CMA Exam: How To Crash It In Your First Attempt

CMA Exam: How To Crash It In Your First Attempt

The prestige of CMA

The Institute of Management Accountants or IMA is one of the prestigious associations for professionals who are connected in finance and accounting. It is also the same association that provides prestige and title of the Certified Management Accountant or CMA designation. Its sole objective is to ensure that only the highest ethics and best business practices are being followed in the world of accounting and finance.

Passing the Certified Management Accounting exam allows you to earn the title of a Certified Management Accountant. To do so, one must be able to understand and learn all the theories and applications covered in preparing financial statements, concepts of money and the like.


What is the entire course of the CMA all about? 

Indeed, the credential held by the title Certified Management Accountant is one of the most sought after qualifications that people connected to accounting are vying for. It is of this reason that the exam needed to earn this title can be very difficult and challenging. However, this doesn’t mean that it is not doable. All it takes is proper preparation, focus and determination.

There are 3 steps for one to achieve the CMA designation.  The first step is learning the basic foundation of the CMA, next is the more intermediate level and finally, the last stage. If you are already an undergrad of a degree related to CMA, then you are on your way to the intermediate level already. However, if you haven’t taken any related degree yet, then you have to undergo the first step- and that is the foundation.

In the first foundation, there are 4 subjects to it. These are the following:

  1. Fundamentals of economics and management
  2. Fundamentals of accounting
  3. Fundamentals of laws and ethics
  4. Fundamentals of business mathematics and statistics

The CMA Intermediate level has 8 topics in it. These are the following:

  1. Financial accounting
  2. Laws, ethics and governance
  3. Company accounts and audit
  4. Direct taxation
  5. Indirect taxation
  6. Cost accounting and financial management
  7. Operations managements and information system
  8. Cost and management accounting

Finally, the CMA Final step consists of the following subjects or topics:

  1. Corporate Laws and compliance
  2. Tax management and practice
  3. Corporate financial reporting
  4. Cost and management audit
  5. Financial analysis and business evaluation
  6. Advanced financial management
  7. Business strategy and strategic cost management
  8. Strategic performance management


How can I start studying on the CMA?

Planning on taking the CMA can be quite a hassle especially if you don’t know where and how to start. Thankfully, this is a good guide for you to follow:

  • Acquire a Bachelor’s Degree related in finance, accounting or economics

When studying for the CMA, this should presuppose the fact that you have already acquired the necessary backgrounds, particularly taking a course that may be related to business, management, accounting or marketing. You may also consider applying for any related internship especially if you are still studying.

  • Acquire the necessary work experiences

It is required that you take at least 2 years of continuous work related to this field. It may include auditing, accounting, budgeting or financial analysis.

  • Apply for membership application in the Institute of Management Accountants

You may apply for such membership even though you are still a student or you are already working in a relative field. Membership fees may vary. Once doing so, consider yourself qualified to take the final gauge to see how well you have learned enough on CMA. The CMA exam may be taken within a span of 3 years after you have applied and paid for the membership fee.


Is the CMA exam really difficult? If so, how much time should I spend studying for it?

No exam is really difficult especially if you have prepared enough time, resources and perseverance to make it possible. In the case of the CMA exam, one may dedicate at least an average minimum number of 10 hours on a weekly basis so you may be able to read and learn enough. Of course, you also have to consider the time if you are close to the exam or not yet.

What is the exam type, format and the duration of the whole CMA exam?

When taking the actual exam, one is only given 4 hours in order to finish the whole exam. It is a 2-part exam where part 1 covers the topics of Financial reporting, planning, performance and control; while part 2 covers financial decision making.

Each of the parts of the exam also contains multiple choice questions and essays. The multiple choice questions have 100 points and compose 75% of your final score in one part of the exam. If you get lower than 50% of the multiple choice question, then sorry but you are no longer eligible to take the essay questions on a particular part of the exam. After the multiple choice questions come the essay part which is composed of 2-3 questions. The same exam type is also provided for Set B of the exam. All in all, the whole exam provides a total of 200 points for Multiple Choices questions and 4-6 questions for essay.

The multiple choice questions can be very complicated. Thus, it is important to be keen on how the words are being used all throughout the question. Thus, it is important to carefully read the questions. Usually, it offers 4 different variable options; having two more options that appear to respond to the question.

The essay type can be more situational as it presents scenario based problems where you provide the best answer which may require mathematical solutions.


How much does a CMA exam cost?

The entire program of the CMA would cost you around $225.00. However, if you are a student or a member of IMA, you are eligible for a discount fee which is $150 off. For each part of the exam, it may cost from $300 or $350- of course, this would depend entirely on the manner on how you register and how near or far you will about to take the said exam. Thus, this would totally cost you around $600 to $700. There is also a maintenance fee annually for CMA which is at $30.00.


What is the passing rate for CMA exam?

Instead of percentage rates, the passing mark for a CMA exam is express in scaled scores. The highest is 500 while the lowest would naturally be 0. If you get a score of at least 360, then congratulations, you have passed the CMA exam!


One cannot stress further the importance of taking this exam. This is how a certified management accountant hones his skill and expertise so he can practice his profession with confidence and pride.

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Sean Dean

Sean Dean

Sean is the Senior Exam Consultant in OneCMA.