The IIA has decided to disclose the CIA exam pass rate on an annual basis:
|IIA-run Exams||2014 Pass Rates||2015 Pass Rates||2016 Pass Rates|
Note: These are global pass rates. This means scores are reflective of all exams delivered in all countries, in all languages for exams delivered via computer based testing (CBT). Source: IIA website
In the past, when the data was not disclosed, the most quoted CIA exam pass rate was 45% (although the percentage may come from one unverified source). According to Hock International’s previous estimate, the pass rate was around 50%.
The actual 2016 CIA exam pass rate is even lower.
CIA Exam Pass Rate Lower than CPA, but Comparable to CMA
It may be a surprise to many that the CIA exam passing rate is lower than to that of the CPA exam (45-55%) and the CFA exam (43% for Level 1), given the general impression that the CIA exam should be easier.
One reason is the the CPA exam has a much high entry barrier: those who are allowed to sit for the exam must have an education equivalent to an accounting major, and that he or she must have 4-5 years of higher education.
The CMA exam doesn’t have such prerequisite, and therefore the pass rate is similar (35%/50% for Part 1/Part 2).
There Could Possibly be Regional Difference as Shown in the CMA Exam
In addition, the CMA exam is similar to the CIA exam in that there is a substantial number of non-US candidates. The administrator of the CMA exam discloses pass rates by region, and you will see that the level differs considerably by region. In particular, the non-English speaking regions have the lowest performance in both Part 1 and Part 2.
US CMA Exam Pass Rate Trend
The regional difference in CIA exam performance is likely smaller due to the fact that:
- The exam is offered in 17 languages throughout the world.
- It is 100% multiple choice questions (instead of essays that require good English writing skills in the CMA exam).
Having said that, I have readers complaining that the translation is not done properly. It is a US-based exam and we should expect the format and writing style to be pretty much American.
If English is not your first language, bear in mind that the overall pass rate may not be a good indicator in your situation.
Here is a Summary in Video Format
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