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.


Disclosure: The I Pass Team may earn a small amount of compensation if you purchase CIA review courses from our links. However, our team uses these revenues to maintain the site and produce awesome free content just for you!

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


  • Textbooks for learning
  • Performance tracking with online study planner


  • 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.

Please rate this

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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  • ariyanto says:

    well I used gleam to pass cia exam part 1 n 2, my study session result average 80-90% but I still can’t pass the exam. maybe I considered try to use this material to pass the exam

  • Mia says:

    I used the IIA’s learning material to pass the CIA exam on my first attempt within a 6 month time frame 9/2014 – 1/2015). I highly recommend the materials.

  • Abdel says:


    I just passed part 1 with Gliem and looking to start part 2, what is your feedback on Gliem for part 2 and is it better to go with IIA learning system for this part ( I heard that Gleim isn’t that good compared to IIA learning system).

    Also , what do you mean by ”randomization” ? I did used Hock for part 1 and the questions where ascending as per the syllabes whenever I run any practice or mock exam session. Is this the same here ?


    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Abdel,
      I haven’t heard negative comments from Gleim CIA so far. I generally suggest candidates to stick with their providers if it works well for them in the previous exam, because you are used to their teaching style and so don’t require additional time and effort to adjust.

      It’s great that you passed Part 1 with gleim. Undeerstwnd that this doesn’t necesarily mean you like it so it is your own decision in terms of getting gleim again or switch to the others.

      By randomization it means mixing up the questions during test or exam mode of the studying. Hope it helps! Stephanie

      • Abdel says:


        Thanks for your reply. My concern is that for part 2 I can notice that the volume of the text is much less than that of IIA learning system.

        Also , based on my experience for part 1 , I had used Hock exam success software and I have to say it’s way better than Gliem because I can randomize questions, select to solve questions that I got wrong before or solve never seen ones and also it does allow me to see a feedback immediately after I answer just like Wiley. What do you think of it for part 2 ?


        • Stephanie says:

          Thanks for your sharing Abdel. You should pick Hock if it’s your favourite, but I have access to Gleim and they allow randomization, marking of incorrect answers and more in Gleim.

          Did you get gleim’s text book only or did you get the gleim online or at least the gleim test prep? It can be a v different experience.

          The IIA learning system teaches you a lot of things, sometimes beyond what is required in the exam. It can be a good or bad thing depending on what the candidate wants to get out of this exam. But this can be one of the explanations why the IIA learning system has a bigger volume.

  • hung says:


    Can anyone tell me how much should I prepare budget if I use Gleim ?
    Is it possible if I just take pre test exam without text book to save money.
    Currently, I have worked in Internal Audit for 5 years.


    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Hung, I have this page that lists out the CIA exam related fees: https://ipasstheciaexam.com/cia-exam-fees/

      In terms of gleim, I really wouldn’t suggest not getting a proper text book… Given these exams cover conceptual / theoretical content that you may not have a lot of exposure in real business situations. Maybe you can have the practice questions? That’s better than only the pre-test (I asssume you mean mock exam). Regards, Stephanie

  • Amine says:

    I used Gleim materials to prepare the 1th and 2 d parts of CIA (4 parts). Now, I am preparing the new 3rd part with IIA materials (in french). I find it badly translated. Too much theory without focusing on the essential. Additionnaly, there is not enough training questions in the IIA Learning material, almost 2-300 questions. In the Gleim it was 7-800 questions. I have a 90% score with the IIA Learning material but I am not confident yet to pass the exam without more practicing.
    Did someone already passed the new 3rd part after preparation with the IAA Learning system? Thankx.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Amine,
      Thanks for your note. The issue you mentioned seem to be quite common. It’s not only French but also other languages as well.

      I don’t have the statistics on whether people using IIA materials pass Part 3 — I am sure there are, just not sure how many compared to others.

      Instead of worrying about it, I would suggest getting another test prep. Gleim is a good choice if you are familiar with it. It’s worth the investment in my opinion. Hope it helps!

  • Bmak says:

    Does anyone have IIA’s CIA learning system for part 1? Let me know if you are willing to sell it

  • Qasim says:

    I have passed part one and two using (gleim) and just started studying part 3 ( using glaim + IIA for key topics). I just want to know can i set the exam in 4 weeks time. is it possible?

  • Umer says:

    Hyi I used gliem and hock for part 1 got 85℅ in practice exams .. Now I m useing CIA leari g system but it much more in depth as compare to other systems … I want to know should I practice the question Bank of CIA learning system or also reading the text book ????

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Umer, do you mean the notes in the CIA learning system is more in depth? It is true, because I feel that their focus is more on teaching than on the practice question. But if you work on the questions, the Gleim set at least should be tougher. Is that right? Stephanie

  • Heith says:

    Hi all,

    Is there any good link on youtube or any other visual study resource to give good examples on Sampling study unit.

    Appreciate your assistance

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Heith, there might be, but so far I haven’t found any free videos. Gleim has exactly what you are looking for but you need to pay for that. Regards, Stephanie

  • Raghu says:

    Hi ! Can anyone share IIA’s CIA book part 3 PDF with me? I can pay the share. my email id is *** deleted ***.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Raghu, I am afraid sharing of copyrighted material is considered breach of copyright, and this is a potential violation of IIA code of ethics. So I wouldn’t support this on my platform and will remove your email to protect your privacy. Regards, Stephanie

  • Nenad says:

    Hello to everyone. I have started preparing part 1 of CIA exam by using CIA learning system (version 2013). I have already read a book once. Now I want to go through Glaim textbook for part 1(have in my posession 2011 version) and buy Glaim exam questions materials. What I am afraid of is that can be too time consuming and of course would not guarantee me a pass. I am also afraid that those books might be outdated. Can anybody share his or her thoughts with me on above matters ?

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Nenad, I wouldn’t use anything before 2013 as there has been a major change — the exam itself was changed from 4-part to 3-part. Maybe you can just get the test prep? If you know the materials, time is much better spent on “active studying” i.e. working on the questions and identifying weaker areas for further drilling. Cheers, Stephanie

      You can learn more about Gleim and their test prep here: https://ipasstheciaexam.com/gleim-cia-review/

      • Nenad says:

        Hi Stephanie, thanks for reply. The reason I wanted to get through Gleim book is because I am not sure wheter there is anything there that is ommited in CIA learning system, for part 1 of course. I will definetely buy test preparation questions from Glem as you already recommended in your comparative review. Do you happen to know if the material contained for part 1 of the exam in CIA learning system is the same as in Glaim?



        • Stephanie says:

          Hi Nenad, they follow the same syllabus. CIA Learning system is be good enough as your review materials. In any case, it may be too overwhelming to study from too sets (doing questions from different sets is not problem). Regards, Stephanie

  • Yasir says:

    Which materials is best either CIA Learning System (self-study) or Gleim study materials (self-study)?

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Yasir, I personally prefer Gleim, but it depends on your learning style. Please check out the pros and cons here: https://ipasstheciaexam.com/cia-exam-review-courses/

    • Yasser says:

      IIA learning system will make you understand the concept. Gleim will make you memorize the question and you will be scoring 90% after doing it two or three times. During the exam you will be shocked to see that what you were doing during your study was totally useless.

      just my opinion.

      • Jun says:


        I just took Part 1 exam using Gleim and unforntunately I missed the pasig mark by a little. I did every question in the test bank but the questions that came out were so different. Now I am at a loss on how to prep for the re-attempt 3 mths later.

        I came from a non accounting background and do not have working experience as an IA. Would IIA learning system be a better option for me? However, I do unds that Gleim provides more practice Qns and I thought it would be better for someone like me who come from a non IA/accounting background.

        Is IIA learning system practice questions more similar to the actual exam style? Any one who used IIA learning system before can advise?


        • Stephanie says:

          Hi Jun, it’s hard to tell, but sometimes not being an IA (or an auditor in general) does put us in disadvantage. It’s like… when we are confronted with a tough question, IAs would likely pick the correct answer based on their intuition, but we can’t…

          So I am not sure if getting IIA Learning System is a solution. If you have the budget, why not, you know. But it is more important to try approaching each question as if you are an internal auditor. See if you can slowly, but surely, develop that “sense” required for the IAs. It would be a great help for the exam and for your career!

          • Jun says:

            Thanks Steph for the reply.

            I was thinking since I have exhausted Gleim materials for Part 1, it maybe a bit pointless to read through the whole part 1 material again? Was thinking to change to IIA Learning System for Part 1 for the re attempt.

            Do you think it helps? Anyone had similar experiences of switching Gleim to IIA LS before?

  • Paul says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    I failed CIA part 3 twice now but couldn’t help but realize that the questions were at least 50% the same from the first time I wrote it. Do you know if this is true? and perhaps why they make you wait 3 months before writing?


    Pritpal Gill

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Paul,
      I think they pull questions from a pretty big pool, so maybe it’s a matter of luck… but yes, it could be the reason why they make us wait 😉

      • Paul says:

        Thanks Stephanie! I just remember the corporate social responsibility and I do 31000 definitely came up twice and there were at least 5 or 6 questions combined! And Gleim doesn’t teach it. I feel as though none of the questions on Gleim.com are fully representative of the iia exam. Is there something I’m not studying right? I read your 3 ways to get momentum but wondering if you can give me any insight? Maybe I’m second guessing a lot and sometimes change my answers when I should stick with my gut feeling?

  • Ugo says:

    Does it exists an Italian’ version?

  • Chandralekha says:

    Hey hi. Nice review. I would like to know if 6 months of time period is enough to study and attempt all 3 parts of CIA?

    • Meghan D says:


      Yes, it can be. It depends on how long you have each week to study. Plus, it will vary based on your proficiency with accounting and auditing concepts.

      -I Pass the CIA Exam

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