How The IIA Scores the CIA Exam: CIA Exam Pass Rates

So, you’ve worked hard, studied according to your plan, and committed to the test process. You’ve completed your CIA exam and confidently hit “Submit.” But then—you don’t even get a score? Wait a minute, what?!

The CIA exam can distinguish itself from other professional certification tests because it has a fairly narrow focus since it’s solely testing proficiency in internal auditing, which is a specialized area of accounting. The CIA exam also consists only of multiple-choice questions, which means you won’t have to prepare for daunting essays, simulation tasks, or other application-based tasks. However, because it is all multiple-choice, you know immediately whether or not you passed. The Institute of Internal Auditors (The IIA), the organization responsible for creating and administering the CIA exam, doesn’t provide you with a numerical score when you pass; it only says ‘Pass.’ So, when you receive that “Pass” screen on exam day, you’re done with testing. However, your score is not official until The IIA publishes it, which usually takes a few days to occur.

However, if you don’t pass the CIA exam, you will receive a score, based on a scale of 250-750. What score do you need to pass? 600 or higher. If you don’t score high enough to pass, the computer will give you a score to help you see how far off you were. So, if you score 450, then you’ve done significantly worse on the exam than someone who scores 585. Although a failing grade is discouraging, it can actually be useful information. If you score in the high 500s, then you probably just need some fine-tuning on various exam topics. On the other hand, if you score lower than 500 or so, you probably need to revise your study plan and recommit to the work.

Worldwide IIA CIA Exam Pass Rate is 40%

The IIA recently released its worldwide pass rate for the 2016 CIA exam; the overall pass rate is 40%. That’s a bit of a daunting statistic. It may sound a bit low, but keep in mind that it reflects all test-takers (worldwide) for all parts of the CIA exam for the entire year. Chances are it’s not a statistic that’s particularly useful for you.

Global CIA Exam Pass Rates*

2014 Pass Rate 2015 Pass Rate 2016 Pass Rate
42% 39% 40%

*As reported by The IIA

Ultimately, the CIA exam pass rates shouldn’t mean that much to you personally. All you really need to focus on is whether or not you pass. The exam isn’t weighted against your peers, and it’s not scored on a curve, so all you need to do is prepare yourself to pass. Your preparation will be enhanced with a solid exam review product, a clear study plan, and a commitment to working toward your goal of passing the CIA exam.

What Order Do I Take the CIA Exam

The CIA exam is spread out over 3 parts and focuses on internal audit topics such as internal controls,auditing processes, risk management, fraud, engagement procedures, IT and security systems, and regulatory issues.

To increase your chances of passing each part on the first attempt, you should heed the advice of many CIA candidates before you: take the exam parts in order. While you have the option of choosing which part you wish to sit for first, the topics tested and how they are presented in each part should play a role in that decision.

For Part 1, you will need to know the basics of internal auditing and regulatory requirements from the Standards and Code of Ethics. Part 2 tests management of the internal audit function and individual engagements (planning, supervision, communicating results, and monitoring outcomes), as well as fraud risks and controls. You will need to apply analysis to the internal audit basics covered in Part 1 and understand some additional topics, like fraud. The majority of Part 3 covers topics that most internal auditors need to be aware of in practice. Thus, you need a working knowledge of the topics tested in Parts 1 and 2 when taking Part 3.

While you have the power to choose the order in which you take the exam parts, feedback from candidates suggests you take the exam parts in sequential order to increases your chances of passing each part of the CIA exam on the first attempt.

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Take the first step toward becoming a CIA today. And if all goes well on your exam, oddly enough, you won’t know your score!