As you may be aware, to become a Certified Internal Auditor you need to pass Part 1, 2 and 3 of the CIA exams. Part 1 has 125 questions and a 150 minutes exam time limit. Part 2 and 3 have 100 questions and a 120 time limit for each exam.
The IIA does not dictate which exam to take first - it is your choice and depends on your current situation, knowledge, experience and expertise. For example, candidates who are working as auditors are more likely to find Part 1 and 2 easier, depending on how familiar they are with the concepts. The focus on both exam parts is on practices usually encountered in internal audit environments.
Note: Beware not to make the mistake of thinking that Part 1 and 2 exam will be easy because you have auditing experience - you still need to put in the work and go through all the study material in detail.
Part 3 is the most challenging part of the CIA Exam. The sheer volume of topics covered is more than in Part 1 and 2, even though most are tested at an Awareness level rather than at Proficiency level. The Part 3 exam has 100 questions with a 2-hour time limit. The time pressure combined with the range of topics can be daunting. However, candidates with knowledge and experience in business ethics, IT, business continuity, and global business concepts, Part 3 is likely the best exam part to take first.
Whether you have the experience or not, there is a lot to cover in Part 3. The sheer volume of information you need to absorb can be overwhelming - don’t be discouraged.
In the absence of a compelling reason to take Part 3 first, I recommend that you take the exams in order - starting with Part 1. The foundational concepts tested in Part 1 are useful in both Part 2 and 3.
A simple CIA exam strategy is best, and passing any part of the CIA exam will give you the confidence to take on the next one.
Whichever part you decide to take first I wish all the best!