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Latest CIA Exam Syllabus (plus Great Questions from Readers)


The CIA Exam Syllabus is developed by a team of professionals and experts at the IIA. The exam is divided into 3 parts. Although the parts build on one another, you can take the parts in any sequence.

CIA Exam Syllabus

There will be a major syllabus change in the CIA effective January 2019. The following is the current version valid for the rest of 2018.

1. CIA Exam Part 1

 cia exam syllabus - part 1

Also known as the Internal Auditing Basics, Part 1 covers the fundamentals and foundation of internal auditing.

Exam Format and Duration

  • Number of questions: 125
  • Duration: 2.5 hours
  • All multiple choice questions

Exam Content

  • IIA Mandatory Guidance (35-45%)
  • Internal Control and Risk (25-35%)
  • Tools and Techniques for Conducting the Audit Engagement (28-38%)

Part 1 covers the basic concepts in internal audit. While the topics are tested at the introductory level, the questions are conceptual in nature and can be confusing and tricky.

2. CIA Exam Part 2

cia exam syllabus - part 2 Also known as Internal Auditing Practice, Part 2 covers in more details on the work of internal auditors, such as managing the internal audit function and individual engagements, as well as fraud risk and controls.

Exam Format and Duration

  • Number of questions: 100
  • Duration: 2.0 hours
  • All multiple choice questions

Exam Content

  • Managing the Internal Audit Function (40-50%)
  • Managing Individual Engagements (40-50%)
  • Fraud Risks and Controls (5-10%)

Part 2 continues to cover the core concepts in internal audit. The topics are more advanced when compared to those in Part 1, but many candidates find the questions more straight forward.

3. CIA Exam Part 3

cia exam syllabus - part 3Also known as the Internal Auditing Knowledge Elements, Part 3 covers areas that are related to but outside of internal auditing. This ensures certified internal auditors have adequate understanding of general accounting, finance and business knowledge required to perform as a team with other professionals in the organization.

The heavily tested topics are Information Technology and Business Process, each represent around 20% of this exam section. Risk Management, Management Principles and Financial Management are also important topics.

Exam Format and Duration

  • Number of questions: 100
  • Duration: 2.0 hours
  • All multiple choice questions

Exam Content

  • Governance / Business Ethics (5-15%)
  • Risk Management (10-20%)
  • Organizational Structure/Business Processes and Risks (15-25%)
  • Communication (5-10%)
  • Management / Leadership Principles (10-20%)
  • IT / Business Continuity (15-25%)
  • Financial Management (13-23%)
  • Global Business Environment (0-10%)

Part 3 is the beast compared to Part 1 and 2. Not only the coverage is much wider, the topics go beyond internal auditors’ comfort zone and therefore, many candidates find the exam overwhelming. When time comes, make sure you check out our Part 3 tips page.

Questions from Readers

Do we need to take the parts sequentially?

No. I have readers who started with Part 3 first because their background is Economics and are relatively new to IA professionally. I have to say, however, that most candidates start with Part 1 because it covers the foundation subjects in internal audit.

Which part is the most difficult?

Most candidates with IA background would vote for Part 3. This part covers a wider variety of subjects and many are beyond the “comfort zone” of a typical internal auditor.

Interestingly, quite a few also find Part 2 to be slightly easier than Part 1. The curriculum may be more advanced but the questions are not as tricky as in Part 1.

Detailed Discussion on the CIA Exam Syllabus

You can get a good flavor of each part by checking out the posts below. Remember to read the comment section as well.

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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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  • Yasser says:

    Gliem in thier success booklet stated that
    Part 1 pass rate is 54%
    Part 2 pass rate is 81%
    Part 3 pass rate is 41%

    Do you agree with that?

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Yasser! Didn’t know about the success booklet. If they say so I’m sure it is correct. The Gleim team is pretty professional. Where did you get this booklet by the way? Maybe I should log in to my account and search for it 😉 Stephanie

  • Fatima says:

    Hey Stephanie
    I have a question as I’m not an Accouting major, I’m a management major, I’ve been working at and auditing ferm for 3 years and I want to do the CIA certificate, as someone who does not have a back ground on accounting what books do you recommend I get? The Gleim books or the IIA book?

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Fatima,
      If you work in an audit firm for 3 years you should be well versed in basic accounting concepts. If this is the case, either Gleim or IIA is fine. I encourage that you sign up for Gleim’s free trial and see if it works for you. I would pick that if you can manage the concepts, since their practice questions are better. Hope it helps! Stephanie

  • Albert says:

    Wife failed 4th exam while heavily medicated from medical procedure infection is there any waivers or retest possibility

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Albert, I am not sure if we are talking about the same exam (our exam only has 3 parts), but for the CIA exam, once the candidate takes the exam, there is no refund or retest by any means. The candidate can pay for the exam fee and retake after 90 days.

  • jw says:

    Is it my internet issue? Why i cannot view comments in your other blogs, like “CIA Exam Part 3 Overview + Quick Fixes to Your Study Strategy”?

    • Meghan D says:

      Thanks for the comment & reporting the issue. We have resolved this issue on our site, but if you still have a problem, please let us know. Thank you!

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