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My CIA Part 3 Study Technique


CIA Part 3 Study TechniqueLynnel is our CIA exam blogger from the Philippines. She writes every Friday.

As everyone is saying, Part 3 is the hardest among the three part CIA exam. Looks intimidating but as what Stephanie said, it’s tough but doable.

After my exams for Part 1 and 2, I rested for the whole week to plan for my strategies for Part 3. I enjoyed the week and dropped by our review center to tell the good news about my exams, only to find out that only one out of four candidates in our batch passed the Part 3 exam. I just took it as a lesson to exert more effort and not to let negativity enter in my mind.

As I plan through my study techniques for Part 3, I thought of modifying my Part 1 and 2 exam study techniques a bit to be at my best on the exam day.

My CIA Part 3 Study Technique

Listed below are my five strategies to get well prepared for the exam:

Prior to My Review

1. Plan

Planning is the most tedious part of this technique. I have to plan everything including day offs and study hours per week ahead of the time prior to the start of my review. Good that I have the best tool — the CIA exam study planner posted by Stephanie.

In addition to that, I have in mind a “target” exam date. Although it may be changed, having the “target” exam date keeps me motivated during my entire review. It also works well with the countdown calendar app on my phone which states the number of months and days prior to my exam.

As part of the planning, I read through the Part 3 page on this site to get insights about the exam and to sum up all the advice and necessary materials. I have:

  • The Gleim test prep and book as my sole review material
  • Supplementary materials from the IIA, as advised by Art Yip and many other candidates:
    1. PG-Assessing Organizational Governance – Public Sector
    2. PG-Assessing Organizational Governance – Private Sector
    3. PG-Coordinating Risk Management & Assurance
    4. PG-Evaluating Corporate Social Responsibility
    5. ISO 31000
    6. PA 2110-1 to PA 2120-2
    7. GTAG 1
    8. GTAG 4
    9. GTAG 17

During Review

2. Read, Answer and Note taking

I have three stages for reading:

a) Read and Summarize – Familiarization

A lot of candidates suggest that answering questions before reading helps with the efficiency. I tried to explore and did it on Governance and Risk Management.  This is actually effective, but the technique doesn’t work for me.

One of the disadvantages is that all the questions I answer could be wrong and would result inefficiency. This is the reason why I thought that reading and summarizing the concepts helps me with familiarization since, topics for Part 3 are bookish. Also, note taking and summarizing helps most in retention.

b) Read and Answer – Understanding

I have to admit that I am familiar with some topics in Part 3 because I have a CIA Review course while in college. I thought of this as an advantage but I don’t think reading once would help me understand the topics.

Second reading is the understanding stage. I usually read the topics twice because I realize how I overlooked and misunderstood some of the concepts in part 1 and 2 preparation. I also combine the reading with answering the test prep in order to assess if I understand the concepts well.

c) Read and Highlight – Retention

The third reading is done for the overview of all topics. I will use my notes which include topics I summarize for Part 3, and will read it a few days before the exam to help with the retention.

The weakest areas will be highlighted, which needs to be traced with the book or practice guides. The notes will also include the results of incorrect answers I gathered in the understanding stage.

3. Watch Free Videos

Since I did not get the Gleim Review System, I have to maximize my resources. As I look through Youtube, I find lectures that explain topics in my weakest areas and core concepts of Part 3, such as IT, Governance, Risk and Corporate Social Responsibility. This helps me a lot in grasping the concepts.

4. Practice Test

My entire review is incomplete without practice test. Practice test helps with the real exam simulation. Like what I did in Parts 1 and 2, I plan to stick to 30 to 50 seconds per question. In addition, I have to answer short and easy questions and skip / flag the longer and harder ones. Also, it is a must to practice 100 questions repeatedly to get used to exam environment.

5. Consult with other CIA candidates

There’s nothing wrong to ask for advice from other CIA candidates. I have talked to a lot of my batch mates who ace their Part 3 exams. Their insight really helps me.

That’s everything I plan to do in the next few months. I will share my exam date as soon as I’m ready. Thank you for reading this post!

To my fellow candidates, just believe we’ll get there.

Note from Stephanie

Thanks for walking through your Part 3 preparation plan. It’s so detailed that one could follow exactly what you have done. I like your approach to reading — you are right that people have different learning style, and one may rely more on practice questions while others may prefer reading more.

The problem with reading as a study tactics is that people have no plan — they keep reading and re-reading without much thought, but simply assuming that “more is better”. Instead, your familiarize – understand – retention approach is systematic. We can read with a purpose (what I call active reading) instead of the mindless, endless, passive reading that people tend to fall into.

I have a good feeling that you will nail Part 3 in no time. Looking forward to your next post!

About the Author Lynnel

Lynnel is a recent graduate, with a BSBA Major in Internal Auditing in the Philippines. Lynnel passed Part 1 and 2 on the same day, and Part 3 on her first attempt.

  • Zikhona says:

    This is really helpful…I’m taking a week’s break before I start studying for Part 3, passed my Part 2 yesterday. I also found it helpful to go through my book at least twice, the 2nd time around you see a lot that you didn’t really notice the first time. I guess with Part 3 it’s going to be 3 times of book study.

    I’m using my break to plan my winning strategy. Soldier on guys, it’s “doable” remember that!

    Congratulations to everyone who passed their exams.

    • Lynnel says:

      Congratulations on passing part 2. Looks like we have the same strategy on part 3 and I’m glad to hear that you find my post helpful. 🙂

  • Diane says:


    Really gratefull to Stephanie for this blog and to all of you for beeing so open to help each other It really gives me a boost!
    Without you I might have quit earlier. I know I can do it because of your comments. It might take more time.. I might fail a couple of time.. I will take the time needed and get my CIA! I

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