This page contains my analysis of the pros and cons of CIA review courses in 2018. I've also included my recommendation for the best CIA review course based on my readers' experience and comments from major accounting forums.
Wondering how to pick the best CIA review? I recommend you check out the options below and use my comparison to help you pick the best course for you!
And if you prefer for us to just give you our recommendation, we'd highly encourage you to try Gleim CIA Review. They are the #1 best-selling CIA review course, and everywhere we go, we find more CIAs who have used Gleim to pass the CIA Exam. Plus, our friends at Gleim have provided us with the best CIA review discount available on the web, so it is an affordable course as well.
Disclosure: The I Pass Team may earn a small amount of compensation if you purchase from our links; our team uses these revenues to maintain the site and produce awesome free content just for you!
CIA Review Course
Gleim CIA Review
Surgent CIA Review
IIA Learning System
Pricing for 3 Parts
Test Prep Software
# of Practice Questions
Access Time Limit
Access Until You Pass
12 or 24 Months
Pricing for Single Part
Recommendation & Analysis
*Conditions apply. For Gleim, pricing reflects Premium version.
Gleim is the oldest and most widely used CIA exam review course. If you browse my site, you'll notice that most of my readers use Gleim either as their core study materials or as a supplement to the CIA Learning System.
Most noteworthy, 3 of our 4 CIA exam bloggers chose Gleim (on their own) to prepare for the exam; the remaining one started with another provider and switched to Gleim after 2 weeks.
Very established provider
Gleim created the first CIA review course in the industry. They also produced the first CMA course and one of the first CPA courses.
Integrated learning approach
The Gleim CIA Review System includes videos, test bank, audio reviews, textbooks, and an online study tracking system.
Lots of high-quality practice questions
This course contains the most comprehensive test bank of practice questions that closely simulate the real test experience.
Gleim also offers a free trial with full access to Study Unit 1 as well as a money-back guarantee.
Skips the basics
If you have absolutely no accounting or auditing background either from school or work, this course may be tough to follow.
Personal Counselors aren't accountants
Gleim assigns a Personal Counselor to each customer who purchases a Gleim CIA Review System. However, this counselor is more like a coordinator and a cheerleader. He or she can forward technical questions to the professors, but this process takes time. Otherwise, the Personal Counselors can't help you learn about accounting.
If you have some accounting/auditing experience and are the type of candidate who learns best from doing lots of practice questions, I have no doubt that Gleim is best for you.
Wiley is another global brand in the accounting exam preparation industry. They are most recognized in the CPA test prep arena for the #1 selling Wiley CPA Exam Review textbooks as well as the fully guided online course known as Wiley CPAexcel.
For the Certified Internal Auditor exam, Wiley CIAexcel is also available using a similar platform. Wiley CIAexcel sells the study guide, practice question test bank, and focus notes individually. Therefore, you can purchase Wiley CIAexcel's products separately and use them to supplement other CIA materials. In contrast, Gleim does not sell its products separately, with the exception of the CIA test bank.
The Wiley name is known around the world and has a reputation for excellence.
Established study system
Because Wiley has created other popular and effective review systems, their study materials are proven to help candidates pass.
Wiley CIAexcel is one of the most affordable systems among CIA study materials.
No course guidance
Wiley CIAexcel features only the textbook, online practice prep, and summary notes. This product is not a fully integrated and guided review course (i.e., there are no videos or study planners).
Not as well-known
The Wiley CIA system is not as widely used as Gleim.
If you have tried Wiley's other products before and are familiar with their focus notes, test prep, and textbooks, Wiley CIAexcxel may be a good choice for you.
Surgent CIA prides itself on its adaptive learning technology. To my knowledge, Surgent offers the only adaptive CIA review course on the market.
The adaptive learning technology feeds students questions about topics for which they have low scores. In this way, the course essentially performs the role of a coach. This approach serves as one of the most effective ways for retakers to improve their scores. Because of this, Surgent CIA Review is a very intriguing course offering if you have failed a part of the CIA exam.
The notes are basic, and I wouldn't rely on this product alone. Surgent CIA is pretty much just an online test prep.
Surgent CIA Review is a great choice for candidates looking for supplementary practice questions. It is also good for retakers who appreciate a system that strategically feeds them questions about their weaker areas.
The CIA Learning System is the official review course of The IIA. This course is an integrated review system consisting of textbooks, a study planner, analytics, and practice questions. Even though this system has "IIA" in the name, don't be fooled: The IIA does not produce these materials. On top of that, the actual creators of the IIA Learning System do not have access to any inside information about the exam.
Great learning experience
I feel like the authors really want to teach you the material as opposed to just help you pass. For this reason, you can use the book as a great source of reference after the exam.
The content presentation very closely matches the syllabus. However, you should know that the authors don't have access to the exam questions, so the manner in which the content is arranged doesn't provide much of an advantage.
The course features a built-in performance tracking platform and an online study planner.
No other course on the market costs as much as the IIA Learning System.
No money-back guarantee
If you aren't satisfied with your purchase after you start to use the course, you're stuck with it.
Not the most efficient
If your main purpose is to pass the CIA exam as opposed to learning about internal auditing through the exam, the CIA Learning System may teach too much and feel like a waste of your time.
The practice questions in the test bank are not as complex and comprehensive as you might find on the actual exam. I personally prefer tougher practice questions to get me fully prepared for the exam.
The free demo is of little use when compared to the full-access free trial offered by other providers.
Because there aren't very many features or any videos, this product doesn't seem to warrant such a hefty price tag.
The IIA Learning System is a great learning tool for those who want to take their time and learn about the best practices in internal audit. If you are on a tight budget or want to earn the certification fast, you might want to check out the other CIA courses.
You may also consider these CIA exam preparation materials:
Founded by Brian Hock, this CMA/CIA review course provider is quite popular outside of the US.
This course features great notes that explain the concepts well as well as classroom recordings.
Good price point
The Hock CMA course is slightly less expensive than other courses.
Lack of coverage
The practice questions are good, but the coverage is not as broad as Gleim’s.
If you need more explanations of the concepts behind the topics covered in the CIA exam but find Gleim CIA Review too expensive, Hock could be a good alternative. If you need more practice questions, you can get Wiley CIAexcel or Surgent as a supplement.
Lambers is another brand name that has been around for almost 50 years. They have products for CPA, CMA, and CIA exams.
I believe Mr. Lambers sold his business years ago, and as a result, the current products lack the personal touch they used to have. The product line now feels pretty institutionalized but doesn't really have the additional benefits you may get from a big company.
Interestingly enough, I occasionally have readers ask about Becker CIA. To date, Becker hasn't launched a review course for the internal audit exam.
I believe most candidates would agree that Gleim CIA Review has the best practice questions, and when you combine that with the Personal Counselor support, reasonable pricing, free trial, and more, all with the Gleim Guarantee, you get everything you need to pass the CIA exam. What do you think? Drop a comment below, and we can discuss.
A CIA review course is a collection of resources candidates can use to study for the CIA exam. These resources focus on presenting and explaining the exam content. You can access most of the materials in a CIA course online. CIA review courses usually have:
You can buy CIA review courses for each exam part separately or as a complete set.
There are quite a few advantages to using a CIA review course to pass the exam.
A CIA review course explains the exam content in a helpful and easy to follow way.
The three CIA exam parts test how well candidates know current internal auditing practices and understand internal audit issues, risks, and remedies.
The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) shares the CIA exam content in the CIA exam syllabi. This information is very broad and doesn’t go into much detail about what you need to know to pass the exam. As a CIA candidate, you could review this information for yourself, but finding and learning the specifics of the material and developing the skills you need on your own would take a lot of time and effort. You would have to do so much research that your studies would take much longer than necessary.
You have four years to finish all of the CIA program requirements once your application has been approved, but you don’t need to spend the majority of that time preparing for the exam. A CIA review course already contains all of the information you need to pass and arranges it in expertly-authored books, videos, practice questions, and more. A review course will save you a great deal of time while giving you immediate access to everything the exam may cover. With a CIA review course, you can focus on mastering the material rather than compiling it all yourself.
A CIA review course makes sure that you reach the levels of knowledge and skill that you need to pass in time for exam day.
With a CIA review course, you can not only review the exam content, you can track your learning progress. When you have access to tools such as performance tracking software and study planners, you can ensure that you develop the knowledge and skills you need to pass in time for your testing appointment. The CIA exam syllabi expect you to be proficient with many of the content areas on the exam. According to The IIA, proficient means that you can
The CIA exam uses multiple-choice questions to determine your proficiency. The best way to become proficient is to practice what you’ve learned, and the test banks of practice questions found in CIA review courses give you the opportunity to do so. If your CIA review course also emulates the look and feel of the exam (as some do), you can get not only reach the right level of knowledge with the exam concepts, but you can also get familiar with the exam environment. Accomplishing both of these tasks before you take the exam gives you a great deal of confidence and lowers your chances of being surprised on exam day.
A CIA review course offers a support system of information, advice, and encouragement.
Most CIA review courses include customer service in some form or another. For example, your course may connect you with exam mentors who can answer your questions, help you create a study plan, and encourage you all throughout your studies. It’s also very likely that your course will supply access to a technical team who can assist you with computer issues. You can usually contact these teams via phone or email.
When you’re ready to pick the best CIA review course for you, you should assess your options based on the following criteria:
This list is long and not arranged in any particular order. You should determine which course qualities are most important to you and compare how well each course performs in these areas. Different courses work for different candidates, but I believe you can find the best CIA review course for you that meets your needs and helps you pass.
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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