[Why and How] CIA Exam Changes – Revised CIA Exam Syllabus – 2019

by | CIA Knowledge Base

1. Revised CIA Exam: Reflecting Modern Internal Audit Practice

The business world faces ongoing changes and emerging risks that impact how internal auditors meet their organization’s needs. As such, the knowledge and skills internal auditors need to possess to provide professional assurance and consulting services continually evolves.

1.1. Why the CIA Exam Is Changing

The purpose of the three-part Certified Internal Auditor® (CIA®) exam is to identify individuals who meet the requisite global competencies in current internal audit practice. To ensure that the exam content remains current and valid, The IIA’s Global Exam Development team and Exam Development Committee — with oversight provided by the Professional Certifications Board — led a comprehensive review of the current three CIA exam syllabi and developed proposed revisions.

An exam syllabus is an outline thatsummarizes the topic areas covered on the exam. There is a separate syllabus for each part of the CIA exam Together, the three CIA syllabi serve as a guide to help candidates identify the content on which they will be tested to demonstrate their internal audit proficiency and earn the CIA designation.

1.2. How the CIA Exam Is Changing

CIA candidates are expected to:

  • Possess current knowledge of The IIA’s International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF) and demonstrate appropriate use.
  • Be able to perform an audit engagement with minimal supervision in conformance with The IIA’s International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing.
  • Be able to apply tools and techniques to evaluate risks and controls.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of organizational governance.
  • Apply knowledge in business acumen, IT, and management needed for internal auditing.

Topic areas on each CIA exam syllabus have been revised to:

  • Bring the exams up to date with the current global practice of internal auditing.
  • Clarify the knowledge and skills that exam candidates must possess in order to pass the exam.
  • Create greater alignment between the CIA syllabi (particularly Part One and Part Two) and The IIA’s Standards.
  • Refocus the content of Part Three on the core knowledge and skills that internal auditors must possess to do their job.

The revised CIA syllabi also specify the cognitive level, or depth of knowledge, that CIA exam candidates are expected to demonstrate related to each exam topic area. Candidates are tested on exam concepts at one of two cognitive levels:

  • Basic Level – Candidates retrieve relevant knowledge from memory and/or demonstrate basic comprehension of concepts or processes.
  • Proficient Level – Candidates apply concepts, processes, or procedures; analyze, evaluate, and make judgments based on criteria; and/or put elements or material together to formulate conclusions and recommendations.

2. CIA Part One: Essentials of Internal Auditing

The revised CIA Part One is well aligned with The IIA’s International Professional Practices Framework (IPPF) and includes six domains covering the foundation of internal auditing; independence and objectivity; proficiency and due professional care; quality assurance and improvement programs; governance, risk management, and control; and fraud risk. Part One tests candidates’ knowledge, skills, and abilities related to the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing, particularly the Attribute Standards (series 1000, 1100, 1200, and 1300) as well as Performance Standard 2100.

2.1. CIA Part One Syllabus Changes

The following illustration offers a high-level overview of the changes made to the CIA Part One syllabus. For example, the current CIA Part One syllabus includes only three domains, while the revised syllabus includes six. The number of questions on the exam and the seat time remain unchanged, with 125 questions and 150 minutes.

Current Version

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

Revised Version

I. Foundations of Internal Auditing (15%) II. Independence and Objectivity (15%) III. Proficiency and Due Professional Care (18%) IV. Quality Assurance and Improvement Program (7%) V. Governance, Risk Management, and Control (35%) VI. Fraud Risks (10%)

Additional noteworthy elements related to the revised CIA Part One exam syllabus:

  • IPPF elements such as the Mission of Internal Audit and Core Principles for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing are included.
  • The syllabus features greater alignment with The IIA’s Attribute Standards.
  • The exam covers the differences between assurance and consulting engagements.
  • The exam covers appropriate disclosure of conformance vs. nonconformance with the Standards.
  • The largest domain is “Governance, Risk Management, and Control,” which makes up 35% of the exam.
  • A portion of the exam requires candidates to demonstrate a basic comprehension of concepts; another portion requires candidates to demonstrate proficiency in their knowledge, skills, and abilities.

2.2. CIA Part One Revised Syllabus

Domain Cognitive Level
I Foundations of Internal Auditing (15%)
A Interpret The IIA’s Mission of Internal Audit, Definition of Internal Auditing, and Core Principles for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing, and the purpose, authority, and responsibility of the internal audit activity Proficient
B Explain the requirements of an internal audit charter (required components, board approval, communication of the charter, etc.) Basic
C Interpret the difference between assurance and consulting services provided by the internal audit activity Proficient
D Demonstrate conformance with the IIA Code of Ethics Proficient
II Independence and Objectivity (15%)
A Interpret organizational independence of the internal audit activity (importance of independence, functional reporting, etc.) Basic
B Identify whether the internal audit activity has any impairments to its independence Basic
C Assess and maintain an individual internal auditor’s objectivity, including determining whether an individual internal auditor has any impairments to his/her objectivity Proficient
D Analyze policies that promote objectivity Proficient
III Proficiency and Due Professional Care (18%)
A Recognize the knowledge, skills, and competencies required (whether developed or procured) to fulfill the responsibilities of the internal audit activity Basic
B Demonstrate the knowledge and competencies that an internal auditor needs to possess to perform his/her individual responsibilities, including technical skills and soft skills (communication skills, critical thinking, persuasion/negotiation and collaboration skills, etc.) Proficient
C Demonstrate due professional care Proficient
D Demonstrate an individual internal auditor’s competency through continuing professional development Proficient
IV Quality Assurance and Improvement Program (7%)
A Describe the required elements of the quality assurance and improvement program (internal assessments, external assessments, etc.) Basic
B Describe the requirement of reporting the results of the quality assurance and improvement program to the board or other governing body Basic
C Identify appropriate disclosure of conformance vs. nonconformance with The IIA’s International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing Basic
D Demonstrate conformance with the IIA Code of Ethics Proficient
V Governance, Risk Management, and Control (35%)
A Describe the concept of organizational governance Basic
B Recognize the impact of organizational culture on the overall control environment and individual engagement risks and controls Basic
C Recognize and interpret the organization’s ethics and compliance-related issues, alleged violations, and dispositions Basic
D Describe corporate social responsibility Basic
E Interpret fundamental concepts of risk and the risk management process Proficient
F Describe globally accepted risk management frameworks appropriate to the organization (COSO – ERM, ISO 31000, etc.) Basic
G Examine the effectiveness of risk management within processes and functions Proficient
H Recognize the appropriateness of the internal audit activity’s role in the organization’s risk management process Basic
I Interpret internal control concepts and types of controls Proficient
J Apply globally accepted internal control frameworks appropriate to the organization (COSO, etc.) Proficient
K Examine the effectiveness and efficiency of internal controls Proficient
VI Fraud Risks (10%)
A Interpret fraud risks and types of frauds and determine whether fraud risks require special consideration when conducting an engagement Proficient
B Evaluate the potential for occurrence of fraud (red flags, etc.) and how the organization detects and manages fraud risks Proficient
C Recommend controls to prevent and detect fraud and education to improve the organization’s fraud awareness Proficient
D Recognize techniques and internal audit roles related to forensic auditing (interview, investigation, testing, etc.) Basic

3. CIA Part Two: Practice of Internal Auditing

The revised CIA Part Two includes four domains focused on managing the internal audit activity, planning the engagement, performing the engagement, and communicating engagement results and monitoring progress. Part Two tests candidates’ knowledge, skills, and abilities particularly related to Performance Standards (series 2000, 2200, 2300, 2400, 2500, and 2600) and current internal audit practices.

3.1. CIA Part Two Syllabus Changes

The following illustration offers a high-level overview of the changes made to the CIA Part Two syllabus. For example, the current CIA Part Two syllabus includes only three domains, while the revised syllabus includes four. The number of questions on the exam and the seat time remain unchanged, with 100 questions and 120 minutes.

Current Version

Current Version I. Managing the Internal Audit Function (40-50%) II. Managing Individual Engagements (40-50%) III. Fraud Risks and Controls (5-15%)

Revised Version

I. Managing the Internal Audit Activity (20%) II. Planning the Engagement (20%) III. Performing the Engagement (40%) IV. Communicating Engagement Results and Monitoring Progress (20%)

Additional noteworthy elements related to the revised CIA Part Two exam syllabus:

  • The syllabus features greater alignment with The IIA’s Performance Standards.
  • The exam covers the chief audit executive’s responsibility for assessing residual risk and communicating risk acceptance.
  • The largest domain is “Performing the Engagement,” which makes up 40% of the exam.
  • A portion of the exam requires candidates to demonstrate a basic comprehension of concepts; another portion requires candidates to demonstrate proficiency in their knowledge, skills, and abilities.

3.2. CIA Part Two Revised Syllabus

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Domain Cognitive Level
I Managing the Internal Audit Activity (20%)
1. Internal Audit Operations
A Describe policies and procedures for the planning, organizing, directing, and monitoring of internal audit operations Basic
B Interpret administrative activities (budgeting, resourcing, recruiting, staffing, etc.) of the internal audit activity Basic
2. Establishing a Risk-based Internal Audit Plan
A Identify sources of potential engagements (audit universe, audit cycle requirements, management requests, regulatory mandates, relevant market and industry trends, emerging issues, etc.) Basic
B Identify a risk management framework to assess risks and prioritize audit engagements based on the results of a risk assessment Basic
C Interpret the types of assurance engagements (risk and control assessments, audits of third parties and contract compliance, security and privacy, performance and quality audits, key performance indicators, operational audits, financial and regulatory compliance audits) Proficient
D Interpret the types of consulting engagements (training, system design, system development, due diligence, privacy, benchmarking, internal control assessment, process mapping, etc.) designed to provide advice and insight Proficient
E Describe coordination of internal audit efforts with the external auditor, regulatory oversight bodies, and other internal assurance functions, and potential reliance on other assurance providers Basic
3. Communicating and Reporting to Senior Management and the Board
A Recognize that the chief audit executive communicates the annual audit plan to senior management and the board and seeks the board’s approval Basic
B Identify significant risk exposures and control and governance issues for the chief audit executive to report to the board Basic
C Recognize that the chief audit executive reports on the overall effectiveness of the organization’s internal control and risk management processes to senior management and the board Basic
D Recognize internal audit key performance indicators that the chief audit executive communicates to senior management and the board periodically Basic
Domain Cognitive Level
II Planning the Engagement (20%)
1. Engagement Planning
A Determine engagement objectives, evaluation criteria, and the scope of the engagement Proficient
B Plan the engagement to assure identification of key risks and controls Proficient
C Complete a detailed risk assessment of each audit area, including evaluating and prioritizing risk and control factors Proficient
D Determine engagement procedures and prepare the engagement work program Proficient
E Determine the level of staff and resources needed for the engagement Proficient
III Performing the Engagement (40%)
1. Information Gathering
A Gather and examine relevant information (review previous audit reports and data, conduct walk-throughs and interviews, perform observations, etc.) as part of a preliminary survey of the engagement area Proficient
B Develop checklists and risk-and-control questionnaires as part of a preliminary survey of the engagement area Proficient
C Apply appropriate sampling (nonstatistical, judgmental, discovery, etc.) and statistical analysis techniques Proficient
2. Analysis and Evaluation
A Use computerized audit tools and techniques (data mining and extraction, continuous monitoring, automated workpapers, embedded audit modules, etc.) Proficient
B Evaluate the relevance, sufficiency, and reliability of potential sources of evidence Proficient
C Apply appropriate analytical approaches and process mapping techniques (process identification, workflow analysis, process map generation and analysis, spaghetti maps, RACI diagrams, etc.) Proficient
D Determine and apply analytical review techniques (ratio estimation, variance analysis, budget vs. actual, trend analysis, other reasonableness tests, benchmarking, etc.) Basic
E Prepare workpapers and documentation of relevant information to support conclusions and engagement results Proficient
F Summarize and develop engagement conclusions, including assessment of risks and controls Proficient
3. Engagement Supervision
A Identify key activities in supervising engagements (coordinate work assignments, review workpapers, evaluate auditors’ performance, etc.) Basic
IV Communicating Engagement Results and Monitoring Progress (20%)
1. Communicating Engagement Results and the Acceptance of Risk
A Arrange preliminary communication with engagement clients Proficient
B Demonstrate communication quality (accurate, objective, clear, concise, constructive, complete, and timely) and elements (objectives, scope, conclusions, recommendations, and action plan) Proficient
C Prepare interim reporting on the engagement progress Proficient
D Formulate recommendations to enhance and protect organizational value Proficient
E Describe the audit engagement communication and reporting process, including holding the exit conference, developing the audit report (draft, review, approve, and distribute), and obtaining management’s response Basic
F Describe the chief audit executive’s responsibility for assessing residual risk Basic
G Describe the process for communicating risk acceptance (when management has accepted a level of risk that may be unacceptable to the organization) Basic
2. Monitoring Progress
A Assess engagement outcomes, including the management action plan Proficient
B Manage monitoring and follow-up of the disposition of audit engagement results communicated to management and the board Proficient

4. CIA Part Three: Business Knowledge for Internal Auditing

The revised CIA Part Three includes four domains focused on business acumen, information security, information technology, and financial management. Part Three is designed to test candidates’ knowledge, skills, and abilities particularly as they relate to these core business concepts.

4.1. CIA Part Three Syllabus Changes

The following illustration offers a high-level overview of the changes made to the CIA Part Three syllabus. For example, the current CIA Part Three syllabus includes eight domains, while the revised syllabus includes only four. The number of questions on the exam and the seat time remain unchanged, with 100 questions and 120 minutes.

Current Version

I. Governance / Business Ethics (5-15%) II. Risk Management (10-20%) 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%)

Revised Version

I. Business Acumen (35%) II. Information Security (25%) III. Information Technology (20%) IV. Financial Management (20%)

4.2. CIA Part Three Syllabus Changes

Domain Cognitive Level
I Business Acumen (35%)
1. Organizational Objectives, Behavior, and Performance
A Describe the strategic planning process and key activities (objective setting, globalization and competitive considerations, alignment to the organization’s mission and values, etc.) Basic
B Examine common performance measures (financial, operational, qualitative vs. quantitative, productivity, quality, efficiency, effectiveness, etc.) Proficient
C Explain organizational behavior (individuals in organizations, groups, and how organizations behave, etc.) and different performance management techniques (traits, organizational politics, motivation, job design, rewards, work schedules, etc.) Basic
D Describe management’s effectiveness to lead, mentor, guide people, build organizational commitment, and demonstrate entrepreneurial ability Basic
2. Organizational Structure and Business Processes
A Appraise the risk and control implications of different organizational configuration structures (centralized vs. decentralized, flat structure vs. traditional, etc.) Basic
B Examine the risk and control implications of common business processes (human resources, procurement, product development, sales, marketing, logistics, management of outsourced processes, etc.) Proficient
C Identify project management techniques (project plan and scope, time/team/resources/cost management, change management, etc.) Basic
D Recognize the various forms and elements of contracts (formality, consideration, unilateral, bilateral, etc.) Basic
3. Data Analytics
A Describe data analytics, data types, data governance, and the value of using data analytics in internal auditing Basic
B Explain the data analytics process (define questions, obtain relevant data, clean/normalize data, analyze data, communicate results) Basic
C Recognize the application of data analytics methods in internal auditing (anomaly detection, diagnostic analysis, predictive analysis, network analysis, text analysis, etc.) Basic
II Information Security (25%)
1. Information Security
A Differentiate types of common physical security controls(cards, keys, biometrics, etc.)
B Differentiate the various forms of user authentication andauthorization controls (password, two-level authentication,biometrics, digital signatures, etc.) and identify potentialrisks Basic
C Explain the purpose and use of various information security controls (encryption, firewalls, antivirus, etc.) Basic
D Recognize data privacy laws and their potential impact on data security policies and practices Basic
E Recognize emerging technology practices and their impact on security (bring your own device [BYOD], smart devices, internet of things [IoT], etc.) Basic
F Recognize existing and emerging cybersecurity risks (hacking, piracy, tampering, ransomware attacks, phishing attacks, etc.) Basic
G Describe cybersecurity and information security-related policies Basic
III Information Technology (20%)
1. Application and System Software
A Recognize core activities in the systems development lifecycle and delivery (requirements definition, design, developing, testing, debugging, deployment, maintenance, etc.) and the importance of change controls throughout the process Basic
B Explain basic database terms (data, database, record, object, field, schema, etc.) and internet terms (HTML, HTTP, URL, domain name, browser, click-through, electronic data interchange [EDI], cookies, etc.) Basic
C Identify key characteristics of software systems (customer relationship management [CRM] systems; enterprise resource planning [ERP] systems; and governance, risk, and compliance [GRC] systems; etc.) Basic
2. IT Infrastructure and IT Control Frameworks
A Explain basic IT infrastructure and network concepts (server, mainframe, client-server configuration, gateways, routers, LAN, WAN, VPN, etc.) and identify potential risks Basic
B Define the operational roles of a network administrator,database administrator, and help desk Basic
C Recognize the purpose and applications of IT control frameworks (COBIT, ISO 27000, ITIL, etc.) and basic IT controls Basic
3. Disaster Recovery
A Explain disaster recovery planning site concepts (hot, warm, cold, etc.) Basic
B Explain the purpose of systems and data backup Basic
C Explain the purpose of systems and data recovery procedures Basic
IV Financial Management (20%)
1. Financial Accounting and Finance
A Identify concepts and underlying principles of financial accounting (types of financial statements and terminologies such as bonds, leases, pensions, intangible assets, research and development, etc.) Basic
B Recognize advanced and emerging financial accounting concepts (consolidation, investments, fair-value partnerships, foreign currency transactions, etc.) Basic
C Interpret financial analysis (horizontal and vertical analysis and ratios related to activity, profitability, liquidity, leverage, etc.) Proficient
D Describe revenue cycle, current asset management activities and accounting, and supply chain management (including inventory valuation and accounts payable) Basic
E Describe capital budgeting, capital structure, basic taxation, and transfer pricing Basic
2. Managerial Accounting
A Explain general concepts of managerial accounting (cost volume-profit analysis, budgeting, expense allocation, cost benefit analysis, etc.) Basic
B Differentiate costing systems (absorption, variable, fixed, activity-based, standard, etc.) Basic
C Distinguish various costs (relevant and irrelevant costs, incremental costs, etc.) and their use in decision making Basic

5. CIA Exam Passing Score

For each CIA exam part, a raw score (the number of items answered correctly) will be converted into a scaled score ranging from 250 to 750 points. A scaled score of 600 or higher is required to pass a CIA exam.