IIA CIA Learning System 2020: What the IIA Doesn’t Want You to Know

The IIA markets and heavily promotes the IIA CIA Learning System (also known as Learn CIA). But note that I didn’t say that the IIA writes this course, and I’ll tell you why in this review. So, is the IIA CIA Learning System really the best CIA review course?

The answer to that question may surprise you. Therefore, before you purchase the IIA Learning System, please read through this article thoroughly, as you need to consider some of this information about the IIA Learning System before you make such a hefty investment.

Many candidates use the IIA CIA Learning System, and many candidates feel they HAVE to use this course for a host of reasons. Therefore, let’s take a look at the course so you can learn everything you need to know.

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IIA CIA Learning System

CIA Learning System: What the IIA Doesn’t Want You To Know

1. The IIA Does NOT Write the IIA’s Course And Materials

In 2019, the IIA released the IIA CIA Learning System 6.0. This course was revised to match the new 2019 CIA exam syllabi, but the IIA did not do the revising.

I say this because the IIA has outsourced the creation of its course to Holmes Corp., a third-party review provider. Holmes develops the course independently of the IIA. Furthermore, the IIA only provides Holmes with the syllabus the IIA provides to ALL the other CIA review courses.

Therefore, the IIA only creates and administers the CIA exam; it does not make its own course. Consequently, the IIA is really just marketing the materials another party has written.

And, no, you aren’t getting even 1% of “inside information” when you buy the CIA Learning System. You may be getting the “official” CIA course, but that course lacks a lot of value. So really, you are just paying for the perception that you are getting an official course or a course that includes insider questions or content, but that is not reality.

2. The CIA Learning System Is An Overpriced Test Bank

The CIA Learning System course does not offer a lot of value. In fact, the Learning System does NOT include these key features, while the leading CIA review course does:

  • Access until you pass
  • Video lectures led by professors
  • Help from experts
  • Audio lectures
  • A vast test bank

a. The CIA Learning System Provides You With Limited Access

If you purchase one part of the CIA Learning System, you will only receive 1 year of access. If you purchase the 3-part course, you’ll receive 2 years of access. But what if you need 3, 4, or as many as 10 years to become a CIA? In these cases, you’ll have to pay to reinstate your access. Yet, if you had purchased a CIA course with access until you pass, you’d have access for 10 years if necessary. With an access until you pass guarantee, you never have to pay another penny to extend your access.

And, if the exam syllabi changed while you had a course with access until you pass, you’d receive updates to the new materials free of charge. People who study with the IIA Learning System don’t have such luxuries.

b. This Self-Study Course Doesn’t Contain Instructor-Led Video Lectures

The #1 CIA self-study course includes over 45 hours of in-depth video lectures in its package. However, the IIA does not include any instructor-led lectures in its self-study package.

The IIA CIA Learning System does have video tutorials offering an overview of the IPPF components. But, based on that information, these videos don’t also offer helpful explanations of the exam content, real-world examples of applying the exam principles, walk-throughs of practice questions, or in-depth discussions of practice question answers. Consequently, you’ll have to attend live lectures (which are inefficient from a time perspective, not to mention inconvenient) or find access to such lectures another way.

And if you want to attend CIA Learning System lectures, you should know that doing so is going to cost extra. You’ll end up spending over $1,100 (and $400 more than if you had purchased a self-study course with lectures). And some candidates may even spend $1,400 on the live lectures for the CIA Learning System, depending on their membership status. This amount is twice as much as an average candidate pays for the leading CIA review course.

c. Help from Experts Is Not A Feature of the IIA Course

Unless you pay substantially more for live lectures, the IIA course won’t give you the ability to ask for assistance. What if you don’t understand how to properly capitalize an asset? Sorry, but no one from the IIA is going to help you.

Candidate assistance is a fairly nice and necessary feature, depending on how confident you are about your accounting skills. The leading self-study CIA course includes this feature and, even better, doesn’t put a cap on the number of questions you can ask. So, if you need help, you’re certainly going to get it (unless you purchased the self-study CIA Learning System, of course).

d. Audio Lectures Aren’t Included in the CIA Learning System Course Either

Not surprisingly, the course that doesn’t have instructor-led lectures also doesn’t have audio lectures.

If you’d like to study offline or if you commute frequently, you could use audio lectures to easily get your study hours in without being online. But only if you buy the leading CIA review course, not the IIA Learning System.

Plus, if you are an auditory learner, you’ll probably feel that none of the components in the IIA course suit your learning style. And you’d be right because the only way to study in this course — the whole course — is by reading the books and answering the questions. The course doesn’t offer any other learning components to help you understand the concepts. So, in the absence of video and audio lectures, you may find that retaining the concepts using the IIA course is harder for you than someone who has a different learning style.

e. The IIA’s CIA Test Bank Is Only So-So

Because the IIA doesn’t disclose the number of questions included, we’ve had to rely on actual use of the course to come up with our estimate. And we’ve found that the IIA course includes fewer questions than most other review courses. So, your ability to see new questions and avoid memorization is going to be pretty hindered.

Some courses on the market come with nearly 4,000 CIA practice questions. However, the IIA does not offer anywhere near this amount.

And, according to my readers and comments on exam forums, the test prep software is only so-so.

Generally, the feedback is that the IIA Learning System is not as comprehensive and challenging as Gleim CIA, and it also lacks the adaptive learning technology developed by Surgent CIA Review.

What’s Wrong with the IIA’s CIA Course Being Considered A Test Bank?

Nothing is wrong with a test bank, per se. But you shouldn’t pay a premium full course price when, in the end, you’re really just getting a test bank.

For starters, the IIA CIA Learning System costs nearly 3 times as much as the leading test bank. And, let’s not forget that my readers have said that the test bank is only so-so at best.

So, if you only want textbooks and questions, then choose the most affordable and best CIA test bank instead.

Again, you definitely don’t have to pay so much for a just test bank. Instead, I highly recommend purchasing a full course that includes lectures, access until you pass, and help from experts. But remember, the CIA Learning System is not a full course and does not include these features. Therefore, I suggest you purchase the CIA course that more candidates use than any other.

3. The IIA Doesn’t Let You Demo the Entire Course

If you’d like to see all of the course in action, then you have to pay for the course in full. You have no other options. And in my experience, only review providers that don’t stand behind their products refuse to offer a free and fully comprehensive demo.

Now, the IIA does allow you to read sample textbook passages, but that is the extent of the free trial. Therefore, this demo supplies little value to the CIA candidate who attempts to explore the course.

IIA CIA Learning System Course Components

Now that we’ve discussed the negative qualities of the Learning System, we can go through what’s included as part of the course. As I mentioned, many features that usually come standard in a full course are absent, so this run-through won’t take too long.

1. Textbooks

Like every other CIA review, this course does include textbooks. The IIA CIA Learning System has 3 digital books for candidates to read:

  • IIA CIA Learning System Part 1: Essentials of Internal Auditing
  • IIA CIA Learning System Part 2: Practice of Internal Auditing
  • IIA CIA Learning System Part 3: Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing

However, the IIA CIA Learning System DOES require you to pay extra if you want physical copies of your books. Most other review providers do not charge you for physical books.  So, if you don’t pay this additional fee, you’ll only receive digital copies of the textbooks.

My readers do find the CIA Learning System textbooks easy to read. However, many have stated that the actual text didn’t help them to fully understand the concepts. Additionally, my readers found that they still didn’t know how to approach the practice questions after reading the textbooks.

2. CIA Practice Questions

The IIA CIA Learning System contains interactive practice questions. You’ll see these questions in the pre-test, section quizzes, post-test, and CIA practice exams.

Additionally, the course provides some analytics, but they aren’t as granular as I would like.

And because the test bank size is on the smaller end, the likelihood of question memorization is higher. The course may serve you the same question over and over again. In fact, you have a very good chance of getting repeat questions about topics that the exam doesn’t cover as heavily, as the IIA course test bank has fewer questions about these topics.

cia learning system online tool

3. CIA Study Planner

The course includes a study planner that will be populated using your pre-test results. This study planner is a fairly helpful feature because the course allocates more time to studying concepts that the course flagged as your weaker areas.

4. Flashcards

Finally, the IIA CIA Review System has flashcards covering key internal audit terms and definitions. However, the IIA doesn’t specify how many flashcards you receive. Furthermore, these flashcards appear to only be available in a digital format, not a printed format.

Conclusion: Who Should Use the IIA CIA Learning System?

CIA candidates who are looking for additional practice questions might want to consider the CIA Learning System. However, there is another CIA test bank that you may want to consider first. It is far less expensive than the CIA Learning System and features adaptive learning technology.

Additionally, future CIAs who have an employer that will only pay for the CIA Learning System will have no choice. But, please contact me if you receive the IIA course and do not feel like it provides you with enough good practice questions.

Finally, if budget is no issue for you and you can afford to purchase the extra physical textbooks and live lectures, you may want to consider this course. However, I would advise that you contact me for further assistance if you’re in this position.

Summary of What the CIA Learning System Offers

Strengths

  • Textbooks for learning
  • Performance tracking with online study planner

Limitations

  • Most expensive CIA review course
  • No free trial and no money-back guarantee
  • Test prep not as comprehensive

My IIA CIA Learning System Recommendation

If your goal is to pass the exam in the most efficient manner, then I believe that other providers will give you a higher quality product for less money.

For example, you can purchase Gleim CIA Review for less than the IIA CIA Learning System when you use my discount. And with the Gleim course, you’ll get access to over 45 professor-led video lectures, access until you pass, help from experts, and much more.

If you’d like more review options, check out my comparison of the best CIA review courses on the market.

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About the Author Stephanie

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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