How to Pass the CISA Certificate in 2024

Last Updated: January 8, 2024


The Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification, offered by ISACA, is a beacon of excellence in information system audit control, assurance, and security. In the dynamic world of information technology, obtaining the CISA certification in 2023 can open doors to many career opportunities. This guide will not only elaborate on the advantages of acquiring the CISA certification, such as increased job prospects, the potential for higher salaries, and numerous avenues for professional growth, but also address the practical considerations, including the substantial time and financial commitment required.

As organizations increasingly prioritize the security and integrity of their information systems, the demand for CISA-certified professionals continues to surge. In this competitive landscape, the CISA certification can distinguish you as a qualified expert in the field.

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Pros and Cons


Recognized Globally: CISA is recognized and respected worldwide, making it a valuable credential for professionals seeking international opportunities.

Career Advancement: Holding a CISA certification can open doors to higher-paying job opportunities and career advancement in roles related to information systems auditing, governance, risk management, and compliance.

Expertise Validation: It demonstrates your expertise in auditing, control, assurance, and risk management, providing a sense of validation to employers and clients.

Professional Network: CISA certification connects you with a global community of professionals through ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association), offering networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities.

Job Security: In an age of increasing cybersecurity threats, organizations value professionals who can assess and strengthen their information systems’ security, making CISA holders in demand.


Rigorous Exam: The CISA exam is known for its difficulty. It requires extensive preparation and a strong foundation in information systems auditing and control.

Costly: Pursuing the CISA certification can be expensive, including exam fees, study materials, and potential training courses.

Continuing Education: CISA holders must maintain their certification through continuing education requirements, which may involve additional time and cost.

Experience Requirement: To obtain the CISA certification, candidates must have at least five years of work experience in information systems auditing, control, or security, which can be a barrier for entry-level professionals.

Specialized Focus: The CISA certification is primarily focused on information systems auditing, so it may not be the best fit for professionals seeking broader cybersecurity expertise.

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What are the CISA Exam Requirements?

Obtaining the prestigious Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification hinges on meeting specific exam requirements. To do this, you must first meet the following educational and experiential prerequisites.

Educational Requirement: A bachelor’s degree or equivalent in information technology, accounting, business administration, or a similar discipline is a crucial prerequisite. This foundational knowledge sets the stage for your CISA pursuit.

Professional Experience: CISA demands a robust information systems auditing, control, or security background. You should have accumulated at least five years of professional experience in one or more of the five vital domains: Information Systems Auditing Process, Governance and Management of IT, Information Systems Acquisition, Development, and Implementation, Information Systems Operations and Business Resilience, and Protection of Information Assets.

However, there are avenues for substituting this experience, such as completing relevant coursework or possessing certified work experience from recognized professional organizations.

Exam Details: The CISA exam costs $575 for ISACA members and $760 for non-members. This rigorous 150-question multiple-choice exam comes with a four-hour time limit. The questions are categorized into five domains, each weighted differently. They are designed to challenge your comprehension and application of concepts in real-world scenarios.

Passing Score: To succeed in the CISA exam, achieve a scaled score of 700 out of 1000, with a scale ranging from 200 to 800. The passing score for certification is 450. Meeting these requirements is the first step in your journey toward becoming a certified CISA professional, poised for success in the ever-evolving landscape of information systems audit, control, and security.

Overview of Five CISA Domains

The CISA exam is structured around five essential domains, each representing a distinct facet of information systems auditing and control. These domains encompass a wealth of knowledge and expertise crucial for a CISA-certified professional:

Information Systems Auditing Process (21%): In this domain, candidates delve into the core principles and practices of information systems auditing. Topics include auditing standards and procedures, IT risk management, audit planning and execution, evidence gathering, and audit reporting. This domain equips candidates with the skills to assess risks, plan effective audits, collect and analyze evidence, and communicate findings.

Governance and Management of IT (17%): This domain explores the governance and management structures surrounding IT. It delves into IT governance frameworks, risk management, security management, compliance, and audit assurance. Understanding these concepts is vital for ensuring that IT systems align with organizational goals, are secure, and comply with regulations.

Information Systems Acquisition, Development, and Implementation (12%): This domain focuses on the processes involved in acquiring, developing, and implementing information systems. Candidates learn about IT project management, security controls, the system development life cycle, and system testing and deployment. This knowledge is critical for ensuring that new IT systems meet security and operational requirements.

Information Systems Operations and Business Resilience (23%): This domain deals with the day-to-day operations of information systems and their resilience in the face of disruptions. Topics include IT operations management, incident response, disaster recovery, and business continuity planning. Professionals must be well-versed in maintaining the continuity of IT services and responding effectively to incidents.

Protection of Information Assets (27%): This domain emphasizes safeguarding information assets, including identifying, classifying, and protecting sensitive data. Concepts covered encompass information security risk management, security controls, data security, and privacy. This knowledge is essential for securing sensitive data and preventing security breaches.

How to Create an Effective CISA Study Plan

Creating an effective study plan is paramount to success in the CISA exam. Here’s a concise guide on how to craft a winning strategy:

Set Realistic Goals and Milestones: Avoid last-minute cramming by establishing achievable objectives and breaking them into milestones. Begin your preparation well in advance to alleviate stress.

Create a Study Schedule: Develop a consistent study routine and adhere to it. Regularity fosters discipline and prevents overwhelm. Allocate ample time to each exam domain.

Find a Study Partner or Join a Group: Collaborate with a study partner or group to maintain motivation, focus, and mutual learning. Sharing insights and strategies can enhance your understanding.

Utilize Diverse Resources: Diversify your study materials, including books, online courses, and practice exams. Multiple sources provide varied perspectives, enhancing comprehension.

Take Practice Exams: Practice exams are invaluable for assessing knowledge and identifying weak areas. Regularly review results and allocate extra study time where needed.

Review Notes Consistently: Periodically revisit your notes to reinforce your memory and understanding of key concepts. This aids long-term retention.

Prioritize Self-Care: Ensure physical and mental well-being by sleeping well and consuming nutritious foods. A healthy body and mind optimize study efficiency.

Sample 3-Month Study Plan

Weeks 1-2: Familiarize yourself with CISA exam domains, assessing strengths and weaknesses.

Weeks 3-6: Dive deeply into each domain using various study resources.

Weeks 7-9: Take practice exams and analyze results to target weak areas.

Weeks 10-11: Simulate exam conditions with a timed practice test.

Week 12: Review notes and take a final practice exam to gauge readiness.

Recommended Books for CISA Preparation

When preparing for the CISA exam, choosing suitable study materials is paramount. Below are some highly recommended books that can significantly aid in your CISA preparation:

The CISA Review Manual: Official Study Guide by ISACA: This book is the gold standard in CISA exam preparation. Published by the creators of the exam itself, ISACA, it offers an exhaustive and up-to-date coverage of all five domains of the CISA exam. Packed with detailed explanations, practice questions, and exercises, it comprehensively explains the subject matter.

CISA Certified Information Systems Auditor All-in-One Exam Guide by Peter H. Gregory: This all-in-one guide is known for its clarity and conciseness. It thoroughly explores CISA exam topics and features practice questions and exercises to reinforce your knowledge. White’s book is a trusted resource for a comprehensive yet accessible study guide.

CISA Certified Information Systems Auditor Practice Exams by Peter H. Gregory: CISA Practice Exams by Peter H. Gregory offer comprehensive test simulations for CISA certification, aiding effective exam preparation.”

CISA Exam Secrets Study Guide by CISA Exam Secrets Test Prep Team: If you’re looking for an affordable study guide without compromising content, Mometrix’s CISA Exam Secrets Study Guide is an option. It offers a comprehensive review of CISA exam material and includes practice questions to reinforce your understanding.

Recommended Boot Camps and Training

ISACA CISA Review Boot Camp: As the official CISA boot camp offered by ISACA, this program is a hallmark of quality and reliability. It provides a comprehensive curriculum covering all five domains of the CISA exam. Taught by experienced CISA professionals, it offers invaluable insights and includes practice exams and exercises to reinforce your learning.

Global Knowledge CISA Training: Known for its excellence in IT training, Global Knowledge offers a comprehensive CISA boot camp. Led by experienced instructors, this program covers all domains of the exam. It imparts knowledge and hone your skills through practice exams and exercises, ensuring a well-rounded preparation.

InfoSec Institute CISA Training: If you prefer a self-paced online training program, InfoSec Institute’s offering is an excellent choice. It covers all five CISA exam domains and provides flexibility through video lectures, practice exams, and exercises. This format allows you to tailor your study schedule to fit your needs.

Surgent CISA Training: Another self-paced online training option, Surgent’s program ensures comprehensive coverage of all CISA exam domains. The interactive nature of the video lectures, practice examinations, and exercises allows you to study at your own pace while mastering the fundamental ideas.

Certification Station CISA Training: This self-paced online training program will equip you with a deep understanding of the CISA exam domains. Through video lectures, practice exams, and exercises, Certification Station offers a flexible and accessible approach to CISA preparation.

Other Helpful Resources for CISA Exam Preparation

Practice Test Resources: Many practice test resources are available for the CISA exam. These materials will assist you in identifying your skills and shortcomings and preparing for the examination format. Popular resources for practice tests include:

CISA Review Questions, Answers & Explanations Manual by ISACA: This manual enhances your CISA exam understanding with diverse questions, answers, and explanations, refining problem-solving skills and exam insights.

Last-Minute Resources: A few resources can be helpful in the last few days before the exam. Some popular last-minute resources include:

CISA Practice Quiz: A CISA practice quiz is invaluable in your last-minute preparations. It lets you assess your comprehension of key ideas and identify areas requiring further research. Practice quizzes help solidify your knowledge and build your test-taking confidence.

The CISA Exam Cheat Sheet: This cheat sheet summarizes key CISA exam concepts and practices, a handy resource for last-minute review.

Other last-minute resources: Many last-minute resources are available online and in bookstores.

The Role of CISA in Cybersecurity Careers

The Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification plays a pivotal role in shaping successful careers within the realm of cybersecurity. It serves as a testament to one’s expertise, enhancing opportunities across various cybersecurity roles:

Information Systems Auditor: CISA-certified professionals are adept at evaluating the security and controls of information systems. Their IT and security knowledge allows them to identify and mitigate risks effectively.

Information Security Manager: These professionals are entrusted with developing and implementing security policies and procedures. They oversee day-to-day security operations, ensuring robust protection for organizations.

Information Security Consultant: Information security consultants offer expert advice to organizations on security matters. They play a crucial role in recommending and implementing effective security solutions.

Risk Manager: The risk managers are responsible for identifying, assessing, and mitigating organizational risks. Their multidisciplinary expertise in security, finance, and business equips them to make informed risk-related decisions.

Compliance Officer: Compliance officers ensure organizations adhere to relevant laws and regulations. Their knowledge of law, regulations, and security enables them to effectively develop and implement compliance programs.

Security Analyst: Security analysts specialize in monitoring and analyzing security logs and events. With their deep understanding of security, they identify and investigate potential threats, contributing to a proactive security posture.

Getting Ready for the Exam Day

Preparing for the CISA exam is a journey that culminates on the test day, but it’s not the end. Here’s what you need to prepare for the exam day and beyond:

Exam Locations: The CISA exam is administered at Pearson VUE testing centers. Pearson VUE’s website provides a list of these centers, making it easy to locate one near you.

Exam Day Expectations: On the day of the CISA exam, arrive at the testing center at least 30 minutes before your scheduled exam time. Be sure to bring your identification, exam confirmation number, and a calculator. These items are vital to ensure a smooth examination experience.

Certification Procedure Post-Exam: After successfully passing the CISA exam, the next step is completing the certification application process. This involves providing your contact details, educational background, and work experience information. Remember to submit the certification fee as well.

Maintenance Requirements: The CISA certification is valid for three years. You must accumulate 40 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits within these three years to keep your certification active. You can earn these credits through diverse activities like attending conferences, completing courses, or contributing to articles and publications.

What If You Don’t Pass: After a 30-day waiting period, you may retake the CISA exam if you do not pass the first time. You’ll also receive a performance report highlighting areas of improvement, aiding in your focused preparation for the next attempt.

Final Note

Pursuing the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification in 2023 offers substantial career opportunities in the ever-growing information systems audit, control, and security field. This guide has detailed the certification requirements, study strategies, recommended resources, and the pivotal role of CISA in various cybersecurity careers.

Beyond passing the exam, maintaining the certification ensures continued professional growth. If you encounter setbacks, remember that persistence and improvement are essential. The CISA certification stands as a beacon of expertise and opens doors to a promising future in cybersecurity.

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