The CIA Learning System is the review materials officially endorsed by the IIA. Is it necessary to get the official product? Can other review courses that cost less help you pass the exam?
The CIA Learning System consists of textbooks and online study tool with study planner, analytics and practice questions.
You can purchase the pack as self-study materials or as facilitator-led courses. These courses are available at local IIA chapters, colleges and universities and educational partners.
The IIA has outsourced the publishing of its materials to Holmes Corp. The system is developed independently of the IIA’s exam development function and uses the same syllabus information that is provided to all the other review providers.
There are altogether 5 CIA exam review books: 1 for Part 1, 1 for Part 2, and 3 for Part 3.
The books are available as print or electronic format. You can download a sample in the first chapter by filling out your personal information.
This online tool is a system that helps develop your personalized study plan, monitor your progress and track your performance.
Customers with single parts have 1 year of access. Those who purchase the complete parts have 2 years of access.
Here is a screenshot I got from the demo:
1. Pre-test: Evaluate your initial knowledge of key CIA exam topics to find out your strengths and weaknesses.
2. Smart-Study™: Create personalized study plan based on pre-test results.
3. Chapter-specific quizzes: Apply and reinforce concepts after each chapter.
4. Flashcards: Review key internal audit terms and definitions with printed or online flash cards.
5. Post-tests: Gauge how much you’ve learned and identify weaker areas at the end of each chapter.
6. Test-taking tips: Get tips and study strategies for more efficient review.
7. CIA Practice Exam: Final practice with this mock exam.
There is also a resource center with progress report, reference materials and other links.
1. Officially Endorsed by the IIA?
The CIA Learning System is officially endorsed by the IIA which makes it sound attractive to candidates.
Please note that the development and distribution of IIA Learning system is outsourced to Holmes. Since Holmes doesn’t have any inside information, the fact that the IIA has their “own” materials isn’t necessarily a “Pro” in my opinion.
2. Great Textbooks for Learning
Study materials were developed by a team of CIA-certified industry experts, ensuring that the content is relevant to the CIA exam and the internal audit profession.
Readers are telling me how they have gained solid knowledge on internal audit by reading the textbook. As a professional association instead of a commercial review provider, the IIA does want us to learn instead of merely passing the exam.
For those who are looking to learn in addition to getting the certification, CIA Learning System is a good choice.
3. Flexible and On-Demand
The e-book can be accessed in computers. The online tool is also optimized for mobile devices.
4. Performance Tracking and online Study Planner
The CIA Learning System includes customized reports for the user to identify areas of strength/weakness. It allows them to track their performance, and flag questions for review. The system also includes a customized study planning tool and creates a customized study plan for the individual user.
1. Most Expensive CIA Review Course
At $895 for 3-part pack and $325 for each single-part pack, the pricing is 24-27% higher than the second most expensive competitor.
Part of the reason is that CIA Learning System is sold only as an integrated product. If you work in internal audit and are familiar with the exam content, it makes more sense to get only the test prep software. Most other review courses provide this flexibility.
2. No “Try Before You Buy” Offer
CIA review courses are costly one way or the other. Therefore, I appreciate the providers who are generous and confident enough to offer free demos to potential customers.
In comparison, CIA Learning System’s “free demo” has little to offer. There is a free sample of the first few pages of the text book, together with a guided tour of the online review system. This tour is only a powerpoint which is less useful than the no-gimmick Gleim free trial.
3. No Good Feedback on Test Prep Software
Although the “pre-test” is a great feature that helps assess your level of knowledge and create a personalized study plan for you, the test prep software is only so-so according to my readers and comments from exam forums.
The general feedback is that it is not as comprehensive and challenging than Gleim, and lacks the adaptive learning technology developed by ExamMatrix. Also, the software does not allow randomizing questions. If you work on the questions a few times, you tend to memorize the answers without understanding the concepts.
The IIA offers a solid text book for those who want to gain knowledge in internal audit. The online study tool is also an interesting offer. You can buy the Learning System online here.
Having said that, if your goal is to pass the exam in the most efficient manner, other providers may give you a more suitable product for less money.
I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites.
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