I Pass the CIA Exam!

Tips for Passing CIA Exam Part 3: Igmar van Niekerk’s CIA Journey

tips for passing cia exam part 3

First of all, I absolutely love this blog and the work Stephanie is doing. The information provided in the blog is always insightful about what to expect in the CIA journey. At the same time, the blog has provided me with motivation during difficult times. Thankfully, I will now be able to participate in this great blog by sharing tips for passing CIA exam Part 3.

My CIA Exam Journey


My personal CIA journey started in 2012.

tips for passing cia exam part 3

Up to that point, the words “CIA” and “internal audit” never even crossed my mind. Coming out of high school in 2011, I had excellent accounting marks. And thus, I decided to pursue a degree in accounting at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

The first year of accounting didn’t go exactly as planned. This was partly due to a lack of commitment and interest on my side. So, in 2012, I decided that it was time for me to change degrees.

Law, financial management, and investment management were all degree ideas I considered. Then, a few weeks before the final submission date to change degrees, a friend of mine told me about this degree called internal audit.

Per his explanation, internal auditing involved analyzing things such as business controls and risk analysis and adding value to businesses. I weighed the different options and decided to get my degree in internal audit.

I still clearly remember the lecture where we were told about the career path of an internal auditor and how the CIA designation should be the ultimate goal for all internal auditors. At the time, the CIA like seemed an impossible dream that was far down the line.


But then, after completing my internal audit honors degree at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, I spent a year lecturing on internal audit there. During my year of lecturing, I completed Part 1 of the CIA exam! On July 30, 2018, I completed Part 2.

From a personal point of view, Part 2 was a lot less challenging than Part 1. Maybe, I found Part 2 easier because Part 2 is considered more practical and I’ve gained additional work experience since sitting for Part 1. Or, maybe I was less intimidated by Part 2 because I was more familiar with what to expect on the CIA exam.

Either way, even though Part 2 wasn’t as difficult, I still experienced the same exam nerves. I believe those will never fade away completely. Also, the seconds spent waiting for your results after you finish the exam always feel like hours.

Professional Experience

Now, I am working within the Risk and Assurances department within PwC South Africa, with a specific focus on internal audit. A lot of our work focuses on the public sector, which we in South Africa consider the internal audit school of hard knocks.

Also, I’m hopefully just a few months away from completing my CIA journey. There have been numerous challenges along the way. One of the biggest, which I will discuss later, was working and studying at the same time. There has also been a lot of self-discovery and sacrifices. But, the thought of walking out of the test venue knowing I’ve completed the CIA has kept me going.

Preferred CIA Review Course

For both Parts 1 and 2, I relied on the Gleim CIA Review. While I had access to both the Gleim course and the IIA study materials, I felt the Gleim course had a better structure. Also, Gleim always provided a clear explanation as to why an answer was correct or incorrect.

Tips for Passing CIA Exam Part 3

Going forward, I will continue to use Gleim CIA Review as I prepare for Part 3. The plan is to write Part 3 in November of this year before the CIA exam syllabus changes. Then, I will be able to share some tips for passing CIA exam Part 3.

My Current CIA Exam Plan

To me, the path from Part 2 to Part 3 is clear and obvious. I know passing Part 3 will require a lot more time and effort. At the same time though, Part 3 covers an interesting and wide variety of topics.

Therefore, I don’t think I should be discouraged by Part 3. Topics such as governance, IT, and leadership are more relevant to internal audit now than ever. Additionally, these topics afford any potential CIA valuable insight.

Preparing to Sit for CIA Exam Part 3

The date is finally official!!

It’s official: on December 7, 2018, I will be writing Part 3 of the CIA exam. After quite a struggle with the IIA SA (the local chapter of the IIA Global), my membership and registration have finally been sorted out.

It is quite the relief to have a set date and to be able to work towards that date.

And, this feeling brings me to a piece of advice I believe is critical for all potential candidates: Book a date to write and work towards that date. And, give yourself ample time — one, two, or even three months, depending on how hectic your schedule is.

A mistake I personally have made in the past is to just continuously study and keep telling myself I’ll book when I’m done studying and feel ready. But let’s be honest, how many of us preparing for the CIA can honestly say we’ll ever feel hundred percent ready?

Therefore, take that leap, book the date, and work towards the date based on a set study plan.

On a personal note, thankfully, I have been continuously studying despite my membership not being sorted out. As such, the studies for CIA exam Part 3 are slowly but surely coming along.

As many people have noted, the scope of Part 3 is vast and covers a much wider variety of topics than the other parts. But I’ve embraced the challenge, and I’m working through the Gleim study material and question database on a daily basis.

The Love/Hate Relationship That Is Internal Audit

To end off this blog, I would like to discuss a topic more focused on internal audit and the work internal auditors do.

In the last few years, there have been numerous large-scale corporate scandals around the world. In some instances, people asked, “But where were the internal auditors?” or “Why did the internal audit not discover this?” Are people just taking the easy way out by blaming internal audit? Or should we hold internal auditors accountable?

Internal Audit Frustrations

Personal experience has shown me the value internal audit adds to a company and the importance placed upon the internal audit work. As such, I’m sure there are instances in which people could blame the internal audit process for not seeing the red flags.

However, the problem arises when the culture of a company does not allow for accountability, consequences for actions, and the necessary attention and oversight to be given to the internal audit’s findings.

Furthermore, the problems can get worse if the audit committee or the board of directors, who directly engage both management and the internal audit function, don’t support the internal audit.

As an internal auditor, you could identify the most critical of problems. But, if management is not willing to take action, your hands are tied. Such frustrations and, at times, a clear lack of cooperation from management is enough to make anyone extremely irritated.

Internal Audit Triumphs

On the other hand, as an internal auditor, there will be times when you feel on top of the world. You will observe with your own eyes the value your work is adding.

To see the effects of your own work and your own recommendations take shape and change a company, no matter how big or small the change, provides a sense of pride that I’m sure few experiences can match.

Therefore, despite all the ups and downs, a career in internal audit is a never-ending story. And, it’s one that brings about new challenges and opportunities for growth with each chapter.

Thanks for CIA Exam Part 3 Support

Lastly, I’d like to thank Stephanie for all the time and effort she put into the website.

The CIA journey is not always an easy one. So, at times, we all need that little bit of extra motivation. Hearing from likeminded people in similar situations has helped to keep me going.

Therefore, I would love the opportunity to carry over my knowledge, study methods, or even just experience in order to benefit other people who might be struggling or are not sure how to proceed.

Keep up the great work, Stephanie! I will be reporting some tips for passing CIA exam Part 3 soon!

Kind regards all the way from South Africa,

Igmar van Niekerk

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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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