How is the CIA Exam Graded

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) administers the CIA exam, which is designed to assess internal auditors' knowledge and skills. The exam is divided into three parts, each of which is graded separately. You need to score 600 out of 750 points on each exam part to pass the exam. This translates to 75 to 80% correct answers depending on exam difficulty level.

Exam parts

Part 1 Essentials of Internal Auditing 150 minutes 125 questions
Part 2 Practice of Internal Auditing 120 minutes 100 questions
Part 3 Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing 120 minutes 100 questions

What is a scaled score exam?

The CIA is a scaled scored exam, which means that the number of questions you need to answer correctly to pass the exam may vary depending on the level of difficulty of the questions you get on your exam.

The scaled scoring system aims to guarantee fairness and consistency in evaluating exam takers' performance across various exam versions.

CIA exam grading method

Exam raw score: The raw score of the exam shows how many questions were answered correctly. You receive one point for each correctly selected option on a multiple-choice question because each question has an equal weight. There are no penalties for incorrect answers or unanswered questions.

Scaling method: After calculating the raw scores, the IIA uses a scaling method to convert the raw scores into a scaled score. Scaling is used to account for the variance between exam versions, which may lead to differences in difficulty levels of different versions of the exam. Due to the fact that each exam taker gets a different version of the exam, the scaling procedure guarantees consistency and fairness across all versions of the test.

Final scaled score: The scaled score represents your test performance. You will pass the test if your scaled score is greater than or equal to the IIA's minimum passing score, which is 600 out of 750 points.

How many questions should you answer correctly to pass?

If the exam questions were generally average in difficulty, you might pass by answering 70% of the questions correctly, that translates to 88 questions for part 1, and 70 questions for parts 2 and 3. If your exam questions were relatively easy, you might need to respond correctly to 80% of the questions in order to pass (100 questions for part 1, 80 for part 2 and 3). To be on the safe side, we at PRC advise that you aim for 90% accuracy on practice exams. Read our article to learn how to  develop your MCQ solving skills and increase your chances of passing the CIA exam on the first attempt.

Not all questions are graded!

On each exam, exam takers answer a number of questions that are being tested. Such questions are not scored. The purpose of this process is to make sure the questions are psychometrically sound. Once a question is approved, it is then added to the database of exam questions. You cannot tell which questions are graded and which are not. Therefore, you should give equal importance to all exam questions.

Understanding your exam result

When you pass the exam, you will receive a congratulatory email from the IIA. If you do not pass the exam, you will receive a diagnostic report that identifies the strengths and weaknesses of your exam attempt.

Generally speaking, a score that is higher than 500 probably indicates that your exam-taking skills just need some sharpening. If you receive a score below 500, you should reevaluate your study strategy and dedicate more time to understanding the exam topics. PRC has built an effective study strategy guide to help you build an effective study plan for yourself. Check the steps here.