The company I work for has been sold. Most of the technology associates expect to lose our jobs in the upcoming months. Fortunately, the companies are offering a generous severance package. As the days counted down towards business close, we were also offered in-house professional training on a variety of subjects, many of which included vouchers for certification tests. Due to low demand, CISA training was not available for in-house training but the company offered to pay for independent study classes. The company would reimburse us for the certification exam if we passed. I took several of the instructor led classes and was approved for an independent study class for the CISA.
CISA Training Classes
I selected the CISA class from Alan Keele at www.certifiedinfosec.com. The class is a self-paced 180 day subscription at a cost of $449.95. He does offer a free trial lesson consisting of a pre-assessment test, training class, and a post-assessment test. I found the trial was a good representation of the general courseware. Keele’s training consists of assessment tests and narrated slides. One of the nice things about the class is the instructor is available to answer questions via phone or email. The instructor promptly answered emails, and promptly responded to a voice-mail I left.
The class is broken down into the five CISA domains plus an extra series of lessons for “Consolidated Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Topics”. Each domain consists of multiple lessons, each with assessment tests and a final assessment test for each domain. The class offers four final exams consisting of 150 questions each (As of this writing, the CISA exam is 150 questions). You can take the assessment tests more than once, but the order of the test questions will vary each time you take the test. The final exams are random questions from a pool – each time you take the final exam you will get different questions in a different order. The recommended passing score is 95%. I passed all my assessment tests with 95%+ but did need to take a few more than once. My final exam scores ranged from 85-93%.
The material seemed to be geared towards helping the student answer test questions. The slides are narrated and consist mostly of a bunch of test answers without the questions. When I spoke with Keele on the phone, he told me that was the strategy for helping students pass the exam. Since the exam is multiple choice, if the student could recognize the answers, the student will be able to recognize the answer even if the questions were unfamiliar. The CISA test is multiple choice – only one correct answer per question. The assessment questions from the class are in multiple formats including multiple choice, true-false, matching, and “select all that apply” (multiple answers for a question). Although not all class questions are multiple choice, the instructor told me his question/answer format is an easy way of combining multiple questions into one.
After the student answers an exam question, the instructor would provide text and narrated answers. In most cases, the instructor read the correct response, but did not provide much of an explanation. In some cases, the instructor would point out questions and answers that were plain silly and that ISACA’s answer is not always the same the way as an experienced professional would answer. I noticed this when I took the test and I’ve heard the same thing from other people who have taken the exam.
The wording on the narration and slides were quite formal. This format was useful for some of the test questions but not helpful for a true understanding of the material. I found myself going to Youtube to get a better understanding. In my search, I found a series of short lessons from Hemang Doshi. Doshi has a very thick accent and my first inclination was to stop watching and look for another video. I decided to watch his video and found his video very helpful for an understanding of the material. Doshi’s videos do an excellent job of explaining the concepts in very simple terms. He uses a keyword approach – “if you see this keyword”, then “look for this answer”. Doshi’s videos are simple – a question, keyword, answer approach compared to Keele’s formal approach. I found both classes together to be instrumental in my passing of the exam. I did find the practice tests and material from the two to be very similar, but the approach used in the lessons were quite different.
Doshi has quite a few videos, here is a nice sample of several of his videos:
Doshi also has a mostly free site. The site consists of videos, flash cards, study material with assessment test for each domain, and a final 150 question test covering all domains. The site also has a “30 day strategy for CISA Success”. The 30 day strategy is a series of 10-20 questions to be taken one test per day over a period of 30 days. He asks for $30 for the “30 Day Strategy” to be paid upon passing the exam. No credit card or registration is required to take the lessons. Just pay after you pass the exam. I opted for this training, but in hindsight the site offers so many practice tests, it probably wasn’t really necessary to take the 30 day strategy. Since I did use the material and passed my CISA, I did pay the $30 upon receiving my score.
WARNING, WARNING, WARNING, WARNING
The site is supported by pop-up ads and I received virus warnings when some of the ads displayed. The site itself seems to be fine but the pop-ups may not be. My recommendation is to have a good virus checker and close the pop-ups before they have a chance to populate. I would have recommended a pop-up blocker but the practice tests don’t work properly with a pop-up blocker on.
WARNING – Be careful when going to the …