Nuts & Bolts of CMA Exam

Nuts & Bolts of CMA Exam. The greatest dilemma that any accounting professional has to go through is choosing the further course of his study. Yes, I am very well acquainted with the amount of hard work an individual has to put in to become an accountant that designation itself does not put matters to rest. Every professional desires growth and a scope to succeed further and accountants are no different. Thus the finance industry came to a consensus regarding it and created a benchmark for professionals to take a step ahead in their career. Institutes were formed by these financial bodies which carried out certificate courses to keep the accounting professional abreast with the new trends in the market and also give his career a good boost to motivate him to work efficiently.

Let’s discuss the CMA exam in great details to help you decide whether this course is the right choice for you. We believe that investing in a good course is time consuming, money consuming as well as efforts. Hence, we would like you to be ready with your hammer to fix the nuts and bolts of the CMA exam. What the article will talk in detail? Let’s take a quick look.

  1. Why is CMA considered as the right choice by most of the Accounting Professionals?
  2. About the CMA Exam
  3. CMA Exam Completion Criteria
  4. Why pursue CMA?
  5. Top CMA Networks of 2015
  6. CMA Exam Format
  7. CMA Exam Weightage/ Breakdown
  8. CMA Exam Fees
  9. CMA Results & Passing Rates
  10. CMA Exam Strategies
  11. CMA Exam Scholarship Program
  12. CMA Exam Deferral Policy

Why is CMA considered as the right choice by most of the Accounting Professionals?

  • CMA is a certificate course offered by one of the leading financial institutions in the world IMA (Institute of Management Accountants). The financial body has been providing widespread services and benefits catering to the needs of the professionals in the financial industry.
  • A survey conducted has found that 80% of the accountants end up working in the non-financial sector, thus a course like CMA bridges the gap between the financial technicalities and management skills making it easier for professionals to relate to the work.
  • The process of becoming a CMA is very smooth thanks to the efficient management of the IMA body. The IMA has provided very clear and organized information structure to aid the applicants in the enrollment process.
  • The CMA is a very prestigious designation and is highly recognized in the corporate world.

A CMA certificate holder enjoys the privilege of earning a 30% higher wages than his peers.

  • In short a CMA certificate is extremely relevant for success in a business environment.

The details about the program are enunciated below.

About the CMA Exam

The Certified  Management Accountant is a professional certification in the field of financial management and advanced accounting that qualifies a professional to mete out responsibility  related to the arena which are highly respected by employers around the world. A CMA acquires knowledge and skills in financial planning, analysis, control, decision support, and professional ethics. The CMA certification is awarded by the U.S based Institute of the Management Accountants. The CMA certified professionals are eligible to work in industries like manufacturing and services, public and private enterprises, not-for-profit organizations, academic institutions, government entities, and MNCs.

  • Roles:  Financial risk manager, Financial planner and analyst, Capital venture, Internal auditor, Cost accountant and Manager
  • Exam: The CMA course is divided into a two part exam with each paper of four hour each.
  • Exam Dates: Part I and Part II Exams are held in Jan-February, May-June, and September -October
  • The Deal: Candidates are given a window of three years from registering to pass both the parts of the exam and attain their CMA certificate.
  • Eligibility: A candidate requires a bachelor’s degree from any accredited universities across the globe in any discipline to be deemed qualified for the CMA exam.

CMA Exam Completion Criteria

  • A candidate must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in any discipline form an accredited university.
  • The candidate requires two years of continuous work experience in jobs that are related to the CMA course which includes positions such as in accounting, auditing, financial analysis, budgeting, Preparation of financial statements, Financial planning & analysis, Monthly, quarterly and year end close auditing (external or internal), Budget preparation & reporting, Manage general ledger and balance sheets, Forecasting, Company investment decision making, Costing analysis and Risk evaluation.
  • This two year work experience can be completed by the candidate even after passing the CMA course.
  • A CMA candidate is allowed seven years of time to submit proof of his financial management experience. Part time work is also counted, however it has to amount to four years which is considered to be equal to two year of full time work.
  • A candidate is required to successfully clear the Part I and II of the CMA designation in the stipulated time.
  • A candidate needs to become a member of the IMA and the cost of its membership varies according to the candidate’s status whether he is a student or a working professional.
  • For certified CMAs, 30 hours of CPE credits, including two hours of ethics, and annual IMA Membership are required to maintain active status.
  • A candidate is required to adhere to the IMA Statement of Ethical Professional Practice

Recommended Study Hours: The IMA recommends that a candidate should at least devout two months of study time to successfully achieve the CMA certificate.

What do you earn? The CMA designation! It opens the doors to success at an unimaginable rate.

Why pursue CMA?

CMA is a globally recognized and accepted certification in the corporate world and is extremely relevant for a professional who wants to attain success in the business environment. The certified program’s visibility is increasing and is a most preferred choice to boost career prospects by professionals not only from the US but also China and the Middle East. A CMA certified candidate is eligible for higher positions in the company. The relevancy of the certified courses can be determined by the structure of its course and the practical lessons it imparts. The CMA curriculum is designed specifically to mirror real world applications which are in practice in the financial and accounting sector.  And lastle the very obvious reason CMA designation holders are paid 30% more than there non-certified colleagues.

Top CMA Networks of 2015

The top 500 companies in the world have hired the CMA designation holders in key positions. Majority of them are MNCs who are mainly into manufacturing. Look at the top few picked;

  • 3M
  • Alcoa
  • AT&T
  • Bank of America
  • Boeing
  • Cargill
  • Caterpillar

CMA Exam Format

The CMA exam is divided into two parts Part I and Part II. Part I concentrates on the topic of Financial Reporting, Planning, Performance, and Control while Part II concentrates on Financial Decision Making. The exam gives added emphasis financial planning, analysis, control, and decision support. Each exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions and two 30-minute essay questions. Candidates are given 3 hours to complete the multiple choice section and one hour to complete the essays. Candidates must show their work for the essay questions in order to receive credit. Each exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions and two 30-minute essay questions. Candidates are given 3 hours to complete the multiple choice section and one hour to complete the essays. Candidates must show their work for the essay questions in order to receive credit. Part I and II of the CMA exam are scored on a scale of 0-500 with a candidate’s raw score converted to a uniform scaled score against all exam candidates. On this scale, a score of 360 represents the minimum passing scaled score.

Key Highlights about the Exam Format

  • As soon as one completes the multiple choice section of the exam and presses the exit button, that section is over and one cannot go back to it. The candidate here onwards has to remain in the essay section to complete the exam.
  • A candidate has to at least answer 50% of the multiple-choice questions correctly to be eligible to take the essay section.
  • A candidate has 3 hours to finish the multiple choice section and one hour to complete the essays.
  • A candidate is not allowed to give an exam part more than one time during a testing window.

CMA Exam Weightage/ Breakdown

Part 1 – Financial Reporting, Planning, Performance, and Control

 part 1 subject weights

Part 2 – Financial Decision Making

part 2 subject weights

Source: IMA

CMA Examination Fees

CMA Exam fees

CMA Exam Results & Passing Rate

Immediate pass/fail results are not attained by the candidates because the essay questions are graded off-line. It is an extremely time consuming and labor intensive process and IMA is committed to assure consistency, accuracy, and fairness. Hence, all the papers are graded at the same time. Sample grading is done first to ensure that all the alternative solutions have been accounted for. Reviewers are expected to check the grading process continuously and once it is completed there is an additional review of papers on the borderline of passing. The scores for the multiple choice questions is added to the scores of the essay questions to arrive at the total weighted score of pass/fail reflected in a scaled score for the entire part.

The pass/fail status of the candidate is determined by the total score and therefore it is not necessary for candidates to “pass” both the sections. Exam results are emailed and posted to the online profile approximately six weeks from the end of the month in which a candidate has taken the exam. Performance Reports of the candidates are sent via email from Prometric to candidates who fail to successfully clear an exam.  It approximately takes about 14 days for the performance reports to reach the candidate. The Performance reports grade the candidate’s performance as satisfactory, marginal or unsatisfactory for each of the key topic areas from the multiple choice section of the exam as well as the overall performance on the essay section of the exam.

The CMA exam is considered very rigorous and pass rates for the CMA exam have historically been low for both part I as well as part II. Worldwide, the exam had a pass rate of 35% for Part 1 and 49% for Part 2 in 2014. Pass rates for the two part exam are as follows:

CMA Exam Part 1 Pass Rates

CMA Exam Part 1 Pass Rates

CMA Exam Part 2 Pass Rates

CMA Exam Part 2 Pass Rates

CMA Exam Strategies

CMA is quite flexible in its study options and a lot of prep options are available. As a student and a busy professional demands time out, it is better to come up with a strategy to study for the course so that you are able to effectively manage both your worlds and seamlessly blend several tasks into your routine.

  • Take a Look at the CMA Resource Guide

The guide explains in in depth the examination and the types of questions you can be subjected to in the examination. It also provides the relevant CSOs content Specifications outlines with references to relevant textbooks and sample questions. However, this is just not enough you also need to also check out the suggested reading list to prepare yourself thoroughly.

  • Online Study Groups

Help is always welcome and how about joining your peers in the study sessions to overcome difficult topics and help each other with concepts. LinkUp IMA is an online social network exclusively for IMA members. Within the community you will be able to join groups based on topic areas, industries, Chapters & Councils, CMA Study Groups, or start your own group based on your area of difficulty in terms of the examination content.

  • Prepare, Test, Prepare

The best thing to do is to test yourself with sample papers as soon as you finish a section of the topic. Give an exam, in the areas you specifically lagged behind, go back and study until you scored as per your satisfaction. Only then move on to the next section.

  • Essay Section

Essay writing is the biggest hurdle for most of the candidates. Instead of worrying over it access the essay questions available online and practice until you feel you are ready to crack it.

Tips During the Exam

  • Do not panic on seeing the question paper even if you do not know an answer. Skip and come back to it.
  • Do not worry if you miss out on anything. Remember the passing score is 360/500 and you do not need to maximize it.
  • Do not get distracted by factually correct but irrelevant answers in the multiple choice section.

Keep a track of the time and speed up. CMA exams are filled with lengthy and complicated question. Do not get embroiled in one to leave out ten scoring ones.

There is no penalty for wrong answers, so please do leave a question unanswered. Your stars might help you to earn an extra mark.

Don’t waste your time thinking over an answer as googly. Use your instincts because you are also being tested for your straight forward business instincts.

CMA Exam Scholarship Program

The IMA is committed in its endeavor to produce excellent accounting and management professionals and as a part of this effort IMA has founded the CMA scholarship Program that awards scholarships to the deserving top candidates. International students as well as students from the US are allowed to apply for the scholarship. The eligibility criterion for the same is:

  • The top 5% or five students, whichever is greater, in an accredited undergraduate accounting or business program, and
  • The top 5% or five students, whichever is greater, in an accredited Masters level accounting or business program.

In the undergraduate programs there is a preference that students completing the junior (third) year of their program be nominated for the award. Undergraduate and Master’s level scholarships are awarded based on faculty nomination.

CMA Exam Deferral Policy

In cases of rescheduling or cancelling an appointment of the exam within 30 days of the appointment date, a candidate will be required to pay a rescheduling fee to Prometric. Appointments cannot be rescheduled or cancelled within 72 hours of the scheduled appointment. Appointments cannot be rescheduled to another testing window. It is obligatory on the part of a candidate to sit for an exam during the testing window for which he has purchased an authorization as IMA does not entertain authorizations to another testing window.

The CMA Entrance Fee is not refundable. The examination fee is refundable within 30 days from the time the candidate purchased the exam and if no appointment has been set with Prometric. A processing fee will be subtracted from the refund.

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