CIA Exam Part 2: How to Pass CIA Part 2 

cia exam part 2

In the process of passing the CIA exam, you’ll have to sit for CIA exam Part 2. Passing each CIA exam part the first time is the most efficient and economical way to become a CIA. So, to help you pass CIA Part 2 on your first attempt, learn all about the syllabus, pass rate, passing score, fees, format, difficulty, and best passing strategies here.

Content: CIA Part 2 Syllabus

One of the first steps in your CIA Part 2 preparations must be discovering the content of this exam part. CIA Part 2 is called Practice of Internal Auditing, so it covers internal audit activity and the engagement process.

In the process, you’ll need to know that on January 1, 2019, the IIA modified each CIA exam part syllabus. The IIA used the results of their 2017 global job-analysis survey to update the CIA exam in such a way that it better tested candidates on the knowledge and skills necessary for today’s internal auditor.

The exam changes involved redistributing the content between each part to minimize overlap. In the process, CIA exam Part 2 received 1 additional content area.

2019 CIA Part 2 Syllabus

Practice of Internal Auditing

Content Area Coverage Percentage
I. Managing the Internal Audit Activity 20%
II. Planning the Engagement 20%
III. Performing the Engagement 40%
IV. Communicating Engagement Results and Monitoring Progress 20%

As the content areas demonstrate, this exam part deals with the practice of internal auditing. Furthermore, CIA exam Part 2 assesses candidates for knowledge, skills, and abilities related to the Performance Standards (series 2000, 2200, 2300, 2400, 2500, and 2600) and current internal audit practices.

To verify candidate understanding of important auditing principles, the CIA exam syllabi reveal the cognitive level, or depth of knowledge, that candidates need to have for each exam topic area. The 2 cognitive levels at which the exam tests candidates are:

  • Basic Level: Candidates retrieve relevant knowledge from memory and/or demonstrate basic comprehension of concepts or processes.
  • Proficient Level: Candidates apply concepts, processes, or procedures; analyze, evaluate, and make judgments based on criteria; and/or put elements or material together to formulate conclusions and recommendations.

Part 2 of the CIA exam has 14 topics that candidates must know at the Basic level and 21 topics that candidates must know at the Proficient level.

Pass Rate: CIA Exam Part 2 Pass Rate

The IIA does not release pass rates for each CIA exam part. Therefore, we only have the most recent overall CIA exam pass rate to go by, which is the 2018 pass rate of 43%. The chart demonstrates that this is the highest CIA exam pass rate of the last 5 years.

Exam 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
CIA 42% 39% 40% 42% 43%

Passing Score: How to Pass CIA Part 2

The score reporting scale for CIA exam Part 2 is the same as that of the other CIA exam parts: 250-750. The CIA exam is completely computerized, so the computer determines your raw exam score and converts it to this scale. And, the CIA exam passing score for all 3 parts is 600.

Fees: The Cost of the CIA Part 2 Exam

The costs for taking each CIA exam part are as follows:

Fee Member Non-Member Student
Application $115 $230 $65
Part 1 $280 $395 $230
Part 2 $230 $345 $180
Part 3 $230 $345 $180

As the chart depicts, CIA exam Part 2 is one of the cheaper parts to take. Both CIA exam Part 2 and CIA exam Part 3 have lower CIA exam fees that Part 1 because Part 1 has more questions and requires more testing time. But no matter which part you take, you can save money on that part (and the entire CIA exam) by passing the first time.

You can also save money on CIA exam Part 2 (and the other exam parts) by becoming an IIA member, as IIA members receive discounts on CIA exam fees. But as you can see, students get even bigger discounts, so the cheapest way to pass the CIA exam is to take it as a student.

Format: CIA Part 2 Exam Questions

CIA Exam Part 2 joins CIA exam Part 3 in being shorter than CIA exam Part 1. Both Part 2 and Part 3 only have 100 questions, whereas Part 1 has 125 questions. Additionally, Part 2 and Part 3 both have just 120 minutes (2 hours) of total testing time, while Part 1 has 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of time.

Number of CIA Exam Questions

Part 1 125
Part 2 100
Part 3 100

Every CIA exam part contains only multiple-choice questions (MCQs). Therefore, the number of questions and total testing time for each exam part gives candidates an average time per question of 1.2 minutes.

Because the CIA exam tests a candidate’s knowledge of the concepts at a more general and introductory level, the questions are usually pretty straightforward. Consequently, computational questions are rare.

Difficulty: CIA Exam Part 2 Difficulty

According to feedback from my readers, CIA exam Part 2 is similar to CIA exam Part 1 in that experienced internal auditors may have the advantage over these parts.

Work experience gives CIA candidates a leg up on these sections because seasoned internal auditors usually interact with the information on Part 1 and Part 2 on the job. However, Part 2 focuses on each step of the internal audit process, and you may or may not personally complete each of these steps in your line of work on a regular basis.

Furthermore, the exam is comprehensive enough that you probably can’t just walk into the testing center and ace it. You must not underestimate CIA exam Part 2. Instead, you should read through the material and answer all of the practice questions before you sit to ensure that your knowledge is correct and you’re ready to pass.

Depending on the order in which you take the CIA exam parts, you may start to study for Part 2 and find that its questions are not as tricky as those in Part 1. But you must keep in mind that your experience with Part 1 may have helped prepare you for Part 2. Therefore, you still shouldn’t skimp on your Part 2 preparations, as these parts cover different aspects of internal auditing and remain challenging in their own right.

Study Time: CIA Exam Part 2 Study Time

The exact duration of your studies will depend on your background with internal audit and your familiarity with the exam topics. Consequently, you may need more or less time to study for CIA exam Part 2 than the average CIA candidate. But, according to my experience with the different CIA review courses, I have come up with some general estimates for CIA exam Part 2 study time.

If you feel confident in your knowledge, you can simply study for the minimum number of hours. On the other hand, if you need to start with the exam basics, then I suggest shooting for the safe number of study hours.

Minimum  Safe
 Part 1  30-40 hours 55-65 hours
 Part 2  30-40 hours 60-70 hours
 Part 3  40-50 hours  85-95 hours

As indicated by my numbers, you don’t need to study for Part 2 of the CIA exam as long as you’ll probably need to study for Part 3. But, you should plan to put more study hours into Part 2 than into Part 1.

Study Tips: How to Pass CIA Part 2

Following my general study tips will help you pass the entire CIA exam. But adhering to the tips supplied here will help you pass CIA Part 2 specifically.

1. Study with a CIA review course.

No matter which part of the CIA exam you’re preparing for, you’ll be better off doing so with a CIA review course. A review course will cover all of the content you need to know and allow you to apply what you’ve learned with practice questions and practice exams.

The best CIA review courses include well-written, thorough books and explanatory, useful video lectures. They also have large test banks of questions, and some even offer candidate support from accounting and exam experts.

Finally, when you purchase a course that offers access until you pass, you can use the same course for your entire CIA journey (and get free updates) without having to pay another penny.

Passing the CIA exam the first time is much more difficult to do without exam prep, so a review course is definitely worth the investment!

2. Answer as many practice questions as you can.

While you may be tempted to just buy and rely on a book to get you through the CIA exam, I believe that having a test bank of practice questions as well is essential.

Answering practice questions is beneficial for several reasons. First, practice questions help you apply what you’ve learned in the books and video lectures so you can ensure that you’ve understood the concepts properly and deeply enough. Second, practice questions help you get more familiar with the types of questions you’ll see on the real CIA exam. And finally, answering practice questions enables you to perfect your time management so you can answer every exam question before the exam clock runs out.

And, the more practice questions you have, the better you’ll be able to accomplish all of these things. When you have access to a large test bank, you’re more likely to get a good number of questions about each topic, instead of just 1 or 2. Also, an excess of questions increases your chances of answering some that will be just like what you see on exam day. And finally, answering a bunch of practice questions in a row lets you develop your stamina for getting through the 100 MCQs the CIA exam will serve you.

3. Don’t memorize the practice questions.

Again, answering practice questions is key to CIA exam success. But how you use the practice questions can make or break your exam experience. By this, I mean that the purpose of answering practice questions is to prove that you know the concepts well, not that you know the actual questions well.

If you memorize the practice questions in your course’s test bank, then you’ll condition yourself to only be able to answer those exact questions. And the likelihood of you seeing those exact questions on the real CIA exam is very, very small. In fact, you may not see any exam questions that have much in common with your practice questions, so you’re not setting yourself up for success by memorizing specific questions.

Therefore, you should think of the practice questions as a test of your knowledge of the concepts, not as a sampling of the questions you’ll find on the exam. When you answer the practice questions, determine which topics the question is asking you about, remember what you know about that topic, and use that information to select the answer to the question.

If you know the topic the question is asking you about but don’t know enough about that topic to answer the question, then you know that you need to expand your familiarity with that topic. And realizing the topics you need to do this with and the topics you don’t need to do this with is the point of the practice questions. Don’t forget that!

4. Let your knowledge of the concepts guide your educated guessing.

Though CIA exam questions are not usually computational, that does not mean they are usually easy. That’s because the question stems are often simple enough to understand, but the answer options pose a problem. Specifically, you may find at least 2 answer options that look correct. When you encounter a question like this, you may have to employ educated guessing.

Educated guessing is pretty self-explanatory. You use your previous information about a topic to guess what the right answer to a question might be. Recalling what you know about the topic should help you eliminate the obviously incorrect answer options right away. Then, you’ll need to dig deep in your memory to evaluate the viability of the other 2 answer options.

One way to continue narrowing down your options is to consider the implications of going with both answer options in a real-life scenario. If only one answer option yields a successful outcome in your scenario, then you know the answer.

But if that set up doesn’t solve the issue for you, then you should also use your experience with the exam to speculate what the exam may be getting at with this question. Finally, relying on your intuition (again, based on what you know about the topic) should help you pick what you believe to be the best answer option between the 2.

Review Courses: CIA Part 2 Study Material

As mentioned, a CIA review course is a must-have for exam success. And you don’t have to find the best CIA review course for you on your own. You can use my review course comparison to discover the pros and cons of the most popular courses available. Or, you can contact me to receive a more personalized suggestion. Then, you can use my CIA review course discounts to save on your preferred course.

Finally, you can sign up for my e-course to learn all about the CIA process. It will also tell you how to pass the exam on your first attempt. Check out my free CIA course now or sign up below!

Complete 2019 CIA Exam Part 2 Syllabus

1. Managing the Internal Audit Activity (20%)

  • Internal Audit Operations
  • Establishing a Risk-Based Internal Audit Plan
  • Communicating and Reporting to Senior Management and the Board

2. Planning the Engagement (20%)

  • Engagement Planning

3. Performing the Engagement (40%)

  • Information Gathering
  • Analysis and Evaluation
  • Engagement Supervision

4. Communicating Engagement Results and Monitoring Progress

  • Communicating Engagement Results and the Acceptance of Risk
  • Monitoring Progress

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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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