Overcoming the challenges of CIA part three

By Andrew, who has completed the CIA

Finance and accountancy were the areas I was concerned about on the exam. I had read forum posts about how difficult these areas were and how people were struggling and failing. This knocked my confidence and I became quite apprehensive. Through my business admin degree I had covered accountancy and finance. I also had completed AAT, however, this was several years ago and with the scary forum stories in mind, and ever the procrastinator, I left what I considered the tricky finance and accountancy areas until last in my studies.

Like anything, the more you do it the better you become at it. In my public sector internal audit role I rarely touched on finance and accountancy in any great depth and so these areas were not second nature. I had to re-familiarise myself with my previous learnings in addition to accounting for American terminology which differed from that I was familiar with. To learn the terms I simply translated the terms i.e. Profit & Loss Account = Income Statement and read them a few times.

The finance and accountancy sections include exercises where calculation and interpretation are required which can appear daunting. To overcome uneasiness I sourced some materials and exercises that were stated as being more advanced then what was likely to be encountered in the CIA exam and practiced these until I was sufficiently proficient to be confident that the CIA questions would not pose any great problems. There are many ratios and formulas encountered within the finance and accountancy areas of CIA part three. I found writing them down, learning by rote and completing exercises that utilised them helped me with retention and application.

I would say ignore the horror stories around this exam. There is a diverse and wide range of topics to be covered, however, if likened to a body of water I would say it is vast but not especially deep. You do not need to be a practicing accountant to get through this area of the exam, an awareness and basic knowledge I found to be enough.