I Pass the CIA Exam!

Ultimate CIA Exam Preparation Guide: 38 Tips for Passing Success


Here is my mega list of CIA exam preparation tips that is equally applicable to CRMA, CCSA and other IIA specialty exams. Thank you readers, review course providers and industry experts for all your sharing.

Here are 6 tips selected from this list, presented in video format:

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If so, check out my full list of tips and strategics:

Efficient CIA Exam Preparation

cia exam preparation tips

This is how you can prepare for the CIA, CISA and CRMA exam in the shortest amount of time:

Understand the beast

First of all, make sure you know what you are getting into, in terms of the exam content, format and marking scheme of the CIA exam. There are three parts, each with 100-125 questions to be completed in 2-2.5 hours. This is manageable compared to other accounting exams.

The passing score is 600 out of 750. Since the questions are 100% multiple choice and are equally weighted, we can deduce the passing rate to be 80%. It looks scarily high, but given the test is straightforward, you will be all right.

Pick the right tools

Many readers shared how they use their experience in Internal Audit to pass Part 1 and Part 2. This means that candidates must understand how a concept can be applied to real business situations.

For those who have years of experience in the industry, your focus should NOT be on reviewing the materials, but to actively work on practice questions. This is the best way to associate your real life experience with theoretical concepts tested in the exam.

Here is what you can do:

Unless you are very tight in budget, always get the latest version so you don’t need to worry about missing a few points due to outdated materials.

Persist with a workable plan

Creating a study plan takes time, effort, and is against human nature — most candidates understand the importance of getting organized but few actually implement it. That’s why so many candidates fail this exam.

A good plan makes sure you don’t fall behind and are able to cover all study materials given the time you have. Gleim has an excellent interactive online tools to map out a plan for you.

For those who study offline, you can download my study planner spreadsheet here.

Space out your prep time

Research has indicated that spacing out your studying time (e.g. reviewing 10 hours per week in the course of 2 months) is better than intense studying over a short period of time (e.g. 5 hours a day for 3 straight weeks).

Everyone has different learning patterns, but studying in the morning is in general better than late night cramming.

Immerse in 'real' testing environment

Try to practice in an environment similar to the actual exam. For example:

  • Practice with questions online (because the exam itself is fully computerized)
  • Study in a quiet, isolated work station. This could be your office, a undisturbed room at home, or the library


Effective CIA Exam Preparation

cia exam prep for effective studying

Being “effective” is different from being “efficient”. An effective student can learn more and perform better given the same amount of studying time.

Clean your desk

Studying in an uncluttered space with minimal distraction helps you concentrate on the studying.

Restrict from emails and social media

It’s not practical to stop checking your emails, Facebook and Twitter altogether; but you can certainly set a time of the day for that (e.g. 15 minutes each in the morning and evening), and be strict about it. You will be amazed how much concentration you can regain with this strategy.

I recently implemented the Pomodoro Technique myself and it helps a lot to keep things manageable. I now schedule the email checking in the long breaks. You can give it a try with the free apps that you can install on smartphones.

Prioritize based on long term gloals of your life

If you insist in watching that TV show or uploading your cat photos to Facebook, think about what these mean to you 10 years down the road. Would they get the promotion, the dream job and a better life for you and your family? Let’s prioritize based on our long term goals instead of short term enjoyment.


More Productive Time

cia exam preparation tips for studying

Minimize sleep-in

Getting adequate amount of sleep is very important so I don’t suggest cutting back your resting time for CIA exam preparation. However, you can make better use of the time when you are awake but not physically out of bed.

I’ve tried putting the alarm clock in the opposite side of my room, and have my favorite snack ready for me to grab as an extra incentive. Once the routine is established, it is much easier to keep the discipline.

Make best use of idle time

Some of you may have lots of time between activities, such as waiting to pick up kids for stay at home moms, and long commute for those living in suburbs.

With the proliferation of mobile devices, we are now able to study on the go in the form of audio review, streaming video instructions or test prep apps on smart phones. These learning tools may not work for everyone, but do explore and see if one fits your learning style.

If everything fails, the good old 3″x5″ handwritten flash cards always work for me. Give it a try.

Delegate. Outsource. Seek help

Don’t be shy to ask for help from your husband/wife, parents, aunts, neighborhood friends and possibly colleagues. It makes them happy to feel helpful and appreciated during your CIA exam preparation.

If you have older children, it’s perfect time to give them extra responsibility for their own personal development.

Combine family and studying time

I tried bringing my daughter to the library every Saturday morning, so she could read books beside me while I studied. I also flipped my flash cards when watching my little son shower. Be creative to find extra time for your studies.


Multiple Choice Studying Tips

multiple choice studying tips

Multiple choice questions represent 100% of the CIA exam. Therefore, the characteristics of MC questions determine the style of the test. For example, MC questions are generally used to test a wide variety of topics but they usually don’t go deep, as in they cannot ask you to analyze a scenario. Because of this, you can expect the CIA exam to be a mile wide or an inch deep.

A. Implement Retention Strategy

Engage your brain when studying

Your brain needs to be engaged when studying. Reading the text book over and over is too passive, and this affects retention.

How do you engage your brain? Give it something to do! Examples:

  • Highlight the important parts of the book (not just reading paragraphs highlighted by someone else)
  • Jog down notes on the margin
  • Summarize the concept after watching the video, listening to an audio lecture, or reading the textbook
  • Make flash cards as you go through the materials (instead of buying a set).

I personally find the process of reading / watching / listening and then writing out the key points help a lot in retention vs reading the materials alone.

Any of these methods will prolong your CIA exam preparation but it’s totally worth the effort in my opinion.

Pay attention to key definitions and terms

This is true for multiple choice questions in any exams.

Examiners love to test fundamental concepts, definitions and terms in multiple choice questions. Therefore, make sure you understand the important terms and be able to differentiate them.

Apply concepts at work

We can practice important CIA exam concepts in real business situations, in our everyday work. It could be cost accounting, variance analysis, or internal control. Just keep an open mind and find opportunities to practice your skill.


B. Improve Accuracy in Practice Questions

Another characteristics of multiple choice questions that there is always a correct answer hidden among the 4 choices. The difficulty of the question depends on (1) whether you know the correct answer; and (2) whether you get tricked by any of the wrong answers.

Don't try to outsmart examiners and pick 'hot' topics

Candidates are busy and they often make an educated guess or ask around on which topics they should focus on, given the limited amount of time for studying.

This approach is risky because you never know what’s on in each exam. Some topics e.g. cost accounting will certainly be on, but it doesn’t mean we can skip other seemingly off-the-track sections.

Time management and a good study plan (tip #3) is again very important when it comes to CIA exam preparation.

Understand how multiple choice questions work

Multiple choice questions require a special way of preparation when compared to the essay question. In each multiple choice question, the student is asked to identify the correct answer out of 4 possibilities.

Why MC questions are easy for some candidates:

  • It is comforting to know that one of the choices must be correct.
  • There are 100/125 questions: we don’t feel too bad if we miss a few of them.
  • We are purely tested on our knowledge on the topic, instead of creativity, or analytical and writing skills.

… and at the same time could be difficult for other candidates:

  • The answer keys could be confusing, as you may be required to pick the best answer out of a few possibly correct answers.
  • Easily get distracted by factually correct but irrelevant answers.
  • There are so many questions that your mind blanks out towards the end of the exam section.

Our goal is to identify our own weaknesses, and directly address those during the exam preparation.

Keep track of incorrect answers with a 'system'

It is critical to have a systematic approach in identifying and keeping track of incorrect answers.

Whenever you answer a question incorrectly (or answer it correctly but for the wrong reason), write down the reason for your answer choice on a note book.  Did you not know the concepts? Write down the concepts you did not know. Did you not read the fact pattern carefully? Did you misread the call of the question? Or misread the answer choices? Make a note of that in your own cheat sheet.

Analyze your weaker areas

Constantly review this cheat sheet. Does it reveal any patterns, such as:

  • Wrong answers in certain topic?
  • Wrong answers in certain type and format?
  • Wrong answers in certain fact pattern?

The integrated review course has online tracking system to identify your weaker areas by various means.

Speed it up

Once you are familiar with the fact pattern and style of the questions, try moving faster and maintain the accuracy in all practice sessions.

Refine your skill in educated guessing

As in any professional exams, candidates often get caught by questions they have never seen before.

With this in mind, it is very important that candidates practice the art of “educated guessing” throughout their study.

In other words, get practices on a large variety of topics and don’t skip around the questions if you don’t know. Also, don’t be afraid of the “test mode” (vs study mode) — I don’t like the extra stress either but that’s precisely why we have to overcome it!

Try your best to get the best answer by whatever means — it could be by elimination, by relating a concept you learned from your other exam for example… this skill is going to be critical in the actual exam.

Don't run away from the mock exam

The most important lesson to learn from mock exam is time management.

If you are running out of time, skip and mark anything you don’t know or don’t feel comfortable with.  If time becomes an issue, it is less painful to miss one complicated question than 3 easy ones.


Multiple Choice Test Taking Tips

multiple choice test taking tips

The following tips can help you  avoid silly mistakes and make better educated guess on the exam day.

A. Cover All Questions and Answers

This exam is positively graded: Even blind guessing has 25% chance of success. You should therefore always aim to complete the entire section.

Manage your time

This is rule number 1. The multiple choice in the CIA exam, especially in Part 3, can be more lengthy and complex than some professional accounting exams. This makes time management critical. For example, for Part 1, you can allocate 2.5 hours (150 minutes) evenly to the 125 questions, which means 1.2 minutes per question.

Read all choices before picking the answer

Many candidates pick the answer that “looks correct” and rush to the next question. But sometimes, there could be a better answer in B, C or D, or that you can choose “all of the above” when all answers are correct.

It only takes a split of a second to skim the 4 possible answers.

Don't leave any questions unanswered

There is no penalty for wrong answers. If you run out of time, blind guessing is better than leaving them blank. Flag that question for review afterwards.


B. Avoid Being Distracted

One correct answer is hidden among the 4 answer choices. If you study well, you should be able to identify it. In reality, however, many diligent candidates fail despite spending hundreds of hours in studying.

In most cases, they fall victim to the “distractors”. Here are tips on how to overcome them:

Anticipate the correct answer before reading the choices

Sometimes, the available answer choices look “reasonable” and they could do more harm then good by throwing you off and distracting you. In fact, the 3 incorrect answer choices are technically known as “distractors”.

You should always come up with the answer in your head before looking at the choices. If your answer matches with one of the responses, then you are confident that the particular response is correct.

Select answer that is correct AND on topic

Some responses may be correct but are not directly related to the question. The best answer should be both correct and relevant.

Eliminate 'partly true' answers

Similarly, ask yourself whether the answer you are considering completely addresses the question. If the answer is only partly true or is true only under certain narrow conditions, then it’s likely not the right answer.

Be careful with absolute statements

When you see words such as “always”, “every”, “never” and “none” in the response, they are likely to be incorrect. The CIA exam cover topics in real business situations, and there are very few absolutely right or wrong situations in real life.

Be careful with double negatives

Watch for negatives, double negatives and two part statements in the stem (thankfully, double negatives seem to be quite rare in this exam).

In general, I don’t think the CIA exam is trying to trick us, because they do bold the “not” in this case. Having said that, these words are key because they reverse the meaning of a sentence, and therefore, should be careful.

Avoid weird or funny responses

Again, use your common sense. If the answer choice is funny or doesn’t make sense in real life situation, it is probably wrong.


C. Increase Your Odds of Guessing Right

In cases where you aren’t sure which answer is right, you can still greatly improve your odds by eliminating implausible answers.  For example, removing two of these improves your odds of guessing the correct answer from 25% to 50%.

Look for grammatical clues

If the “stem” (body of the question) ends with “an” instead of “a”, then the correct response most likely begins with a vowel.

Pick the answer with the most information

If a response repeats the keywords used in the stem, or that it is longer with more descriptive words (as if the examiner is trying to be specific about the description), it is more likely to be the correct answer.

Use the true/false technique

This is helpful when you are confronted with 2 similar answers: If any part of a potential answer is false then the entire answer is incorrect.


D. Follow Your Instinct

The CIA exam questions are often conceptual but they test on real business situations. If everything fails or time is running out, pick the answer with the following strategies:

Don't over-analyze

Don’t dismiss a response because it seems too obvious and simple. If you are well prepared for the exam, some questions may appear very straight forward.

Similarly, don’t waste time looking for tricks and traps. Usually they are not there.

Follow your first impression

Multiple choice is all about recognition of things you have learned. If you are well prepared and you have read the question and choice of answers carefully, your first impression is often the best.

Eliminate the choice that doesn't 'feel' right

If you get stuck, try imagining each choice as the correct answer. People often “feel” that one of the answers is wrong. This happens when you are familiar with a concept but don’t have a firm grasp at it, just like you may know a person but you can’t recall his name.

Ignore superstition

The CIA exam is fully computerized. The system pulls a set of questions from a pool and present them in random order. Therefore, don’t waste time looking for patterns in your answers. Don’t worry if you find you have checked four “C” answers in a row.


Bonus #1:

Knowing Part 3 is the toughest part for many of you, I included more tips on my CIA Exam part 3 page.

Bonus #2: Narrow Down Your Goals on the Exam Day

What you are trying to achieve on the exam day is simply to:

  • Complete the section on time
  • Select the best answer based on what you’ve learned
  • Use the exam taking techniques in case you need to guess the answer

Things become a lot more manageable with 3 simple and clear goals.

Thank You!

These 38 tips could be overwhelming, but each pushes you closer to your passing success. Bookmark this page so you can take a look from time to time. All the best to your CIA exam!

Next Steps

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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  • Crystal Turner says:

    I really appreciate your mini course. Passed both parts 1 and 2 the first try. Have taken part 3 twice and have not be successful. Score a 594 on March 28, 2015, so I plan on retaking on June 27, 2015. 🙂

    Thanks for the tips. Especially the one about concentrating on the 40% you didn’t get right. Therefore, your focus should be on the remaining 40% of the questions — those you did wrong previously. If you manage to get half of the wrong questions right the next time around, you will be hitting 80%.

    Would you happen to know whether it is true or not that if I scored 594 that I missed it by one question?

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Crystal, that’s the attitude! Yes if you keep lower the number of wrong answers, you will pass. For sure.
      I don’t think the scoring is based on straight calculation… so I can’t really comment on that. But yes I think it’s pretty close. This means you should be able to nail it with just a bit more work on the practice questions! Regards Stephanie

    • Mary says:


      What study materials did you use to pass parts 1 & 2? Are you using different study material for part 3?


      • Crystal says:


        I used Gleim for all three parts. Gleim was more than adequate for parts 1 & 2. I took part 3 and missed it by one question. So I just purchased the IIA learning system for part 3 only to supplement the material I have from gleim. So my strategy is to use the gleim and IIA learning system for part 3. Will let you know how it goes.


      • Noora says:

        Hi Crystal,
        Glad that you have passed 1 and 2. Good luck in 3, am sure this time you’ll pass. I am really concerned with Gleim. I feel that the info. in the book is insufficient in which I had to research online to understand each and every concept very well. So currently I’ll be using gleim and the net information( practice guides online and reliable sources). My exam is the 29th of Feb ( 1 week from now). Hope I can pass part 1 .

  • t ramabele says:

    Very motivating tips indeed!It has really rejuvenated my drive. I can describe the CIA exam to me as a “near exam yet so far”.This is because I have written the exam 3 times with a variance not more than 2% between all of the exams with a min score of 569 (71%) on new part 1 and the max score of 582 (73%) on part 2.
    I got the least score when I was most comfortable of a pass.
    I used gleim and a bit of wiley practice questions on about 800 questions per exam however I found the exam to be too wide. I mostly read the Standards and Practice Advisories and didnt use Practice Guides.Was it my downfall? Please help,anyone.

    • Stephanie says:

      Argh, that was so close every time! Did you make sure you rework the ones you did wrong previously? This is the one tip I would pick from my list. I worked on them twice, in fact, to make sure I got them right for the right reason. Hope it helps! Stephanie

      • t ramabele says:

        Yes Steph, I reworked them twice but maybe I did not use enough additional literature because I think using additional books help in fully understanding the concepts.As I asked, do you recommend usage of Practice Guides in addition to Standards and Practice Advisories? The exam seems to have that additional gap even though I was scoring average 80-90% in practice questions.

        • Art Yip says:

          t ramabele,

          I don’t think it was your downfall that you didn’t use practice guides when you took Part 1 & 2 Exams. When I passed Part 1 & 2 recently, I did not use any practice guides. Your scores shows you’re almost there. I believe if you can improve your grasp of the concepts just a little more, you’re there! When you go through your practice questions, analyze why an answer is correct or incorrect. Also, learn from your previous exam experiences. Try to figure out where you may have made mistakes in answering questions, and apply that to your next exam retake! Even if your next exam questions are different, you can still apply the concepts you’ve learned. I recommend to focus on Part 2 next since you scored the highest on that part, and also because Part 2 is generally a little easier than Part 1.

  • yilma says:

    hi, I have been reading on and off part I for about couple of months. sometimes i get distracted and have to stay away from reading. does any body know if most questions are conceptual or application. i did pass other certifications before, but wanted to add this to my credential duet to the fact that this is international than the ones i did.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Yilma, if by “application” you mean calculations, then no, there’s virtually no calculations in Part 1. But if you are talking about pure conceptual (as in definition) vs how the concepts can be applied in business situation, it’s harder to tell. I would say expect both in all parts of the exam. Best of luck! You should be able to tell from the practice test prep you have. Stephanie

  • Huyen Nguyen says:

    Great help!

  • Muhammad says:

    I Scored 589 & 580 respective in two attempts of CIA part Internal test score is around 90% what should I do.

  • Sal says:


    I have no IA experience, but wanted to get into the industry. Therefore I wanted to learn more about internal auditing…so I thought I should consider studying for the exams, and go for a certification. I did notice you mentioned parts 1 & 2 should be good (or little easier) for individuals who are in the field. What would you recommend an individual like myself to attempt first out of the 3 parts? I have a fair bit of knowledge with finance and a bit of accounting.

    Thank You!

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Sal,
      Non-audit professionals pass this exam as well, so don’t worry. But I would say, try to put yourself in an internal auditor’s perspective. If you work in finance and a bit of accounting, you might have a chance to work closely or at least have some interaction with internal auditors. It really helps to understand what they actually do on a daily basis, and why do they need to test this and analyze that, or ask certain questions. It is of course somewhat theoretical, but in general the exam is relevant to real working experience.

      If you don’t have a chance to work with internal auditors, understanding the work of external auditors help too, since the analysis is very similar. It’s just that they represent a different set of “client”. Hope it helps!

  • Whitney Rogers says:

    2 Questions

    1. Do you think studying (handmade) flashcards and only purchases the Gleim test banks will be enough to pass the exam?
    2. Have you ever heard anyone using or looked into the free flashcards CRAM has?

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Whitney,
      If you have a good grasp of IA concepts (you can check out the detailed syllabus on the IIA website), then yes, I think it is possible to prepare well with flashcards and test banks alone. But this is quite a big “if”, as it’s hard to know whether you have covered everything.

      I am quite sure people make good use of free resources online, but most probably use them as supplements.

      Hope it helps! Stephanie

  • Elya says:

    Hi Stephanie, thank you for your articles. I find them very thorough and useful. I passed part 1 and 2 on first try, now I am preparing for the last one. I covered most of Gleim book and practice questions. I understand all material and get pretty good results on practice questions (80-85%). However I feel uncomfortable because everyone including you says the third part is the most difficult and Gleim materials are not enough. I feel that I am missing something important.

    What do you recommend for the third part, maybe some additional materials besides Gleim? I also have heard that question style is different in the third part. Can you comment on that? Did you get question not covered in studying materials at all? Maybe some additional tips for part 3. Thank you in advance.

    • Stephanie says:

      Sure Elya, and thanks for your kind words on my site. There are some really useful tips from Art Yip who is active on the comment section on this page: https://ipasstheciaexam.com/cia-vs-cpa/

      If you are looking for specific supplement, I like Exammatrix because its proprietary technology feeds questions based on your weaker areas. It isn’t a very well known provider but I really like their approach. So far comments from readers have been positive. You can find out more about their offering here: https://ipasstheciaexam.com/exammatrix-cia/

      • Elya says:

        Hi Stephanie, thank you! I passed part 3 today.
        I have a question. When did you receive email that you certified? Was it at the same day you passed the third part? Do I need to do something else in order to be certified?

        • Stephanie says:

          Hi Elya,
          Congratulations! That’s great to know!
          Your score will become official once The IIA publishes the score to CCMS. This normally takes a few days, and you will be
          notified by a system-generated email once it is available. In other words, celebrate for a few days and you will get your confirmed result 🙂 Stephanie

          • Elya says:

            I forgot to upload some forms as required for the certification. I applied for the program in 2013 and thought that at that time I uploaded all forms, however I missed some. But now everything is ok, I uploaded all required forms and waiting for the certification email from IIA .

            First of all I would like to thank you, Stephanie, for organizing this web-site. I found here a lot of useful materials, advices, tips, feedback and experience from other exam takers. I wish you success, you are doing great job.

            Here are my tips for part 3:
            1) Do not be discouraged by unknown questions. Be prepared psychologically that most of questions will be different from those you practiced with. On my exam I had maybe 4-5 questions which were the same with practice questions. As long as you understand the concepts you would be able to answer all questions on the exam.
            2) Read practice advisories, practice guides about governance, risk management (especially ISO 31000) and corporate social responsibility (surprisingly, I had some questions on CSR), COSO framework. I read those guides twice and it helped me a lot. These articles are general but it will give you understanding about the governance and risk management structure and key elements, relationships between stakeholders etc.
            3) Do not neglect any part from materials. On different forums I read that there are no many questions from finance, no need to spend time on ratios etc. However on my exam I had more than average finance questions. Fortunately I spent enough time on ratios and memorized all finance formulas so I was able to solve finance tasks on the exam. Especially if you do not have financial background or experience, spend some time to read and understand the materials and memorize all important formulas.
            4) Save some time for review, it will give you confidence that you did not make some silly mistakes in calculations and you understood the question right (key words such as NOT, except, excluding etc.). On my exam I found 2 or 3 such mistakes during the review.

            I wish everyone luck with passing all parts.

            P.S.: I spent 3 months preparing for part 3 (2 hours during weekdays after work and 4 hours every weekend, total around 150-160 hours)

          • Stephanie says:

            Awesome sharing Elya, thanks so much!
            I will study your tips more closely and add them on my Part 3 page 🙂

        • Art Yip says:


          Congratulations on getting your CIA and for passing the notoriously difficult Part 3! Good to hear your exam experience and giving out helpful tips as well! Your Part 3 exam experience shows the key to passing is a matter of understanding the concepts and being able to apply them. It’s also a reminder that each exam could be different so candidates need to be ready for anything under the syllabus!

        • Noora says:

          Congrats Elya.
          I am sitting for Part 1 one week from now. I am really concerned about passing it. The material in the book is understandable. however I am not scoring well in the prep test of Gleim. I think one of the reasons is because I lack experience in the IA field. Could you please advise some tips on passing part 1? Did you only depend on Gleim book.


          • Daisy says:

            Hello Noora, did you pass part 1? I’m gonna take part 1 end of this week and I’m worried too. I use only Gleim material and I read Practice Advisories + Practise guide. I would love to hear experiences from you.


          • Stephanie says:

            Hi Daisy, Noora took the exam on Feb 29 and passed. She only uses Gleim I believe. You can read about her experience and tips from the success story page here, in the comment section: https://ipasstheciaexam.com/cia-exam-success-stories/

          • Daisy says:

            Hi Spephanie,

            Thank you. I passed Part 1 today as well. I used Gleim book and IIA’s CIA Learning system + I did extensive reading of IPPF. Additionally, I did about 1000 Gleim questions. I personally think the IIA book is not necessary if you already have Gleim. I’m looking forward to hear sucessful stories on how to best prepare for Part 2. Right now I have Gleim book + questions in hand. Do you think that’s enough?


        • Raphael says:

          Hello Elya,

          Please, what materials did you use specifically for your exams? Gleim materials?

  • Erum Naz says:

    I have read your article and it was of great help!! I am working as an internal auditor and have studied through GLEIM, I have read the complete book of Part 1 and these days am working on mock exams…. Is there anything else I should add up to my list??

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Erum,
      Thanks for your note. You are good to go! Part 1 should be easy to handle for internal audit professionals. Work on your weaker areas if you have any. If not, have a good rest and bring your confidence on the exam day. Best of luck! Stephanie

    • Rania says:

      Hi Stephanie , I will set for part 1 exam three weeks form now , I have studied PRC material and questions and test prep. for Gleim and Hock , but I want to know if the new updates to the internal audit framework will be tested on March exams or not ??

      • Stephanie says:

        Hi Rania, I actually don’t know the specific, but from what I know from Gleim, there hasn’t been much changes this year (meaning 2016) so I guess overall you should be ok. Maybe you can ask the personal counselor for specific advice, or email Hock and ask the same thing. Cheers, Stephanie

      • maureen says:

        Thanks a lot…I will work on it…
        don’t stop sharing ideas…I am planning on trying to take this exams for the first time, when I am ready, finances included…..
        I never tried yet…

  • Laid says:

    I’m planning to retake the Part 1 Exam and you have noted that if there’s already an experience in the industry, I should be more working on practice questions. Do Gleim has a product of practice questions alone?

  • Stephanie says:

    Wow Hsiung, this is epic! I have to turn this into a separate post and a showcase piece 🙂
    Thanks so much for your generous sharing. Stephanie

  • Daniel says:

    Thanks Stephaine for organizing this platform i have found it very rich and i have been going through it, i benefited a lot.I want to start my journey to be a CIA and i have just finished my 1st Accounting Degree and i don’t have any experience in internal auditing.Which material may you recommend me to use for part 1 and 2 ( Wiley materials or Gliem materials)?Also how much does it cost to complete each Part(Part 1,2 and 3)?

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Daniel, thanks for your note! I have more info on the cost here: https://ipasstheciaexam.com/cia-exam-fees/

      And on which materials to use, Gleim is more popular and if you have at least some auditing classes and know the fundamentals e.g. internal control, then it shouldn’t be a big issue without the experience. It does help to have practical experience, but students manage to pass this exam. Just try to imagine yourself as an internal auditor and what you would do in the situation as shown in the question.

      If it doesn’t click, ask an internal audit friend to walk you through his/her typical day. This would help a lot as well.

      Regards, Stephanie

  • ZERAH says:

    Part 3 can be extremely challenging given the volume of knowledge to grasp and some particularly difficult concepts. If you are not from an accounting background you should spend at least 100 hours on Advanced fin, managerial acounting stuff and IT. Also I think people underestimate the difficulty level of CIA, specially Part1 and 2 because official score aren’t published and people tend to draw parallels with CPA BEC sections. My conclusion : you can do well on all parts given a lot of personal work and rehearsal from real exam question banks -personnally used both GLEIM and IIA.

  • Gabor says:

    Hi Stephanie , I bought the CIA Learning System and passed the practice exams with 95%. Last week my real CIA I. exam result was with 585. I was shocked with so many questions. The results of the CIA Learning System practice exams provided me false confidence. Now I want to be more effective. I searched for more CIA exam test bank questions. I found the following CIA I. part test banks: Wiley CIAExcel Test Bank with 770 questions for 110 USD and Gleim for 299 USD but the whole Part I pack. Do you think that Wiley Test Bank would be the right choice?

  • mae says:

    is there any computations involve in both part of the exam? or it is more on theories

  • yaya says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    I failed the part 1 , and I’m wondering if I can prepare and pass the part 2 before retaking the part 1 ? I used Wiley material for the part 1. Do you think that Gleim only is a sufficient material for passing the part 1 and part 2 ?


  • mya says:

    Please im new at this and want to write the exam. Can i write just Part1 alone or i have to write all 3 at once.

  • Yanny says:

    Hi all experienced candidates. I have been having some trouble even just going through the registration process. I have uploaded some documents on the upload portal but did not receive any acknowledgement or confirmation after or via my online portal. I’m wondering if I need to get an approval from CIA in order to proceed with taking part 1 exam?

    I have a few other questions
    1) all parts of the exam has to be sequentially taken? If so, what’s the minimum period in order for candidates to take the part 2 exam after passing part 1 exam?
    2) will candidate know the score for part 1 exam right after the examination?
    3) how long is the minimum time (e.g. weeks/ months) to prepare if all 3-parts of the exam being passed on the 1st attempt (if lucky enough)? just getting a rough idea of the “duration” required.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Yanny, did you get an email confirmation? (or did you check your spam folder)
      Anyway, for technical question on registration, it is best to check with IIA directly.

      On your other questions:
      1. No you can take them in any order you like. Our readers have tried all sorts of combination.
      2. Yes (nice isn’t it). They said it is an unofficial score, but I haven’t heard of a case that the official is different from that.
      3. Technically you can sit for the exam within the same testing window. I’ve heard of people spending a couple of weeks on Part 1 and 2… there isn’t a “minimum time” — theoretically you don’t even to study and take those exams, you know.
      For more realistic estimation, I have a page here: https://ipasstheciaexam.com/cia-exam-study-hours/

  • Fahad says:

    Hello Stephaine,

    I am an MBA with and Engineering background, but wish to pursue an audit carrier; therefore, I am willing to attain CIA certification.

    Could you tell me some Kick-start techniques of successfully acing this examination so that I can step into an Audit world.


    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Fahad, I would focus on understanding the examples of each chapter, and then go through the practice questions in detail. Start slowly to make sure you understand the concepts behind each question (versus going through them quickly). If there are concepts that are hard to understand, try to google them, or check out youtube or khanacademy.org. Hope it helps! Stephanie

  • Vijay says:

    Tomorrow I have CIA Part 1 Exam. Prepared well and hope I will have positive note. My target is 99.99% except if I get above 80 which is more than enough to celebrate. Thank you for your tips. I need more strategy as often multiple choice questions need extra attention.

    Thank you.

  • Qothelo Qothelo says:

    I am planning to take CIA Part 2 very soon..what advice would the team give me? I wanna pass it first time. I have a problem mostly with questions with long statements and i have a problem with questions that needs calculations.

  • OKSANA says:

    Dear Stephanie, thank you very much for your very useful tips. I have Hock Materials. Do you think, I have to switch to Gleim ? Thanks a lot !

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi! If you get the latest version of Hock, that’s good enough. People do pass with Hock 🙂 The only thing is that if you want extra practices, you may consider getting the test prep from Gleim (only the practice questions, not the whole set)

      • Oksana Netyksha says:

        Stephanie, thank you very much for your answer !!! 🙂

        • Oksana Netyksha says:

          Dear Stephanie, I have already asked you a couple of days ago about HOCK vs Gleam materials. You’ve advised me Gleam Questions Book (because I already have HOCK Text Books and I am learning these papers at the moment). I’ve contacted Gleim and they said that there is a package only (Text book and Questions Book). Maybe, you can advice me where can I buy ONLY Questions Book ? Thank you very much ! Regards, Oksana

          • Stephanie says:

            Hello Oksana, sorry what I meant is the practice question + e-book package. Honestly the e-book doesn’t cost much. The value is all in the practice questions. So that’s the most affordable option if you are to choose Gleim.

  • Emad says:

    I want to ask you , if i have to learn and study part 1 and part 2 to before i exam part 1 .
    because i told there is questions form part 2 in part 1 exam .

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Emad, not really. Knowledge in Part 1 helps Part 2 performance (and vice versa) because they are all core internal audit concepts — the more you know, the better you perform in any internal audit exam. But each part is designed to be taken separately. If you still worry about it, I suggest that you take the default order — starting from Part 1. Cheers, Stephanie

  • Moses B. Bangura says:

    I am currently an IIA member and would like to take the CIA Part I early in 2017. Would you be able to assist in providing sample multiple questions and answers for candidate’s practices whilst reading and preparing for the exams? If so I would appreciate if you can make that facility available to me. Thank you.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Moses, I am afraid it’s too hard for me to do — I am only running a blog trying to help people out. I suggest that you get a set of practice questions that are professionally prepared by the review course providers. I wouldn’t try to get from free sources because the quality isn’t guarantee (thus wasting your valuable time). Major providers can be found here: https://ipasstheciaexam.com/cia-exam-review-courses/

  • Rishika says:

    I am taking the exam for CIA level 1 in the last week of Dec. How important are the practice questions to pass? I have seen all paid versions of practice questions on Gleim and other websites. Does anyone know any website which gives free access to these questions? Or paying up is the only option?

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Rishika, I don’t know of any free practice questions. It takes time, effort and resources to create those questions and answers. I doubt if people will provide these for free…

  • Emma says:

    I’m planning to take the CIA exam and I just want to know whether I can schedule exam on weekends or it’s only on weekdays?
    I tried to locate the VUE test center and see but I won’t be able to see until I get candidate’s ID.

  • Santosh says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    I am an experienced professional with MBA with 17 years of experience in operations, accounts, finance. Out 17 years spent 10 years in financial services.
    As i do not have relevant experience in internal audit and preparing for exams CIA Part 1 in may-17. I sincerely wish to complete CIA within this year.

    Please let me know if Gleim books part1 is enough to clear all the concepts.


    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Santosh, Gleim is usually pretty all right, especially for Part 1. But given you don’t have internal audit experience, you might try to mentally walk through the process, and fill in the blanks (if there is) by reading supplementary materials on internal audit. Sometimes Youtube will do the work. Good luck!

  • sumee says:

    Just want to share my experience:

    I only passed my Part 1 on second attempt (I relied only on Gleim on the first attempt)

    After learning from mistake, I found that Practice Guides are very useful. Just read and understand. Do not have to memorise it.

    On all the questions in Gleim, understand reasons behind of each A,B,C,D. Why is it correct and why is it wrong. After getting to know the concept behind, you are able to score well in actual exam (do expect that questions does not come out exactly like what provided in Gleim)

    Hope it helps!

    Happy new year everyone!

  • Marina says:

    Hi Stephanie, how can i prepare for CIA exam without buying materials. I cant find any materials for free, its seems me this exam completely commercial. I think people should Have a choice: Buy adapted books or additional materials or study with public educational books. I try to understand on which legislation or knowledge exam is based and select materials for preparing . I want to have alternative. Unfortunately i cant afford such expensive materials, that why i ask such question.
    PS I’m working as an external auditor and i want to improve my knowledge and become more professional. Thanks in advance.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Marina, unfortunately the review material is part of the investment. Take an example where the materials are provided for free (e.g. the CFA exam) but their exam fees are way more expensive. They just include the curriculum as part of the fee.pre

      It is possible that you can borrow some review materials in the library, or that you can get a hand-me-down from friends. Other than that, I would at least get the online practice questions. If you really think this is totally commercially driven, please don’t feel like taking it. If your firm has pushed for this certification, they will likely pay for it; if not, then at least for this firm it is not as necessary. Don’t feel like you don’t have a choice. You do 🙂 Regards, Stephanie

  • Jake says:

    Hi Stephanie, I bought the Gliem materials to prepare for Part 1 CIA exam. I have found the questions to be very good. But I looked at the Wiley textbook on google books and it is much much bigger than the Gliem one and seems to go more in depth. Do you recommend the Wiley book over Gliem? I found some questions in the Gliem tests weren’t covered by the actual textbook. Thank you

    • Jake says:

      For example, Part 1 section 2 of the textbook does not even cover types of controls and management control techniques. Am I missing something? Cheers

      • Stephanie says:

        Hi Jake,
        It’s true that the Wiley text book covers 100% of the syllabus (their selling point). Gleim deliberately chooses not to do that because they just want candidates to efficiently pass without spending a ton of time. So that’s why from time to time, you’ll hear people saying Gleim doesn’t cover this question and the other… because they don’t. But based on their experience they cover all heavily tested area and sufficiently enough that most people can comfortably pass the exam with their materials.

        So there is always a debate — but for me, given Gleim’s better question bank, I would still go for Gleim. I ran a survey among my readers last year and Gleim does get a slightly better rating than Wiley among my readers.

  • Santosh Desai says:

    Dear Stephanie,

    Wish to inform you that had scored 456, was not able to clear the first attempt of CIA Part1, my source of materil were Gliem and external references.
    In this attempt got to know that sampling methods, audit work, audit sampling, audit working papers, and few important audit strategic questions appeared which are not exclusively covered in Gliem study material.

    – Please advise if there is any bettter source for the above topics ( sampling methods, audit work, audit sampling, audit working papers).

    – Also advise if there are good source of question bank for solving the MCQ’s at a stretch as i believe solving different kinds of MCQs might lead to a good numbers in the exam.

    Thanks in advance.


  • Abayomi says:

    Dear Santosh im indeed very sorry about your score but you need to seriously and honestly ask yourself if you were actually ready for the exam before going for it! If i am to ask you a candid question, it would be what was your average scores in the practice tests you took. if less than 80% then you were certainly not ready.
    However i would advise you get the practice guides & IPPF 2017 and read, please make sure you have a good grasp and understanding cos your understanding will guide you incase you meet surprises in the exam.

    All in best in your future endeavours.

  • Shveta says:


    I’ve just got to know about this course and intend to pursue it. Could anyone please guide me on the starting steps.
    Whether I need to enroll in the CIA portal as a starting point or there is an option to appear for a few mock / sample tests to check if I would be able to do it.

    Any help would be highly appreciated


  • Dreamcatcher says:

    Hi All,

    I am taking part 3 in a month. I have zero experience in IA. Anyhow, since a month I am studying for 12 hours a day and using IIA book + Gleim + all suggested supplemental materials + additional research from Google for areas which I am not really familiar with.

    Please let me know if I am suffering from paranoia disorder and that what I am currently doing will make me fail or whether I should proceed with the aforementioned plan.
    I realized that Gleim is so deficient in some study units which is why I am referring to IIA and additional google research.


    • Stephanie says:

      It sounds like you are well prepared Dreamcatcher. Rest is important too, so make sure you have enough sleep. You will be fine 🙂 Cheers, Stephanie

  • Kaveri Martolia says:


    I have 7+ years of post MBA experience in internal audit and have worked in a big 4 as well. I am planning to pursue CIA but I have few doubts regarding the IIA membership and CIA exam.

    1) Is it necessary to give the CIA exam in the same region/location/chapter for which you have the IIA membership? Can someone give all exams from a different region, even though he/she has a membership of some other?
    2) Why the IIA membership and CIA exam cost is different region wise?
    3) Are there any free study materials for CIA available on the IIA site for the members? Do one has to buy the online study materials for all the parts from the IIA site?

    Thank you

    • Stephanie says:

      Hello, thanks for your questions.
      1. It doesn’t matter – you can pick the testing center most convenient for you at the time.
      2. I believe the local chapters have certain independence which explain the difference, but I can’t represent IIA and this is only my guess.
      3. There are free supplementary materials for IIA members to download. They are not full review courses though. I would definitely get a set to increase the chance of passing in one go. More info here: https://ipasstheciaexam.com/cia-exam-review-courses/

  • Syed ahmed says:

    Hello Stephaniephanie

    I am working in HSBC EDPI in payments opertions and compliance investigations, intrested in pursuing cia certification i wantto know am i eligible to apply for certification please advise.


    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Syed, I believe I replied elsewhere, but sounds like you are ok. It is best to confirm with the IIA. Good luck! Stephanie

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