CIA Challenge Exam Guide - Everything You Need to Know

CIA Challenge Exam Guide – Everything You Need To Know

What is a CIA?

The Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification offered by The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) is the only internationally recognized internal auditor certification. A CIA has more career prospects than a non-certified internal auditor.

To become a CIA, candidates have to meet the eligibility requirements and pass three exams. On average, it takes about 12-18 months to study and complete the exams.

What is the CIA Challenge Exam?

The CIA Challenge Exam is an expedited path to becoming a CIA. Eligible candidates already have specific accounting and internal audit knowledge demonstrated through other certifications and can take just one exam to become a CIA.

Who Is Eligible for the CIA Challenge Exam?

Candidates must be an active* CISA, or a CPA or CA from one of the following qualified accounting bodies:

  • CPA license from any US State Board
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
  • Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ)
  • Chartered Accountants Ireland Institute
  • Chartered Professional Accountants Canada (CPA Canada)
  • CPA Australia
  • Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA)
  • Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (CPA Ireland)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
  • Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA)
  • Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants (MICPA)
  • Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA)
  • Registro Oficial de Auditores de Cuentas (ROAC)
  • Saudi Organization for Certified Public Accountants (SOCPA)
  • South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA)

*Former members and students are ineligible

The Exam Structure

There are three Parts in the CIA Challenge Exam syllabus for CPAs and CAs:

  1. Essentials of Internal Auditing (35%)
  2. Practice of Internal Auditing (43%)
  3. Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing (22%)

There are three Parts in the CIA Challenge Exam syllabus for CISA holders:

  1. Essentials of Internal Auditing (50%)
  2. Practice of Internal Auditing (30%)
  3. Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing (20%)

These Sections are the same as the three Parts on the standard CIA exam. However, for the Challenge Exam there are fewer questions than on the full CIA Exams and some topics in each Part are not tested on the Challenge Exams. Though some topics on the CIA Exams are not included on the Challenge Exam, most topics are included. In fact, over 70% of the syllabus for the CIA Exams is on the CIA Challenge Exams.

As with the regular CIA exams, all questions are split into two levels of proficiency:

  • Basic (marked with a B in the exam syllabus). These questions require basic knowledge. Candidates must be informed about these topics, but in-depth knowledge is not required.
  • Proficient (marked with a P in the exam syllabus). Candidates must have a deep knowledge of these topics and should be able to apply this knowledge to practical situations.

The syllabus for the first two Sections of the Challenge Exam is built on the International Professional Practices Framework and Standards. On the Challenge Exam, there are 150 multiple-choice questions, and candidates have three hours to complete the exam. Unlike the CIA exams that are offered in many different languages, the Challenge Exam is available only in English.

Candidates have to get 600 points out of 750 to pass the exam on a scaled scoring system. This means 600 does NOT translate to 70%. The points are given based on the number of correct answers and based on the difficulty of the questions.

CIA Challenge Exam Windows

For applicants approved in September 2023:

Application: September 2023 
Registration for the first exam attempt: September 2023 
First exam attempt testing: November 2023 & February 2024
Registration for the retakes: All year
Retake test windows: November 2023 & February 2024

How Much Does It Cost?

Exam fees (paid to The IIA)

The IIA offers a CIA Challenge Exam bundle that includes the application fee, registration fee, study guide, and access to the Standards. The price of the bundle is $1,195 for The IIA members and $1,545 for non-IIA members. Membership in The IIA is a good investment to get the reduced pricing.

If you don't pass the exam on the first attempt, the retake costs $795 USD for IIA members and $945 USD for non-IIA members.

The HOCK CIA Challenge Exam Prep Materials (paid to HOCK)

Check out information and pricing on HOCK materials for the CIA Challenge Exam here.

How Do I Apply and Register?

How to prepare for the CIA Challenge Exam

We recommend studying 1-2 hours at a time, three to five times a week, which will prepare you to take the exam after 2-3 months of studying. Of course, you will need to adjust the time based on your education, experience, and other time commitments.

Candidates receive a "CIA Challenge Exam Study Guide for Qualified CAs / CPAs" and practice questions included within a customized CIA Learning System with their registration for the Challenge Exam, but this is not the normal materials that candidates use to pass the CIA Exams. Complete preparation materials will make your studies both more effective and more efficient.

The HOCK CIA Challenge Exam materials cover the exam syllabus and are made up the three types of materials:

  1. PDF Textbook
  2. Test Bank
  3. Video Lectures

There is no expiration to your access to the materials that you purchase. Additionally, HOCK provides support to candidates who purchase 2 or 3 of the study tools. You can purchase the HOCK CIA Challenge Exam materials here.

The HOCK Team is always here to answer your questions about the CIA exams. Send us an email at and we will be happy to support you in your CIA journey!