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The Best CPA Study Guides

Article by Jane Newsom. Last Updated: Friday, Nov 2, 2018.

Overview Of The CPA Exam

To become a Certified Public Accountant, you first have to pass the Uniform CPA Examination. This rigorous exam consists of 4 sections, each of which last 4 hours. Exam details and cost are different between states, but the time and money required for the exam is high no matter where you are. Given the expense, it’s important to give yourself the best chance to pass on your first try, and study guides, flashcards, and review guides are a great way to do that.

We’ll cover the exam in detail, and give you our picks for the best CPA study guides, review guides, and flashcards below, but if you just can’t wait, here’s the short list:

CPA Exam Details

The CPA Exam is composed of 4 different tests, each of which is 4 hours long. There are 3 different test question types, multiple choice, Task-based simulations, and Written Communication.

Exam Sections

The 4 different tests which make up the full CPA Exam are as follows:

  • Auditing and attestation
  • Business environment and concepts
  • Financial accounting and reporting
  • Regulation

Additional detail on each of the sections is provided below.

Auditing and Attestation

The Auditing and Attestation section has 72 multiple choice questions and 8 task based simulations. The section consists of topics such as:

  • Ethics, responsibilities, and general principles
  • Assessing risk and developing a planned response
  • Performing further procedures and obtaining evidence
  • Forming conclusions and reporting

Business Environment and Concepts

The Business Environment and Concepts section has 62 multiple choice questions, 4 task based simulations, and 3 written communication questions. It covers topics like:

  • Corporate Governance
  • Economics concepts and analysis
  • Financial management
  • Operations management

Financial Accounting and Reporting

The Financial Accounting and Reporting section has 66 multiple choice and 8 task based simulation questions. In this section, topics covered include:

  • Conceptual framework, standard setting, and financial reporting
  • Select financial statement accounts
  • Select transactions
  • State and local governments

Regulation

The Regulation section has 76 multiple choice and 8 task based simulation questions. The Regulation section includes concepts like:

  • Ethics, professional responsibilities, and federal tax procedures
  • Business law
  • Federal Taxation of Individuals, entities, and property transactions

CPA Exam Frequent Questions

What Is The Best Way To Study For The CPA Exam?

The CPA Exam requires a combination of structured classroom work, and self study. As with most exams, a comprehensive Study Guide and Study Plan are the best way to focus your limited study time.

How Much Time Is Needed To Study For the CPA Exam?

You should typically set aside 80-100 hours for each of the exam sections. This is roughly 320-400 hours in total.

How Long Is The CPA Exam?

Each section of the CPA Exam is 4 hours long, totaling 16 hours for the full exam.

How Much Does the CPA Exam Cost?

The CPA Exam has a number of fees associated with it, including application fees, examination fees, registration fees, and others. Typically, expect to spend around $1500 depending on your state.

What Is A Passing Score For The CPA Exam?

You need at least 75 points to pass each exam section. The scores are weighted, and does not mean you need 75% of questions answered correctly.

Best CPA Study Guides

Wiley CPAexcel Exam Review

Wiley CPAexcel Exam Review
2018 Edition
by Wiley
Price:$159.44
(as of 19 Jun 19 10:20 GMT)

Pros: Complete and comprehensive review of all exam topics.
Cons: No practice questions included.
Our Rating: 5.0 / 5

Wiley CPAexcel Exam Review is our top pick for best CPA study guide, and is one of the best selling and highest rated CPA exam prep books available. It covers each of the 4 test types, and goes in-depth on all of the major test topics. The full list of features include:

  • Explains every CPA Exam topic tested with over 2,000 pages of study text
  • Covers the complete AICPA content blueprint
  • Study text only and does NOT include practice questions or practice exams
  • Organized in Bite-Sized Lessons, with 600+ lessons in the complete set

We definitely recommend that you pick up some practice questions in addition to these guidebooks, but these are hands down the best CPA review guides out there. They cover everything you’ll find on the exam in detail, and has a strong layout and easy to digest structure.

Bisk CPA Review

Bisk CPA Review
41st Edition
by Nathan Bisk
Price:$130.38
(as of 19 Jun 19 10:20 GMT)

Pros: Excellent practice questions and exams, and strong review content.
Cons: Information layout can be unintuitive in some spots.
Our Rating: 4.0 / 5

Bisk CPA Review didn’t make the top of our list, but it’s still a viable resource for people preparing for the CPA. It has a diagnostic exam to help you determine where you need to focus your study efforts. The full list of features include:

  • Tips, techniques and strategies on how to prepare for the CPA Exam
  • Coverage of all exam changes
  • Thousands of review questions with answer explanations

This Study Guide has solid resources for every test taker, and a variety of learning-styles. It’s great for an in-depth review of the material covered, or for just last minute exam prep. Whatever your use case, there’s some truly great information contained in this book.

Best CPA Flashcards

In addition to the excellent books mentioned above, aspiring CPA candidates will see significant benefits in prepping for the exam using flashcards. Our top picks for Best CPA Flashcards and practice questions are outlined below.

2000 Review Questions for the CPA Exam

2,000 Review Questions for the CPA Exam
1st Edition
by Denise Stefano
Price:$23.00
(as of 19 Jun 19 10:20 GMT)

Pros: Comprehensive question set covering major exam topics.
Cons: Answer explanations are sometimes hard to understand.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

2000 Review Questions for the CPA Exam is our top pick for additional practice questions to help you prepare for the CPA exam. It has over 2000 questions containing tons of information across all test topics. Key features include:

  • 2,000 essential questions organized by subject
  • Detailed answers that provide important context for studying
  • Content that follows the real-life CPA exam

Practice questions have a tremendous benefit for students who elect to use them in their test preparation. Repetitive drilling on major topics is a good way to help in the days leading up to the exam. If you plan to pick up practice questions to help in your studies, these are your best bet!

CPA Exam Flashcard Study System

CPA Exam Flashcard Study System
FLC Edition
by CPA Exam Secrets
Price:$103.99
(as of 19 Jun 19 10:20 GMT)

Pros: Critical information in condensed form.
Cons: Some information is outdated
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

CPA Exam Flashcard Study System is the top recommendation for flashcard set, and is a great choice for those who enjoy drilling with flashcards. There are tons of cards covering all topics on each of the 4 exams. Key features include:

  • 787 cards

If you’re looking to add flashcards to your exam prep routine, these are a great choice!

Wrapping Up

For prospective CPAs, the Licensure Exam is the key to starting out. Study manuals, flashcards, and practice tests are a huge help to many people, and if you’ve read this far you’re probably one of them.

We’ve rounded up the best CPA Exam study guides and flashcards and presented them above. To recap our recommendations:

Top Study Guide RecommendationWiley CPAexcel Exam Review
Top Flashcard RecommendationCPA Exam Flashcard Study System

Our top pick for best CPA Study Guide is Wiley CPAexcel Exam Review. It’s the most comprehensive and accurate guide on our list, and has the best practice questions and other resources included.

For top flashcard pick, we recommend CPA Exam Flashcard Study System. It’s got over 750 highly relevant cards covering all topics from the exam.

Whatever your circumstance, supplemental study and review materials are a key part of ensuring success on the exam. We’ve listed some of the best CPA resources available. Good luck, and study hard!

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