In the ever changing business environment, professional exams have to keep up with adjustments every 5-6 years.
The last major CIA exam change occurred in 2013. It’s about time…
The Next CIA Exam Changes
In early 2017, the IIA conducted an extensive analysis to determine the knowledge and skills required by internal audit professionals. They decided to reflect the findings in the new CIA exam syllabus.
The new exam will be rolled out in January 2019 for the English version, and gradually in 2019 for the non-English versions.
What Stays the Same
The format of the exam remains the same. This includes:
- Exam structure: remains as a 3-part exam
- Exam duration: 150 minutes for Part 1; 120 minutes for Part 2 and 3
- Number of questions: 125 for Part 1; 100 for Part 2 and 3
- Grading: 250-700 with passing score at 600
The exam requirements will also stay the same.
The syllabus of all three parts will be adjusted to reflect the latest global practice in internal audit. Part 1 and 2 in particular will be revised to better align with the IIA’s International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing.
A few sections will also be switched between Part 1 an 2 to create a more focused and coherent syllabus. Therefore, for candidates who have taken either Part 1 or 2, you may notice a few subject areas appear again in the other part you will be taking.
CIA Exam Part 1
Part 1 will be reorganized to cover the macro view on internal audit. The syllabus will go deeper into the foundations of internal auditing as defined by the IIA mission statements and standards.
It will also test the overall concept of governance, risk management and control, and fraud risk in more detail.
The application portion of internal audit (e.g. audit tools and techniques) will be moved to Part 2.
Section I to IV
These 4 sections include:
- Foundations of Internal Auditing
- Independence and Objectivity
- Proficiency and Due Professional Care
- Quality Assurance and Improvement Program
They are essentially the same as Section I in the old syllabus. The combined weighting (15+15+18+7 = 55%) is higher than the old one (35-45%).
- One new topic on interpreting the difference between assurance and consulting services provided by the internal audit activity, under section IC.
- The questions involving definition will align with specific IIA standards instead of general rules in auditing.
At the same time, the new syllabus provides more info on how in-depth each topic is tested. For example, in the old syllabus, candidates are told to prepare all topics at the proficient level. In the new syllabus, each subtopic is individually marked with either basic or proficient level to give a better idea on the relative importance.
Governance, Risk Management and Control has been covered in the old syllabus under Section II.
Most topics are now tested at the proficient level vs the awareness (basic) level in the old version. The weighting has been increased from 25-35% to 35%.
Fraud Risks was part of the old Section II, but is now merged with Section III in Part 2 to form a separate section. The weighting is around the same at 10%.
In the old exam, these topics were tested at the awareness level in Part 1 and progressed to proficient level in Part 2. In the new exam, almost all are tested at the proficient level.
The old Section III, on Conducting Internal Audit Engagement (25-35%), is now moved to Part 2.
CIA Exam Part 2
Part 2 is now clearly defined to test the “application” side of internal audit.
Specifically, Part 2 tests candidates’ knowledge, skills, and abilities particularly related to Performance Standards (series 2000, 2200, 2300, 2400, 2500, and 2600) and current internal audit practices.
This section on Managing the Internal Audit Activity is the same as the Section 1 in the old syllabus.
There is less emphasis on the strategic role of IA (old Section 1A) with the topic tested only at the basic evel.
The overall weighting will be greatly reduced from 40-50% to 20%.
Section II and IV
Section II on Planning the Engagement is the first part of the old Section II.
Section IV on Communicating Engagement Results is the second part of the old Section II.
The combined weighting (20 + 20 = 40%) is around the same as the old version at 40-50%.
This section on Performing the Engagement is the same as the old Section III in Part 1. The weighting is now increased from 25-35% (in old Part 1) to 40%.
The old Section III on Fraud Risk is now combined with the same topic in Part 1.
CIA Exam Part 3
The new syllabus for Part 3 is considerably streamlined to cover areas most relevant to internal auditors. For example, business competition, conflict management, cultural and political environment and communications have been removed from the new syllabus.
Interestingly, the once heavily tested topic on COSO and ISO 31000 seem to have disappeared as well.
The weighting on Information Security and Information Technology is much higher in the new syllabus.
This section on business acumen is a combination of the old Sections III and V. Most of the topics remain at the basic level, but performance measures and the risk/control implications of common business process are tested at the proficient level.
Weighting is about the same, from a range of 25-40% to 35%.
Section II and III
These two sections on Information Security and Information Technology is the same as the old Section VI on the same subject. Weighting has been increased significantly, from a range of 15-25% to 45%.
The cognitive level remains to be basic, meaning candidates are tested at the introductory level.
This section on Financial Management is the same as the old Section VII on the same subject. The testing level remains to be basic except for financial analysis (the ratios).
Weighting is about the same, from a range of 15-20% to 20%.
What does it Mean to You?
New Exam Takers
Overall, it’s hard to tell whether the new syllabus is harder or easier. Most candidates would take the safe bet, and take the exam before major changes.
The review course providers also encourage you to take the exam as soon as possible. Why? Because they can’t really tell how the new exam questions look like, and which topics are heavily tested until the real exam kicks in in early 2019. It will take them months to adjust the examples and practice questions to better reflect what is tested in the exam.
Part 1/ Part 2 Takers
For candidates who have taken either Part 1 or 2, you will see a few same topics appear again in the other part you will be taking.
Part 3 Takers
Part 3 is now less of a mixed bag which could be good news to many candidates.
Governance and ISO 31000 may no longer be tested (at least they are not explicitly mentioned as in the old syllabus).
Also, the financial management section remains to be tested at the basic level. For those who use Gleim, you may continue to stay away from the complex computational practice questions. The ratios are important though. Please memorize the formulas and know how to apply them.
I’ve Passed One Part. Do I need to Retake that Part after 2019?
No need. Old versions are recognized within the 4-year CIA exam program period.
Your Next Step
It’s still one year from the new CIA exam. I strongly suggest that you make the commitment to complete the 3 parts before 2019. Even if you pass one or two parts, you can still remove some of the uncertainties, which is always a good thing.
- Now, start your journey by following these steps to becoming a CIA
- If you have started, check out these CIA study materials that would help you pass before the deadline.