Candidates’ best approach to preparation is to break down their studying according to the five domains listed above.
On the ISACA website, under the CISA exam section, click on the link titled “Prepare for the Exam.” There will be a helpful guide called “The Candidate's Guide to the CISA Exam” available for free.
Task and Knowledge Statements
“The Candidate's Guide to the CISA Exam” lists the several task statements and knowledge statements per domain. Task statements specify a job objective, while knowledge statements declare some specific awareness about an area. Each domain has between five and 11 task statements, and there are between 10 and 21 knowledge statements.
An example of a task statement would be “Evaluate the adequacy of backup and restore provisions to determine the availability of information required to resume processing.” That’s the task statement #10 of Domain 4: Information Systems Operations, Maintenance and Support. An example of a knowledge statement would be “Knowledge of operations and end-user procedures for managing scheduled and non-scheduled processes.” That’s statement #3 of the same Domain 4.
Study with Structure
Armed with the task and knowledge statements, a candidate has a structured framework for studying. Depending on your preference, you may wish to check off the topics you feel already comfortable with, prioritizing the most unfamiliar areas to concentrate on. Or you may wish to briefly visit the most well-known areas, which may provide you more insight on the detail level expected across all areas. In any case, use the domain breakdown to your advantage, as a checklist and path to covering all that is required of you.
Recommended Pace for Taking the CISA Exam
A word about the time limit: four hours may seem like a lot, even for 200 questions. It’s not. Four hours is 240 minutes, or one minute, twelve seconds per question.
Now even the most studious candidate shouldn’t try to concentrate for four hours straight. Instead, a candidate should take a break or two to refresh and reenergize. If a candidate takes two short breaks of 5-10 minutes each, that now leaves 220-230 minutes for the exam. Also consider that in any exam, it’s wise to allot time at the end to briefly scan your answer sheet for obvious mistakes (skipped or doubled-answered questions. A safe allotment of time would be 10%, or 20 minutes in this case. That leaves 200 minutes for 200 questions. With a break or two and some buffer time at the end, this gives a plain question-per-minute pace. This pace is especially helpful as you work through the exam, since you can confidently check your pace against the spent time and your current question.