Failing the CIA exam can be one of the most frustrating experience. You spent hours preparing for the exam and now you are back to zero. Why did it happen, and more importantly, how can you avoid another retake?
Comparing the numerous successful and not-so-successful stories of CPA, CMA and CIA exams for the last 4 years, I conclude that there are 3 typical reasons why people fail to pass these professional exams.
Please take the time to go through this self-evaluation process.
Most candidates are internal auditors and many underestimate the difficulty of the exam, as they assume that their experience is more than enough to nail the questions.
The CIA exam covers a very broad topic. Sometimes your work may not cover everything that an internal auditor should know. Also, the exams do have theoretical questions and you’ve got to read the books to get prepared.
Therefore, it is crucial to set aside enough time for review and especially the practice questions.
We discuss the quantity of study time above. The quality of study is equally important. For example, you plan to study for an hour in the morning. Did you start the review right away, or did you check email and facebook first, and wasted half of the precious hour? This is a question that only you can answer.
If it is internal factor (laziness and lack of motivation), give yourself a choice: Would you rather study when you feel like it, and end up retaking the exam multiple times… or put in 100% effort, do it right and once and for all?
If it is external factor (can’t concentrate because of kids at home, too much traveling), you may need to get organized and find alternative arrangement to ensure a good study environment in the next few months. Your family may need to handle extra responsibilities. Tell them why you want to pass the exam, and what it means to you and the family. Once you loop them in, they are most likely willing to help.
Quite a lot of readers blame the review courses right away. Please don’t do that. Jumping into this conclusion and hastily getting another review course may not solve the issue if the primary reason of failure is due to the reasons above.
Another possibility: did you make full use of your existing review materials? For example, did you complete the practice questions? Did you rework on the ones you did wrong previously and make sure you got them right for the right reason?
If you believe the review materials do not fit your learning style, or that it is insufficient to get you prepared, then it is a good reason to consider supplementary or additional review courses.
I have a page on the pros and cons of major CIA review course providers. You are also welcome to email me for specific recommendation based on your background, budget and study style.
The IIA does not disclose CIA exam pass rates and I don’t have data to back up my claim, but I believe a lot more candidates fail Part 3 of the CIA exam. I explain why Part 3 could be tough even for experienced internal auditors.
Once your exam results are reflected in your CCMS record, you can re-register for the exam and schedule your new test appointment. There is a 90-day waiting period, which means that the earliest available dates will be three months away.
There is also a time limit of when you must take the exam part after the registration. You have to take it within 180 days or else you need to register again.
There is no limit to the number of times a candidate can retake a failed exam, and retakers do not need to pay the application fee as long as all exam parts can be completed within 4 years.
Two of my bloggers, Lynnel and Annette, failed their own CIA exams before. Lynnel couldn’t pass Part 1 the first time, but when she retook it a few months later, we passed Part 1 AND 2 on the same day!
For Annette, she passed Part 1 and 2 on her first attempt but it’s her 6th time taking Part 3 now. If she isn’t giving up, you shouldn’t!
Check out their stories here:
Here is a post that summarizes lessons learned from CIA exam retakers who ultimately pass this exam:
Feel free to drop me a note and tell me your story, or go to our frequently asked questions page where there are information on review course comparison, study tips and exam taking strategies.
Enter your name and email and
Join our mini course specifically for CIA exam retakers!
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.
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new window. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.