If you’re planning to pass the CISA exam, then you need study materials that will explain the exam content to you. Study materials that include all the information on which the CISA exam will test you are essential for success. And the creators of the CISA exam have developed some materials. Yes, ISACA, the organization that awards the CISA and other information systems certifications, has produced a review resource for CISA exam candidates called the CISA Review Manual. So, to best prepare for the CISA exam, learn more about ISACA’s publication and why this manual is not enough to pass the CISA exam.
To aid CISA candidates in their exam studies, ISACA publishes the CISA Review Manual, also known as the CRM. The CRM covers the entire CISA exam syllabus. The 27th edition of the CISA Review Manual is the most recent edition of the manual. Therefore, it will prepare you for the CISA exam for June 2019 (and that’s the one that is still used in 2023). You can get the CRM as a 385-page ebook or printed book directly from ISACA.
If you’re an ISACA member, then either version of the CISA CRM will cost you $109. Non-ISACA members must pay $139 for either the ebook or the printed CRM.
Along with the CISA Review Manual, ISACA also publishes the CISA Review Questions, Answers & Explanations Manual (CRQM). ISACA updated the CRQM for the June 2019 CISA exam. Therefore, the 497-page CISA Review Questions Manual is in its 12th edition.
Furthermore, the CRQM features 1,000 multiple-choice study questions presented by job practice domain. It also contains a 150-question sample exam. These questions do not come from the real CISA exam. However, they do imitate the type and structure of questions you’ll see on the CISA exam.
You can get the CRQM from ISACA as a printed book that costs $129 for ISACA members and $159 for non-members.
If you are not an ISACA member, you will have to pay to get the CRM and the CRQM. However, we recommend purchasing a full study option instead, as the CRM and CRQM won’t adequately prepare you to pass the CISA exam.
Full study options include:
If you purchase the ebook version of the CRM, then you must have the following items in order to access the CRM:
Once you have these items, you can download your eReader, purchase the CRM ebook, and download it.
Of course, if you purchase the printed version of the CRM, you simply need to wait for it to arrive.
ISACA has organized the CRM to address the essential concepts and key terms of each CISA exam domain. The CISA exam encompasses these 5 domains specifically:
Furthermore, each domain divides a series of subtopics into 2 different categories. The CISA exam, on the whole, also discusses 39 supporting tasks related to the practice of information systems auditing, assurance, and control.
Finally, the CISA exam contains 150 multiple-choice questions that you must answer in 4 hours.
The CISA Review Manual is just one of your CISA study material options. You don’t have to buy it to prepare for the CISA exam, but it might be helpful to have it for the following reasons:
The CISA Review Manual is very technical. It’s full of all facts, tables, and charts featuring all of the information the CISA exam covers. Because the CRM is so comprehensive, its value extends beyond just CISA exam prep. If you plan to work in a CISA-related field, you need this book to prepare for your job as well.
Because ISACA makes the CISA exam and the CISA Review Manual, the CISA Review Manual always contains the latest exam information. ISACA updates the CRM every year to account for policy changes and anything else that’s new in information systems audit, assurance, and control. Therefore, the CRM gives you a head start on learning about the CISA exam.
The CRM is a CISA exam resource, but it is not a complete course. Therefore, it suffers from the following limitations:
While the CRM contains lots of information, it lacks explanations and examples of the CISA exam concepts. In this way, it actually fulfills the definition of a manual by serving as more of a reference you can flip through when you need to verify or remember information. Therefore, the CRM is most suitable for candidates with existing knowledge of the CISA exam topics. But, consequently, it doesn’t work as a study guide for CISA candidates who are new to this data.
What’s more, candidates who haven’t mastered the material find the CRM hard to understand. So, the CISA Review Manual is most helpful once you have a foundation of knowledge in information systems audit, assurance, and control. And if you don’t yet have this foundation, you can use a CISA review course to build it.
Unfortunately, even candidates who are familiar with information systems audit, assurance, and control struggle to get through the CRM because it is very dull. The books you’ll find in CISA review courses usually include explanations as well as insights on the topics and tips for learning. However, the CISA Review Manual is void of such content variety.
So, if you’re not the most hardcore of linguistic learners and don’t love cuddling up with esoteric literature, then you won’t be able to rely on the CRM alone for your CISA exam prep. And thankfully, because of the presence of CISA review courses, you won’t have to.
While the CISA Review Manual is available to you, it is not sufficient to prepare you for the CISA exam. Within its pages, you won’t find a way to identify your weak areas with the CISA exam content. Furthermore, it doesn’t equip you to develop your information systems knowledge from scratch. Consequently, you’ll need a more interactive study experience to prepare you for the exam.
For this reason, I recommend supplementing the CRM with a CISA review course. CISA review courses supply you with an assortment of study materials and support from CISA experts to ensure that you have everything you need to succeed on the exam. These courses start at the beginning of the exam concepts and then develop deeper until you’ve achieved complete comprehension. Additionally, CISA review courses test your knowledge with practice questions and exam simulations so you can familiarize yourself with the exam environment and improve your performance before you sit.
Knowing that CISA candidates need more than the CRM, I’ve researched and interacted with some of the most popular CISA review courses on the market to help you find the best one for you. I don’t want you to waste your money on something that won’t meet your needs, so I’ve included my analysis of these courses in my CISA review course comparison. The CISA review courses I recommend the most is CISA SuperReview (with globally renowned CISA expert Allen Keele!). However, I also like Surgent CISA Review.
Allen Keele and Certified Information Security (CIS) launched CISA SuperReview in 2006. Since then, more than 8,200 CISA candidates have used this course to prepare for the CISA exam. CISA asserts that this course gives you everything you need to pass the CISA exam, and I completely agree.
According to my knowledge, CISA SuperReview is the only course that conveniently integrates video instruction, practice exams, and exam simulations into one easy-to-use package. Specifically, the CISA SuperReview course contains over 650 slides and over 900 practice questions in total. This course also includes dozens of practice exams and 4 exam simulations. Furthermore, CIS updates CISA SuperReview twice a year so it always addresses the latest exam content. For these reasons, I believe that CISA SuperReview is the most comprehensive CISA review course available.
This course also comes with a great support system, as you can speak directly to Allen Keele at their offices. Additionally, CIS offers an exam pass guarantee on CISA SuperReview. If you don’t pass the CISA exam within 6 months of completing the course, CIS will give you access to a normal subscription of the same training within 6 months of the original purchase at no extra charge.
In light of all the user-friendly guidance and instruction CISA SuperReview offers, I find this course to be the best on the market and highly recommend it as your CISA Review Manual supplement.
The Surgent CISA Review course results from Surgent buying out ExamMatrix in 2015 and combining the ExamMatrix adaptive technology with the comprehensive accounting and tax content of Surgent’s exceptional CPE courses. Consequently, Surgent CISA Review is the only CISA course to feature adaptive learning technology. This technology assesses your current knowledge of the CISA exam content and then provides you with the information you need to strengthen your weak areas. To further measure your progress, the course platform serves you questions about the topics you struggle with until your performance improves.
Surgent has also enhanced its adaptive technology with the ReadySCORE function. Your ReadySCORE tells you how well you would do on the CISA exam if you were to sit for it at that point in your studies. Surgent has programmed ReadySCOREs to trend a bit lower than the actual CISA exam scores its candidates receive. Therefore, if your ReadySCORE says you’re prepared to pass the CISA exam, then you can be confident that you really are.
Another beneficial aspect of Surgent’s CISA course is the test bank. Surgent CISA Review offers a full database of over 1,650 practice multiple-choice questions with full-text answers. This course also comes with unlimited practice exams. So, you can get super familiar with the CISA exam format and environment.
The only downside to Surgent’s course is its lack of video lectures. Without this additional form of instruction, Surgent CISA Review is more like a test bank than a full course. However, if you’re already knowledgeable about information systems audit, assurance, and control, then you might not need much more than a test bank and the CRM. So, Surgent CISA Review could still be the course for you.
As you can see, these CISA review courses are completely comprehensive. They also supply you with an all-encompassing learning experience to ensure you’re fully prepared for the CISA exam. Therefore, you really don’t need to purchase any other CISA study materials once you’ve invested in a CISA review course.
But, if you insist on having the CRM on hand, you can use it in tandem with your CISA review course in the following ways:
First, because the CRM is really more of a reference tool, you should follow the study system of your CISA review course. Allow the course to guide your learning process for each domain so that you can achieve a deep comprehension of the exam content. Then, once you finish the instructional portion of your course’s domain coverage, you can read the corresponding section in the CRM. That way, you can verify that you now understand everything the CRM says about that domain.
Or, secondly, you can wait to refer to the CRM until you’ve answered the practice questions and/or completed the practice exams as well. If you open the CRM at that point, you can use it to get a fresh perspective on your troublesome topics. In the event that you prepare for the CISA exam with Surgent, which supplies less instruction than the other courses, you may find yourself flipping through the CRM more often after taking practice quizzes, as you won’t have many other resources available to you.
So, you may consider the CISA Review Manual useful to have. It tells you exactly what the CISA exam will cover and goes into detail about each topic. Moreover, its technical nature can help you prepare for both the CISA exam and your career in information security audit, assurance, and control.
However, you’ll need more help than the CRM offers to actually pass the CISA exam. Specifically, you need a full CISA review course that goes back to the basics of information systems and assesses your knowledge with exams and quizzes. Because of this, you should pair the CRM with a CISA course so that your exam training is complete. And thankfully, you can use my comparison of CISA review courses to not only get the right one for you but also to save money on your CISA exam prep.
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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