Preparing for the CIA exam is a challenge on the best of days. In addition to the usual obstacles, CIA candidate Justin Gibert overcame a natural disaster to pass Part 1 on his first attempt. He then went on to pass all three parts of the CIA exam and receive a Certificate of Honor from The IIA.
Justin graduated college from the University of Texas in Austin with a degree in accounting, but he started his professional career by following his passion. He worked for 18 years as a collegiate coach of women’s volleyball at various universities in Texas.
“Then, after having children and wanting to focus more on my family, I left the collegiate professional life, started the second ‘act’ of my professional career, and began working for a regional public accounting firm, Weaver and Tidwell, LLP. It was initially challenging moving from a position as a collegiate head coach with complete autonomy to an area I had not been exposed to since college.”
After several promotions, Justin now occupies a senior position at his firm and requires certification to continue his career track. “I decided to pursue the CIA as a means of further development and increased opportunity.”
Justin, his wife, and their two small children were thankfully not in Houston when Hurricane Harvey made landfall. He was away for a work trip, and his wife and children evacuated early and were able to stay with family north of the Houston area.
Justin originally scheduled his test for August 31 in a Houston area testing center. As his scheduled exam day neared, much of Houston was still underwater. “As the test date approached, I was growing increasingly concerned and nervous because I could not initially contact the testing center nor get back into the city,” said Justin. “All roads leading into Houston were flooded.”
Just two days before the test, the testing center informed him that the testing center would be closed and his test would be canceled due to the natural disaster. “They recommended rescheduling, so I contacted the testing center’s national office immediately to request another testing date and time. I had been preparing and was afraid I would not be able to test within a reasonable time frame.” The national center had an option to test in Tyler, TX on August 31 (the same day as originally scheduled). Justin accepted and drove two hours to the testing site. “I was fortunate enough to pass the first time.”
Passing CIA part 1 gave Justin the motivation he needed to continue his studies, “Passing Part 1 with the hurricane distraction was challenging and very disrupting. However, there was a tremendous amount of confidence that came from passing that first part.” This is one of the reasons you should start your journey on the right foot. Starting with the exam part that you’re most comfortable with will help build your exam-day confidence.
I felt absorbing the material for Parts 2 and 3 got easier as I became more familiar with the Gleim system and as my studying and test taking skills were sharpened. I was able to replicate the same study strategy for Part 2 as I did for Part 1, and it worked really well the second time around. However, Part 3 was so big that I could not use the same study strategy. My personal counselor [ … ] helped me tremendously. We talked through a new strategy, and I executed that plan. [ … ] The tests for Parts 2 and 3 were difficult, but I felt prepared.
Not only did Justin have to overcome a hurricane to sit for his exam, he also had to deal with the hesitation that comes from being out of practice. “The most challenging and daunting part of the entire CIA testing process was that I had been out of college for about 20 years. [. . .] It takes courage to step back in.”
Justin had the resolve to overcome his fears and begin studying for the CIA exam, but he still had to balance work and life. “Having a full time job with a public accounting firm as well as a family with two small children is the biggest challenge. It can be difficult to balance time with them, time at work, and time spent studying.”
Plus, Justin was operating on a tight timeline. He wanted to pass his studies before the busy season at his firm, which was soon after the first of the year. Since he would have very limited time once busy season started, he had a lot of reason to complete the process for each part as quickly and efficiently as possible.
All of this led to Justin looking to a team to help support him through his CIA journey. “I really didn’t know anything about any of the courses when I started researching my options and had no idea which was best at that time. I subsequently attended an in-person review course at the University of Houston and met others that had experience with Gleim, and they spoke highly of the test prep and large bank of questions.”
So he began to look into Gleim, and found that they had the tools he needed to pass the CIA exam. “I chose Gleim because the Gleim program offered different media presentations of the material. I really liked the video seminar most, as well as the audio option. Also, I liked the fact that there were Personal Counselors available to give suggestions and tips. In this era of having to speak with computers and no human interaction, I really liked that Gleim would have a person I could talk to and consult as I pursued this endeavor.”
As his exam preparation continued, that Personal Counselor would turn into an invaluable ally. “I spent time with [my personal counselor] identifying the essential study sessions and was able to focus more on the sessions that had the highest probability of having actual test questions from the corresponding material. That approach was really a huge boost and helped me get through the material with confidence.”
The CIA exam can seem like a daunting goal, and there are sometimes hurdles that show up to make your journey more difficult. Justin’s story shows us that if you make a plan and have a good team, you’ll be able to overcome those obstacles and achieve your goals.
Justin achieved his goal of passing all three parts of the CIA exam before the busy season began.
The CIA has really opened up my career possibilities and unlocked any potential that I have for future success at my current firm. I cannot overstate the impact the people at Gleim and having the CIA certification has made on my career path. [. . .] I can speak directly to those that have been away from school and are really, really nervous about going back and starting to study again. Going back to studying and testing may seem daunting and feel like you are opening yourself up to a vulnerability if you don’t pass, etc. In truth, however, it is the potential to be your finest moment!
We’re so glad to have worked with Justin during his journey to the CIA, and we know he’ll continue to do great things. Thank you Justin, and good luck!
Whether you’re ready to start studying for the CIA exam or just want to learn more about how this certification can advance your career, Gleim wants to support you.
Gleim [ … ] was a Godsend, and I appreciate the efforts of everyone in the organization for truly caring about whether I passed or not. I really felt that.