When to Take the CIA Exam: Are You Too Old (or Young) for This?

Do you know when to take the CIA exam? I have readers who take the CIA exam because they are approaching a corporate ceiling they cannot exceed without the CIA certification. Plus, these readers worry if they are too old for this exam.

On the other hand, we have those who are at school, interested in internal audit, and wonder if they can take the exam before graduation.

The question is: When to take the CIA exam? Is there an ideal time?

CIA Challenge for Mature Candidates

It is fair to say that for professional exams such as the CIA exam, there is a certain amount of content that we need to memorize. The older we are, the less efficient we function for rote memorization. This is something mature candidates have to accept.

However, the CIA exam involves questions that test real business situations and how an internal audit is performed on a daily basis. For this, experienced candidates have a distinct advantage.

Challenge for Student Candidates

It’s the opposite for candidates who haven’t yet joined the workforce. You excel in memory power but lack the experience to analyze some of the more “real-life” questions.

There are additional considerations for taking the CIA exam at a young age:


1. Student discount

One tangible benefit is the discount on IIA membership and a further discount on application and exam fees. You can save up to $400 altogether.

2. Time

Students have more flexible time schedules, which is very helpful for exam preparation.


1. Is the CIA relevant down the road?

You may find your internal audit class very interesting, but is it the same at the workplace? You might waste time, money, and effort taking the CIA exam only to go on to another accounting niche later.

When to Take the CIA Exam

There isn’t a distinct advantage or disadvantage that I can think of, but if you believe that the CIA title can help you make more money, as shown in the IIA survey, then yes, your opportunity cost is higher if you postpone your plan of getting certified.

What are your thoughts? Please share your story and thoughts in the comment section 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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