Before you jump in to pursue the CIA certification, you might want to take a quick look at the CIA exam format, length and intensity of the exam, and the type of questions you are going to see on the exam day.
The CIA exam is now fully computerized. This allows a smoother implementation of the exam across 500+ testing centers around the world.
Candidates have a much greater flexibility in scheduling their exams, practically any time during the year. The new format also encourages the proliferation of CIA exam prep online courses. This increases the competition leading to higher overall quality of the review materials and lower pricing at the same time.
Because of the computerization and the fact that all questions are in multiple choice format, you can get the (unofficial) score immediately after the exam. No more agony in waiting for weeks! The official score will be shown in candidates’ profiles on the IIA website. I haven’t heard of any case that the unofficial score is changed.
Part 1 is a longer exam while Part 2 and Part 3 have the same duration. There is no longer a Part 4 exam since July 2013.
Part 1 of the exam takes 2.5 hours, while Part 2 and Part 3 takes 2 hours. The current CIA exam format is 100% multiple choice, and therefore, you can get an unofficial score immediately after the exam.
|Duration||No. of Questions||Avg Time per Question|
|Part 1||2.5 hours||125||1.2 minutes|
|Part 2||2.0 hours||100||1.2 minutes|
|Part 3||2.0 hours||100||1.2 minutes|
I have this video going through the topic areas and format in Part 1, 2 and 3:
The exam comprises 100% of multiple choice questions. The advantage of having only MC question is that it is easy to drill and monitor your progress using online prep software. Also, multiple choice is used to test a candidate’s breadth of knowledge, not the depth.
As you can expect, the CIA exam is similar to what you may encounter in the AUD section of the CPA exam, and to a lesser extent, BEC and REG.
I haven’t taken the CIA exam, but readers have told me that both exams are “5 miles wide and 1 inch deep”, meaning they focus on the breadth of knowledge and not the depth. I would think this is more of the case for CIA exam, since all questions are multiple-choice and not the type we see in task-based simulations (case study questions) in the CPA exam.
The CMA exam is known for its complex and lengthy questions. CIA exam seems to be slightly better in this aspect (question type more similar to the CPA exam). The CMA exam has 2 essay questions while there is none in the CIA exam.
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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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