Knowing all the career benefits the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification brings, you’ve dreamed about becoming a CIA for quite some time. You know that you can fulfill the CIA requirements so long as you can pass the CIA exam. So, you’re taking the steps necessary to become a CIA. And, you’re making good progress because you’ve already applied for the CIA program and received approval from the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). Now, you need to schedule your CIA exam appointment, and you’ve got some questions about the process. For example, where and when can you take the CIA exam? How do you find a CIA location?
Preparing to pass the CIA exam takes time and effort. But thankfully, finding a CIA exam location and date that works for you is quite simple. You can use this information to make the CIA exam scheduling process quite easy and ensure that you’ll be ready for your testing appointment when exam day arrives.
As you know, the IIA creates the CIA exam and awards the CIA certification. However, the IIA has outsourced the administration of the CIA exam to Pearson VUE. Pearson VUE is the global leader in computer-based testing, as they help test owners and test takers in nearly every industry. Specifically, Pearson VUE assists more than 450 credential owners like the IIA in the development, management, delivery, and growth of their testing programs.
By teaming with Pearson VUE, the IIA provides CIA candidates with access to more than 900 testing locations worldwide. So, you’ll find a Pearson VUE Saudi Arabia, Pearson VUE India, Pearson VUE San Francisco, Pearson VUE Egypt, Pearson VUE South Africa, Pearson VUE Dubai – the list is just about endless!
These sites operate year-round for your convenience, and most Pearson VUE locations are open 5-6 days a week. Pearson VUE does not accept walk-in appointments, so you must schedule your exam in advance.
However, because the IIA has not established any firm CIA exam dates or testing windows, you don’t have to worry about any blackout periods preventing you from taking the CIA exam at the time that works best for you. And you can even schedule more than 1 exam part in a single day, depending on availability and your heart’s desires.
Because the IIA is an international professional association and has more than 185,000 members around the world, the CIA exam is currently available in 19 languages at Pearson VUE testing centers. These languages include Arabic, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Czech, English, Estonian, French, German, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, and Turkish.
However, the IIA updated the English version of the CIA exam with the recent exam changes at the beginning of 2019. The update schedule for the remaining languages versions is:
So, once the IIA has released all of the updated exam versions, you won’t be able to take the exam in Czech, Estonian, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, or Polish. Therefore, time to take the exam in these languages is running out.
You can’t schedule a Pearson CIA exam testing appointment until you’ve registered for the CIA exam. And you can’t register for the CIA exam until you’ve applied to the CIA program. So, if you haven’t completed the application yet, then you need to take a few steps back.
But if you do have applied for the CIA program, then you can proceed with registering for the CIA exam and making your CIA test schedule. To start this 2-part process, you must register for the exam within the IIA’s Certification Candidate Management System (CCMS). Then, you have to schedule your testing appointment with Pearson VUE
Once the IIA approves your CIA program application, you will receive an email from them with the instructions and links you need to register for the exam. This email will direct you to log in to the IIA CCMS portal.
Within the portal, you will click “Complete a Form” on the bottom left-hand side of the main screen. On the “Complete a Form” page, you must select a link in the Registration section. Your options are CIA – Part 1 Registration, CIA – Part 2 Registration, or CIA – Part 3 Registration. You have to register for each exam part separately, so you can only click one of these links at a time.
Part of the CIA exam registration process will be paying the CIA exam fees. The current fee structure for the CIA exams is:
|IIA Member Fees||Non-Member Fees||Student Fees|
You can pay these fees with a credit card, check, or wire transfer, though paying with a credit card is the fastest method.
After the IIA has received and processed your exam registration and payment, they will send your “Authorization to Test” email, which tells you how to schedule your exam within Pearson VUE. However, the IIA asks that you wait 48 hours after receiving this email to contact Pearson VUE. Then, once that 48-hour period ends, you can proceed.
In fact, you should schedule your appointment as soon as possible after the waiting period ends for 2 reasons. First, you want to get an open exam date that works best for you and your schedule. And the sooner you schedule your testing appointment, the better chance you have of securing your ideal exam date. Second, you only have 180 days to schedule and sit your exam after you receive your authorization to test. After 180 days, your exam eligibility window will close, and you will have to register for the exam parts again and pay the exam fees again.
To schedule your exam, you can call Pearson Vue or visit their website. If you choose to visit the Pearson VUE website, you’ll find that the registration process is quite simple. As a first step, you’ll want to find CIA locations for your appointment. You can locate your closest Pearson CIA exam site by following these steps:
Once you complete your registration, Pearson VUE will send you a confirmation email containing instructions for exam day. But if you want a closer look at how the Pearson IIA testing process goes, you can check out the video clip below. It shows a typical Pearson VUE CIA exam site and exam appointment procedures. These procedures include:
Of course, you’ll be taking the CIA exam specifically at your preferred Pearson VUE testing center. So, you’ll have to visit Pearson VUE at least 3 times, because, as the CIA exam format proves, the exam consists of 3 parts:
Each exam part contains only multiple-choice questions (MCQs), and total testing time for each part varies according to the number of MCQs presented. You should limit the amount of time you spend on each question according to the total testing time you have.
|Exam Part||Duration||Number of Questions||Average Time per Question|
|1||2 ½ hours||125||1.2 minutes|
|2||2 hours||100||1.2 minutes|
|3||2 hours||100||1.2 minutes|
As you can see, you will have 2-2 ½ hours to take your CIA exam part. However, your CIA testing appointment will actually be a little longer than the total testing time because Pearson VUE asks that you arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. Though, you may want to get there even earlier to find a parking spot.
Showing up 30 minutes ahead of time allows you to complete the previously mentioned check-in procedures. And you may even be able to start your exam early. You’ll also have to move through a series of additional screens on your testing station computer before you can start the exam. However, your time with these screens does not count toward your exam time.
Furthermore, the IIA has fully computerized the CIA exam. And because each exam part features only MCQs, the computer grades your exam immediately. Therefore, Pearson VUE will give you an unofficial score report as soon as you finish the exam. Consequently, you’ll know if you passed or failed the CIA exam before you leave the Pearson VUE testing center.
Because Pearson VUE has testing centers all around the world, your local Pearson VUE test center may or may not be like others. But the more you know about what to expect, the better prepared you can be for a good CIA exam testing appointment. For this reason, I’ve asked CIA candidates to discuss their Pearson exam center experience and share their CIA testing center advice.
So, Sharika from Pretoria says her Pearson VUE location was smaller than she expected and was a bit cramped overall. And, her tips for CIA candidates are to “not wear any jewelry (watches are not allowed). Do not carry anything besides your authorization letter/appointment letter, original ID, and car keys.”
And though Sharika said, “They do have lockers to put your items in, she chose to play it safe, as she said, “I even left my phone in my car.” Finally, Sharika confirmed that you can wear a jacket at your testing station, as “it may be a bit cooler in the testing room.”
Doris confirms that her Pearson VUE testing center in Toronto was a cool room. But sadly, she also states that the noises from the air conditioning system and other testing candidates coming in and out of the room were a “quite distracting.”
Like Sharika, Akshara felt somewhat confined in his Indian Pearson VUE testing center. However, he reported that the “staff was very polite and kind.”
Finally, after testing at a Pearson VUE in South Carolina, Erin also recommends “that candidates bring minimal items with them, as [items] are not allowed in the testing room.”
Erin also reveals that “once you are escorted to your seat/computer in the testing room, you are not allowed to stand up or leave the testing room for any reason. You are required to raise your hand and remain seated until they come inside and escort you out of the room. The Pearson VUE employee sits outside a large glass window, so during the exams, the room is monitored visually by a person as well as video and audio recording. There was space in the testing room for approximately 15 people to take exams at any given time.”
So, I hope you can use this information from fellow CIA candidates to create a successful Pearson CIA exam appointment for yourself.
So, now you know how to schedule and get through a Pearson CIA exam appointment. But, you need to fill your head with a bit more information before you hit “Submit” on your CIA exam registration. Specifically, you need to know which CIA exam part you want to take first and everything covered in the CIA exam syllabus for that part.
To determine which exam part to start with, you need to consider the content each exam part covers.
The CIA exam parts cover the following internal auditing content areas:
|Essentials of Internal Auditing||Practice of Internal Auditing||Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing|
|I. Foundations of Internal Auditing (15%)||I. Managing the Internal Audit Activity (20%)||I. Business Acumen (35%)|
|II. Independence and Objectivity (15%)||II. Planning the Engagement (20%)||II. Informational Security (25%)|
|III. Proficiency and Due Professional Care (18%)||III. Performing the Engagement (40%)||III. Information Technology (20%)|
|IV. Quality Assurance and Improvement Program (7%)||IV. Communicating Engagement Results and Monitoring Progress (20%)||IV. Financial Management (20%)|
|V. Governance, Risk Management, and Control (35%)|
|VI. Fraud Risks (10%)|
As you can see from the syllabus, Part 1 of the CIA exam assesses a candidate’s knowledge, abilities, and skills related to the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing. Therefore, it includes questions related to the foundations of internal auditing; independence and objectivity; proficiency and due professional care; quality assurance and improvement program; governance, risk management, and control; and fraud risks.
Questions related to governance, risk management, and control make up the largest portion of the test. According to the IIA, these questions account for 35% of all questions in the exam.
Additionally, Part 2 of the CIA exam evaluates a candidate’s understanding of internal auditing practices and performance standards. So, it features questions related to managing the internal audit activity, planning the engagement, performing the engagement, and communicating engagement results and monitoring progress.
Questions related to performing the engagement make up the largest portion of the test. So, according to the IIA, these questions account for 40% of all questions in the exam.
Finally, Part 3 of the CIA exam scores a candidate’s understanding of core business concepts. It includes questions related to business acumen, information security, information technology, and financial management.
Questions related to business acumen make up the largest portion of the test. According to the IIA, these questions account for 35% of all questions in the exam.
With the exam content in mind, I recommend that CIA candidates who already work in internal audit take the exam parts in numerical order. Therefore, you should start with Part 1 and use these tips to pass CIA Part 1 on your first try. Then, I suggest moving on to Part 2 and ending with Part 3. And again, tailor your review so you can pass CIA Part 2 on your first try and pass CIA Part 3 on your first try.
Or, you can check out my other suggestions for which CIA exam part to take first.
Yes, prior to scheduling your testing appointment, I recommend having the majority of your CIA exam preparations completed. Now, you can (and should) still take time to study after you schedule your exam. However, you will be better prepared to choose an exam date if you review the exam content beforehand. Otherwise, how will you know if you need 2 weeks or 2 months to prepare for the test?
Now, you’ve already taken a crash course in the content of each exam part. But you should also know that each exam part expects you to have a certain depth of knowledge with the topics tested. The cognitive levels for which the exam parts will test you are:
And specifically, the CIA exam parts test the following number of topics at each cognitive level:
|Exam Part||Basic Level||Proficient Level|
Therefore, preparing for each CIA exam part requires a certain amount of study time. The amount of CIA exam study time I suggest for each part is:
|Exam Part||Minimum # of Study Hours||Safe # of Study Hours|
|1||30-40 hours||55-65 hours|
|2||30-40 hours||60-70 hours|
|3||40-50 hours||85-95 hours|
With this information, you can start to use your CIA review course to determine how long your studies will last. The best CIA review courses on the market include 2 essential tools for estimating your total CIA exam study time: adaptive technology and an interactive study planner.
The adaptive technology in your CIA exam prep detects your weak areas and enables you to strengthen them. The technology learns what your weak areas are based on your quiz performances. Usually, the course will direct you to take a diagnostic quiz or 2 before you begin working through a study unit. So, you should complete a few study units of your course to see how long the process of improving your weak areas in those units took.
If you’re able to study for at least 10 hours a week consistently and you can only finish a few study units a week, then you can assume that you’ll need to study for the safe number of hours I recommend. Consequently, your exam preparations will take longer.
Then, once you know whether you need to study for the minimum or the safe number of hours, you can put an estimate of your CIA exam date into your course’s interactive study planner. You can also input the dates and times you can’t study. The study planner will then tell you how many more days and hours you need to study to be ready by your exam date.
If you find that your schedule can’t accommodate the study planner’s suggestions because your life has become increasingly hectic or has forced you to slow your studies down, then you can adjust your exam date in the study planner. Doing this not only helps you find the best exam date for you before you schedule, but it also prevents you from having to pay a CIA exam rescheduling or cancellation fee to Pearson VUE.
So, spend some time with your CIA review course before you select your exam day. You want to set yourself up for success, and that means looking before you leap.
I know the exam process can be overwhelming. So, I’d like to help you keep it simple by mentioning a few more important points about the CIA exam registration and scheduling process.
Once your Pearson VUE CIA testing appointment is officially in the books, you should resume and complete your exam studies. And again, you can only ensure that you’re totally ready to pass by using a CIA review course. A CIA review course familiarizes you with the exam content and increases your chances of passing. Consequently, finding the right one for you is essential to passing each exam part the first time. So, use my comparison of the pros and cons of the most popular CIA review courses to determine which study system will work best for you. Then, save big on your preferred CIA exam prep with my CIA discounts.
Additionally, to save even more money on the CIA process, take my free CIA e-course. This course walks you through the entire CIA certification process and tells you how to pass the CIA exam parts. Learn more now or sign up here!
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.