CISA Books and Study Guide Comparison


cisa booksThe ISACA publishes an official book as the official CISA study guide. At the same time, there are also two popular alternatives in the market. Here is my pros and cons analysis on these CISA books.

1. ISACA’s Official CISA Review Manual

Also known as the CRM, this official text book is considered the “definitive guide” to the CISA exam. You can get the book from the ISACA website or at Amazon.


Very detailed with all the information you need to know for the exam.


Dry, too technical, and probably too much information if you simply want to pass the exam.

Please refer to this page for more in-depth pros and cons analysis.

2. CISA Study Guide

Published by Sybex (part of Wiley) and written by David Connan, CISA Study Guide is one of the most popular CISA books.

The review material has not been updated since 2011, but there has been no major changes in the syllabus.


(i) Clear and Logical Overview with Good Explanation

The consensus is that CISA Study Guide is easier to read and understand. At the same time, it provides a solid theoretical foundation of the main concepts covered in the exam in detail.

Many readers mentioned that they keep this book for professional reference even after passing the exam.

(ii) Better for Those with Non-Auditing Background

A reader noted that he was not able to grasp the concept of auditing using the official review manual. The CRM assumes that you know the material and therefore do not elaborate on explaining the concepts. This book guides him how to look at the big picture and understand the auditing mindset, which is critical for him to pass the exam.

(iii) Substantially More Affordable

Retailed at $69.99 and typically selling around $40 at Amazon, CISA Study Guide is more than half the price of the official book.


(i) Written a Few Years Back

The content on Domain 4 (Information Systems Operations, Maintenance and Support) and Domain 5 (Protection of Information Assets) are somewhat out of date.

If you have existing knowledge in these areas through your work, it’s fine. Otherwise, you may need to get hold of the official book and read the two chapters.

(ii) Need Also the ISACA Question Database

The question generator on the CD is not as flexible as the one from ISACA. Most readers who use this book seem to supplement the study with the official CISA Question Database.

3. CISA All-in-One Exam Guide

Published by McGraw-Hill and written by Peter Gregory, this is another choice available to CISA exam candidates. The book was also published a few years ago in 2011.


(i) More Interesting

According to a reader, CISA All-in-One Exam Guide “breaths life into ISACAs auditing concepts”. Others also comment that the book is easier and even “fun” to read.

(ii) Great for Candidates with Existing Knowledge

It is great for those who have existing knowledge in the exam content, and need to associate that with ISACA-specific terminologies.

(iii) Another Affordable Alternative

The book retails at $60 and usually sold at $40 at Amazon, which is much better than the official book in terms of pricing.


(i) Inconsistent Formatting

Possibly due to multiple authors, the headings are hard to follow and format is inconsistent. For example, some sections have summary while others do not.

It is not a major issue but it comes across somewhat unorganized and affects the learning experience.

(ii) Coverage Possibly Inadequate

The book tends to go into too much detail on certain topics and does not cover all the topics that were discussed.

Also, there are only 10 questions per chapter which is not adequate as a comprehensive study guide.

Most people comment that while they like the book, it is used as a supplement rather than the main review material.

(iii) A Bit Outdated

This book shares the same issue with the CISA Study Guide in that there isn’t a new version after 2011.

The third edition will be available on Oct 22, 2016, but it may be too close to the December exam.

CISA Review Manual  CISA Study Guide CISA All-in-One Exam Guide

Looking for Supplements?

Books make good reading materials, but they are not interactive and cannot identify your weaker areas. You may want to check out CISA SuperReview, launched by Allen Keele, a co-author of CISA Study Guide. I have the pros and cons analysis here:

CISA superreview demo

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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