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CISA is a prestigious IT certification that opens up a whole new world of opportunities for you. The best thing about CISA is that it is a one paper exam unlike CIA or ACCA etc which have multistage examinations. But still CISA is at a similar stature and when it comes to auditing information systems, it is the gold standard against which employers judge your capacities. With CISA certification at your side, the employer knows that you are a certified professional from the world’s top information systems audit certification.

One of the most important secrets by which ISACA has established the stature of this certification is that its content is continuously updated for currency because it is a fact that the biggest changes are happening all the time in the field of information technology. In order to remain relevant, CISA also has to evolve at a rapid pace matching with the developments in the information systems.

And this is the reason that ISACA reviews the domain weights every  two or three years in the exam. For example, there has been a recent increase in exam weightage of IS Audit domain whereas the protection of information assets weight has decreased. And the content related to these CISA job practice areas is also updated every year.

And add to this the fact that CISA is not something which you can pass with exam dumps. It is a conceptual examination and you can be sure that the exam does not include any questions from the CISA Review Manual or the practice questions database. So how does one prepare for the CISA examination?

Preparing for CISA Exam

My strategy for preparing for CISA is based on my successful personal experience. I tool the exam myself and qualified it gracefully with a pass score of 607 which is considered quite high on the CISA exam. The minimum score required is 450. So here is my recommendation for passing the CISA examination at first attempt:

  • You must have with you the latest CISA Review Manual because this will be your main resource or textbook for preparing for the examination. Please keep in mind that it is quite exhaustive and the content covered in it is highly focused. Therefore, it assumes that you have a reasonable understanding or information technology terms. So, those starting with an Information Technology background like me are at an advantage. But it does not mean that those who are from auditing or other backgrounds can not pass the examination. I know from my personal knowledge that I have seen people with very diverse backgrounds qualifying the exam. When you are reading the CISA Review Manual, you should not try to memorize anything. Understanding the concepts is all that matters. So wherever some terms are not clear to you, make your concepts clear by reading from other sources about that concept or term. Remember you have a friend named Google always ready to help you. And since ISACA focuses a lot on keeping CISA current, therefore, it is important that you have the latest copy of the CISA Review Manual with you. Even one year prior copy will also suffice unless ISACA has significantly revised the Job Practice Areas significantly this year. At least two readings of the CISA Review Manual are a must.
  • The next important resource you absolutely must have is the CISA questions database. Again having the latest questions database is very important because i noted during the exam that about 10 to 15 questions in the exam were somewhat related to the latest supplement to the database. Therefore, always have the latest materials with you. You should attempt all the questions in the questions database at least twice and you should achieve a pass percentage of at least 75 percent on the practice exams you take on the questions database. And more importantly you should be conceptually clear about your choice if you find that you have attempted the question correctly. And even more importantly, thoroughly read why your answer to a question was wrong and why the other choice was correct. Please be clear that the questions are not exactly from either the CISA Review Manual or the CISA questions database but almost 90 percent of these are based on the concepts in both these materials.

The above strategy should ensure that you pass your CISA exam in the first attempt. There is no requirement for any other study guide or course if you can self study the above two materials. I also had one exam of information systems audit and control at my Masters Degree but I consider that CISA Review Manual and the question database is far superior to any other textbook or guide you will find on the subject.