What is CISA Exam Like and Its Different Domains?

As we talked before, CISA is a certification for Information Systems Auditing field. A non profit organization named ISACA (Information Systems Audit & Control Association) conducts this exam and award certification, after a candidate has fulfilled all the requirements for certification. Passing CISA exam is the first step for certification and arguably the most difficult one too.


CISA exam is a four hour paper based examination with 200 150 questions. The exam is currently held three times a year i.e June, September and December. And you have to register earlier to take the CISA exam. For example, for December 2016 CISA exam which is taking place on 10th December, 2016, you need to register by 21st October deadline. The examination can be taken in many languages. For exam registration and other details you may like to visit ISACA Exam Registration page.

CISA Exam Fee

If you register early, you can take the exam by paying $635 exam fee and for that you have to pay the CISA exam fee before the early registration deadline for an exam. And the final registration deadline fee is $685. These exam fees are valid if you do not have ISACA membership. But if you are a member of ISACA then you get discounts for CISA exam and the early registration and final registration exam fees are $450 and $500 respectively.

So it is quite wise to also get ISACA membership first because not only get exam free discount but also you get access to a rich library of resources for preparing your CISA exam. The ISACA professional membership currently costs $135 plus local chapter dues. However, you can become a member for only $51 if you are a student. The money you spend on membership is almost recovered when you take an exam and get a saving there.

In order to pass the examination, you need to get a minimum scaled score of 450 on the examination. ISACA does not release these statistics related to pass ratio of candidates on CISA exam but the pass ratio of candidates is generally anywhere between the range of 30 percent to 50 percent. It is a rigorous and concept based examination. None of the questions will come from the CISA Review Manual or the Questions Database but if you have understood the concepts well, you can easily pass the exam. I myself scored 607 on the CISA exam in my first attempt.

CISA Examination Content

CISA examination is a concept based examination. The exam questions roughly come from the following domains, called Job Practice Areas. The percentage weightage of each domain in the examination is also given below:

CISA Job Practice Areas

As of 2016, the following percentage of different job practice areas for CISA exam has been announced by ISACA.

Domain 1—The Process of Auditing Information Systems (21% exam questions)
Domain 2—Governance and Management of IT (16% exam questions)
Domain 3—Information Systems Acquisition, Development and Implementation (18% exam questions)
Domain 4—Information Systems Operations, Maintenance and Service Management (20% exam questions)
Domain 5—Protection of Information Assets (25% exam questions)

As you can easily tell from the percentages that the most number of questions come from the Protection of Information Assets domain, which is all related to Information Systems Security. And then the second highest number of questions will come from the Job Practice Area of Information Systems Operations, Maintenance and Service Management.

You can safely guess that since it is an Information Systems Audit certification, having a background in Information Technology greatly helps but it is still possible to pass the examination even without this background. But naturally you will have to work harder.

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