Create a CIA Exam Study Plan to Succeed

So, you’ve decided to get your CIA certification. You’ve got goals to join many of the successful certified internal auditors around the world who are respected for this designation – congratulations!

But… now what? How do you start studying for the CIA?

Knowing how much information there is to learn, coming up with a study plan can be overwhelming. Studying for the CIA can be challenging, but with the right approach and mindset you can be well on your way to passing your exams with flying colors.

To help you start down this path, PRC has collaborated with our experts to create a CIA exam study plan with tips to help you prepare, from setting a target date to practicing for your final exams. Follow along to start building a study plan that will guide you to success!

Set a Target Date

Set a target date for your exam based on your lifestyle and the goals you want to achieve.

Be sure to set a hard deadline – say to yourself, “I want to pass before this date”. Make sure this date is realistic; you won’t have enough time to prepare for the CIA exams in a month, but waiting three years is unrealistic as well. We recommend taking about 22 to 33 weeks of actual studying to prepare for the exams, or about 9 to 12 months, taking into consideration breaks and rests between parts.

Be Aware of Total CIA Study Hours

The total study hours required to prepare for the CIA exams depends on the person and how long it takes for you to retain information.

On average, we approximate that it takes 200-300 hours to study for all parts of the CIA certification. Don’t be overwhelmed by this number, though! Learning takes time, and comprehension is a major part of the process. By setting aside 30-60 minutes every day until you master the information, you’ll be on the right path.

Complete Short Study Sessions

Trying to absorb too much information at once often leads to forgetting crucial information. We recommend that you create a CIA study schedule with short, efficient sessions. 2-3 short, 30-minute to one-hour long sessions are more effective than one 2-3 hour session.

Study the Best Way for You

As you study, be sure to manage your time in a way that best fits your lifestyle. If you’re already working a full time job, maybe studying early in the morning or late at night works best for you.

Remember, every minute of studying counts! Take time to study on your lunch breaks, or while on your commute on the bus or other transport – all of this time counts towards studying.

Example Study Plans

Here are a few examples of study schedules you can use to adequately prepare for the CIA exams. We’ve put these together based on both relaxed and intensive schedules, depending on how much time you have to study. If you’re unsure where to begin, these are a great start!


Use Study Tools Together

At PRC we encourage you to go session by session through our tools; as you finish each session, work on the multiple-choice questions that match the book to reinforce the information you’ve learned.

Solving questions on your own or just reading the books is not as effective as using these tools together. By matching the tools, you will better comprehend concepts, and understand how to answer CIA exam questions effectively.

Focus on Your Weaknesses

If you answer a question incorrectly and come across a similar question on an exam without reviewing it, you’re likely to get it wrong again.

To avoid this, focus your study time on the areas where you’re struggling. Go over an area, and if you find you’re weak in it, come back to it in a week and review the information. Do this a few times until you fully understand the information and concepts and you’ll be better prepared for the exams.

When you have questions you’ve solved incorrectly, come back to them! Don’t do this immediately – sleep on your incorrect answers, come back in a week, and review the questions you answered to see if you retained the information.

Don’t go back to questions that you already got correct and understand – you know the answers to these and don’t need to waste time on them.

Don’t Memorize Answers

The worst habit when studying is memorizing answers to questions; this often happens when you quickly return to concepts that you initially got wrong.

By memorizing you don’t fully understand answers or the reasons why behind them, which makes it more challenging when you come across questions where you need to prove concepts, or when you need to use the knowledge in longer answers or unfamiliar questions.

Prepare with Mock Exams

Prepare for your final exams by taking a mock exam. Many CIA exam prep tools offer these as part of their study packages.

The PRC mock exam is designed to replicate the CIA exams as closely as possible. Our mock exam is online, timed, and uses questions similar to what we’ve seen on the IIA’s exams, and according to topic weights set by the IIA.

To best prepare, practice the mock exam in an environment similar to how you’d be taking your real exams. Practice in a silent room, and tell the people you live with not to interrupt you. This will help you get a full grasp of the exam and prepare appropriately.

If you’re solving more than 50-60% correct on your first attempt, you’re doing well. Once you are passing with a score of 90-95%, you’ll have a great chance of passing the real exam questions.

Like studying, take your time between mock exam attempts. This will ensure you’re not memorizing questions, and instead are proving your knowledge.

Rest and Reward

When studying, complete a section and then take a break! Don’t binge study until it’s the only thing you’re focused on. Studying for periods of 5-6 hours may seem productive but can be counterintuitive. Solve some questions and make time to rest. Visit friends, go see a movie, and make space for things that you love to create a healthy relationship with your studies.

Stay Positive

Most important of all, stay positive! Don’t let negative peers or challenging topics bring you down. You’ve put the investment in yourself and your studies, and you’re capable of passing the exams. If others can do it, so can you!

Ready to get studying? Get started with PRC’s CIA exam prep tools! Our courses are designed with comprehensive study materials, from textbooks, multiple choice questions, and mock exams for your use. Try our free demo to get started today!