Creative man working at computerThe Certified Internal Auditor® exam is challenging for even seasoned internal auditors. That’s because most auditors learn their craft piecemeal on the job, so may be unfamiliar with the methodologies used by the Institute of Internal Auditors. Here are a few hacks to help you efficiently prepare for the CIA exam …

1) Avoid Distractions!

No matter if you’re fresh out of college or have been working for a decade, getting yourself into the studying mindset is essential for success–and that means limiting interruptions and distractions as much as possible. Turn off your cell phone and TV. Try to avoid studying in noisy places like a crowded coffeeshop.

A lot of today’s review materials are online, however, so shutting off your WiFi may not be an option. That’s where free software downloads like Cold Turkey for PCs and Self Control for Macs can prove invaluable. They’ll keep you from distracting websites like Facebook or Instagram.

2) Terminology & Question Style

The #1 complaint we hear from auditors taking the CIA exam is that the exam questions use unfamiliar language and terminology. This alone can prove to be your undoing on exam day, so you need to make it your mission to learn and understand how the IIA refers to common auditing techniques and elements.

As you go through your studies, make a point of identifying new or unknown terms and work on broadening your auditing vocabulary so you’re not surprised on exam day by questions that describe elements or tasks differently.

3) 20-5 Rule for Study Text

If you’re relatively new to internal auditing, chances are you’ll have to review a good amount of the study text. Even if you’re using UWorld’s Study Guide, you’ll still need to adhere to the 20-10 rule to ensure the best results. This means that after 20 minutes of studying new material, you take a quick 5-10 minute review of the materials, which could be a quick run through of practice questions or flashcards, or a re-read of your notes. Studies show that rate of memory retention for new information quickly drops rapidly after more than 20 minutes of straight-through reading and studying. So, building regularly review sessions is the best way to ensure you remember more of what you’ve read.

4) Practice Questions Galore

Like we said, the terminology and format of questions on the CIA exam may be unfamiliar to you. So, the more questions that you review — from all of the available sources — the more questions you will recognize on exam day. Secondly, we’ve heard from hundreds of UWorld users who’ve passed the CIA exam and they all say that question drills were the most important and useful part of their studies.

That’s why you have to ensure you get hands on  as many practice questions as you can. If you’re studying with UWorld, you’ll be glad to know that our online CIA QBank includes more than 6,000 questions — by far the most available from any study provider on the market.

What a head start on practice questions? You can access some free sample questions on the IIA website.

5) Take a Practice Exam

Of course, second to question drills is taking actual practice exams. Save it for your final weeks of study but you can access a full practice exam for free via the IIA on their website.

Take the practice exam seriously and do your best to replicate the actual testing environment in terms of timing and available resources. Once complete, go over your answers thoroughly, even the ones you missed.

Most importantly, be sure to schedule out your study sessions and commit to study plan. Doing that and following these basic study hacks should help to put you on the path to passing the CIA exam.