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The CIA Exam Center Experience: Visiting the Pearson VUE Test Center

cia exam center

Are you planning to take the CIA exam soon? If so, then you know that being prepared is very important to your success. Of course, studying is a big part of your CIA exam preparations, but managing your expectations and stress levels on the exam day is also very important. How can you do that? By learning what your exam day will be like before it arrives as well as what you should bring and not to bring to the testing site. And, you’ll find all the information you’ll need about your trip to the CIA exam center here.

Where to Take the CIA Exam: The Pearson VUE Test Center

No matter where you are in the world, you must travel to a testing center to take the CIA exam. And that testing center will always be a Pearson VUE testing center because the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) has partnered with Pearson VUE to administer the CIA exam. Pearson VUE helps test owners and test takers in nearly every industry, so they’re the global leader in computer-based testing.

Pearson VUE Testing Center Locations

Furthermore, Pearson VUE has testing centers located all around the world. So, by working with the IIA, Pearson VUE offers over 900 CIA exam locations to candidates. These sites operate all year, and most are open 5-6 days a week. However, Pearson VUE doesn’t accept walk-in appointments, so you must schedule your CIA exam in advance.

And as you probably know, the IIA has computerized the entire CIA exam. Therefore, you will take the CIA exam on a computer at one of the Pearson VUE testing center locations.

What to Expect at the CIA Exam Center: The Pearson VUE Testing Center Experience

Pearson VUE has created 2 different videos that describe their testing centers and demonstrate what the testing process involves. These videos are not specific to CIA exam testing.

You can watch these videos to visualize what your visit to a Pearson VUE testing center will be like. Then, you can keep reading to get more details about the ideal testing center experience.

Arriving on Time

As mentioned, you must schedule your CIA exam appointment ahead of time. You can actually make an appointment up to 1 business day in advance, but I recommend scheduling your appointment as soon as possible so you can secure the date and time that work best for you at the Pearson VUE testing center of your choice.

The IIA’s Certification Candidate Handbook specifies that on the day of your CIA exam appointment, you must arrive 30 minutes before the time at which you’re scheduled to test. In fact, if you don’t enter the testing center 3o minutes before your appointment time, you may receive a “No-Show” status. And with this status, the testing center may deny you access. Furthermore, the exam center will definitely consider you a “No-Show” and will not allow you to take your exam if you arrive after your scheduled appointment time.

Coming Earlier Is Better

So, arriving 30 minutes before your testing appointment is essential. However, coming even earlier is better because it gives you more time to find a parking space and calm your nerves before going in. Additionally, because other people are taking tests during the same time slot, there’s a chance that the registration process of the person before you will take longer than normal. So, to improve your odds of having a smooth exam experience, I suggest you arrive at least 45 minutes prior to your exam.

Of course, failing to come to your appointment at all incites the biggest consequences. If you don’t show up for your exam at the scheduled location on the scheduled date and time, the IIA will void your registration. And, understandably, they’ll also assign you a “No-Show” status that forces you to forfeit your exam registration fee. In the event that you receive a “No-Show” status, you can’t schedule another test date until you submit a new exam registration form with another payment.

Gaining Admittance into the Pearson VUE Testing Center

Another essential CIA exam day step is bringing the appropriate ID. Failing to bring ID is another way to earn the dreaded “No-Show” status and be denied the opportunity to test even though you went to the exam center. So, make arming yourself with the right ID one of your top exam day priorities.

The right ID for entering the Pearson VUE testing center is a government-issued photo ID on which the name is exactly the same as the name you provided during your CIA exam registration. You will show this ID to the test center administrator and provide either a digital or paper signature that matches it as part of the check-in procedures. These procedures will also involve the test administrator taking a digital photo of you and scanning your handprint for Pearson VUE’s records.

Storing Your Personal Items

After verifying your identification, the test center administrator will show you to a locker in which you can put your personal items. Typically, these lockers are small, so you should only plan to bring the essentials into the testing center with you. Pearson VUE does not allow exam candidates to bring purses, wallets, cell phones, watches, jewelry, food, drinks, or even personal calculators into the testing room. So, if you brought any of those items, you must store them in the locker.

The only personal belonging that Pearson VUE lets you take with you to your testing station is a nonelectronic language translation dictionary. This dictionary cannot contain term definitions, only direct translations. Furthermore, your dictionary must not have anything written or highlighted within it, nor can you insert any notes or documents inside of the book. The test administrator will search your dictionary to ensure it meets these criteria. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to leave it in your locker.

Getting Your CIA Exam Tools

You will also receive a few testing tools to use during your exam. These tools include an erasable note board and pen for taking notes and an on-screen calculator or a hand-held calculator if available. You can take these tools to your testing station, and you must return these items to the test administrator before you leave the testing center.

Finishing the CIA Exam Login Procedures

After you’ve stowed your stuff and received your testing tools, the test administrator will give you a copy of Pearson VUE’s candidate rules agreement. This agreement covers provisions such as having your glasses inspected and your palms scanned. It also details other steps that Pearson VUE takes to protect the integrity of the CIA exam. Consequently, you must accept these terms in order to proceed with your testing appointment.

Finally, that last step you must take before you can start your test is signing the test center log. The testing center should not ask you to make any additional payments as part of your exam check-in. And if they do, you should contact Pearson VUE customer service at www.pearsonvue.com/iia/contact or +1-952-681-3756.

Going to Your Workstation

Once every step of the check-in procedure is complete, the exam administrator will lead you to your workstation. Then, you won’t be able to leave your workstation unless you receive authorization. To request authorization, simply raise your hand and a test administrator will come to your workstation.

The test administrator will log you into the computer at your workstation and ask you to verify that the exam you see on the screen is the one you’re scheduled to take.

The first few CIA exam screens that you’ll see will include the welcome screen, the IIA’s Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA), and the General Terms of Use. You must work through these screens and agree to the NDA in order to take the exam. If you don’t, you must leave the testing center and forfeit your fee.

You must complete the initial exam screens within a certain amount of time, but this time limit doesn’t apply to your total testing time. If you exceed the time limit of the initial exam screens, your CIA exam part will start automatically.

Taking the CIA Examination

Your CIA exam testing screens will include a timer that counts down the amount of time remaining in the exam. If you’re taking Part 1, you’ll have 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of total testing time. If you’re sitting for Part 2 or Part 3, you’ll only have 120 minutes (2 hours) of testing time in total.

Additionally, the IIA doesn’t penalize you for incorrect responses, so you should use a time management strategy to ensure that you can answer every exam question before the clock runs out.

Furthermore, your total testing time for the CIA exam time doesn’t incorporate a scheduled break. So, you’ll also need to employ time management if you want to take a break, as taking a break will cut into your total testing time. If you do take a break, you will have to sign the test log and show ID in order to leave and reenter the testing room. You may also need to supply a fingerprint or palm vein image.

Reporting and Avoiding a Problem

What happens if you encounter a computer problem during your test? Well, you must immediately report the issue to the exam administrator. Also, ask the proctor to log the incident. But don’t ask the test center employees about the exam content or exam scores during this time because they can’t help you with these matters. Finally, log the incident in your Certification Candidate Management System (CCMS) profile to communicate any exam experience concerns you have with the IIA.

Finally, while you are testing, the test center employees monitor the testing room through a glass window to check for unusual behavior and incidents. The testing centers also use audio and video recordings to observe and record exam sessions. So clearly, the IIA and Pearson VUE take what happens during these exams very seriously, and you should too so that you can refrain from conducting yourself inappropriately.

How to Get Ready for Exam Day: CIA Exam Preparations

Now that you know what your exam day will be like, you should know what to do before your exam day arrives to ensure you have a smooth and pleasant testing experience.

1. Complete the CBT Exam Tutorial

Prior to taking your scheduled exam, you should visit the IIA’s website and complete the CBT exam. You’ll find this tutorial under “Currently Enrolled” in the CIA certification sidebar. Then, you can select your desired language and go through the tutorial.

2. Take the IIA’s CIA Practice Exam

On the IIA’s website, you’ll also find CIA exam practice exams containing questions based on past CIA exam iterations. The IIA offers these practice exams so you can assess your exam readiness and gain exposure to the CIA exam format. Currently, the CIA exam practice exams are only available in a few different languages but all 3 exam parts. Furthermore, you must pay $50 for access to each practice exam part.

You can only access each practice exam once, and you will receive feedback as to whether you passed or failed. However, you won’t receive diagnostic information telling you which questions you answered correctly or incorrectly or explanations of the correct answers to the questions. And whether you pass or not is not a guarantee of how you will perform on the real CIA exam.

These practice exams do not have the same number of questions or the same amount of total testing time as the actual CIA exam parts. Instead, Part 1 has 60 questions and lasts for 75 minutes, while Parts 1 and 2 each have 50 questions and last 60 minutes.

Anyone can take these practice CIA exams, but you must have a profile in CCMS in order to access them.

3. Take a Test Drive to the Center

A few days before your testing appointment, you should take a test drive to the exam center. Even if you plan to take public transportation rather than drive yourself, you should use the same traveling method and go around the same time of day if possible.

Taking a test drive gives you a better idea of the traveling time required and familiarizes you with the area. You can discover what the building looks like, where the entrance is, and what the parking situation is like so that none of these things will add to your uncertainty on exam day.

Furthermore, completing your test drive should prevent you from being late and earning a “No-Show” status. You can’t predict what traffic will be like, so you should still leave as early as possible. But, you can at least know more about your route and your destination in advance.

4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

A rested brain performs better, so getting enough sleep is very important. In fact, instead of hoping you sleep well the night before your exam, you should get in the habit of getting plenty of sleep in the days and weeks leading up to your appointment. Sufficient rest helps you learn and retain information better. Therefore, securing it should actually be part of your CIA exam preparation.

5. Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating well on a regular basis is just as important as sleeping well. And again, you should be maintaining a healthy diet well before your exam day. And, at the very least, you should eat well the night before and the morning of your testing appointment.

Many people think eating a good breakfast that morning is all that matters. But you may actually want to eat light before a big test. Again, the goal is to eat healthy up until test day so your brain will be functioning at its best. So, eat well as much as you can prior to test time.

What to Bring and Not Bring to the Pearson Vue Test Center: CIA Exam Essentials

Another way to get ready for your exam appointment is to learn what you should bring with you to the Pearson VUE testing center. Of course, you’ll also want to know what not to bring to ensure an easier exam experience.

1. A Copy of Your Exam Appointment Confirmation Email

After you schedule your testing appointment with Pearson VUE, they will send you an email confirmation. Though bringing this email with you to the exam center is not necessarily mandatory to test, some testing centers may not permit you to test without it. Therefore, you should bring a printout of Pearson VUE confirmation email with you anyway as a safety precaution. You may also want to have your authorization to test email from the IIA with you.

The Pearson VUE confirmation email will contain your first and last name and the date and time of your appointment. Therefore, providing this email to the test administrator may help them locate your record and grant you access to your exam.

Appointments at Pearson VUE testing centers are often in high demand. Furthermore, the testing centers can get pretty packed. So, you’ll appreciate having this additional proof of authorization with you.

2. Identification

As mentioned, you must also have appropriate identification with you in order to take the CIA exam. This identification must be the original document and be current. Furthermore, it must contain a photo and a name that is exactly the same as the one in you used to register for the CIA exam. If your name on your ID does not match the name on your CIA exam registration, you can log in to your CCMS account to adjust the IIA’s records 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

Again, you’ll have to stow most of your stuff in a locker when you get to the testing center. However, you can bring a non-electronic language translation dictionary with you to your workstation. You can also wear a light jacket, as the testing centers can be a bit chilly.

What Not to Bring to the CIA Exam

As noted, the test administrator will give you an erasable note board and pen before taking you to your workstation. You may also receive a handheld calculator if available, but the CIA exam includes an onscreen calculator.

For these reasons, you cannot bring scratch paper, pens, pencils, or a calculator with you to your work station. So, you don’t need to bother bringing these materials to the testing site at all. You also shouldn’t bring a laptop, tablet, or any of your CIA review course materials.

What to Do After Finishing the CIA Exam: CIA Exam Completion

Once you’ve clicked the “End Exam” button, you can raise your hand to notify the test administrator. When they see that you’ve finished the exam, they will escort you from the testing room. They’ll also have you sign the test center log again.

Outside the testing room, you’ll trade your note board and pen for a printed copy of your unofficial score report. If you passed your exam, this report will read “PASS” without providing any numerical score. However, if you failed your CIA exam part, you will see a number below 600 that indicates how far away you were from the passing mark. Your score report will also contain a performance assessment. This assessment will detail how much you need to improve in each content area of that exam part. You should use this information to optimize your studies before you retake the failed exam part.

cia exam center

Then, 24-48 hours after you’ve taken the exam, the IIA will publish your official score report in your CCMS account. You will receive an email once your official score report is ready. However, the IIA may decide that your exam results necessitate further analysis. So, that that case, the IIA will delay the release of your official score report. And, they will notify you of the situation.

Furthermore, if you demonstrate any misconduct or a breach of the IIA’s Code of Ethics or if there is an issue with your score, the IIA may invalidate your CIA exam score.  If you have any questions on the exam content or about your exam score, contact the IIA by logging an incident in CCMS.

How to Pass the CIA Exam: CIA Review Courses

Now that you know what your CIA exam day at a Pearson VUE testing center will look like, you need to ensure that you know what the CIA exam looks like and the content it will cover. And you can get all of this information in a CIA review course.

A CIA course explains all of the content areas of the CIA exam syllabus, uses practice questions to emulate the exam environment and develop your skills, and supports your CIA journey with customer service. Therefore, a CIA review course is essential for passing each exam part the first time and becoming a CIA faster.

You can discover the best CIA review courses on the market in my course comparison. You can also contact me to receive a personalized review course recommendation. Finally, you can use my CIA discounts to save big on your preferred CIA exam prep.

You can also use my free CIA e-course to learn about the entire certification process and the best strategies for passing the exam efficiently. Learn more or sign up below!

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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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