Information and Answers about the CIA Exam

I teach many CIA exam review courses and get asked a lot of questions about the exam.  Here is some detailed information about the test itself, the requirements to become a CIA, on-going CPE requirements, and information about the scoring of the exam.

For more up-to-date information make sure to check out the Mefford CIA Review Course website, where you can learn how to pass each exam in 90-days or less 🙂


Part 1 – Internal Audit Basics

125 questions | 2.5 Hours (150 minutes)

I. Mandatory Guidance (35-45%)
II. Internal Control / Risk (25-35%)
III. Conducting Internal Audit Engagements – Audit Tools and Techniques (25-35%)
Part 2 – Internal Audit Practice

100 questions | 2.0 Hours (120 minutes)

I. Managing the Internal Audit Function (40-50%)
II. Managing Individual Engagements (40-50%)
III. Fraud Risks and Controls (5-15%)
Part 3 – Internal Audit Knowledge Elements

100 questions | 2.0 Hours (120 minutes)

I. Governance / Business Ethics (5-15%)
II. Risk Management (10-20%)- Proficiency Level
III. Organizational Structure/Business Processes and Risks (15-25%)
IV. Communication (5-10%)
V. Management / Leadership Principles (10-20%)
VI. IT / Business Continuity (15-25%)
VII. Financial Management (10-20%)
VIII. Global Business Environment (0-10%)


Practicing CIAs​
A CIA who is performing internal auditing functions must complete a total of 40 hours of acceptable CPE every year.​

Non-practicing CIAs
​A CIA who is not performing internal auditing functions may change their certification status by accessing their profile within CCMS. Non-practicing CIAs must complete a total of 20 hours of acceptable CPE every year. As long as their CPE requirements are met, non-practicing CIAs may use the CIA designation but may not practice internal auditing.​

CIA Examination
Hours are awarded for the year in which the CIA certification is earned. (Candidates receive 40 hours in the year the certification is awarded and 40 hours in the subsequent year). The 80 CPE hours awarded for the CIA certification are based on earning the certification, which are not NASBA-sponsored.

Certificate holders are required to self certify as to the completion of the required continuing education hours. It is the CIA’s responsibility to assure that the CPE hours claimed conform to the guidelines established by The IIA’s Professional Certification Board (PCB). Forms are submitted by CIAs on an annual basis and serve as signed statements that all applicable CPE requirements have been met.

CIAs may submit CPE reporting forms in The IIA’s Certification Candidate Management System (CCMS). The reporting deadline is December 31 of each year.

See more at:


Pass the CIA Exam
Pass all three parts of the CIA exam.  More information about how the exam is graded is below in the post.

CIA candidates must hold a 4-year post-secondary degree (or higher) or its educational equivalent from an accredited university.

Important change to the Education Requirement for the CIA: The Global Board of Directors has approved an alternate path to eligibility for the CIA for those candidates who do not possess a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.

Candidates may now become eligible for the CIA, subject to approval, who possess:

  • Two years post-secondary education and five years verified experience in internal audit or its equivalent, OR
  • Seven years verified experience in internal audit or its equivalent.

Work Experience
CIA candidates with a 4 year post secondary degree must obtain a minimum of 24 months of internal auditing experience or its equivalent. A Masters degree can substitute for 12 of the required 24 months.

Character Reference
Candidates must exhibit high moral and professional character and must submit a Character Reference Form signed by a CIA, CGAP, CCSA, CFSA, CRMA, or the candidate’s supervisor.

Proof of Identification
Candidates must provide proof of identification in the form of a copy of the candidate’s official passport or national identity card. These must indicate current status; expired documents will not be accepted. All documents must be scanned and uploaded through the Document Upload Portal in a manner that ensures the photo is clearly legible.


Are you penalized for incorrect answers on the CIA exam? Is it better to skip a question than guess at the answer?
• A skipped question is treated as an incorrect answer. It is better to guess than to leave a question blank.

What percentage of the questions or number of questions on the CIA exam do I have to get correct to pass?
• The CIA exam questions vary in difficulty and are scaled accordingly. Because of this, there is no set “passing score”. However, a passing score generally falls between 70% and 80% or 600-750 points.

Is the scoring of the test simply a weighted scoring based on the complexity and type of proficiency of the specific question or is the scoring weighted by section?
• Although the difficulty level of questions may vary depending on the topic for which they are written, each scored question is equally weighted throughout the entire exam and does change per section. The candidate’s overall score determines whether or not a passing grade is received. Un-scored questions are randomly displayed throughout the exam and statistics are obtained to determine if the questions adequately test a candidate’s knowledge of the given topic.  Your raw score is calculated based on the number of questions that you answer correctly and then converted to a reporting scale that ranges from 250 – 750 points. A score of 600 or higher on this scale is required to pass the exam.

What are the average pass rates for the CIA exams?
• The IIA does not publish CIA exam pass rates. How the CIA Exam is Graded

CIA Exam Grading Based on Scaled Scoring

A new system was introduced in 2003 in which the passing score of each exam part depends on its difficulty. In other words, the number of correct questions required to pass the exam is different from one part to the other.

The candidate needs to answer 75% of the questions correctly in an exam with “standard difficulty” . If the exam is deemed to be more difficult, he might only need to reach 70% accuracy to pass.

All the raw scores are converted into a reporting scale of 250 to 750 points.

All questions are equally weighted and the exam is positively graded. This means that there is no penalty for wrong answers.

There are pre-test questions throughout the exam. They are used to determine if the questions adequately test a candidate’s knowledge in a given topic, and possibly be used in future exams. The pre-test questions are randomly displayed and you have no way to differentiate them from the graded ones.

Leave a comment