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What to Expect at the CIA Exam Center

cia exam center

Are you planning to take the CIA exam soon? Being prepared is very important to your success. Studying is a big part of the CIA exam preparation, but managing your expectation and stress level on the exam day is equally important.

That’s where I come in to help! 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

Before the big day arrives, you can prepare by determining what to bring to the CIA exam center. In fact, knowing what to bring and what NOT to bring is an important part of giving yourself a smooth testing experience.

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. It’s really important that you have this so you can prove you have an appointment. These appointments are usually in high demand and the testing centers can get really packed.

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 the screen. Therefore, you are not allowed to bring in scratch paper, pens, pencils or 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 disciplines. For details on the rules (e.g. those on calculators), always refer to the IIA candidate handbook.

What to Do Before the Exam Day

Now the big day is coming, so what can you do to prepare 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. Then you can choose the CBT for the CIA exam and study this. You can also take additional CIA exams or study guides as needed to be fully prepared.

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 uncertainty you have on the exam day.

This is very important because you do not want to be late and miss the exam start time. If you do, you won’t be able to test that day. Remember that there are things you cannot predict fully, like traffic, so it’s always best to get there early and wait, rather than risk being late.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

A rested brain performs better, so it’s very important you get enough sleep. This is not just good advice for the night right before testing, but also in the days and weeks leading up to testing. This is a great practice to follow when you are studying for the exam. It makes studying easier, and it makes it easier for you to retain the information that you study.

4. Eat a Healthy Diet

Just as it is important to get enough rest, it’s also important that you eat well. Again, this is a tip for the days leading up to the test as much as the night before and the morning of. Many people think it’s only important to eat a good breakfast that morning.

Actually, when you’re taking a big test, it might be better to eat light that day. However, if you’ve been eating a healthy diet leading up to the test day, your brain will be functioning at its best. So, eat well as much as you can leading up to test time.

Now, what do you do on the day of the exam?

What to Do on the Exam Day

1. Registration

The IIA rules state that you must arrive 30 minutes before the exam. I recommend coming a bit earlier for buffer time, or to allow for possible traffic.

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 jewelry 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 the 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 are 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 finger-printed. 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. That’s it! Give yourself a pat on the back because you have completed the exam. Now what?

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. They will not be able to answer any other questions for you.

Getting Your CIA Exam Scores

Once you’ve completed the exam, you will find out if you passed, or if you were short on the required score. If you did not pass, it will tell you how much you missed the mark. Apart from that, however, you have to wait for your assessment to come into the CCMS a few days later.

It’s important to check back later for your in-depth assessment if you didn’t pass, in order to see what you need to study more so you can pass the next time you take the exam. However, did you know it can also benefit you to study the full assessment even if you do pass?

When you look at the full performance report, you can see the areas in which you did really well and also the areas that you didn’t. This shows you where you may need to study more or have more real-world experience to help you in those subject areas. No one is expected to know 100% everything, but it will help you in your job performance to study your weak areas.

CIA Part 1

The CIA exam is split into three parts. Many people find it easier to study by splitting it into these three parts. You can study for the first part of the exam first, and then move on to parts 2 and 3.

To help you have an adequate understanding of the crucial concepts, the CIA exam syllabi communicate the cognitive level, or depth of knowledge, that candidates must have for each exam topic area. The 2 cognitive levels at which the exam tests candidates are:

  • 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.

Part 1 of the CIA exam has 14 topics that candidates must know at the Basic level and 16 topics that candidates must know at the Proficient level.

Studying for CIA Part 1

You need to know the syllabus for CIA Part 1 in order to study for it.

Content Area Coverage Percentage
I. Foundations of Internal Auditing 15%
II. Independence and Objectivity 15%
III. Proficiency and Due Professional Care 18%
IV. Quality Assurance and Improvement Program 7%
V. Governance, Risk Management, and Control 35%
VI. Fraud Risks 10%

CIA Part 2

Again, as with part 1, you can study for the CIA part 2 by knowing what will be on it and breaking it down into sections until you have mastered the ideas and concepts within.

Part 2 of the CIA exam has 14 topics that candidates must know at the Basic level and 21 topics that candidates must know at the Proficient level.

Studying for CIA Part 2

To study for the CIA Part 2, you need to know the syllabus.

Content Area Coverage Percentage
I. Managing the Internal Audit Activity 20%
II. Planning the Engagement 20%
III. Performing the Engagement 40%
IV. Communicating Engagement Results and Monitoring Progress 20%

CIA Part 3

And now we come to the third and final part of the CIA exam. Part 3 of the CIA exam has 32 topics that candidates must know at the Basic level and 3 topics that candidates must know at the Proficient level.

Studying for CIA Part 3

And, of course, you also need to know the syllabus for CIA exam part 3 in order to study for it as well.

Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing

Content Area Coverage Percentage
I. Business Acumen 35%
II. Information Security 25%
III. Information Technology 20%
IV. Financial Management 20%

During the exam at the CIA testing center, you won’t get official breaks in between the sections, but stopping one section and beginning another serves as a bit of a natural break. You can also ask to be excused for bathroom breaks, if needed.

CIA Calculator

The CIA exam will require the use of a calculator so this is a topic that comes up often. You cannot bring a calculator, cell phone or other devices like this into the exam room with you. There will, however, be a calculator provided for you with the exam. So, no need to worry!

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

If you find this site helpful, please consider signing up to my mini-course which is completely free. You can learn more about this e-course here.

There’s no reason to fail the CIA exam. When you study properly and arrive at the CIA testing center prepared, you can pass – even on your first try.

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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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