Nine tips for CRISC exam success [updated 2022]

Claudio Dodt
January 4, 2022 by
Claudio Dodt

ISACA's CRISC (Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control) is the only certification on the market dedicated to enterprise risk management. 

This credential for mid-career IT, risk and security professionals and teams validates the practitioners' knowledge in aligning and implementing mitigation controls to protect against critical cybersecurity outcomes. The credential also shows experience in building a well-defined, agile risk-management program based on best practices to identify, analyze, evaluate, assess, prioritize and respond to risks.

The refreshed exam focuses on four practice areas of the job: business continuity, resiliency and corporate governance, and data privacy and protection.

Passing the test is not a simple endeavor, so candidates must manage their preparation time well and be familiar with all aspects of the exam to have a successful first attempt. If you're planning to get CRISC certified, here are nine tips that will help you in the process.

Earn your CRISC certification, guaranteed!

Earn your CRISC certification, guaranteed!

Enroll in a CRISC Boot Camp and earn one of the highest paying industry certifications — guaranteed.

1. Read ISACA's Certification Exams Candidate Guide

The ISACA Certification Exams Candidate Guide provides lots of practical information for the test, including important topics such as eligibility, registration and scheduling, deadlines and key candidate details for exam-day administration. No candidate should take the CRISC exam without reading this guide. It is also worth viewing the CRISC Exam Planning Guide that provides quick facts on this certification, the benefits of being certified, the exam content outline, several study solutions and useful ideas for earning CPEs through various programs and events.

2. Choose the right resources

Begin preparing for your exam by reading the CRISC Review Manual, 7th Edition. Most candidates who have successfully earned this certification would tell you that it is a great way to help prepare for the CRISC exam and understand IT-related business risk management roles and responsibilities.

The manual is available in hardcopy and e-book format. It is divided according to CRISC's four job practice areas:

  • Governance
  • IT Risk Assessment
  • Risk Response and Reporting
  • Information Technology and Security

Each chapter is also divided into two sections allowing for focused study sessions. The first section of each chapter contains basic information like definitions and objectives, task and knowledge statements, basic self-assessment questions, answers and explanations and resource suggestions for further study. The second chapter consists of reference material and content supporting the knowledge statements.

This is an excellent stand-alone reference for individual study.

3. Utilize ISACA'ss practice exams

One of the most important steps during your exam preparation is learning how ISACA thinks, how they ask questions, and how they are worded. Reading the Questions, Answers and Explanations Databaseuser's guide can shed some light on this subject. This can help understand the rationale behind each Q&A on a practice test dashboard accessed via ISACA PERFORM.

4. Enroll in the CRISC online course

The CRISC Online Review Course hosted on ISACA'ss learning platform PERFORM covers all four exam domains, and each section corresponds directly to the job practice areas tested. Learners will navigate the course at their own pace, following a recommended structure that prepares them to pass the CRISC certification exam.

This course has a seat time of approximately 12 hours and is accessed via the Learning Access tab of your MyISACA dashboard, including material that is immediately accessible upon purchasing.

Many reputable online training sources also offer CRISC courses that can help fill knowledge gaps and give a different perspective on the subject.

5. Get involved in a guided exam preparation course

A self-study-only approach might work for some, but most students might want to include guided courses in their preparation. ISACA provides a few options to cater to professionals' different needs.

 VILT connects students with experienced instructors in an online classroom setting. Sessions include interactive lectures and demonstrations focused on helping them develop their expertise and get them ready for exam day. The course is offered periodically, so make sure to check the VILT site for the next available session.

6. Join in online forums and discussion boards

ISACA created the Engage Online Community that allows CRISC candidates to share experiences, ideas, questions, and study resources with like-minded people. Registrants can post questions and previous exam takers, and those certified can answer them. Discussions focus on successful study methods, materials, resources and expectations on the exam day.

Tech Exams CRISC forum promotes conversations on topics related to taking the CRISC test. Candidates can look for answers to their questions, exchange opinions and get information that will allow them to challenge the exam with more confidence. It is an excellent opportunity to get all your questions answered, share experiences and strategies and even network with like-minded professionals.

One terrific way of using the study community is to check for post-exam success stories, as most of them will be full of practical tips or even include the full strategy used. This may help you understand the exam from several perspectives; posts can come from candidates with a little technical background or tech experts. Either way, combining different views with your background can be of immense value.

7. Create a study plan that works

The CRISC exam spans four new domains covering various subject areas. You must make sure you have enough time to review each domain at least once. This includes studying and completing mock exams (check out ISACA'ss provided 10-question challenge: CRISC Practice Quiz - Test Your Knowledge of Risk ...), visiting online forums, and spending extra time reviewing areas that need improvement.

Without adequate planning, your chance of success will drop. Creating a study plan that fits your personal needs is essential; even a simple to-do list can help a lot. For your custom study plan, you should consider factors such as:

  • How soon do you intend to take the examination? Check the PSI website to find a time and location that works for you.
  • How much time can you devote to your study efforts? If you are already working, or have other commitments, make sure you can dedicate sufficient time to the basics, such as covering all exam topics, taking practice tests and reviewing exam simulations.
  • How much can you spend on preparation material and training courses? Look for official, certified study materials and training to ensure you have a thorough understanding of each topic covered in the exam. A great option is getting the official review manual and reading it early on; this will create a solid basis for further skill development using your choice of training methodology.
  • What training method best suits you? Some people prefer self-learning, while others think there is no substitute for the classroom. Other candidates find online training helps them study on the go, at any time. Use your past learning experiences to help you pick the method to help you prepare best.
  • How well acquainted are you already with the exam subjects? Even very experienced professionals with good knowledge about the certification subject can have a hard time during the examination. Your personal experience can save you some studying time, but you should consider factors such as exam length and question logic. Relying too much on experience alone is a poor strategy that will likely lead to bad results.

8. Plan for the actual exam day

Before exam day, your primary focus should be not exhausting yourself and being at your best during the exam.

A few things to remember:

  • Is your exam kit ready? Check the candidate guide to ensure you have everything you need for the day of your CRISC exam. Some candidates fail to even attend the test for not fulfilling basic requirements like providing adequate identification. Call your test center to verify you understand the requirements when in doubt.
  • Are you calm and well-rested? Many candidates fail because of physical and mental exhaustion. Staying up late doing a final round of study may sound tempting, but last-minute reading is usually not a good thing and may even leave you anxious. If you think it is important to do a final review, do a selective reading instead. Also, do not focus solely on weaknesses. If you have not mastered a specific topic until now, you may prefer to focus on enhancing the areas where you're good. A great tool for selective reading is using summaries or glossaries, which have lots of important information, some of which you may have missed during your study sessions. As for the physical side, ingesting (even small amounts) alcoholic beverages is a really bad idea. If your exam is during the morning, having a balanced breakfast and drinking plenty of water is helpful to make sure you are at your best. If it is during the afternoon, eat a light lunch.
  • Did you make the necessary arrangements to be on time at the test site? Candidates may not be admitted to the site if they are late. If you are using public transportation, double-check the best routes; if you are driving to the exam site, know where to park beforehand.

9. Clear your mind during the test

Here are some last-minute tips to remember on exam day:

  • Be aware of time. During the exam, you may reach a high level of concentration. This means a greater focus, which is good for problem-solving but can cause you to lose track of time. What may seem like seconds can be precious minutes; hours tend to pass at a very fast rate, so make sure you have time to go through every question on the exam.
  • Take your time reading the questions. Even with limited time, it is important not to rush. Take your time, pay attention to each question-and-answer option and make sure you understand what is being asked. Watch for distractors (obviously false options) in multiple-choice questions that can be quickly eliminated. It is also important to pay close attention to terms such as MOST, LEAST, NOT, ALL, NEVER and ALWAYS, since they can entirely change a sentence. Remember, questions that ask you to pick the "best answer" may have more than one correct option. You must understand and select the most suitable answer for the given situation.
  • Try to relax. Remember to stretch and relax your muscles during the exam. A relaxed mind can help you solve difficult questions.
  • Remember, there is no reason to panic. Remaining calm will improve your concentration. If you followed your study plan correctly, your results would likely be great; if not, you will have more experience during the next try!

Earn your CRISC certification, guaranteed!

Earn your CRISC certification, guaranteed!

Enroll in a CRISC Boot Camp and earn one of the highest paying industry certifications — guaranteed.

The final takeaway

Earning a CRISC certification will set you apart from the crowd and help you advance your career. With a solid plan, quality resources and dedication to exam preparation, any candidate has a good chance for CRISC exam success. More than 30,000 professionals have earned the CRISC designation since its inception in 2017.



Claudio Dodt
Claudio Dodt

Cláudio Dodt is an Information Security Evangelist, consultant, trainer, speaker and blogger. He has more than ten years worth of experience working with Information Security, IT Service Management, IT Corporate Governance and Risk Management.