The Accounting Institute of Success is dedicated to helping as many students as possible achieve rewarding careers in accounting, finance, project management, law, and many other trades. That’s why we have so many reviews and comparisons of online resources that claim to prepare you for the CPA exam— as well as exams for PMP, LSAT, EA, FRM, and more.
If you’re interested in learning more about our review process, take a look at the information listed below:
What are the specific aspects we look for in a test prep course? These are the criteria we evaluate in our reviews and course comparisons:
One of the most popular and convenient methods of online study is video lectures. When judging each course’s video lecture content, we ask these questions:
- How many videos do they offer and how many hours of content do they provide?
- How easy is it to access these videos?
- Are the videos live or pre-recorded?
- Are their videos engaging and informative?
- What is the production value for their videos?
Aside from video content, students will spend the majority of their time working on the practice questions included in their test prep course. Here are the questions we ask when evaluating each course’s practice questions:
- Do they offer multiple choice questions?
- If so, how many?
- Do they offer task-based simulations or writing problems?
- If so, how many?
- Do their practice questions have detailed answer explanations?
- Are their practice questions based on previous exams?
- Do their practice questions sufficiently cover every exam subject?
Other Study Materials
Modern test prep courses have a lot more to offer than just videos and practice questions. These are some of the supplementary materials we look for when writing our reviews and comparisons:
- Flashcards (digital or physical)
- Textbooks (digital or physical)
- Cram sheets or final review notes
- Audio-only lectures
- Dedicated mobile apps and educational games
Whether or not a company’s test prep catalog is worth covering largely depends on the staff. We ask the following questions when evaluating the founder, teachers, and other individuals who make up each company:
- Do the instructors have experience in the subject they teach?
- How long has this company been in business?
- Have any of the staff published well-received books on the subjects they cover?
- Is there information available about staff members on LinkedIn and/or BBB?
- Have students left positive reviews and testimonials about the instructors?
Although it can’t take the place of well-written and well-taught study materials, technology plays an important role in online review courses. Here are the questions we ask about the tech behind each company’s test prep materials:
- How easy is it to navigate the course’s dashboard?
- Do they provide captions and playback speed control in their video player?
- Does their course track your progress as you go?
- Can their course generate custom learning plans and/or quizzes for each student?
- Can you access all study materials on a tablet or smartphone?
In no way does price equate to quality. However, price is extremely important for most students, since they usually have a limited budget for test prep materials. Here are the questions we ask when evaluating each course’s price:
- How does this course’s price compare to similar courses?
- Are there a range of differently-priced courses available for students to choose from?
- Does the company offer financing options for expensive courses?
- Does the company have a refund policy or money-back guarantee?
There’s always a possibility that something will go wrong when accessing any online study course. Alternatively, students may need to contact a staff member for additional help when stuck on something. We ask these questions to determine the quality of each course’s support:
- Do they provide a working phone number with real people on the line?
- How quickly does their support team respond to chat messages and/or emails?
- Can you contact the instructors for extra help or tutoring?
- Do they offer a pass guarantee?
Even if an online test prep course has some (or all) of these features, there are times when we won’t write a review. These are some situations where we won’t discuss a certain product or service:
- The company’s website doesn’t follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines
- The company’s website doesn’t have security features like HTTPS
- The company’s contact info is fake or staffed exclusively with bots
- The company has been flagged by accrediting organizations or the BBB
- There are several negative reviews from students that suggest fraudulent or dishonest behavior