Key Features of the CISA Certification Exam

by anveshajain

CISA certification is the foundation for establishing a successful IT career. It can aid entry-level to mid-career professionals in building a successful career. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) is essentially a title issued by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). It defines a global standard for professionals who have a career relating to security, auditing, and control. CISA holders prove their technical skills, knowledge, and proficiency to employers. In addition, they convince employers that they can meet the dynamic challenges that modern organizations face.

CISA exam can demonstrate a candidate’s potential to plan, execute, and report audit engagements by using a risk-oriented methodology. It improves the credibility of a candidate with external auditors, internal stakeholders, regulators, and customers.

Here is some basic information about the CSIA exam:

Duration of Exam Number of Questions Job Practice Domains Tested Passing Score Scale of Score
4 hours 150 multiple-choice questions
  • Governance and Management of IT
  • Auditing Information Systems
  • Development, Implementation, and Acquisition of Information Systems
  • Service Management, Maintenance and Operations Service Management of Information Systems
  • Protection of Information Assets
450 200-800


Work Experience Requirements for CISA Certification Exam

CISA aspirants must have a minimum of five years of professional experience in certain areas or domains. These domains are security, control, or information systems auditing. 

Here are some waivers and work experience substitutions up to three years that an aspiring candidate must satisfy:

  • Maximum experience of one year in information systems or one year of experience in non-information systems auditing. This substitutes one year of work experience.
  • University semester credit hours for 60-120hrs to be completed. A year’s work experience can be substituted by sixty credit hours. Similarly, two years of work experience can be substituted by 120 credit hours. 
  • One year of work experience can be replaced by a master’s or bachelor’s degree from a university that sponsors ISACA programmes. 
  • Also, a master’s degree in information security or technology from a university accredited by ISACA can be opted for. It is also sufficient to substitute one year of work experience.
  • University instructors with two years of experience in a related field can substitute it for one year of work experience. The field could be accounting, computer science, or information systems auditing.


Registration for the CISA Certification Exam

Eligibility for appearing for the CISA exam is established at registration and is valid for twelve months. Exam registration and payment of the CISA certificationare required before one can schedule and take an exam. A candidate will forfeit the fees upon not scheduling and taking the exam during the 12-month eligibility period. Extensions or eligibility deferrals are not permissible.


Guidelines for Preparing for the CISA Exam

Given below is the suggested approach to prepare within eight weeks:

1) In the first week of studying, one should do a self-assessment in the ISACA QAE database to acknowledge difficulties. It is advisable to use one’s previous business knowledge to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the individual aspirant.

2) An aspirant is advised to perform Selective Study Sessions in the ISACA QAE database for each topic in the next five weeks. Further, using reference books to review the weak areas is advisable. At least one domain should be tackled every week.

The exam for the CISA course certification will not include any of the questions from the official ISACA test database. Therefore, going through the test database and memorizing answers will not suffice.

The explanations provided by ISACA should be read before referring to the review manual for additional information. It is proposed to take ample time to prepare and reflect on each practice question and its meaning.

The ISACA review manual should not be read from the first to the last page like a traditional textbook. It should be surfed for key terminologies and concepts.

3) The final two weeks of preparation for the CISA online certification exam must be utilized well. One should take practice exams with 150 to 1000 questions on all five domains during this period. 

If a candidate prepares efficiently with a determined mentality, clearing the CISA certification exam would be an achievable target. Make sure to be diligent in preparing for the exam.

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