the CPA Exam review market, but more isn’t always better. More questions can significantly increase study time, especially in a course that does not tailor it’s material to students’ unique needs.

Assessments

While Wiley offers a short pre-assessment at the beginning of each category, the score only determines the order in which the student should study, not what materials the student should study.

Study Planner

Wiley has a static calendar. The software does not calculate study time per day.

Customized Study Material

Wiley’s course does not tailor study materials or a study plan to individual student needs. Some course packages offer a set of study guides in a four-volume textbook that is meant to cover the CPA Exam blueprints, but these study guides recommend the same approach for all students.

Adaptability to Student Progress

Wiley’s Efficient Learning Platform shows no continuous adaptation. Students are recommended a “study everything” approach, which leaves students to figure out for themselves how much time they need to spend studying each topic.

Content Category Weightings

While Wiley claims to rigorously follow the AICPA’s CPA Exam blueprints, the study content throughout their course is not weighted to reflect actual CPA Exam content category weightings.


Roger’s SmartPath™ Technology

Roger’s course takes a unique approach by comparing students’ scores to other Roger CPA Review students. Unfortunately, the course provides no assessment to determine a student’s starting point. Roger’s course also does not adapt to student progress, nor does it create a customized study plan based on individual strengths and weaknesses.

Assessments

Roger does not have any assessment to determine students’ current knowledge levels. Students are encouraged to simply begin studying from the beginning.

Study Planner

Roger uses a spreadsheet as a study planner, and it cannot be customized.

Customized Study Material

Roger’s course contains no tailored study plan. Students are expected to study through all course materials.

Adaptability to Student Progress

The course shows no continuous adaptation to help decrease study time. Besides a “study everything” approach, students aren’t even given an option to be directed to the content they need to see, since there are no pre-assessments in Roger’s course.

Content Category Weightings

Roger’s course claims to mirror the CPA Exam format and AICPA blueprints, but the course content lacks the category weighting that the AICPA details in their blueprints.




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Check back often as we uncover more hidden truths about what CPA review course providers are truly offering!

Note: These reviews were conducted by Surgent product experts, based on public information available, access to actual exam courses, and updated as of 11/5/2019. No external interviews were conducted. The information presented above represents the views of those Surgent product experts only. Updates of these reviews may occur as new information is made available.