CMA Exam Tips

Nuts & Bolts of CMA Exam

The most significant 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 become an accountant that designation itself does not put matters to rest. Every professional desires growth and 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 of 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 detail to help you decide whether this course is the right choice for you. We believe that investing in a suitable method 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 will the article 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 economic body has been providing general services and benefits catering to the needs of 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.
  • Becoming a CMA is very smooth, thanks to the efficient management of the IMA body. The IMA has provided an apparent 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.

On average, CMA certificate holders enjoy 63% higher compensation than their non-CMA peers. In the age range of 20-29, the CMA certificate holders get 33% higher salaries as compared to non-CMA peers.

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

The details about the program are enunciated below.

Becker CMA Review
  • Live Online Classes
  • 3,000+ multiple choice questions
  • Printed Textbooks
  • 5 one-hour 1-on-1 academic tutoring sessions
  • Unlimited Access: Yes!
  • 500+ digital flashcards
  • 70 essay questions
  • 2-part review courses
  • 1-year CPE subscription – $699 value!
Get $700 Discount (Limited Period Offer)

About the CMA Exam

The Certified  Management Accountant is a professional certification in financial management and advanced accounting that qualifies a professional to mete out responsibility related to the arena, which is highly respected by employers worldwide. A CMA acquires knowledge and skills in financial planningFinancial PlanningFinancial planning is a structured approach to understanding your current and future financial goals and then taking the necessary measures to accomplish them. Because this does not begin and end in a specific time frame, it is referred to as an ongoing more, 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 organizationsNot-for-profit OrganizationsA not-for-profit organization refers to a legal entity that isn't created to generate profits or revenue for its owners but aims at social, educational, religious or public welfare and service. Such an organization is tax-exempted and run through donations or any other income it more, 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 hours each.
  • Exam Dates: Part Part II Exams and I 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

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

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 succeed in the business environment. The certified program’s visibility is increasing and is the most preferred choice to boost career prospects by professionals not only from the US but also in 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 system and the practical lessons it imparts. The CMA curriculum is explicitly designed to mirror real-world applications that are in practice in the financial and accounting sector.  And lastly, the self-evident reason CMA designation holders are paid 63% more than their non-certified colleagues.

Top CMA Networks

The top 500 companies in the world have hired the CMA designation holders in critical positions. The 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
  • Part I concentrates on Financial Caterpillar
  • ConAgra
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Microsoft
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Saudi Aramco
  • Verizon
  • Xerox

CMA Exam Format

The CMA exam is divided into two parts, Part I and Part II. Part I concentrates on Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics, while Part II focuses on Strategic Financial Management. The exam gives added emphasis on 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 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 to receive credit. Parts 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 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 Analytics

CMA Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance, and AnalyticsWeightage
External Financial Reporting Decisions15%
Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting20%
Performance Management20%
Cost Management15%
Internal Controls15%
Technology and Analytics15%
CMA - Part 1 Subject Weightage

Part 2 – Strategic Financial Management

CMA Part 2: Strategic Financial ManagementWeightage
Financial Statement Analysis20%
Corporate Finance20%
Decision Analysis25%
Risk Management10%
Investment Decisions10%
Professional Ethics15%
CMA - Part 2 Subject Weightage

Source: IMA

CMA Examination Fees

CMA Exam fees

CMA Exam Results & Passing Rate

The candidates do not attain immediate pass/fail results because the essay questions are graded off-line. It is a too time-consuming and labor-intensiveLabor-intensiveLabor intensive implies those tasks which require a heavy workforce for accomplishment. In the production of goods and services, the industry is considered labour intensive if the manufacturing process relies more on human resource than more process, and IMA is committed to assuring 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 are 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 total score determines the pass/fail status of the candidate, and therefore it is not necessary for candidates to “pass” both 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 clear an exam successfully.  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 and 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. Globally, the pass rates for Part 1 and Part 2 conducted during January-February 2020 were 45% each. The historical pass rates for the 2-part exam are as follows:

CMA Exam Pass Rates

Exam Part20132014201520162017201820192020
Part 135%35%36%35%35%40%35%45%
Part 242%49%55%52%50%50%50%45%
CMA Exam Part 1 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 develop a strategy to study for the course so that you can effectively manage both your worlds and seamlessly blend several tasks into your routine.

CMA Exam Tips

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Take a Look at the CMA Resource Guide

The guide explains the examination and the types of questions you can be subjected to in the test. It also provides the relevant CSOs content Specifications outlines with references to relevant textbooks and sample questions. However, this is not enough; you also need to 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 group based on your site of difficulty in terms of the examination content.

Prepare, Test, Prepare

The best thing to do is test yourself with sample papers as soon as you finish a section of the topic. Give an exam, in the areas you specifically lagged, 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 track of the time and speed up. CMA exams are filled with lengthy and complicated questions. 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.

Becker CMA Review
  • Live Online Classes
  • 3,000+ multiple choice questions
  • Printed Textbooks
  • 5 one-hour 1-on-1 academic tutoring sessions
  • Unlimited Access: Yes!
  • 500+ digital flashcards
  • 70 essay questions
  • 2-part review courses
  • 1-year CPE subscription – $699 value!
Get $700 Discount (Limited Period Offer)

CMA Exam Scholarship Program

The IMA is committed in its endeavor to produce excellent accounting and management professionals. 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 are 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 canceling an appointment of the exam within 30 days of the appointment date, a candidate will be required to pay a rescheduling fee to Prometric. Charges cannot be rescheduled or canceled 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. 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 when the candidate purchased the exam, and if no appointment has been set with Prometric. A processing fee will be subtracted from the refund.

This has been a guide to CMA Exam Tips. Here we discuss a complete guide on what the CMA exam is, why you should pursue it, its fees, structure, passing strategies, tips, tricks, etc. You may also have a look at the following articles –

Reader Interactions


  1. Cliferd Ziglo says

    Thanks a lot Sir, you always come up with the great work. I found this article very helpful. Great work!! Also can you tell me the differences between CMA and CFA? What are the benefits of pursuing this both certifications?

  2. Kemuel Maddox says

    Thanks for sharing this complete guide on CMA exam. I also have a question that is what will be the salary of CMA?

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      My pleasure. Globally CMA earns more in median salary and 63% more in median total compensation than their non-CMA peers. Globally median salary is around $60,000 and the global median total compensation is around $66,000. I hope this was useful to you.

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