You know that you can freely choose which CIA exam part to take first.
Problem is, how do you choose? is there a strategy? Let’s figure this out together.
What’s Your Prior Education and Work Experience?
It all depends on your education and work background.
1. Internal Auditors
For internal auditors, I suggest that you take Part 1 and Part 2 first, because they cover internal audit materials.
These two parts are slightly different but they complement each other. Part 1 is supposed to be covering the basics more, although some candidates swear that Part 1 is more difficult. It could be due to candidates not familiar with the exam format, or that the questions are trickier. In any case, as an internal auditor it is safe to take either one first.
2. Other Candidates
For candidates not directly working in the IA niche, you may want to check out Part 3 first. For example, for Art Yip (who has been really helpful in the comment section), he took Part 3 first because he completed his CPA exam recently and the concepts were most applicable to those in Part 3 .
Are You a First-Timer or Retaker?
For first-timer, follow the instruction above.
For retakers, if you fail Part 1, there are three choices:
- Wait for 90 days to take Part 1 again
- Take Part 2 first
- Take Part 3 first
1. Take Part 1 again
The decision depends on why you think you failed Part 1. If you run out of time to study and you probably can make good use of the next 90 days finishing up the studying, exercise and mock exams, by all means retake Part 1.
2. Take Part 2 first
But then, if you just missed the passing mark, or think you’re done sufficient preparation, you may consider taking Part 2 first. Part 2 syllabus compliments that in Part 1. Having knowledge in Part 1 and 2 helps quite a bit in passing both parts.
3. Take Part 3 first
If you’ve failed either Part 1 or 2 multiple times and it’s approaching the 4-year limit of the CIA exam program, you may want to take Part 3 first.
There are two reasons:
First, mentally you need a break after trying very hard (but still failing) several times.
Second, Part 3 is the toughest for most candidates. Even if you pass Part 1 and 2 in your next attempt, given the difficulty you may not pass Part 3 in one go. This means that you will soon lose credits for the first two parts.
If you pass the toughest Part 3 in your next attempt, then theoretically you have a higher chance to get the easier Part 1 and 2 done within the deadline.
What do You Think?
I hope you understand my logic behind each scenario. Feel free to explain your situation in the comment section and I will try my best to help. Thanks and best of luck to your CIA exam journey!