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CIA Exam Tips and Study Strategy

Study the content several times

You shouldn’t attempt the exam after studying the content only one time. Give the information time to sink in, then review the content several times before attempting the exam. We recommend studying the content at least 3 times before attempting the exam.

Set a study schedule

If you don’t have a realistic plan you might never finish the CIA program. You need to set up a plan right from the beginning. Your plan doesn’t need to be very detailed, just set rough dates that you can revise later on once you have a better grasp of the content of the CIA exams. Revising a plan is better than not having any plan.

Short study sessions

We recommend 30 minute study sessions. 2 or 3-hour sessions are not as productive as 2 or 3 shorter sessions with longer breaks between them.

You also shouldn’t study every day. Take one or two days off each week, and a week or two off every couple of months.  

If you haven’t studied for a long period of time, you will notice that after a month or two of studying your ability to understand and retain information will start to improve. When you have an upcoming exam, you can increase your study hours, but do not pressure yourself.

Celebrate your accomplishments

Reward yourself when you accomplish a goal. Be it a day off, or a night out. You need to keep a healthy balance between studying and resting.

Take a week or two after each exam regardless of the exam result. During those two weeks you can think about your upcoming plans, and how the exam attempt will affect your approach to studying for the upcoming exam.

Solve as many practice questions as available

The more questions you solve the more familiar you will be with the content and the approach of the exam. Even if you find a certain topic easy, do not skip its practice questions. You don’t want to have any surprises on the exam day.

Learn from your mistakes

When you answer a question incorrectly, read the answer explanation to learn why your answer was incorrect.

The textbook and practice questions complement each other. There might be ideas in the practice questions that are not covered in the textbooks and vice versa. Reading answer explanations will help cover aspects of the exam not covered in the textbooks.

Do not memorize questions

Some of the questions that you solve incorrectly might stick to your memory naturally because you have solved them several times. Avoid memorizing such questions because that will not help you in the exam. The exam questions will not be exactly the same as the practice questions.

A good technique for not memorizing such questions is trying to always explain to yourself, before attempting the question, why each of the incorrect answers is incorrect, and why the correct answer is correct.

 All topics are important

Do not focus on specific topics and leave out other topics. Naturally, some topics will be more difficult than others, and it’s normal that you will need to spend more time on topics that you find more challenging. But do not be tempted by any resources, be it friends, colleagues, or web pages, that tell you to focus on specific topics. Some exam takers get the impression that certain topics are more important than other topics because the version of the exam they got did not have questions from a specific topic, while it included a number of questions from another topic, but this can’t be generalized. Each exam taker receives a set of questions that is slightly different from other exam takers. The examiners do not focus on new topics; the number of questions you will get from each topic is based on the CIA exam content outline set by the IIA.

Mock Exam

Simulate the exam environment. Use a laptop or desktop to do the mock exam. Switch off your phone. Close the door, and tell your family or roommates not to disturb you during your mock exam.

Use our Mock Exam tool that mimics the real exam in terms of structure, functionality and distribution of questions among topics.

Your goal should be to get a score higher than 90%. The passing score is 80% but the mock exam questions might be familiar to you, unlike the real exam questions. Therefore, you need to aim at a score that is higher than the exam’s pass score.

Exam taking skills

There is a set of skills that every MCQ exam taker needs to have to increase the chances of passing the exam. The most important of these is time management during the exam.

The best approach to developing these skills is to use them while solving practice questions. Monitor your average time per question, and set a time limit for finishing a session.

Use PRC’s Exam Answering Technique©:

  • Go through the questions answering only short and/or questions that you are familiar with. Do not attempt to answer long and/or questions pertaining to topics you are not familiar with or do not like.  This step should give you more time on the more difficult questions in addition to building your confidence.
  • Make a second pass attempting to answer medium length and/or medium difficulty questions.
  • Repeat the process until you have completed the entire exam Session.
  • When you have exhausted all the questions you are able to answer, and there are still unanswered questions, attempt to guess the answers.
  • Be sure to choose only the appropriate checkbox. Budget your time and use PRC’s Exam Answering Technique to maximize your chances of passing.
  • Read the answer choices carefully.
  • If you do not know the correct answer, select the best possible choice.
  • Double check that you have answered all questions before submitting your exam.
  • Make sure to read and sign the nondisclosure agreement.
  • Maintain your positive attitude before and during the exam; do not panic if you encounter difficulties while studying or while doing the exam.




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