Lynnel is our new CIA exam blogger from the Philippines. She writes every Friday.
I mentioned failing Part 1 in my first blog post. It was heartbreaking to see a “fail” mark and scoring near the passing score. After studying for months and dedicating time to review, it felt like my world has fallen apart. My CIA exam failure really got me down.
On the day of my exam, I was wondering why I failed. What went wrong? I was thinking all day and sat for more than 3 hours answering those questions. I felt that all my plans vanished in one failure.
I regained my motivation after a week of relaxation, planning, and asking for advice on how to proceed. I am very thankful that I came across this website, which helped me a lot on this journey.
The following are my realizations after the CIA exam. (Disclaimer: The realizations listed below are my opinions. They may not be applicable to everyone who experiences a CIA exam failure.)
On my software, I scored 85% to 90%+ in each topic and still failed. In fact, scoring 90% above or even 100% does not mean that I, myself, understand the concept of the topics. I admit that there are times when I memorize the answers, and I don’t have a good grasp of the concepts.
I knew I was ready when I finished reading all the topics and answered more than a thousand questions. Four days before the exam, I did not review the topics and just relaxed. I followed the advice to relax a few days before the exam, but as it turned out, it did not work for me.
CIA exams allow 2 1/2 hours for Part 1 (125 questions) and 2 hours for Part 2 and 3 (100 questions) for finishing the exam. On average, you need to answer questions in about 30 seconds to 1 minute in order to finish the CIA exam on time. I enrolled in a CIA review class, and we practiced answering short/easy questions in 30 seconds each.
On the actual exam, I finished the exam 30 minutes early and still had a chance to go through all the questions. In hindsight, 30 seconds was too short for answering each question right since I overlooked and misunderstood some of the questions.
I did not try a CIA practice test simulation until the day of my exam. I answered too quickly and got frustrated because I did not know the answers. I realized that CIA practice tests must be taken in the real exam test environment. On the other hand, I admit that I did not practice answering 125 questions on my software.
Electronic reviewing and ebook reading has a lot of advantages. Having said that, I tried to review using my laptop and had difficulty understanding the concepts. The soft copy did not work for me, and I switched to reading on hard copy. I was surprised by the result because I am more focused, and I understand more of the concepts very well.
Every experience in life teaches us lessons. And I believe on this part, realizations should come first before the exam. Every person is different, but everyone must know themselves very well.
Thanks a lot for your well-thought reflections, Lynnel. It’s most important to know where we can improve upon. By reading your first-hand experience, readers can hopefully realize this before taking their own exams.
Different readers mentioned your points in the past, so these are actually common “pitfalls” for CIA exam candidates. I am glad you put them all together in this post.
How is your study going? Keep up the good work!
Lynnel is a recent graduate, with a BSBA Major in Internal Auditing in the Philippines. Lynnel passed Part 1 and 2 on the same day, and Part 3 on her first attempt.