5-Step Strategy for Repeat CIA Exam Retakers

repeat cia exam retakers

For those whose 4-year deadline is approaching: should you repay the exam fees and start all over again? Or should you pack your bags and leave?

1. How Important the CIA Certification is to Your Career?

The decision could be vastly different depending on how important the certification means to you. In Gail’s case, she takes the CIA exam because she used to work as an internal auditor, but has since moved on to a different role (that she likes), but somehow feels like getting the CIA title is a safe bet, probably in case she goes back to internal audit.

This is very different from Annette’s case: she’d like to be a CIA because of her passion in the internal audit, has been a strong performer at her firm, and a promotion is promised once she gets the certification. It’s a completely different story.

2. Would You Regret if You Give Up Now?

If this tangible benefit of getting the certification is not clear, then another reason is whether you see this as a personal challenge, and whether you will regret down the road if you stop now.

I’ve seen people trying again for various professional exams after giving up years ago. The feeling of failure lingers. They see nailing the exam as a validation of all the previous hard work not wasted away.

It’s going to be extra hurdle trying for the exam when one goes older and the exam taking skill gets rusted. If there is still a chance of success, and that you know you’d regret it later, I suggest you give it one more chance.

3. If Determined to Stay, Start with Part 3

Part 3 is a huge hurdle for many candidates. In this case I would try smashing this hurdle before handling Part 1 and Part 2. Those would be easy in comparison.

If you can’t pass Part 3 and decide that’s the end of it, at least you don’t waste your time taking Part 1 and 2.

4. Read My Page on Part 3 Exam

This is one of the most read articles on my site, and arguably the most value-add to the CIA exam community.

The comments, feedback and tips from my readers have been instrumental to the success of many others who follow the advice. They express their gratitude by contributing to the discussion.

Part 3 is hard no matter how you look at it. For some reason the course providers are not able to catch up with better study materials. But the suggestions and the supplementary materials (often free ones) are sufficient to help you pass this last part of the exam.

5. Give Yourself an Ultimatum

It’s exhausting to keep spending money and working hard for one exam. Be prepared as best as you can, with the right tools and attitude. Then go for it. If fail again, take this as a closure. You have tried your best and it isn’t your game. Don’t worry — there are other challenges in life waiting for you. Drop the CIA exam and enjoy life. It certainly isn’t the end of the world.

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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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    Dear Sir,

    I had appeared CIA part-I exam on 25.09.2017 & my score is 511.
    I had studies with Gleim material. but now I do’not understand in which area i can improve me & how.

    kindly guide me.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Ajay,
      Sorry to hear that, but I am glad you aren’t giving up! Your gleim online practice questions should be able to show your weaker areas. I would work on those. You should also get a performance report from the IIA although that is a bit too general in my opinion. Good for reference though. Best of luck!

  • Sid says:


    I took the CIA part 1 in april and scored 506. I took the retake in Sept and got 566 this time but still not enough to pass unforunately. Do you hav e any tips, as I am planning to resit this at the end of the year.


  • Putri Elisse says:

    Im so heartbroken and crushed! I was not able to focused for the past weeks because of my health issues, I took my part 1 exam today and its my first time. So sad to see my rating of 575!! Per assestment, i need signficant improvement in topics 2 and 3..with this result, do you think its wise to register for part 2 exam or wait until i pass for the part 1? Your advise mean a lot for me.

    • Stephanie says:

      Hi Putri, sorry to hear that… first of all I hope you will recover fully very soon. Health is always the most important.
      Then, on your question, it sounds like you know where to focus on in your next attempt. If the plan is very clear, I suggest that you rest well, then work really hard on topics 2 and 3 in the next 3 months, and take Part 1 to get it done with. Sounds good? Stephanie

  • Donna says:

    I just sat for the CIA part 1 and scored 585! I used Gleim study materials and consistently scored 85-100 on the pre-tests. On the pre-exam I scored 88.8! I have no idea what to study now since the materials obviously did not prepare me for the exam. Extremely frustrated!

    • Emily says:

      Me too, just sat for CIA part 1 and scored 556 today, I used Gleim and consistently score 90 above on the pre-test, I studied every single question and learned all mistake questions at least twice or more. I saw couples new concepts in the test which is not covered by Gleim. I don’t know which other material should I use for next time. Please advice. Thanks,

    • grettel lugo says:

      Hi Guys in reading your comments I realized I am not alone in this; this past Friday I also sat for CIA part 1 and scored a 585 to my surprise because I finished with plenty of time and had even 20 mins to go back to the questions. I also did good on all my practice exams in Gleim and thought I was ready but apparently something is off with the actual test as I also saw a couple of questions/concepts which were not covered by Gleim (I had the latest version of the Gleim). So I wonder if you can appeal to the IIA; I read that sometimes the scores can be lowered if the exam had normal difficulty. So not sure what to do now 🙁 🙁

      • Emily says:

        I heard that score may not be real score, just the range, anyway, we are outside of pass group. I think we need to understand the concept inside and out. I guess, except the practice exams, I have to read the book as much as possible for those concepts. Next time, I need to bring my dictionary. I am not a good test taker at all, slow reader, but I improved this time to complete all questions on time. I hate the 90 days waiting period, Hopefully I can pass next time.

    • Emily says:

      The first time I took Part 1 my score was 590 and I had gotten a 98 on the Gleim exam rehearsal. Even after doing hundreds and hundreds of practice questions, I think you somehow get familiarized with the Gleim questions and they become easier to answer over time. Then during the exam, you are seeing all new exam questions and have the added pressure of finishing before running out of time. I passed Part 1 the second time and passed Part 2 on the first try recently. I found that re-reading the study material again the week prior to the exam in addition to lots of practice questions as well as reading all of the explanations for the correct and wrong answers helped me understand the underlying concepts as well as possible. Even with all of that, I still didn’t feel confident walking out of the testing room until I saw Pass on the results printout. It’s exhausting but I’m ready to start studying for Part 3. Stay encouraged- you can do it!

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