Lynnel is our new CIA exam blogger from the Philippines. She writes every Friday.
I mentioned about 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 for review, it was like my world has fallen apart.
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 come cross this website which help me a lot on this journey.
The following is my realizations after the exam. (Disclaimer: realization listed below is my opinion. It may not be applicable to everyone)
1. False Assurance
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, practice advisories and answering 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 few days before the exam, but turned out it did not work for me.
3. Moving on Too Fast (and Sacrificed Accuracy)
CIA exams allot 2 and a half hours for part 1 (125 questions) and 2 hours for part 2 and 3 (100 questions) to finish the exam. On average it is almost 1 minute or few seconds more to finish the exam. I enrolled for a review class and we practiced answering short/easy questions in 30 seconds each.
In 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 to answer each question right since I overlook/ misunderstood some of the questions.
4. Practice Test Simulation
Only until the day of my exam that I tried the practice test simulation. I answered too quickly, and got frustrated because I did not know the answers. I realized that practice test 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.
5. Electronic Reviewing
Electronic reviewing/ e book reading has a lot of advantages. Having said that, I tried to review using my laptop and I have a hard time 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 taught 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.
Note from Stephanie
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 about 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 with the good work