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The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) has announced changes for the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Exam starting in January of 2020. The announcement comes after the most recent job analysis study conducted by IMA revealed changes in the job market reported by over 2,000 current practicing professionals in the field. IMA’s goal is to make the CMA Exam as relevant to the current professional environment as possible in order to prepare CMA candidates for a dynamic career as a finance or accounting professional. Below, we’ll talk about the major exam changes you need to be aware of, as well as what will be staying the same in 2020.

What’s Changing

Both sections of the CMA Exam will be changing as of January 2020 to ensure the exam reflects the current skill set required of a CMA in the work environment. Let’s cover the new topics on each exam part below.

Changes to Part 1

The first big change to Part 1 is the title. The 2019 title is Financial Reporting, Planning, Performance and Control. The new title will be Financial Planning, Performance and Analytics. The content will be changing to reflect a heavier emphasis on technology in the workplace. As technology becomes a bigger part of the profession, IMA wants to ensure candidates are adequately prepared to tackle technology related problems.

The new content on the exam will emphasize Technology and Analytics, as well as Integrated Reporting. Internal Auditing has been removed from the exam content.

Since new content areas are being added to the exam in 2020, the weighting of each area has also changed. See below for updated content area changes, including a new section:

  • 1. External Financial Reporting Decisions
    2019 Percentage – 15%
    2020 Percentage – 15%
  • 2. Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting
    2019 Percentage – 30%
    2020 Percentage – 20%
  • 3. Performance Management
    2019 Percentage – 20%
    2020 Percentage – 20%
  • 4. Cost Management
    2019 Percentage – 20%
    2020 Percentage – 15%
  • 5. Internal Controls
    2019 Percentage – 15%
    2020 Percentage – 15%
  • 6. Technology and Analytics
    2019 Percentage – 0%
    2020 Percentage – 15%

Changes to Part 2

Similar to Part 1, the first big change on Part 2 is the title. The 2019 title is Financial Decision Making, whereas the new title will be Strategic Financial Management. As the business environment becomes more digital and technologically advanced, IMA wants to ensure CMA professionals have the correct skillset and training to make strategic, ethical decisions.

The new content on the exam will focus heavily on Business Ethics. Sustainability and Social Responsibility will also be added as new content to account for many stakeholder’s growing concern for the sustainability of organizations. Off-Balance Sheet Financing, Bankruptcy, and Tax Implications of Transfer Pricing will be removed from the exam content.

Since new content areas are being added to the exam in 2020, the weighting of each area has also changed. See below for updated content area changes:

  • 1. Financial Statement Analysis
    2019 Percentage – 25%
    2020 Percentage – 20%
  • 2. Corporate Finance
    2019 Percentage – 20%
    2020 Percentage – 20%
  • 3. Decision Analysis
    2019 Percentage – 20%
    2020 Percentage – 25%
  • 4. Risk Management
    2019 Percentage – 10%
    2020 Percentage – 10%
  • 5. Investment Decisions
    2019 Percentage – 15%
    2020 Percentage – 10%
  • 6. Professional Ethics
    2019 Percentage – 10%
    2020 Percentage – 15%

What’s Not Changing

The exam structure will not be changing. The exam will remain a two-part exam, and each exam will continue to be four hours with 100 multiple choice questions and 2 essays. A passing score will continue to be 360 out of 500. Exam fees, testing windows, eligibility to take the exam, and the registration process will remain the same.

Should You Sit for the Exam Before 2020?

Whether you should sit for the exam in 2019 or 2020 depends on where you are in the exam taking process. Since it’s still June of 2019, you likely have enough time to sit for both exams before the year is up and the 2020 exam changes are implemented. However, if you’re planning on waiting until later in the year to take the exam, you may want to wait until 2020.

The good news is, you don’t have to take both exams with the new format. You can take the old version of Part 1 of the exam in 2019 and the new version of Part 2 of the exam in 2020 since both exams will be within the 3-year passing window.

The only thought to consider is your exam study materials. You want to make sure you have an updated review course if you are taking the exam in 2020 and aren’t studying 2019 exam information. That’s why you should give Surgent CMA Review a try. Surgent provides free, automatic content updates to all CMA Exam materials, so even if you purchase exam materials this year but don’t sit until 2020, you’ll have all the updated information you need to pass.

The same is true if you’re planning on waiting until 2020 to pass the exam: make sure you have the correct exam materials for the new exam.


See how Surgent CMA Review can help you pass before or after the exam changes!

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Whether you decide to sit for the exam in 2019 to avoid the exam changes or in 2020, it’s good to be aware of the changes to the management accounting profession and the role you’ll be expected to fill once you’ve passed the CMA Exam and earned your CMA certification.

 

Liz Kolar, CPA, CGMA, has been teaching Exam Review for more than 25 years in the United States, has personally taught more than 2,500 live sessions, and has helped thousands of candidates pass the CPA Exam, as well as other professional exams. including the CMA. She founded Pinnacle CPA Review and co-founded Surgent Exam Review.