5 things I Wish I Had Known before Applying for CIA


Annette is our first exam blogger from Namibia. She passed Part 1 and 2, and is working on the last part. This is going to be her 6th attempt for Part 3.

before applying for cia examReflecting back on my last 5 years being in the CIA program, there are a couple of things I would have wished I knew before signing up. As mentioned in my first post, I did not get guidance on how to get the CIA certification, just that I need to get it, and thus all research I did myself. I can’t change it anymore, but only learn from this.

1. There is an Expiry Date

I did not know when I signed up that I only had 4 years to complete it! Had I known I would have probably planned better? I signed up immediately when starting my first IA job, but did not take the exam until about a year later.

2. Work Experience is Helpful

For me Part 1 was at first difficult as I tried it without having had the “real” IA experience. I was exposed to special assignments and financial clean-up projects, but never the run-of-the-mill internal audit engagements that includes planning, execution, reporting, follow-up. Second try I passed as I had IA exposure by then.

3. Required for Career Growth

I was not aware that the CIA is such a big deal when you want to grow in the IA profession. Every vacancy I see now they prefer candidates with CIA. Even currently in my job I have reached the level where I can’t receive my promotion until I have the CIA.

4. There is ipasstheciaexam.com

This is a credit to Stephanie. Thanks for creating this community! I only discovered this very helpful blog mid-way through my program, had I known earlier it would have saved me a lot of money, frustration and tries.

5. University vs CIA

I did a National Diploma in Internal Auditing and I thought “I can do this”. Surprise…it did not help me at all. Today I can only remember that we crunched the Standards  (Number and Title – never the interpretation) and the assertions (accuracy, classification, completeness, etc.). How to do an actual IA was not explained, not the way the CIA requires. Did you ever hear about the “Four Stages of Competence” (if not google it)? When I started working I was expecting to start at the fourth stage (Unconscious Competence, where you are expert enough that you can easily carry out the tasks). I was wrong.

So, what have I learned? Before signing up to a new/other program and spend unnecessary money and time, I would do proper research, talk to people that have done it already and enquire how this will affect my career path (and much more – depending).

Note from Stephanie

I swear I didn’t pay Annette to say #4 😉 And in fact, this site didn’t exist when you started back in 2011. The content was buried somewhere in my CPA site until I felt there were enough readers to have the pages stand on their own.

This post is a great piece of advice! Truly from the one who has been there, and is kind enough to share the experience. I will link this up to my e-course so people won’t miss it.

Thanks, Annette, for giving back to our community!

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About the Author Annette S

Hello, I was born, raised and have been working in Namibia as an internal auditor. I finally passed my CIA exam after 7 attempts on Part 3!

  • Vidya says:

    Hi Annette and Stephanie.. could you please suggest me if I can go with the smart bundle offered by Fast forward academy.. I somehow felt it was useful..please help me as I am a little confused.

    • Annette says:

      Hi Vidya

      I have never used Fast Forward, so unfortunatley I cannot give you advice on that.

      • Stephanie says:

        Hi Vidya,
        I’ve got a few readers asking about Fast Forward every year, but so far I haven’t heard of any of my readers using it… thus I am also not able to comment on this provider.

        If you decide to go ahead with Fast Forward, please let us know how it goes. Thanks!

  • Yungong Courage says:

    Hello Annette, thanks for this info. Is it necessary to have internal audit experience before taking the CIA exams?
    Interested in the exams but have no audit experience. Thanks.

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