How to self-study and pass 3 parts of CIA at first try within 10 months?

Here was my journey to CIA certificate

CIA Journey

Well, there was only two words along the way:



Let’s talk about the first word: PLAN

We may fail even when we have plans. But if we do not have any plan, the chance to fail could be higher.

Thus, make a plan, take an action. It is said that preparation is 50% of success.

So, what should you plan?

1. Choose an effective method of learning that is suitable for you

There are many learning methods: watching videos, reading books, listening to podcasts, etc. Choose the method (you may mix the methods) that is effective for you and help you learn smart.

2. Collect the learning materials

There are so many sources of CIA materials for you to study: Gleim, Hock, IIA, YouTube videos, etc. 

Before you start any CIA part, search and collect all the materials you need. It will help you to estimate your study time and just focus on your study in the later stage.

3. Estimate the time for studying and the time for tests

Ok, now you have all the materials with you. You could estimate the time for each material.

Below is a reference for you about the study hours for each part (source:

Exam part Minimum # of Study Hours Safe # of Study Hours
Part 1 30 – 40 hours 55 – 65 hours
Part 2 30 – 40 hours 60 – 70 hours
Part 3 40 – 50 hours 85 – 95 hours

4. Allocate the above time to each week and each day

With the estimated time in step 3, you should allocate to each week and then each day depending on your other plans.

Now, here come the second word: DISCIPLINE

It will be very hard for self-discipline. There are many reasons for us to delay, to break our plans.

For example, today you are tired and you just want to rest instead of studying. Or today your work at the office did not go smoothly and you are not in a good mood for studying. Or your friends asked you out so you could not study. Or you just browse the webs, watch some videos and oh, time just flies.

A lot of reasons. If one day slipped out of your hand, the second day may also be like that, and then many many days after that.

Just stick to the plan. You may tell others about this plan so that they may check up on you. Or you may set a goal to yourself with a reward. For example, if you study everyday in 2 weeks, you may reward yourself with a thing that you long wish for.

In my case, my learning method is reading books and then write down my understandings (actually I use an excel file), link related points together (something like mind map). It helps me to have an overview picture for each part.

My main materials is Gleim. I read the books for 2 times. One time to write down my understandings. Then I will take the test at each unit. After I read the whole part and take all the unit test one time, I will reread the book to ensure that I do not miss any important parts.

My study time in a week was around 10 hours – in which, ~1 hour for each week day and the remaining for the weekends. If there was any other plans that disrupt my normal study time in some days (going out, holidays, etc.), I would arrange other time for studying, just to make sure that my total studying time in a period (i.e. 2 weeks, 3 weeks) is not affected.

Finally, take the CIA exams and enjoy the results. Hard work pays off, indeed. 

Wish you all luck with your CIA journey!

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