IIA CIA Challenge Exam

cia challenge exam

The Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification is the most well-known and highly regarded certification in the internal auditing industry. In fact, the CIA is so prestigious that it is the gold standard in internal auditing. And to earn the CIA, most candidates must meet a strict set of CIA certification requirements. However, in order to make this certification more accessible to all internal auditors, the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), the organization that offers the CIA, has created an accelerated track for individuals who hold other certifications. So, if you already have an accounting certification and would like to earn the CIA, you may be able to do so via this special opportunity called the CIA Challenge Exam.

Who Can Take the CIA Challenge Exam?

The manner in which the IIA is enabling CIA candidates to earn the CIA faster is a special exam program. The IIA calls this program the CIA Challenge Exam, and they are offering it to accountants and auditors with one of the following certifications:

  • Certification in Control Self-Assessment (CCSA)
  • Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP)
  • Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA)

Therefore, if you currently hold the CCSA, CGAP, or CFSA, you can use the IIA CIA Challenge Exam to take a faster and more cost-effective route to the CIA certification. The challenge exam is a single-part, condensed version of the traditional, 3-part CIA exam. And you shouldn’t find this exam to be much of a challenge at all, as you are already experienced in securing accounting certifications. So, if you’ve been thinking about earning the CIA, then now is definitely the time to do so. But you will need to act soon, as the deadline to sit for the Challenge Exam is December 31, 2020.

However, if you don’t hold one of these certifications, then you will have to embark down the normal path to become a CIA because the IIA has stopped accepting applications for new CCSA, CGAP, and CFSA candidates. The organization will continue to recognize these certifications. But, because the IIA believes the CIA is the most effective way for today’s professionals to demonstrate their level of education and training, the organization is encouraging more people to follow the CIA path by cutting back on other certification options.

Why Take the IIA CIA Challenge Exam?

Again, the IIA CIA Challenge Exam provides you with an easier way to acquire the CIA certification. And the CIA certification is very valuable for several reasons. Specifically, you can enjoy numerous CIA benefits to your career and your lifestyle, such as:

  • Increased earning potential
  • More and better job opportunities
  • Greater job security
  • Development of skills and abilities
  • Entrance into an elite group of professionals

So, if you can qualify for the Challenge Exam, taking it and earning the CIA certification would be very advantageous for you.

How Can You Qualify for the CIA Challenge Exam?

To take the CIA Challenge Exam and receive the CIA certification, you must meet the cut-and-dry criteria the IIA has laid out. These criteria include:

  • Be certified as a CGAP, CFSA, or CCSA
  • Have earned your certification by December 31, 2018
  • Have active certification at the time you apply and sit for the CIA challenge exam

However, if you meet these criteria, you still only have a limited time in which to apply and sit for the CIA challenge exam. The IIA will accept applications for the exam through December 15, 2020. And from there, the time frame to take the exam differs slightly based on exam language.

CIA Challenge Exam Time Frames

Exam Language Exam Dates
English July 1, 2019 – December 31, 2020
Chinese Traditional, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Turkish January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020

CIA Challenge Exam Fees

The IIA assesses a comprehensive application and requires an exam fee for the CIA Challenge Exam. However, the fee is considerably less than the regular CIA application and exam fees.

CIA Challenge Exam Fees

IIA Members Fee  Non-IIA Members Fee
$895 $1,095

As you can see, the Challenge Exam fee differs for IIA members and non-members. So, as a CCSA, CGAP, or CFSA, you may already be an IIA member, and in that case, you can appreciate the reduced fees. But if you are not an IIA member, then you can utilize an exciting offer from the IIA. When you register for the Challenge Exam, the IIA will then grant you a 1-year IIA membership in your country of residence.

Important Note for Current CIA Candidates

When the IIA announced the opportunity to take the CIA Challenge Exam, some CCSAs, CGAPs, and CFSAs were already in the process of taking the CIA exam. If you are in this position, then I have some good news for you. The IIA will also allow you to take the CIA Challenge Exam even if you have already completed one or more of the 3 CIA exam parts.

But, the IIA will not issue any refunds for past exam fees. And, you will have to pay full price for the Challenge Exam. However, if you sit for the CIA Challenge Exam and do not pass, you will still retain credit for any of the CIA exam parts you did pass. And, you will have 3 years to complete all of the CIA exam parts.

So, to incur this benefit, you must let the IIA know that you are a current CIA candidate and wish to take the challenge exam. To do so, log into your IIA Certification Candidate Management System (CCMS) and submit an incident. Then, in the subject line, enter “Admin Request to expedite the incident. Finally, in the body of the record, let the IIA know that you want to sit for the CIA Challenge Exam.

What Is on the CIA Challenge Exam Syllabus?

The CIA Challenge Exam consists of 1 exam part. The CIA Challenge Exam questions are all multiple-choice questions, and you’ll have 3 hours to answer them. The exam is available in English as well as Chinese Traditional, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Turkish.

The IIA has explained that they designed the Challenge Exam to bridge the gap between the CIA exam syllabus and the CCSA, CFSA, and CGAP exam syllabi. The ACCA CIA Challenge Exam syllabus also emphasizes the International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF).

So, the CIA Challenge Exam syllabus specifically includes 3 sections:

  1. Essentials of Internal Auditing (30% of the exam)
  2. Practices of Internal Auditing (40% of the exam)
  3. Business Knowledge and Internal Auditing (30% of the exam)

A high-level overview of the exam content in each section includes:

CIA Challenge Exam Syllabus

1. Essentials of Internal Auditing  A. Foundations of Internal Auditing
B. Independence and Objectivity
C. Proficiency and Due Professional Care
D. Governance, Risk Management, and Control
E. Fraud Risks
II. Practices of Internal Auditing A. Engagement Planning
B. Information Gathering
C. Analysis and Evaluation
D. Engagement Supervision
E. Communicating Engagement Results and the Acceptance of Risk
F. Monitoring Progress
III. Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing A. Data Analytics
B. Information Security
C. Application and System Software
D. IT Infrastructure and IT Control Frameworks
E. Financial Accounting and Finance

Noting the similarities between the CIA Challenge Exam syllabus and the 3-part CIA exam syllabus could be useful to your preparations.

How Do You Register for and Schedule the CIA Challenge Exam 2019?

As mentioned, the window of time in which to apply and sit for the CIA Challenge Exam is not long. However, you likely already know much of the exam material, so you can work within the condensed timeline.

To begin the application process, visit the IIA website and log in with your user information. Navigate to the “Complete a Form” section and choose the application form for the CIA Challenge Exam. When you complete the application form, you must also pay the Challenge Exam fee.

The IIA will process your application. Once they approve you, you can register for the Challenge Exam. The exam registration process is similar to the traditional CIA exam registration. Initially, you will register for the exam through the IIA. Then, once that step is complete, you will schedule your actual exam date through Pearson VUE. So, learning more about the Pearson VUE testing centers and exam scheduling process is important for Challenge Exam candidates.

How Do You Get a CIA Challenge Exam Prep Course?

As a certified auditing or accounting professional, you already have an advantage for your CIA Challenge Exam preparations. But as you determine your exam date, you should still account for study time.

Because the CIA Challenge Exam covers content from the CIA exam, you can use a CIA review course to prepare for the Challenge Exam. A full CIA review course addresses all of the CIA exam content, so it will contain everything you need to pass the Challenge Exam. To ensure that you know the exam content, a good CIA review course usually includes materials such as textbooks, video lectures, audio lectures, and flashcards. What’s more, such a course also contains a test bank of practice questions and practice exams as well as adaptive technology to verify that you truly understand all of the information.

If you need help choosing your CIA Challenge Exam study material, you can contact me for a personalized recommendation. Then, once you determine the right course for you, you can use my CIA review discounts to save on your Challenge Exam prep.

Can You Retake the CIA Challenge Exam?

Hopefully, come exam day, you’ll be completely ready to pass the CIA Challenge Exam (you can even use these CIA tips to help). But in the event that you don’t pass, you can retake the exam. To do so, you must pay $595 if you’re an IIA member and $795 if you’re a nonmember. You also must wait a minimum of 90 days from the date of your previous exam attempt to sit for your retake.

And again, the IIA is only offering the CIA Challenge Exam until December 31, 2020. So, you must keep this deadline in mind when you schedule the exam. To account for the 90-day waiting period, you should try to take the CIA Challenge Exam a bit more than 90 days before December 31, 2020. So, taking the exam in September 2020 gives you enough time.

What About the ACCA CIA Challenge Exam?

The IIA is no stranger to challenge or specialty CIA exams. From time to time, the IIA offers these types of exams to individuals who hold various accounting or auditing certifications. The organization does so to help encourage more professionals to earn the highly lauded CIA certification.

For example, the IIA has previously allowed individuals belonging to the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) to obtain the CIA through an expedited exam. To qualify for the exam, candidates had to be active ACCA members in good standing. Then, they simply had to apply for the exam following the standard exam registration process.

The ACCA CIA Challenge Exam questions were entirely multiple-choice, and the exam had 125 MCQs. According to the ACCA CIA Challenge Exam syllabus, the exam questions focused on the subjects of mandatory guidance, managing the internal audit function, and managing individual engagements.

The window to take the ACCA CIA Challenge Exam closed in October 2018. And currently, the IIA has no plans to offer another specialty exam for ACCA members. However, keeping an eye on the IIA website is wise, as the organization continues to look for ways to advance the accounting and auditing industry.

How Can You Move Forward with the CIA Certification?

As a CCSA, CFSA, or CGAP, you have a unique and wonderful opportunity to earn the prestigious CIA certification in a fast and cost-effective manner. Remember, the CIA certification offers immense benefits, so I encourage you to take advantage of the IIA’s offer before time runs out.

Or, if you don’t qualify for the CIA Challenge Exam, you can still earn the CIA certification by taking the regular CIA exam. And you can learn everything you need to know to do so by signing up for my free CIA e-course.

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About the Author Stephanie

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.

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