Is passing CISA exam difficult?

Whenever any CISA aspirant is talking to me one question will ultimately emerge. “Is the exam difficult to pass?”. Well, difficulty is in the minds of the students I will say. The fear of failure is deep rooted in the minds of the CISA exam takers. 

The CISA exam:

The CISA exam itself contains only 150 questions. All of them are multiple choice with four answer options. Only one of them is the correct or the best answer. An exam taker is given 240 minutes to finish the exam. There are no negative marks for scoring wrong answers. There is ample time available for the student to finish the exam. The scoring is based on the correct answers and the grading is done to the scale of 200 to 800. The pass grade is 450 and above as per ISACA.

Why the fear?

The cost of the exam is $ 575 for members. Typically membership charges avarages at $ 150. So a student has to shell out $ 725 to take the exam. There are no discounts or credits for retaking the exam. So if a student cannot make the cut, he/she has to spend another $ 575 to retake. In cost concious Indian society, this causes lots of anxiety. 

Another factor that adds to the woes to the fear is the type of questions typically asked in the examination. Even though the actual exam questions are not revealed, students often comment saying that the questions are not what covered in the official review manual called CRM nor they have any similairity to the questions and answers database sold by ISACA at a hefty price. In reality many questions in the exam are scenario based. Means the questions reflect the real world scenario the Systems Auditor is likely to encounter once he / she gets certified. The CRM gives you the basics of the subject but working knowledge is required to pass the exam. This is where many aspirants fall short. 

Moreover, lack of good practice databases also adds insult to the injury. Many sites offering “Dumps” claiming to be the real exam qustions mushroomed now a days. Unsuspecting students spend money on them only to learn that they have been take for a ride. The fact that ISACA guards the questions very well and it is just not possible to get these questions (barring one or two that an exam taker may remember) is not appreciated by these students and fall prey to these fraudulent practices.

What is the way out?

How to pass then? Well, practice, practice and more practice. Being thorough with the CRM helps to cement the basics. Many genuine sites do offer good practice questions (not actual exam questions) apart from ISACA’s official database will give an idea about how the questions will be. Any student having practical IT audit experience will be able to pass without much difficulty. 

Another method is to take training lessons. We at SSP Academy train many students just for that. The trainers comes with loads of industry knowledge and will be able to pass on those knowledge to the students, enabling them to pass the exam in one sitting.

Final thoughts:

Fear is the number one enemey. Even before starting to prepare for the exam if a student decides that passing is difficult, then nothing can make him pass the exam. Defeat is accepted even before starting!. So keep an open mind. 

CISA exam can be passed in one sitting!