In which order should you take the CIA exams?

Our recommended order is Part 2, then 1, and finally 3. Before we answer the question “why 2, 1 and then 3”, let’s answer a more important question: Are the three exams interrelated? Can you sit for part 2 without studying part 1?

Are the exams interrelated?

The short answer is yes. CIA Part 1 exam covers basic principles and knowledge that internal auditors need in their daily jobs. Part 2 covers the practice of internal audit. Part 3 covers non-audit knowledge that auditors need to do their jobs.

Although, on the surface, the 3 parts seem unrelated, they are interrelated. For example, to answer related to fraud, which is a topic of Part 1, you might need to have knowledge about internal control, a part 2 topic, and IT, a part 3 topic.

You still can pass part 1 without studying parts 2 and 3, but your chances of passing are much higher if you, at least, have general understanding of all exam topics before you attempt any of the 3 parts.

To pass part 2, it’s recommended that you study part 1 and at least the first domain of part 3 (Business Acumen). Now, how can you sit for part 2 first if you need to study Part 1 and some topics from part 3 to pass?

Our recommended path

  • Read all three parts first. Get your hands on the textbooks or e-books of the three parts. Read all of them! You don’t have to study them, just read them. If you have a strong background in accounting, you can skip reading the accounting domains of Part 3 (Domains III and IV), which make up 40% of Part 3 exam questions.
  • Read the Standards (International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing). They are available for free on the IIA website in different languages here. Most CIA exam review books have the standards embedded within the text, but reading all the Standards right from the beginning is very helpful, especially for Part 1 and 2 exams. Part 1 tests attribute standards, while Part 2 tests performance standards.
  • Now that you have a good understanding of the CIA certification, you’re ready to start with any of the three parts.
  • Focus on part 2. Read it again, or dive straight into solving practice questions. Do 3 rounds of reading and solving questions. Once you’re confident that you can pass the exam, go for it.
  • Once you pass Part 2, go back to Part 1, repeat the same process, and then sit for Part 3 exam.

Why Part 2 first?

It’s the easiest part among the 3. It has less questions than Part 1. The passing rate is generally higher than part 1. It’s less expensive than part 1.

Do I have to take the exams in this order?

No. You can take the exams in any order you’d like. For example, those who have some internal audit experience and have thorough knowledge of accounting and/or IT opt to take part 3 first. Most exam takers sit for the exams in the “usual” order: 1, 2 and then 3.

There is no particular order for taking the CIA exams. This is our recommendation based on years of helping CIA exam taker get their CIA certification. Our goal has always been to help you achieve your goal in the most efficient and effective way.