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Gleim EA vs Surgent EA Exam Review: Which is better for Enrolled Agents?

Have you been comparing Gleim EA vs. Surgent EA? After all, if you want to earn the Enrolled Agent credential from the IRS, you first need to pass the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE). However, your study time will go much smoother if you use an EA exam review course like Gleim or Surgent.

So in this article, I’ll go over Surgent EA Review reviews and Gleim EA Review. Plus, I’ll share Surgent EA Review promo codes and a Gleim EA discount code.

Gleim vs. Surgent EA Comparison Chart

EA Review Feature Gleim Premium EA Review System Gleim Traditional EA Review Gleim EA Test Bank Surgent EA Review Ultimate Pass Surgent EA Review Premier Pass Surgent EA Review Essentials Pass
Access until you pass
Access to accounting experts
Number of MCQs


3,500+ 3,500+ 1,800+ 1,800+


All MCQs have detailed answer explanations
Adaptive e-learning platform
Detailed performance reports
Digital or printed textbooks


Both Either Both


Video lectures
Audio lectures
Unlimited practice exams
Personalized study planner
Personal exam coach
Hours of free CPE included

Up to 72


0 2 0



The Winner of Gleim EA vs. Surgent EA

gleim ea

Gleim EA Review is our #1-rated EA exam prep course and edges out over a Surgent EA course in this battle. In addition to the Gleim online EA study planner, audio and video lectures, and mock exams, Gleim also has the biggest test bank of practice questions. In addition, the SmartAdapt platform could help you study more effectively. And just as importantly, more EA candidates have passed their exams with Gleim than any other EA exam prep.

But still, is Surgent EA good? Well, to start, Surgent doesn’t have as many practice questions as Gleim. Nevertheless, Surgent’s courses use A.S.A.P. Technology, an e-learning platform that pinpoints your content weaknesses. Surgent also claims to reduce significantly candidates’ study time, even as much as 40%. Therefore, Surgent could be good for EA candidates who already know most of the exam content but need a review course to focus their studies.

History of Gleim EA Prep and Surgent EA Exam Review

Gleim and Surgent are both companies with long histories. More than 40 years ago, Gleim was started by Dr. Irvin Gleim, a Professor at the University of Florida. Since then, Gleim has been serving the accounting profession by prepping candidates for their EA, CPA, CMA, and CIA exams. Gleim focuses on teaching foundational concepts instead of expecting users just to memorize material.

Likewise, Surgent has been in accounting and financial education for over 35 years. Surgent has exam prep courses available for aspiring Enrolled Agents and CPAs, CMAs, and CIAs and even makes the list of best SIE exam study materials. The company works to help candidates pass their exams faster, but it also has educational partnerships with businesses and schools.

Gleim EA vs. Surgent EA Interface

Gleim and Surgent EA reviews both use e-learning platforms, although they function in slightly different ways.

Gleim EA and SmartAdapt

Gleim’s Premium and Traditional courses use an adaptive learning platform called SmartAdapt. This proprietary platform actually learns about your study needs as you work through the course. For example, when you answer questions, SmartAdapt tracks your performance. Then, it figures out what topics you know and what you don’t. As you study, SmartAdapt will direct you toward learning tools that will strengthen your weak content areas.

Gleim EA Dashboard

When you start your course, you’ll first set up your Gleim EA study guide. Next, the course takes you through some diagnostic quizzes. And although you might be tempted to skip them, don’t. Gleim’s SmartAdapt system uses these quizzes to better understand your baseline knowledge of the content.

What’s more, the SmartAdapt platform is integrated into your interactive study planner. Basically, the planner asks when you will take the EA exam and then plans out your weekly studies accordingly. In the end, Gleim’s study planner will help ensure you’re not cramming in the material at the last minute, right before your exam day.

And near your actual exam date, you can take a time, full-length practice test. This practice exam includes questions from previous EA exams, so you can see if you’re really ready for the SEE. Plus, it’s timed so that you can practice pacing your progress, so you finish on time.

Gleim EA Practice Exam

Surgent EA prep course A.S.A.P. Technology + ReadySCORE

Similarly, the Surgent EA courses are also adaptive and use a platform called A.S.A.P. Technology. And because of this platform, you don’t have to do an in-depth review of every topic on the SEE. You’ll start your Surgent course with a series of quizzes. Then, Surgent’s algorithm analyzes what content you’ve mastered and therefore don’t need to study anymore. Next, the A.S.A.P. Technology steers you toward a review of your weak topics. And since you’re not studying the subjects you already know, you can save a lot of study time.

Surgent EA Assessment

In addition, Surgent’s A.S.A.P. Technology also includes a handy tool called the ReadySCORE. Essentially, the Surgent platform keeps track of your performance on exam topics while you answer practice questions. Then, it analyzes this data and gives you an estimate of your EA exam score if you took it that day. And guess what? Surgent claims that their ReadySCOREs have about a 95% accuracy in predicting your EA score. So with this tool, you’ll better understand when you are truly ready to pass the SEE.

Surgent EA Assessment

Surgent EA exam prep also gives you detailed performance reports. In short, these reports outline your proficiency in each exam topic. It also helps you estimate how many hours you still need to study to pass the EA exam.

Surgent says that this system dramatically reduces study time. In fact, Surgent claims that EA candidates can reduce their study time by 40%.

Gleim EA Exam Materials Compared to EA Surgent Review

Gleim and Surgent courses both come with standard materials like textbooks, practice questions, and sample exams. But what are the differences, and which ones are best? Let’s break it down.

Surgent vs. Gleim EA test bank

The Gleim EA prep course has the biggest—and frankly, the best—bank of EA practice questions. Actually, Gleim EA comes with about 3,500 MCQs (multiple-choice questions).

Gleim EA MCQ

Plus, the questions are challenging because Gleim incorporates questions from its other accounting prep courses, like the CPA course. But don’t let these challenging Gleim questions discourage you. Instead, they will help you be ready for anything on exam day.

Gleim practice questions come from previous exams that the IRS has released. What’s more, all Gleim questions include detailed answer explanations for both the correct and incorrect choices.

The Surgent EA review course has almost half the number of practice questions in comparison to Gleim. Specifically, Gleim has 3,500+ questions compared to Surgent’s 1,800+ MCQs. And although 1,800 questions might seem like plenty, you might find that you want more when you’re studying. After all, working through MCQs is one of the best ways to study. And you don’t want to run out of practice MCQs, or you might end up reviewing the same questions over and over.

Surgent EA MCQ

Access limits

Access lengths are essential factors to consider when selecting an EA exam review course. For instance, some companies give you access to online materials for a certain amount of time, like 12 or 18 months. That might seem like enough time to study, but often, candidates find they need more time. If you didn’t pick a course with unlimited access, then you’ll need to repay for your EA course. And since those renewal fees add up, it’s best to go with a course with unlimited access.

For example, the Gleim Premium course has an Access Until You Pass guarantee. Basically, this means that you can access your online course until you pass the EA exam. Not only that, but Gleim also updates its materials whenever the EA exam changes. This way, you’ll always be studying the most up-to-date and relevant materials. (But keep in mind that the Gleim Traditional course and the test bank only have access for 12 months. And that might not give you enough time to study adequately.)

Similarly, Surgent EA offers access until you pass with the Ultimate Pass or Premier Pass courses. However, if you choose the Surgent Essentials Pass course, you’ll only have access for 18 months.

Surgent vs. Gleim EA review book

Do you like digital or hard-copy textbooks? I personally like to highlight and take notes in the margin of hard-copy versions. Therefore, I appreciate that Surgent and Gleim both have courses available with both digital and printed textbooks.

Some candidates find the Gleim books to be a little hard to read because they are in outline style. Still, most candidates don’t solely rely on the books to study and use them more like reference books instead.

Support from experts: Gleim EA vs. Surgent EA

Most EA exam reviews have textbooks and sample questions, but most lack personalized support and access to accounting experts. However, these features can make the difference between failing and passing the EA exam. After all, if you don’t have personal support, where will you turn when you have a question?

Thankfully, with Gleim’s Premium course, you’ll have lots of guidance. For instance, each Gleim user has a Personal Counselor. This mentor can guide you through the steps of studying for the SEE and then registering for and passing the EA exam. Additionally, Gleim gives you phone and email access to a team of accounting professionals who can answer questions about the exam content.

Surgent, similarly, has EA exam experts who coach users of the EA Ultimate Pass course. Surgent users can also reach customer support for questions about content and technical issues. And usually, they will receive a response within 1 business day.


Gleim’s Premium EA Review comes with 30+ hours of video lectures in the Gleim Instruct series. Moreover, all of the videos are led by Nate Wadlinger (EA, CPA, and attorney) from Florida State University. Nate walks you through complex concepts to ensure you have a deep understanding of the topics.

Basically, the Gleim videos follow the outlines in the textbooks. Plus, the videos are less like live classroom lectures and more like PowerPoint presentations that outline the information, similar to the textbooks.

Surgent, however, offers fewer video lectures than Gleim. Specifically, the Surgent EA Review Ultimate Pass has 25+ videos, but each is short. In fact, they are only 10 to 20 minutes. And while these short videos are good for taking deep dives into specific topics, the Gleim course definitely has more hours of videos.


Some EA candidates like to use flashcards to reinforce definitions or to study on the go. The Gleim Premium EA Review System only has digital flashcards, though. Likewise, the Surgent EA Review Ultimate Pass course only includes printed flashcards. Surgent’s other courses do not include any flashcards whatsoever.

Audio lectures

Many EA candidates like to use audio lectures to study on the go. For instance, they listen to audio lectures in the car or their earbuds while at the gym. Although both Gleim EA training courses have audio lectures, only Surgent’s Ultimate Pass course includes audio files. That is, the Surgent Traditional and Essential Pass courses don’t have audio lectures. The Gleim audio series can also be downloaded to a device or even streamed if you have an internet connection.

Supplemental Material

Gleim’s EA courses will give you everything you need to pass the SEE. On the other hand, Surgent includes a few extras with the Ultimate Pass package. For example, the Ultimate Pass also comes with an on-demand course from Surgent, Excel for Accounting Professionals.


Once you pass the SEE and become an Enrolled Agent, you need to take CPE (continuing professional education) to keep your credential valid. And with Gleim and Surgent, you’ll already have a leg up on this annual requirement.

For example, Gleim’s Premium EA Review System includes up to 72 hours of CPE courses. And although Surgent’s Ultimate Pass course includes CPE credit, too, it only gives you 2 hours for a specific course (Ethics for Tax Professionals).

Surgent EA Review

Pass Rates for Surgent EA exam vs Gleim

Gleim doesn’t publish the pass rates for its users who take the EA exam. Nevertheless, the company does claim that 99% of its users are satisfied with their Gleim course.

Surgent, in contrast, does publish a pass rate. And according to Surgent, 96% of their students pass the EA exam.

Surgent EA exam vs. Gleim Learning Styles

Gleim is our top-rated EA exam prep because it works for so many different learning styles. For instance, if you learn best from lectures, you’ll enjoy the Gleim Instruct video series. If you learn from practicing, you’ll definitely benefit from the Gleim test bank, which has the most MCQs available. And, of course, if you need a little help staying on track, Gleim’s online platform directs your studies so you always know what to study next.

In contrast, Surgent claims to significantly reduce study time because of their A.S.A.P. Technology platform. Therefore, Surgent could be good for busy candidates who don’t have time to study every single topic on the SEE. Plus, Surgent gives detailed performance reports through the ReadySCOREs. And some candidates who thrive on that level of feedback find success with Surgent.

Surgent EA Discount Codes + Gleim EA Coupon Code

We have coupons for both Surgent and Gleim!

FAQs for Gleim and Surgent EA Exam Prep

What are the Gleim EA vs. Surgent EA course costs?

Gleim EA courses (before our Gleim EA discount)

  • Premium: $799
  • Traditional: $699
  • Option to purchase the test bank only: $499

Surgent EA courses (before discounts)

  • Essentials Pass: $599
  • Premier Pass: $699
  • Ultimate Pass: $999

Both companies offer financing through Affirm.

What are the Gleim vs. Surgent EA Review renewal costs?

If you pick a package with access until you pass, you don’t need to work on renewal costs with Gleim or Surgent. However, keep in mind that the Gleim Traditional course has an access length of just 12 months, and the Surgent Essentials Pass course only has access for 18 months.

So when your course expires, you’ll have to repay the purchase price to keep studying. Therefore, although it might seem more expensive up-front, you can actually save money in the long run by using a course with unlimited time limits.

Does Gleim or Surgent offer refunds?

Yes! If you purchase a Surgent EA course and need to refund it, you can request a refund within 10 days of purchase. However, you can’t refund your course if you’ve already used the practice exams or coaching sessions. Furthermore, Surgent charges a cancellation fee of $150 for the Ultimate Pass course.

Gleim, likewise, also offers refunds, but Gleim gives you a bigger refund window than Surgent. Specifically, you have 30 days to request a refund for your Gleim purchase as long as you haven’t opened hard-copy materials (like textbooks). You can only return a course for online materials if you’ve only accessed one study unit.

Is there a Surgent EA Review app?

No, Surgent EA doesn’t have a dedicated app. Still, the course is online and can be used on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

Likewise, Gleim EA doesn’t have an app either. But the course is also compatible with mobile devices, so you can study whenever you have an internet connection.

With Gleim, how long does it take to study for the EA exam?

Gleim recommends that users study for 10-20 hours per week, depending on their schedules and their existing knowledge of the content. Furthermore, Gleim suggests that users study for about 260 hours to pass the entire EA exam.

What’s the Surgent EA study time?

Surgent works hard to reduce EA exam study time. As a result, the company claims that its users only need about 47 hours of study time to pass a section of the 3-part EA exam. However, keep in mind that everyone’s experience with Surgent will vary. And you might need more study time depending on your experience.

Is there a Gleim EA boot camp?

No, Gleim does not offer an EA boot camp. Surgent doesn’t, either. But if you’re looking for a boot camp and are wondering about the most popular choice between Gleim or Fast Forward for the EA exam, check out my Fast Forward Academy review. However, if you need a full EA classroom experience, I highly recommend TaxMama. Her course is taught in an instructional way that will be familiar to most EA candidates. She also provides office hours, large test banks, continuing education, and more.

Best EA Review: Gleim EA vs. Surgent EA

Although the Surgent EA Exam A.S.A.P. Technology could help you study less, Gleim is still our top-rated EA course. With the biggest test bank, textbooks authored by experts, video and audio lectures, and access to accounting professionals all supported by the SmartAdapt system, Gleim could be the course you need to pass the EA exam. And if you pick Gleim’s Premium course, you even get up to 72 hours of free continuing education courses.

Who Should You Pick? Gleim or Surgent EA?

Course Features Gleim EA Surgent EA
Video lectures 1 .5
Access until you pass 1 1
Help from experts 1 1
Size of test bank 1 .5
Overall course quality 1 1
CPE hours included 1 .5
Total 6/6 4.75/6


Although Gleim has a higher price point than Surgent, the overall course quality is higher. (However, our Gleim promo code for EA courses helps to reduce the cost.) Plus, Gleim’s test bank is much larger than Surgent’s, and that’s an essential factor to consider when picking an EA review course. And, of course, Gleim offers more hours of CPE credits for later use.

Last Thoughts

Gleim EA has a free trial, and it’s pretty generous. In fact, Gleim will give you full access to one study unit for as long as 18 months. And remember to add the Gleim EA Review coupon if you purchase Gleim study materials.

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About the Author Susan L.

Susan is an esteemed member of the I Pass the EA Exam team. Even better, she's (almost) as excited about the EA exam as you!

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