How to Pass CIA Part 2 on Your First Try

how to pass cia part 2 on your first try

Whether you’re about to begin or finish the CIA exam, you must pass CIA exam Part 2 to complete your journey to CIA certification. And, as with each part, you’ll want to pass Part 2 of the CIA exam as efficiently as possible. By doing so, you can avoid extending the CIA process and increasing your CIA exam fees. Therefore, to give yourself the best chance at preventing a CIA exam failure, you must know how to pass CIA Part 2 on your first try. Using this information about the review courses, content, difficulty, and essential study moves of CIA Part 2, you can do just that.

Get the Right CIA Exam Part 2 Review Course

The first and best thing to do to ensure you pass CIA Part 2 is to get a CIA review course. Because passing Part 2 without a review course requires so much time, money, and effort, it’s definitely not worth attempting. So, benefit from the experience of others by buying a CIA review course immediately.

A Part 2 CIA review course is critical to exam success because such a course:

  1. Presents and explains all of the exam content
  2. Enables you to develop your knowledge and skills
  3. Supports your study efforts in multiple ways

A CIA review course gives you every advantage over the CIA exam by providing a variety of study materials. These materials include an online platform, textbooks, video lectures, audio lectures, and a test bank of questions. Furthermore, you’ll also receive a study planner, customer service, performance tracking software, and more.

The CIA industry is full of courses, but you don’t have to be overwhelmed. Instead, you can rely on my descriptions and comparisons to find your ideal CIA review course. Or, you can ask me for a personalized recommendation. Then, you can save big on your preferred CIA exam prep by using my CIA review course discounts.

To start your search, consider Gleim CIA Review, the most widely used course available. Gleim CIA Review is one of your best options because this course features dozens of video lecture hours and thousands of CIA Part 2 exam questions. It also offers access until you pass, multiple forms of candidate support, and more. So, take time to discover Gleim CIA Part 2 before taking this exam.

Brush Up on the Basics of CIA Part 2

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) calls CIA Part 2 “Practice of Internal Auditing.” Consequently, this exam assesses candidates’ knowledge, skills, and abilities with internal auditing practice. The Part 2 CIA exam syllabus shows us the content areas, subtopics, and coverage percentages of this exam part.

2024 CIA Part 2 Syllabus

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

Planning the Engagement (20%)

  • Engagement Planning

Performing the Engagement (40%)

  • Information Gathering
  • Analysis and Evaluation
  • Engagement Supervision

Communicating Engagement Results and Monitoring Progress (20%)

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

This syllabus outlines Part 2 but doesn’t provide a lot of details about the topics. Therefore, to ensure you delve deep enough into the topics to be prepared enough to pass Part 2, adhere to this advice for studying the content areas:

CIA Part 2 Study Strategies

Managing the Internal Audit Activity (20%) Because internal auditing is a delicate process, many of the questions you’ll see on this part of the test will assess your ability to manage the audit from beginning to end. So, you need to understand how to interact with personnel, oversee the process, and ensure compliance with standards.
Planning the Engagement (20%) Good planning increases your chances of success in any engagement. Ensure you understand the planning process and best practices for planning an engagement.
Performing the Engagement (40%) Performing the engagement is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Most of the questions on the CIA Part 2 exam revolve around the tasks associated with conducting a successful audit, so comprehending them is key.
Communicating Engagement Results and Monitoring Progress (20%) Once the results of an audit are in, delivering the results and coming up with improvement plans can be a sensitive issue. Therefore, you should study interpersonal communications skills and professional reporting standards.

Like the other CIA exam parts, the CIA Part 2 exam questions are only multiple-choice (MCQs). And, along with CIA Part 3, CIA Part 2 gives you 100 MCQs to answer in 2 hours (120 minutes) of total testing time. To ensure that you can answer this number of questions in this amount of testing time, you’ll need to average about 1.2 minutes per question.

Another thing the 3 CIA exam parts have in common is the passing score. The IIA has set the CIA exam passing score at 600 on a scale of 250-750.

Discover the CIA Exam Part 2 Difficulty

My readers have informed me that CIA exam Part 2 is similar to CIA exam Part 1 because internal auditors can use their experience to help them pass these exam parts.

CIA candidates with professional experience in internal auditing usually interacted with the information in Part 1 and Part 2 on the job. So they don’t struggle to understand the content of these exam parts. But you should know that Part 2 addresses each step in the internal audit process. And even if you’re an internal auditor, you may not necessarily go through each step of this process regularly in your position.

What’s more, the exam delves deep enough into the internal auditing process that acing it without any studying is highly unlikely. Consequently, you can’t underestimate the CIA exam Part 2. Rather, you must read through the textbooks and complete all the practice questions before taking this exam. That way, you can know that you have the correct understanding and insight you need to pass.

If you take Part 2 after Part 1, the Part 2 questions may not seem as challenging as the Part 1 questions. If you find yourself in this scenario, your experience with Part 1 has probably helped prepare you for Part 2. For this reason, you can’t cut your Part 2 preparations short. Instead, you must continue to work through your review course because Part 2 addresses different facets of internal auditing and is still difficult enough on its own.

Part 2 CIA Exam Pass Rates, Study Times, and Cognitive Levels

We know that each part of the CIA exam is fairly difficult because of the CIA exam pass rates. The IIA doesn’t release the pass rates for each CIA exam part. But, we can still infer that Part 2 is challenging because the overall CIA exam pass rate is just 43%. And interestingly enough, this figure is smaller than that of the CPA Exam pass rates and the CMA exam pass rates. So, the CIA exam is certainly not easy.

Another indication of Part 2’s difficulty level is the amount of study time passing it requires. I’ve estimated the CIA study hour totals for each exam part using my interactions with CIA review courses.

CIA Exam Study Hours

Exam Part

Minimum Number

Safe Number

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 you can see, the CIA Exam study time for Part 2 is usually shorter than for Part 3. But still, you should plan to prepare for Part 2 longer than Part 1. I say this because of the nature and quantity of the Part 2 CIA exam content.

Finally, the depth of knowledge CIA Part 2 requires of you is another way to gauge its difficulty. The recent IIA CIA exam changes increased the number of content areas in Part 2 and specified the cognitive levels at which this exam part tests candidates. The CIA exam assigns 1 of 2 cognitive levels to each exam topic:

  • 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.

And specifically, Part 2 assesses candidates at the Basic level for 14 topics and at the Proficient level for 21 topics. So, clearly, you must know most of the Part 2 CIA exam content very well.

Learn Why People Fail CIA Exam Part 2

Though the CIA exam is unlike other professional accounting certification exams in many ways, the reasons why people fail the CIA exam and other certification exams are pretty much the same.

Insufficient Preparation Time

Underestimating the amount of study time needed to pass is one of the most common causes of failing part of the CIA exam.

As mentioned, you can use your internal auditing experience to get up to speed on several CIA exam Part 2 topics. But because the exam covers the entire audit process in-depth, you should still plan on completing a CIA review course to be fully prepared.

And going through a course means committing hours and days to study, so you must plan accordingly. Don’t rush through your review or abbreviate your study plan; you’ll suffer the consequences of a CIA exam failure.

Insufficient Effort

The IIA created the CIA exam to verify that candidates have the knowledge and skills to fulfill the Certified Internal Auditor position and represent the profession well. Consequently, passing the CIA exam requires you to prove that you have a lot of internal auditing abilities. And if you don’t yet have all those abilities, you’ll need to develop them as you study.

Therefore, you must practice active learning during every study session. You can’t mentally check out when you read the books or watch the video lectures. Instead, you’ve got to keep your mind engaged by highlighting important sections, taking notes, and asking questions of the professors you have access to. If you don’t take these steps to progress your learning, you won’t have what it takes to pass the exam. What’s more, you’ll have wasted your time.

And the more CIA exam failures you have, the more money you’ll waste as well. So, give every study session your undivided attention and maximize your review resources until you’ve mastered every exam topic.

Unsuitable Review Course for Your Learning Style

Sometimes, when it comes to CIA review courses, you really can say, “It’s not me; it’s you.” You can make this call if your CIA exam prep truly has disappointed you. But you’ve got to be 100% sure before you pass the buck because investing in another course only to achieve the same unsatisfactory result is a costly mistake.

So, to prove your innocence in the case of a review course betrayal, you must thoroughly and objectively analyze your study habits and course usage first. Asking questions like these will help clear the air:

  • Have I studied for a sufficient number of hours?
  • Did I really give every study session my best effort?
  • Have I attempted to strengthen my weak areas?
  • Did I answer plenty of practice questions and read the answer explanations?

If you can honestly answer yes to these questions, you can put your CIA review course on trial for either being low-quality or not fitting your learning style. And in the event that you find your course guilty, you can purchase a supplement or a new course altogether.

And to avoid ending up with the wrong review course in the first place, you should extensively research your CIA exam prep options by getting my take on the best CIA review courses, signing up for the free trials, and asking for a personalized CIA course recommendation if necessary.

Follow These Steps to Pass CIA Part 2 on Your First Try

Learning what CIA exam Part 2 is all about, how difficult it can be, and why people fail gives you a good head start in passing this exam on the first attempt. However, you’ve got a little more work to do in being completely ready to pass Part 2. Specifically, you need to incorporate these CIA exam tips into your CIA Part 2 preparation strategy in order to achieve exam success.

1. Make a realistic study plan.

You can’t get to the end of your CIA journey without a plan. No matter how much you like to plan out the rest of your life, you’ve got to implement a realistic CIA exam study schedule into your life in order to pass each part. But a plan is particularly crucial for Parts 2 and 3 due to the fact that these parts demand more study time overall. So, by mapping out your review agenda for the next few months, you can guarantee that you will finish your preparations by your exam day.

How do you construct an effective study plan that you can actually follow? Using the study planner in your CIA review course is the easiest and most efficient way. You’re all set if your study materials include an interactive study planner. These tools require you to input your exam date and the days you can’t study. They then produce a customized study plan that gets you through all of the exam content in time.

If your course didn’t come with a study planner, then you need to calculate how many CIA exam study hours you’ll need to get ready to pass one part. My recommendations can help you make your estimate. After that, you must determine how many study hours you can fit into a typical week of your busy life. Doing so may require you to prune some non-essential activities out of your life temporarily.

But once you know how much you can study per week, then divide that number by your total number of study hours. You’ll be left with the number of weeks your studies for that exam part will last. Finally, put these study times on your calendar and make each one of them a priority.

2. Recreate the real testing environment.

Developing the confidence you need to deliver your best performance on exam day is a 2-fold process. The first step is to understand the exam content on a deep level. The second step is to become familiar with the exam functionality immediately.

Experiencing the testing environment in advance helps set you up for CIA exam success by greatly reducing the surprises you’ll encounter when you sit for the exam. And the best way to interact with the exam environment prior to your time at Pearson VUE is to study with an exam-emulating online course. This type of prep course recreates the look and feel of the CIA exam as much as possible, even in details such as screen colors and button sizes. Of course, online courses are also beneficial because you’ll take the entire CIA exam on a computer.

When you’re working through a course like this, you can do your part to extend the emulation of the exam by studying in a quiet, isolated workspace. Your office after hours, your home office, or a library will satisfy this requirement. If you wanted to be very methodical about it, you could even ensure that your location was a little cool, like Pearson VUE testing centers usually are.

Of course, the CIA exam is now offered online, too. (At least on a temporary basis.) So if you plan to take the exam online, think about a quiet place where you might take the exam, like your home office. And then, make sure you take all of your practice exams in that same space to get used to it.

3. Answer as many practice questions as you can.

Working through many practice questions is a great way to use your exam-emulating course, as you’ll be answering at least 100 questions during the CIA exam parts. But answering plenty of practice questions is also beneficial for applying what you learn from your course.

You need to make sure that you’re successfully soaking up all of the information in the books and video lectures and understanding it correctly. Conveniently, answering practice questions enables you to gauge your progress in these areas.

Furthermore, practice questions also allow you to refine your skills with the different types of MCQs the real CIA exam presents. If you don’t see enough practice questions during your study sessions, you’ll likely be stumped by some of the questions you see on exam day.

Finally, only by answering practice questions can you perfect the time management you’ll need to get through all of the questions in each CIA exam part. Remember, you’ll only have 2 hours to finish the 100 MCQs of the CIA exam Part 2. Consequently, sticking to a time limit of 1.2 minutes per question requires regular training.

You can accomplish each of these goals better by having more practice questions. With a large test bank, you can access more questions about each exam topic instead of just a few. You’re also more likely to see questions that look similar to the ones the exam will serve you. And last but not least, a big test bank lets you solidify your stamina for answering 100 MCQs in a row.

4. Don’t memorize the practice questions.

Another benefit of having a big test bank is the minimized temptation to memorize the practice questions. When you use a smaller test bank, you end up seeing the same practice question repeatedly. And when you do, you may incidentally memorize the question and its answer instead of the concept and its application.

Memorizing the questions is a bad study habit because you have a negligible chance of seeing those exact questions on the exam. But you have a very high chance of seeing questions that ask you about those concepts.

For this reason, you should approach the practice questions as a test of your understanding of the exam topics rather than a sampling of the real exam questions. And changing your perspective on the practice questions should change your approach to them as well. When you come to a practice question, figure out which topics the question is asking you about. Then, recall everything you know about that topic and use that information to choose the correct answer.

If the topic of the question is familiar to you, but the answer is foreign, then you must tighten your mental grasp on that topic. Determining which topics you don’t know well enough is the purpose of the practice questions. So, don’t expect them to operate in any other way.

5. Let your knowledge of the concepts guide your educated guesses.

More often than not, CIA exam questions are conceptual, not computational. And questions like these usually have more than one answer option that seems correct. Therefore, CIA exam questions can be pretty tricky. And when you’re faced with dozens of fairly difficult questions, you may need to answer them with some educated guessing.

Educated guessing is what it sounds like: using prior knowledge to make your best guess. Because you have some information about the topic of the question, you should be able to tell which answer options are clearly incorrect. Then, you can further explore the depths of your understanding to appraise the validity of the remaining answer options.

To continue narrowing down your options, you can place each answer choice in a real-world scenario. Then, see how good the outcome would be. If only one of the answer options gives you a good result, then you’ve found the best answer.

However, if that plan of action doesn’t solve the problem, then you can ruminate on the exam’s intentions with this question. Lastly, you should be able to pick the best answer by employing your intuition based on your understanding of the topic.

Get More Information About How to Pass CIA Part 2 on Your First Try

Looking for even more insight into the process of the CIA application, passing the CIA exam, and securing the CIA certification? You’ll find it in my free CIA e-course. This course gives you even more information about how to pass CIA Part 2 on your first try. So, learn more or sign up here!

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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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