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How Long Does It Take to Become a CISA?

Whether you’re looking to establish a career in information technology, or you’re already working as an IT auditor or assurance and information security professional, passing the Certified Information Systems Auditor Exam and becoming a CISA will start your career in the IS field.

As the world becomes more high-tech across all sectors, CISA professionals are in greater demand to ensure information systems are working correctly and aren’t compromised. If you intend to prepare for the CISA certification exam, you may be wondering how long you should study to pass the CISA exam. Since you’re spending in your career, you want to know the path ahead and if it will be worth the effort. Below, we’ll do a quick overview of the exam, as well as discuss how long it takes to pass.

A Quick Breakdown of the CISA Exam

The CISA examination is a four-hour exam consisting of 150 multiple-choice questions that need to be answered in 4 hours. It’s split up into the following five domains:

  1. Information System Auditing Process (21%)
  2. Governance and Management of IT (17%)
  3. Information Systems Acquisition, Development, and Implementation (12%)
  4. Information Systems Operations and Business Resilience (23%)
  5. Protection of Information Assets (27%)

The exam is conducted at PSI testing centers, and introductory scores are available immediately after the exam is finished. Exam registration costs $575 for Information Systems Audit Control Association (ISACA) members and $760 for non-members. You can learn more about these testing windows, and how to register for the CISA Exam by browsing ISACA’s website.

How Long Does It Take to Become a CISA?

How long it takes you to study for the CISA Exam well enough to pass on the first try depends mainly on your experience working in the field. However, that doesn’t mean applicants who have been working in the field for a short time won’t pass the exam; it merely indicates they may have to put in more time studying.

Generally, if you study for 2 to 3 hours a day, you’ll be ready to sit for the exam within two months. The time needed for studies differs from person to person according to how well they learn to apply the concepts. If they have experience in the field, they can learn very easily. Those with more experience may find they require to study less while those with less experience may require more than two months.

With this change from person to person, individual study time for the exam has to be taken into consideration. The positive aspect is, you have 12 months to pass the CISA exam once you register, so you’ll likely have a lot of time to create a persistent study schedule and pass, irrespective of your work experience.

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Preparing for the CISA Exam

While studying may seem like the apparent preparation for the exam, there are a few other points to consider before you go to the examination center on exam day.

1. Make a Study Plan

Before you get into studying, make sure you have a plan extended up to exam day. Use the study times to help you measure how much you require to study before you sit and pass. Then consider when you can study every day, and how practical your study schedule is. Alternatively, you can find exam materials that have a build-in study schedule, which will help you stay on the path through exam day.

2. Time Management

You have 4 hours to answer 150 exam questions, meaning you have about one minute and ten seconds to answer any given question. Not every question will be the same; some will easy and answerable within the 1:10 minute time frame, while others will take more time to answer. As you deal with your CISA practice questions and the practice tests, make sure you’re taking time management into account. Practice averaging an answer time faster than 1:10 (while remaining accurate, of course), so you’ll ace the exam day wholly prepared.

3. Understand the CISA Exam Nature

Studying and taking CISA practice tests will help familiarize you with the exam structure and nature of the exam. Still, you also want to make sure you’re well-versed with the structure and physical features of the exam. Make sure you take a lot of practice exams, both across your exam study materials and through the ISACA’s website, so you aren’t chucked out by the format on exam day.

4. Analytical Thinking

One of the most tricky parts of this ISACA certification Exam is that you can’t simply remember answers in the questions database to pass. While 150 question in four hours doesn’t appear to be much, it adds up when you have to approach information and apply concepts like an ISACA professional. Learn to utilize your knowledge to CISA practice questions, and the exam will be much simpler.

5. Be prepared for the Logistics

Once you plan your exam, bear in mind how long it is going to take you to get there on exam day. It’s a great idea to drive to the examination center at the same time on the same weekday you’ll have to do it for your exam so you know how long it will take to be there. The night before the exam, bring together all of your required materials up in one place, so you aren’t trying to find out what you need to take the testing center the next morning. On exam day, leave a bit early, so you have enough time to get there. By being extremely prepared on exam day, you’ll stress less and go into the actual CISA exam with a fresh mind and ready to pass.

Acquiring your CISA certification will advance your career, whether you’re in IT security, IT auditing, or several other information technology jobs.

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