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IIA CIA Learning System vs Gleim CIA: The Winner Is Clear

In the IIA CIA Learning System vs Gleim CIA Review showdown, who should you choose for your CIA exam prep? We get this question from CIA candidates a lot, and we're happy to say that we have the answer. There is a very clear winner in the Gleim vs. IIA CIA Learning System comparison, and we've identified some key factors that you’ll want to know as well. With these helpful points, you can make the most informed decision on your CIA review system purchase.

To make this comparison, we've exhaustively used both Gleim CIA and the CIA Learning System. So, because we are familiar with both courses, we can offer you the best and most honest information about them.

Gleim CIA vs IIA CIA Learning System Comparison Chart

CIA Review Attribute

Attribute Importance

Gleim CIA Review -- Premium Course

IIA CIA Learning System Course

Access Until You Pass

High -- Without continued access, you have to pay for a new course if your course expires before you finish the exam.


Not included. And what’s worse, you’ll have to pay hefty fees gain access to the course once your guaranteed time frame of 1 year expires.

Video Lectures

Medium -- Video lectures could be more important for visual and auditory learners.

Over 45 lecture hours included

No video lectures not included

CIA Test Bank

High -- Without practice questions, you won't be able to apply the knowledge you've learned throughout the course.

Over 3,000 questions included

Test bank is smaller than most. However, the IIA has not provided us with updated question counts. So, we can’t give you a 1:1 question count comparison for Gleim CIA vs. CIA Learning System.


High -- You'll want the books to learn the concepts, especially if you do not receive video lectures with the course.

Digital and physical books included

Physical books available


Low -- flashcards reinforce the topics you've already learned, but research shows you'll be more likely to commit the items to memory if you create flashcards yourself.

Digital flashcards included

Flashcards included

Who Wins? Gleim CIA Review or IIA CIA Learning System

We declare that Gleim CIA is the winner, but we need to emphasize that they are above-and-away the winner. In other words, this call wasn’t close by any means. The IIA CIA Learning System does not compare in terms of the features or quality of the course. Therefore, Gleim easily takes the trophy in this matchup.

That said, we do understand that the some CIA candidates use the IIA Learning System. But mostly, we find that CIA candidates use this because it’s the only system their employer will pay for or they don’t know that a MUCH better option is available.

Also, the IIA CIA Learning System might be an option for supplementers (CIA candidates looking for extra questions). But other better and more affordable supplemental options exist as well. So, if you need additional practice questions, we recommend contacting us for the best available options and for CIA test bank discounts.

Gleim CIA Review and IIA CIA Learning System History

Gleim CIA Review was the first CIA review course available. With its tried-and-true practice questions and answer explanations, Gleim CIA Review was recognized as the best resource available at the time, and this classification remains true even today. In fact, more candidates use Gleim CIA to pass the CIA exam than all the other CIA review course options. Plus, Gleim works tirelessly to update the lectures, questions, and content of its CIA course throughout the year. This dedication is a real benefit to candidates because they don’t have to worry about the IIA syllabi changing. So, when you have a course that updates frequently, you are sure to have all the study materials you need when you NEED them.

In contrast, the IIA CIA Learning System is not as established as Gleim CIA Review. And, as you may know from reading my other articles, the IIA does not actually author the CIA Learning System. Instead, the IIA contracts its course content creation out to a third-party review provider (Holmes). And, to our knowledge, Holmes has been providing the IIA with content for the IIA CIA Learning System for well over a decade. Consequently, CIA candidates gain no extra edge over the CIA exam by using the CIA Learning System; the IIA never discloses any special secrets about the exam to Holmes, so you’re better off going with a more solid course instead.

Gleim CIA vs IIA's Interface

Gleim CIA recently updated its interface and added SmartAdapt technology to its CIA course. The advantage of this interface is that it allows you to focus on your weak areas and thereby cut down on your overall study time. Detailed analytics, step-by-step hand-holding, and easy functionality make this new interface superior.

While the IIA CIA Learning System has made course updates throughout the years, its course does not flow as easily as Gleim’s. In contrast, candidates will have to navigate through the system using their own best judgment about what they need to study and when.

Gleim CIA vs IIA CIA Learning System Materials

Video Lectures

Gleim CIA Review is the ONLY CIA review course to include lectures that actually teach you the critical concepts you’ll need to know. In contrast, the IIA CIA Learning System does not offer any video lectures. The Gleim CIA lectures feature over 45 hours of professors teaching the most difficult concepts. Also, you’ll be able to learn how to answer the multiple-choice questions by watching these videos. The instructors will walk you through things like:

  • Question stems: what they are and why they are critical to your success
  • Strategies: how to answer the questions and identify distractors (wrong answer choices)
  • Concepts: how to identify them and how to apply them to multiple-choice questions like the ones you may see on your exam

Access Length

The IIA released a huge syllabus change in 2019, rendering all previous years’ materials useless. And because the IIA can update the exam throughout the year, choosing a review provider that provides you with free updates and access until you pass is very important.

Luckily, the Gleim course includes access until you pass and free updates. While some candidates may pass the CIA exam in under 12 months, a large percentage of candidates take over 1 year to pass all 3 sections. And because pass rates are on the lower end, many candidates also need to take at least 1 part several times to achieve the passing score. Therefore, you really should purchase a course with access until you pass so you don’t incur costly fees when your course expires. In fact, if you purchase a course with true access until you pass, you won't ever have to pay any course expiration fees!

Unlike Gleim, the IIA only provides you with 12 months of access and forces you to pay expensive fees to use your course again after it expires.

Help from Experts

As another point of differentiation, Gleim includes access to experts to help you as you need them. So, if you get stuck on ratios, financial accounting statements, or any other accounting and auditing topic, you’ll be able to rely on the Gleim team to get you through. In contrast, the IIA Learning System doesn't have any experts on hand to help you through the exam content. So, if you use the IIA CIA Learning System, you may find yourself stuck and frustrated with no one to help you.


The IIA CIA Learning System and Gleim CIA Review both include flashcards. But we firmly suggest that you create your own flashcards. Why? So that you can provide yourself with another opportunity to expose yourself to the content. Furthermore, re-writing the concepts is an excellent way to reinforce your understanding of the material. In fact, you may learn even more from re-writing the content on flashcards than you will from studying with flashcards after you've made them!

Gleim CIA Pass Rates vs CIA Learning System Pass Rates

The average CIA pass rate is around 40%. Therefore, because many candidates fail, you should ensure that you’re getting a course with a proven success rate. Neither Gleim nor the IIA disclose their pass rates publicly, but I’ve been operating this site for nearly a decade and have compiled pass rate data from my candidates. I’ve been able to track Gleim CIA’s pass rate to approximately 90% when candidates use the Premium CIA Review Course. However, the IIA CIA Learning System pass rate is trending at less than 50%. And, I often have readers switch from the CIA Learning System to Gleim.

IIA CIA Learning System vs Gleim Learning Styles

Gleim CIA includes a variety of learning components in its Premium CIA course. Therefore, the Gleim course is well-suited for candidates with a variety of learning styles. For example, Gleim CIA video lectures and audio lectures are great for visual and auditory learners. Furthermore, if you prefer to read and answer questions, the Gleim course will be a good fit for you too. And if you prefer to read the books, then you can just skip over the video lectures, as these wouldn't be ideal for your study style. However, the video lectures will always be there should you start to struggle with a concept and further explanation to help you understand it.

At the end of the day, the IIA CIA Learning System course is really only a test bank. Since this course doesn't include video or audio lectures, understanding the exam content may be difficult for visual and auditory learners. And since the size of the CIA Learning System test bank is relatively small, candidates who do well when they read and answer questions may also struggle to grasp the information. Another downside to the scarcity of practice questions is that candidates may end up memorizing the questions and answers rather than the exam concepts. 

Gleim CIA Discounts vs. IIA Discounts

The team at Gleim offers exclusive Gleim CIA discounts to my readers. You will not be able to find these discounts anywhere else, and they are the best Gleim discounts available. In contrast, the IIA never provides CIA Learning System discounts. So, not only is the IIA CIA Course expensive (especially given the lack of features), but candidates can't get any discounts to help them cover the cost of this system. Therefore, if you are on a budget or would like to receive a lot of value for your money, Gleim CIA Review is the clear choice for you.

Who Should You Pick? CIA Learning System vs. Gleim

It’s almost not a fair comparison: Gleim CIA wins over the CIA Learning System in every category. And with the exception of flashcards, which the IIA offers but Gleim doesn't, Gleim also beats the CIA Learning System by a large margin in these categories.

Course Feature

Gleim CIA Review

IIA CIA Learning System

Access Until You Pass



Professor-Led Video Lectures



Course Quality






Help From Experts



High Pass Rates






As you can see from this summary, the CIA Learning System only scores 1.5 points, while Gleim CIA scores 6. So, when you factor in the cost for each system and apply our exclusive Gleim CIA discounts, you’ll find that you pay LESS for Gleim CIA and get MORE value.

But if you're still unsure about which course you should choose, please contact me, as I can provide you with a thorough and helpful recommendation. And you can also learn more about the process of becoming a CIA by signing up for my free CIA exam study materials

Lastly, if you are also considering Wiley CIA, you'll want to read our comparison of Gleim CIA vs. Wiley CIAexcel.

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