It is quite hard to think of a company that does not use any information system as a basis for doing business. The actual standard for most companies has several information systems that are business-critical and will probably include confidential data such as financial information, personally identifiable information or even trade secrets.
CISA Exam Details:
- Exam Name: ISACA Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
- Exam Price ISACA Member: $575 (USD)
- Exam Price ISACA Nonmember: $760 (USD)
- Duration: 240 mins
- Number of Questions: 150
- Passing Score: 450/800
- Books / Training: CISA requirements, CISA Review Manual
- Sample Questions: ISACA CISA Sample Questions
- Practice Exam: ISACA CISA Certification Practice Exam
As with any top ISACA certification, the CISA exam is not a simple task and needs adequate preparation. The CISA exam itself has 150 questions from five domains and must be completed in less than four hours. Candidates are also required to give proof of at least five years of experience in IS audit, control, assurance or security.While challenging, you can obtain CISA certification with the right preparation and effort. Here are 10 tips to help you prepare for the ISACA CISA exam.
1) Remember: The “IS” in IS Auditor Stands for Information Systems
It's not unusual for candidates to confuse IS auditor with information security auditor. While information security is the central subject of one of the CISA domains, it represents only 25 Percent of what is covered on the exam. Other domains cover the process of auditing information systems governance, and management of IT IS acquisition development and implementation; information systems operations; and service management and maintenance. So, if you wish to advance your career as an information security professional, the CISM is probably a better choice, another top-level ISACA certification focused on information security management.
2) Learn to Think Like an IS Auditor
As stated before, the ISACA CISA certification is mainly intended for information systems auditors. For candidates with a great technical background, but little audit work experience, special effort should be taken to sustain an auditor perspective right from the start. On the other hand, auditors with short technical knowledge must work on getting a proper understanding of the fundamentals of any technical concept over CISA’s five domains. Also, it is necessary to keep in mind personal experience may be completely useless: It doesn't matter whether it is an industry standard or best practices adopted by your organization, if it is not perfectly arranged with ISACA’s way of thinking, it will be of no use during the exam.
3) Read the ISACA Exam Candidate Information Guide
Each year, ISACA updates its candidate guide giving lots of valuable information for the exam. You Can Download CISA Guide. No candidate should take the CISA exam without reading guide. It reviews topics such as the exam registration process, deadlines and dates, and key candidate details for exam-day administration. It even includes valuable information such as the exam domains, the number of exam questions, its length and the languages available.
4) Use ISACA Resources
ISACA’s official publications are great exam-prep resources. I recommend reviewing the CRM, a comprehensive guide specifically created to help prepare ISACA CISA candidates for the exam. Currently, on its 26th Edition, the CRM is academically sound and revised according to the most common CISA job practice, meaning it represents the most recent, complete, peer-reviewed IS audit, assurance, security and control resource available for the exam.
As for CISA practice questions, consider using the ISACA CISA Review Questions Answers & Explanations Manual or the CISA Review Questions, Answers & Explanations Database. Both consist of 1,000 multiple choice study questions that, while not actual exam items, can help ISACA CISA candidates to get a better understanding of both the type and structure of what will appear on the actual exam. It also gives a detailed explanation of both the correct answer and incorrect options and gives a fabulous way of knowing what topics need further attention.
It is essential to know both the manual and the subscription-based service have the same questions, but the later has an advantage in terms of usability: Since it is available via the web, CISA applicants can get questions anywhere. It also supports the creation of custom sample exams, with randomly selected questions from any of the exam domains, thus providing for a concentrated study in particular areas or a generalist approach. It also tracks previous scoring history, making it simple to identify strengths and weaknesses based on particular domains or subjects, and lets you focus study efforts accordingly.
5) Leverage Free Exam-Prep Resources
As stated before, there is no question that ISACA’s official publications are excellent resources for preparing for the CISA exam. Aside from their paid manuals and question databases, ISACA also gives lots of free study material. For starters, the CISA Self-Assessment it a 50 question sample exam, covering the suitable proportion of each subject matter to match the CISA exam blueprint. Another great free resource is ISACA’s Glossary, as it includes complete definitions for each term used in the CISA domains. ISACA’s Knowledge Center also has a huge collection of materials such as whitepapers.
6) Make Your Study Plan
The CISA exam will test you on 5 domains covering a variety of different subject areas. You must make sure you have adequate time to review all domains at least once; this involves not only studying but also completing mock exams, visiting online forums and spending extra time reviewing areas that need improvement.
Without sufficient planning, your chance of success will drop. Creating a study plan that fits your own needs is required; even a simple list can help a lot. For your study plan, you should consider factors such as:
- How soon do you intend to take the CISA examination? Check the ISACA website to find a location and time that works for you.
- How much time can you devote on preparation material and training? If you are already working, or have other commitments, make sure you can dedicate enough time to the basics, such as covering all CISA Syllabus topics, taking CISA practice tests and reviewing exam simulations. Look for official, certified study materials and training to make sure you have a thorough knowledge of each topic covered in the CISA exam. A great option is getting the CISA official candidate guide and reading it beginning on this will create a solid basis for further skill progress using your choice of training methodology.
- How well acquainted are you already with the CISA exam subjects? Even very experienced experts, with good knowledge about the CISA certification subjects, can have a hard time during the examination. Your personal experience can save your studying time, but you should take into consideration factors such as the CISA exam question and length logic. Relying too much on experience alone is a bad strategy that will likely lead to bad results.
7) Use Online Practice Tests
Schedule CISA practice tests on Edusum.com well in advance of your scheduled exam date. Set a deadline for yourself and check what you have learned in between that time. You will discover the CISA Syllabus topic areas where you most need to improve.
8) Join a CISA Community
A simple Google search can find some CISA forums, wikis and personal websites where both certified experts and candidates share their certification experiences.
As usual, it is imperative to verify the credibility of any source you are using. For instance, if you are looking for a formal definition of a concept that is covered in the exam, the best path is using official material, e.g., guidelines, CISA books, and other official publications. But, if you are looking for comprehensive advice, posting your question to an online forum can be quite helpful.
Many applicants visit online forums and search for CISA success. This can serve as both motivation and preparation for the upcoming exam. If you are feeling confident, searching CISA failure posts may also provide you some valuable advice, as learning from the mistakes of others is way less sensitive than from your own.
A word of advice: Unless you have time to help others, stay away from toxic posts and people. Many unfortunate exam takers go online to release their frustration, and this can be discouraging.
9) Have an Exam-Day Preparation Plan
Finally, the big day is about to happen. Your main focus should be on not exhausting yourself and being at your best during the CISA exam.
A few things to remember:
- Is your exam kit ready? Check the candidate guide to make sure you have everything you require for the day of your ISACA CISA exam. This may sound silly, but some applicants fail to even attend the test for not fulfilling fundamental requirements like sufficient identification. Call your testing center to check you understand the requirements.
- Are you calm and well rested? Many applicants fail because of mental exhaustion and physical. Staying up late doing a final round of study may sound tempting, but last-minute reading is usually not a good thing, and may even leave you anxious. If you think it is essential to do a final review, do a selective reading instead. Also, do not focus solely on weaknesses. If you have not mastered a particular topic until now, you may prefer to focus on enhancing the areas where you are good. A great tool for selective reading is using glossaries or summaries, which have lots of valuable information, some of which you may have missed during your study sessions as for the physical side, ingesting of alcoholic drinks is a really bad idea. If your CISA exam is during the morning, having an equitable breakfast and drinking lots of water is a very effective way to make sure you are at your best. If it is during the afternoon, eat a very light lunch.
10) Clear Your Mind
That’s it exam day has arrived! Take a deep breath and remember that you put in the time and are prepared to get succeed.
Here Are Some Last-Minute Tips:
- Be aware of the time. During the exam, you may reach a high level of concentration. I like to call the zone. This means a greater focus, which is useful for problem-solving but can cause you to lose track of time. What may seem like seconds can be valuable minutes hours tend to pass at a very fast rate, so make sure you have time to go through every question on the CISA exam.
- Take your time reading the CISA questions. Even with limited time, it is essential not to rush. Take your time, pay attention to each CISA question and answer option and make sure you understand what is being asked. Watch for distractors in multiple-choice questions that can be quickly passed. It is also necessary to pay close attention to terms such as MOST, LEAST, NOT, ALL, NEVER and ALWAYS, since they can solely change a sentence.
Remember, there is no reason to panic. Remaining calm will increase your concentration. If you followed your study plan perfectly, your results would likely be great if not, you will have a lot more experience during the next try!