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Choosing the Right CPA Review Course for You

We put over 100 hours into distilling the marketing hype into facts. We went in and used all of the best CPA review courses. Then we asked another team to review our data independently. Here’s what we learned in our analysis of Gleim vs Wiley CPA. You can use this scorecard to perform your own analysis, too.

Gleim vs Wiley CPAexcel: Background and Highlights

You’ve probably seen one CPA review course touted as the best, only to see another listed at the top on a different website. You may also have realized that some websites make money by promoting the course providers that pay them the most.

Dr. Gleim created the self-study CPA Exam Review industry over 45+ years ago as an accounting professor who saw what it would take for his students to pass the CPA Exam. Today, we remain focused on what we believe is going to help you pass the CPA Exam best: strong course content, a superior test bank, truly adaptive technology, plus great coaching and support. The same passion guides us to help every single candidate who relies on us to pass the CPA Exam. So, it’s only natural that we want to equip you to make the right choice for your unique study needs.

Choosing the best CPA Review Course for you comes down to four simple steps:

  1. Understand how you learn best
  2. Compare foundational features across providers
  3. Consider any additional features that are must-haves for you
  4. Examine the price and determine the value

We’ve compared the features of all the best CPA Review courses side-by-side. Let’s look at Gleim vs Wiley CPA in more detail. You can use this chart for your own evaluation of course providers, too!

Gleim vs Wiley CPA Scorecard

Course Features

Why it’s Important

Gleim LogoPremium Pro | $3,499

Wiley CPA
Platinum | $2,999

1,300+ Task-Based Simulations Accounts for 50% of your score; the most difficult to prepare for
10,000+ Multiple-Choice Questions Can help you learn topics thoroughly
100+ Hours of Lectures Reinforces material, especially helpful for visual learners
Truly Adaptive Technology Course continuously evolves based on your progress
Live Webinars Lead by Accounting Professors Accounting webinars hosted by industry leaders and professional educators
Interchangeable Disciplines at any Time Access any discipline and switch between them as often as you like
           Free CPE Included Once you’re a CPA, you’ll have to earn CPE to maintain your certification, and we’ll make it easy
Diagnostics and Assessment Gauges progress and pinpoints weak areas
Audio Review Reinforces core concepts, accommodates busy schedules
Flashcards Helps with memorizing facts
Practice Exams Prepares you for the exam environment
Final Review Adds points to your score by fine tuning last-minute study
Access Until You Pass No expiration dates or additional fees
Mobile Course For studying on the go
Access to Personal Counsellors Your Personal Counselor is committed to your success. From start to finish, they’ll guide you, help you, and ensure you pass your CPA Exam the first time
Financing Lets you spread the cost over multiple payments
Private Study Groups A community of professionally-minded people who are also studying for the CPA Exam to aid in your studies

You can also see a detailed analysis comparing major CPA course providers in this comparison chart.

How we evaluated Gleim vs Wiley CPA: our methodology

As CPAs ourselves, our research team had used various components of major providers’ products before, including Wiley CPA materials. While the core essence of each providers’ product had not significantly changed since we’d used them, most providers had since updated their look and feel, Wiley CPAexcel included. We wanted to make sure our analysis was as accurate and up-to-date as possible. So we created a three-level deep investigation, doing our best to create a true comparison:

The latest version of each CPA review course

Generally, providers update their exam prep materials every year. We made sure our researchers were looking at the latest versions of both Gleim and Wiley CPAexcel review courses.

Comparable level products

The best CPA review providers offer products at different price points. For example, many offer a CPA review package that doesn’t include certain components for a lower price.

To keep it fair, we compared the premium systems – the ones you are most likely to consider when you’re serious about passing the CPA Exam. In this case, we compared Premium Gleim CPA Exam review materials to the Wiley CPAexcel Platinum package.

Validation by separate teams

We included three levels of review to validate our findings:

  1. First, we carefully read through Wiley CPA’s marketing materials to understand and document claims.
  2. Then, we had a second party go through the Wiley CPA course as a user. We updated our research to reflect the facts that became apparent.
  3. Next, we handed our research off to a separate quality control team to verify it all.

We put over 100 hours into comparing the best CPA review course providers, including Gleim vs Wiley CPA.

Finally came the task of pulling it all together in a way that would be meaningful to you, the CPA candidate. After all, the whole point was to present what we hoped would be an unbiased, balanced analysis to help you weigh the options yourself.

The scorecard explained

We identified 14 categories of features you’ll find in the best CPA Review courses. These categories formed the basis for our analysis.

  1. Quantity of task-based simulations
  2. Quantity of multiple-choice questions
  3. Hours of lectures
  4. Truly adaptive technology
  5. Continuous adaptation
  6. Diagnostics and assessment
  7. Audio review
  8. Flashcards
  9. Practice exams
  10. Final review
  11. Access until you pass
  12. Mobile app
  13. Candidate support
  14. Financing

The scorecard explained

We identified 14 categories of features you’ll find in the best CPA Review courses. These categories formed the basis for our analysis.

  1. Quantity of task-based simulations
  2. Quantity of multiple-choice questions
  3. Hours of lectures
  4. Truly adaptive technology
  5. Continuous adaptation
  6. Diagnostics and assessment
  7. Audio review
  8. Flashcards
  9. Practice exams
  10. Final review
  11. Access until you pass
  12. Mobile app
  13. Candidate support
  14. Financing

Which features are most important in a CPA Course Review?

Some features will be more important than others. And some things that matter to you may be different from those that matter to the next person—to an extent.

For over forty years, we have studied which elements in a course are the most critical to passing the CPA Exam. Without a doubt, the quality and quantity of your questions—both MCQs and TBSs—are the most critical variable in candidate success.

Below we dig a little more into the review features and why each is important. We also included notes on how those particular features played out in our analysis of Gleim vs Wiley CPA.

We encourage you to look at the results through your own lens.

Task-based simulations
Gleim: 1,300+ vs Wiley CPA: 500+

Task-based simulations (TBSs) test your ability to apply knowledge and judgment in practical situations. They are one of the most difficult parts of the CPA Exam to prepare for. In recent years, the exam has moved toward including more task-based simulations, which now make up 50% of your score on all sections except BEC. The more practice you can get, the better.

The Gleim CPA Review includes many more TBSs than WileyCPAexcel.

We used quantity as the factor here because it is an objective measure. The quality of TBSs is also important, and some CPA review courses provide a sample of their TBSs.

I felt the Gleim simulations were especially excellent preparation for the real exams.

Beck Giombi

Multiple-choice questions
Gleim: 10,000+ vs Wiley CPA: 12,000+

The sheer number of questions in a test bank is important – as long as the questions are high quality. The CPA Exam can test on 229 topics that break down into roughly 600 representative tasks. No one knows what the actual questions will be – so you have to know it all.

With a smaller test bank, you can run into repeated questions. You miss opportunities to learn material as thoroughly with fewer practice questions.

With a large test bank, be wary of questions repeated with only the numbers changed.

The best MCQ test bank will contain a lot of questions, and each question should teach you something new. This is the principle behind the test bank of MCQs in the Gleim CPA Review.

Both of these CPA review course providers offer far more than any of the others, with the next closest amount of MCQs at 6,200. Wiley CPA has slightly more MCQs than Gleim, although Gleim’s MCQ test bank is widely recognized as a major factor in helping candidates pass the CPA Exam.

I loved that the [Gleim] multiple choice questions gave reasons for why the wrong answers were wrong. I learned more in many cases from reading the wrong answer explanations…

Sheryl R. Vernon

Video lectures
Gleim: 100 hours vs Wiley CPA: 140 hours

Video lectures give you one more way to absorb and reinforce key study material. If you’re a visual learner, this may be especially important to you.

Wiley CPA clocked in with 29% more hours of video lectures than Gleim.

Practice Exams/Final Review
Gleim: Practice Exams + Final Review vs Wiley CPA: Practice Exams

Taking practice exams gives you confidence that you know the material. It can also help you get familiar with the test format and functionality.

Almost every CPA review course includes practice exams.  However, not all look and function the same as those you’ll have on test day.  Gleim and Wiley both offer two types of practice exams: Full-length, realistic mock CPA Exams and unlimited, customizable practice exams.  While the practice exams can mirror the Prometric interface, only full-length mock exams will give you the complete exam-day experience.

Gleim makes sure its practice test interface looks and works just like the one you’ll see at Prometric when you sit for the real CPA Exam. We’ve heard from many CPA candidates that they appreciated getting used to the calculator and timer in Gleim’s practice exams, for example, because they were just like those they had to use on test day. Make sure the provider you select offers multiple ways to experience the Prometric CPA Exam interface.

In addition to practice exams and mock exams, Gleim offers a Final Review.  The Final Review leverages adaptive technology to create a personalized study plan as you finish your exam preparation based on the results of your mock exams, adaptive quizzes, and practice exams. This lets you build up any weak areas and boost your CPA Exam score. Because the Wiley system is not adaptive, it does not provide a Final Review option.

I appreciated the many different ways Gleim let me tackle the information, whether it be reading from the test, video, presentation, audio, and plenty of multiple choice in formats that simulated the exam format or provided immediate feedback.

Chris Dahlvig

Access Until You Pass
Gleim: YES vs Wiley CPA: YES

No one goes into the CPA Exam expecting to fail, but the low pass rates show that many still do. With Access Until You Pass® from Gleim, you can continue to use the materials as long as you need to. Wiley CPA also offers their own version of this guarantee. Both providers include free updates to the study materials as they are released during the time you are using the review course.

When comparing providers, always read the fine print. Some CPA review course providers may actually enforce limited time access to their products. If this time expires, you need to pay more to regain access.

Gleim: YES vs Wiley CPA: Limited

Self-study can be isolating. The best CPA review systems will include thorough support to help you get to the finish line. This can include phone, live chat, and email support to help keep you motivated, answer subject matter questions, and assist with any tech support questions when using study materials.

Gleim CPA Review includes three types of support:

  1. Personal Counselors help you set a study plan, encourage you to stay on track, and guide you through your exam process—from registration to score reports.
  2. Accounting experts help you with questions regarding the material and continually update material to ensure it is always clear, concise, and accurate.
  3. Technical support staff offer assistance with course set up and troubleshoot any errors you encounter during your CPA Exam study time.

Wiley CPA does include support but it appears to be limited to professor mentoring, which lets you ask university professors topical questions.

The [Gleim] Personal Counselors were always encouraging and helpful. Even when I felt despair throughout the process they never stopped believing in me.

Eric Murphy

Adaptive technology
Gleim: YES vs Wiley CPA: NO

A truly adaptive system will serve you the content you need to focus on to improve your score automatically. Essentially, the adaptive nature results in a course that’s unique to you and continuously changes based on your progress learning the material.

The Wiley CPAexcel review course requires you to manually select course sections and test bank questions as you study and practice. We could not see any area of the Wiley exam prep materials that offered an adaptive learning experience.

It [Gleim] was so well developed that it didn’t feel like I was giving up my entire life just to study.

Holly Fowler
CPA Exam Adaptive Study
Gleim vs Wiley Scorecard

Adaptive Features

Gleim Logo

Wiley CPA

Guides your study You will be expertly guided by our artificial intelligence system through all the learning and testing modules There are no automatic guidance options in this course
Provides reinforcing check-up questions Throughout your studies, the Gleim course will supply you with questions on topics from earlier Study Units to help you maintain your understanding of previous topics You can use the test bank or the course to manually navigate to questions on topics you’ve already covered
Offers an adaptive study planner The course offers a personalized study planner; however, it is not adaptive Customization of the study planner is available, but it is not adaptive
Identifies weak areas down to the subtopic level v. general overview The course will drill down to granular topic levels and highlight all areas on which you are weak The course is not adaptive and requires candidates to manually find and navigate to areas on which they are weak
Includes practice exams
Full-length, exam-emulating mock exams are available Practice exam is available
Supplies a point-boosting final review A final review is provided that will reinforce your understanding of already mastered topics The course offers practice exams and access to a test bank, but there isn’t a final review

Do you really need adaptive technology?

Taking the CPA Exam is a big investment. You want to choose the study course that will give you the greatest advantage. But do you really need adaptive technology?

Think of it this way. You’ll have one less thing to worry about if your CPA Exam Review picks out your study topics each session automatically.

That’s actually a pretty big deal.

We all like to think we can pinpoint our weak and strong areas. But humans by nature like to focus on things we know and avoid those we don’t. Adaptive technology focuses you where you need to study–you don’t even have to think about it.

If you have the chance to use a system that automatically tells you what you need to work on more, it’s a no-brainer. Just go ahead and remove that uncertainty.

Adaptive technology in the Gleim CPA Review guides you to the material you need to study to improve your weak areas. AI takes the guesswork out and efficiently drills down to the topics you need to practice more, resulting in a course that’s uniquely crafted to your needs.

Sure, it’s harder to focus on the things you don’t know yet. But it’s also more effective.

See adaptive learning technology compared across all the top CPA Review course providers.

Gleim vs Wiley: Conclusion

Final score: Gleim 14 vs Wiley CPA 8

In our breakdown of CPA course features, Gleim scores 14 to Wiley’s 8.

As you consider which CPA Exam prep course is the best fit for you, first identify the features that will set you up for success. Only you know your study style and needs – it’s important that you understand what you need first.

Then you can use the list above to compare foundational features across providers, consider any additional must-haves, and finally look at the value.

Want more help choosing the best CPA Review course provider for you? Check out our new ebook: Choosing the Right CPA Review Course or talk to us today. (Yes, you can talk to a real person!)


And that number is rising quickly thanks to Gleim CPA's significant advantages over the competition. Now it's your turn to pass using the only CPA review course with everything you need for success.