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What to Expect at the CIA Exam Center


cia exam center

Studying is a big part of the CIA exam preparation, but managing your expectation and stress level on the exam day is equally important.

Let’s go through what you are going to experience on the exam day, as well as what you should bring (and not to bring) to the CIA exam center.

What to Bring to the CIA Exam Center

1. Exam Appointment Confirmation Letter

Triple check that you bring the letter. It may also be useful to bring your “Authorization to Test” notification you received via email from the IIA.

2. Identification

The identification must be / must have:

  • The original document
  • Current (i.e. not expired)
  • A photo
  • A name that is exactly the same as your name as registered in the CIA exam, which is printed on the test confirmation. If the name needs to be changed, you can log into your CCMS account and amend accordingly.

Acceptable IDs include:

  • Passport
  • Government-issued driver’s license
  • Military ID (except those with chips)
  • Permanent resident visa
  • Credit card with photo
  • Other government-issued ID

Unacceptable forms of identification include:

  • Employee identification or work badge
  • University/college identification

3. Optional Items

Candidates are allowed to bring a non-electronic language translation dictionary. Please note that no highlighting, notes and attachments are allowed in the dictionary.

What NOT to Bring

You will be given an erasable note board and pen. Calculators will be available on screen. Therefore, you are not allowed to bring in scratch paper, pens, pencils and calculators.

What to Expect at the CIA Exam Center

Pearson VUE provides this video to show you what a typical testing site looks like, and what you will go through in the registration process.

Please note that this video is made for candidates in all discipline. For details on the rules (e.g. those on calculators), always refer to the IIA candidate handbook.

What to Do Before the Exam Day

1. CBT Exam Tutorial

Prior to taking your scheduled exam, complete the tutorial by selecting “CBT Exam Tutorial” on the IIA website.

2. Test-Drive to the Center

The appointment letter indicates the location and address of the exam center. If possible, run a test-drive by going to the exam center using the same traveling method (car or public transportation) and around the same time of the day.

You will have a better idea of the traveling time required, and you will know how the building looks like, and little things like recognizing the entrance door and the feel of the exam site helps minimize the uncertainly you have on the exam day.

What to Do on the Exam Day

1. Registration

The IIA rules state that you must arrive 30 minutes before the exam.

There will be other candidates taking the exam in the same time slot. There is always a chance that the person before you take much longer than normal in the registration process. To improve the odds of having a smooth exam experience, I suggest you arrive at least 45 minutes prior to your exam.

You will be given a key for the locker to put your personal belongings. The locker is typically small, so it is better to bring a small backpack rather than a large tote bag. I would also leave unnecessary items such as jewelery and laptops at home.

You will also be asked to read and sign the Candidate Rules Agreement. After that, hand in your identification and provide a signature sample (digitally or on paper) for verification. The administrator will also take a digital photo of your face and capture your fingerprint for record.

2. Getting Ready

The administrator will give you an erasable board and pen. Once you sign in and are brought to the workstation in the exam room, you can start.

Part 1 exam has 125 multiple choice questions to be completed in 2.5 hours. For each of Part 2 and 3, there are 100 questions with 2 hours to complete.

There is no scheduled breaks. If you need to leave the room during the exam, you must raise your hand and be escorted out of the room, sign a log sheet and get fingerprinted. Any time taken for breaks counts toward the overall time allotment for the exam.

What to Do After Completing the Exam

You can raise your hand and the proctor (test administrator) will escort you from the testing room.

After turning in your note board and sign on the test center log, you will be given a printed copy of the unofficial score report. This report will show a “PASS” (without any number) if you pass the exam; otherwise a numeric score below 600 will be shown, indicating how much you miss the passing mark. A more detailed performance assessment report will be available in CCMS on the IIA website a few days later.

If you have questions on the exam content or the score, contact the IIA by logging an incident in CCMS. The proctor at the exam site only handles the technical side of the exam administration.

cia exam failureHow Lynnel Spent Her Days leading up to the Exam

Our blogger Lynnel sheds light on how you can plan for the last round of revision a few weeks before the exam: the most important supplementary materials, the DIY summary notes and mock exam.

(She passed both Part 1 and 2 with this strategy!)

Here is a Summary in Video Format

Further Reading

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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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