IIA CIA Exam Changes: Major Syllabus Revision in 2019


major CIA Exam Changes in 2019

In the ever changing business environment, professional exams have to keep up with adjustments every 5-6 years. The last major CIA exam changes occurred in 2013. It’s about time…

The Next CIA Exam Changes

In early 2017, the IIA conducted an extensive analysis to determine the knowledge and skills required by internal audit professionals. They decided to reflect the findings in the new CIA exam syllabus.

The new exam will be rolled out in January 2019 for the English version, and gradually in 2019 for the non-English versions.

What Stays the Same

The format of the exam remains the same. This includes:

  • Exam structure: remains as a 3-part exam
  • Exam duration: 150 minutes for Part 1; 120 minutes for Part 2 and 3
  • Number of questions: 125 for Part 1; 100 for Part 2 and 3
  • Grading: 250-700 with passing score at 600

The exam requirements will also stay the same.

What’s Different?

The syllabus of all three parts will be adjusted to reflect the latest global practice in internal audit. Part 1 and 2 in particular will be revised to better align with the IIA’s International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing.

A few sections will also be switched between Part 1 an 2 to create a more focused and coherent syllabus. Therefore, for candidates who have taken either Part 1 or 2, you may notice a few subject areas appear again in the other part you will be taking.

cia exam part 1 changesCIA Exam Changes in Part 1

Part 1 will be reorganized to cover the macro view on internal audit. The syllabus will go deeper into the foundations of internal auditing as defined by the IIA mission statements and standards.

It will also test the overall concept of governance, risk management and control, and fraud risk in more detail.

The application portion of internal audit (e.g. audit tools and techniques) will be moved to Part 2.

Section I to IV

These 4 sections include:

  • Foundations of Internal Auditing
  • Independence and Objectivity
  • Proficiency and Due Professional Care
  • Quality Assurance and Improvement Program

They are essentially the same as Section I in the old syllabus. The combined weighting (15+15+18+7 = 55%) is higher than the old one (35-45%).

Changes include:

  • One new topic on interpreting the difference between assurance and consulting services provided by the internal audit activity, under section IC.
  • The questions involving definition will align with specific IIA standards instead of general rules in auditing.

At the same time, the new syllabus provides more info on how in-depth each topic is tested. For example, in the old syllabus, candidates are told to prepare all topics at the proficient level. In the new syllabus, each subtopic is individually marked with either basic or proficient level to give a better idea on the relative importance.

Section V

Governance, Risk Management and Control has been covered in the old syllabus under Section II.

Most topics are now tested at the proficient level vs the awareness (basic) level in the old version. The weighting has been increased from 25-35% to 35%.

Section VI

Fraud Risks was part of the old Section II, but is now merged with Section III in Part 2 to form a separate section. The weighting is around the same at 10%.

In the old exam, these topics were tested at the awareness level in Part 1 and progressed to proficient level in Part 2. In the new exam, almost all are tested at the proficient level.

Transferred Section

The old Section III, on Conducting Internal Audit Engagement (25-35%), is now moved to Part 2.

cia exam part 2 changesCIA Exam Changes in Part 2

Part 2 is now clearly defined to test the “application” side of internal audit.

Specifically, Part 2 tests candidates’ knowledge, skills, and abilities particularly related to Performance Standards (series 2000, 2200, 2300, 2400, 2500, and 2600) and current internal audit practices.

Section I

This section on Managing the Internal Audit Activity is the same as the Section 1 in the old syllabus.

There is less emphasis on the strategic role of IA (old Section 1A) with the topic tested only at the basic evel.

The overall weighting will be greatly reduced from 40-50% to 20%.

Section II and IV

Section II on Planning the Engagement is the first part of the old Section II.

Section IV on Communicating Engagement Results is the second part of the old Section II.

The combined weighting (20 + 20 = 40%) is around the same as the old version at 40-50%.

Section III

This section on Performing the Engagement is the same as the old Section III in Part 1. The weighting is now increased from 25-35% (in old Part 1) to 40%.

Transferred Section

The old Section III on Fraud Risk is now combined with the same topic in Part 1.

cia exam part 3 changesCIA Exam Changes in Part 3

The new syllabus for Part 3 is considerably streamlined to cover areas most relevant to internal auditors. For example, business competition, conflict management, cultural and political environment and communications have been removed from the new syllabus.

Interestingly, the once heavily tested topic on COSO and ISO 31000 seem to have disappeared as well.

The weighting on Information Security and Information Technology is much higher in the new syllabus.

Section I

This section on business acumen is a combination of the old Sections III and V. Most of the topics remain at the basic level, but performance measures and the risk/control implications of common business process are tested at the proficient level.

Weighting is about the same, from a range of 25-40% to 35%.

Section II and III

These two sections on Information Security and Information Technology is the same as the old Section VI on the same subject. Weighting has been increased significantly, from a range of 15-25% to 45%.

The cognitive level remains to be basic, meaning candidates are tested at the introductory level.

Section IV

This section on Financial Management is the same as the old Section VII on the same subject. The testing level remains to be basic except for financial analysis (the ratios).

Weighting is about the same, from a range of 15-20% to 20%.

What does it Mean to You?

New Exam Takers

Overall, it’s hard to tell whether the new syllabus is harder or easier. Most candidates would take the safe bet, and take the exam before major changes.

The review course providers also encourage you to take the exam as soon as possible. Why? Because they can’t really tell how the new exam questions look like, and which topics are heavily tested until the real exam kicks in in early 2019. It will take them months to adjust the examples and practice questions to better reflect what is tested in the exam.

Part 1/ Part 2 Retakers

For candidates who have taken either Part 1 or 2, you will see a few same topics appear again in the other part you will be taking.

Part 3 Retakers

Part 3 is now less of a mixed bag which could be good news to many candidates.

Governance and ISO 31000 may no longer be tested (at least they are not explicitly mentioned as in the old syllabus).

Also, the financial management section remains to be tested at the basic level. For those who use Gleim, you may continue to stay away from the complex computational practice questions. The ratios are important though. Please memorize the formulas and know how to apply them.

I’ve Passed One Part. Do I need to Retake that Part after 2019?

No need. Old versions are recognized within the 4-year CIA exam program period.

Your Next Step

It’s still one year from the new CIA exam. I strongly suggest that you make the commitment to complete the 3 parts before 2019. Even if you pass one or two parts, you can still remove some of the uncertainties, which is always a good thing.

It’s the time to sign up to our free mini-course. You may also want to sign up directly below:

For Your Further Reading

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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  • abayomi says:

    Hi Stephaine, I have noticed that virtually all Pearson centers do not have June 2017 available for CIA exams. Could you explain why this is so because if New standards are expected to be tested from July 1, 2017. there should still be exam dates available for CIA candidates till at least end of June on current syllabus.
    Kindly reply please.

    • Stephanie says:

      Really? I haven’t heard of this arrangement. If you are picking Fridays and Saturdays, the centers could be full by now.
      Can you call Pearson to find out? (sorry I can’t check it for you given I am not actively taking the exam).

  • Elaina says:

    Will there be any changes relevant to the Part 3 Exam I should be aware of?

  • nikki says:

    Hello Stephanie, has IIA announced the date of implementation of these new standards in exam. I am unable to find the announcement of the date. Thanks in advance.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Nikki, I can’t find them either (just checked it again today — July 15). I did chat with Hock and Gleim team earlier and they both said not to worry until there is formal announcement from the IIA. So I guess we are fine for now. Regards, Stephanie

  • Amit Mehra says:

    Hi Stephaine,

    Please help me.

    I am going to appear for the CIA Part 1 exams in Sep 17. When i asked during the last month from IIA through CCMS about when the new IPPF will be tested in the exams they informed me that it will be tested from jul 17 onwards however yesterday when i asked the same question in student support through telephone they had told me that it will be tested from Jan 18 onwards

    please advise me should i follow New IPPF 2017 while preparing for exams when my target is to appear in the exam on sep;17 or should i go for old IPPF 2013. Please advice on the urgent basis.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Amit, I am not 100% sure but it looks like the original plan was to implement the changes in second half of this year, but since we haven’t heard from them (haven’t made a formal announcement), the Jan 18 implementation is quite likely.

      Without further clarity or new announcement, I would stick with the old version for Sep exams. Regards, Stephanie

  • Vaibhav Kujara says:

    I have Gleim 17th edition books ,I hope that will suffice for exams to be taken in Dec’17 or I should purchase a 18th edition books.

    • Stephanie says:

      I haven’t looked into the differences, but I know Gleim promised to improve at least their Part 3 to improve their coverage of the actual exam (e.g. more emphasis on the heavily tested areas). If you are taking Part 3, I highly encourage that you take the latest edition. Regards, Stephanie

  • Happy says:

    Hello Please can I register for the CIA with my Advance Level certificate, I truely love to take this course now because I was opportuned to be enrolled in the university back then when after I had my Advance Level Certificate

  • Hang Nguyen says:

    Hi, Stephanie,

    I am going to take the CIA part1 on next Oct 9. I am reviewing base on the old version of IPPF. I would like to confirm whether there is an official announcement from IIA about update version applied for the exam on Oct 9. Can u find it out?

    Many thanks

    Hang Ng

  • Parviz says:


    I obtained Wiley CIA Excel Review 2014 textbook from my friend and I am wondering how much syllabus have changed over 4 years? Shall I book 2018 edition or it will be enough?

    • Stephanie says:

      Hello, while the syllabus does not have major changes, the text book should have gone through several editions, incorporating the feedback from exam takers over the years. I would think the examples and the quality of exam questions can be quite improved with the newer edition. Unless budget is tight, I will go for the latest edition. There is a cost (of time and money) in the event of a retake, you know. Regards, Stephanie

  • Nitesh Kumar says:

    I am planning to give CIA Part -1 in June 2018 Part 2 and 3 in 2019. Now Syllabus is going to change in 2019, Do i need to reappear for Part – 1 again if I pass in Part 1 this year?

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