Is The CISA Exam Difficult?

CISA refers to Certified Information System Auditor - a designation issued by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). It is the global standard for professionals who have a career in information systems, in particular control, auditing, and security. The position of IT auditor is becoming very significant and is a growing occupation with thousands of new jobs available worldwide.  An IT auditor collects and evaluates an organization’s information systems, operations, and practices. He not only looks at the outer physical controls but also the financial and business controls within a company. They make sure that the business is compliant with legislation, ensuring that their records and data are safe and protected. They also provide recommendations to fix any gaps or challenges. 

An IT auditor has several responsibilities and their main job is to lead projects that improve internal performances and processes.  They also analyze data and increase internal control, and report problems related to IT systems. These IT auditors collect and review data from databases, information management systems, and software programs. They can work with many kinds of industries, with the most common being technology, healthcare, education, and finance. They also can guide the company’s practice regarding compliance weaknesses, accounting discrepancies, and internal controls. For all these skills and performances, IT auditors are taking CISA certification to perform and give their best abilities. 


Here in this article, we will focus on what CISA certification is and how difficult this exam is.

What Is CISA Certification?

“In a world full of auditors, be a CISA.”

Certified Information Systems Auditors certification validates your expertise in assessing vulnerabilities and instituting IT controls in an enterprise environment. It leverages you to move up in your career. With ISACA’s certification (CISA) you can do just that and become a recognized auditor. It is considered the world’s renowned standard of achievement for those who audit, monitor, control, and assess an organization’s business systems and information technology. 

It offers you new career opportunities, growth options in your current organization, and helps prove your expertise and abilities. It enables you to achieve the skills required to govern and control enterprise IT and perform an effective security audit. You also can gain expertise in the acquisition, testing, development, and implementation of information systems and understanding the guideline, practices, and standards to protect them. 

CISA certification is presented after the completion of an application process and comprehensive testing. It is designed especially for audit managers. IT auditors, security professionals, and consultants. Achieving this certification is beneficial as employers worldwide are seeking IT audit and security information management (SIM) job roles. Candidates/professionals having this certification are having greater visibility throughout the job application process as several recruiters prefer IT auditors with a CISA certification. 


CISA is one of the most sought-after certification programs that makes you learn about Auditing Information Systems, Governance and IT Management, Information Systems Audit and assurance guidelines, and Vulnerability assessment and identification. 

How Difficult is the CISA Exam?

As we know that CISA designation was made for professionals who have experience in information auditing, security, or control. So it is a way to distinguish these professionals from those who are not certified or qualified. This certification offers you skills for a new position, employment, or a raise at a new company, among other things.

CISA Exam Difficulty (Exam Content Term)- Most of the candidates and readers tend to agree that the syllabus and exam content is not that tough as it is a one-part exam with only 150 questions. It is a lighter exam that requires only basic knowledge of a wide variety of topics, versus specific knowledge in a more narrowed topic.

This certification is for experienced professionals and is not intended for those who just started working. If a candidate has a minimum experience for a couple of years with an IT auditor, it is quite easier for them than those who have no relevant experience. 


Is the CISA Exam hard?- The answer to this question is always relative. If it is difficult for one person, it may not be difficult for another. Most of the candidates agree that it is not as difficult as the CPA or the Bar exam. It has increased in difficulty over the years to keep up with evolving standards in the industry. 

Questions in the CISA exam- There are a total of 150 questions on the CISA exam which was reduced from 200 to 150 in the year 2016. Four hours of time is given to solve all the questions that are typically enough time for anyone to complete the entire exam. So it seems quite easy to crack the exam in time.  

Exam Difficulty based on question style- As mentioned above, the exam content is manageable, but the question style can be difficult for many candidates. It is all because of the nature of the profession and the experience. The wording and the phrasing of the questions are pretty hard to comprehend, even for existing IT auditors but there is no need to get familiar with ISACA terminologies to pass this exam.


It is important to know that the CISA exam is designed to measure a fail/pass of basic competence so it is hard to know whether you got the answers correctly which means it is going to test you on the minimum standards. So in short, this exam is not that incredibly difficult that people meeting the work requirements for certification wouldn’t be able to pass the exam. Candidates can prepare for this CISA exam within 6 months and if currently working with IT audit, it can be passed in as few as 1 or 2 months.


After the above discussion, we can say that the CISA exam is not the most complex exam but is comprehensive. Take your time to study thoroughly and get prepared for the exam. You can’t be 100% certain how hard the CISA exam will be for you until you at least start studying the material. Start practicing with official study guides and practice material, review your weak areas, and crack the exam strategically to become a CISA certified IT auditor.


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