Studying for the CMA Exam is much faster and easier when you follow a study plan. Managing your time will not only help you reduce stress, but your entire CMA study experience will be more productive. 

  • Save time by increasing the power of your study sessions  
  • Study in a way that builds good test-taking habits  
  • Reduce exam overwhelm and walk in feeling focused and confident  
  • Increase your odds of passing on the first try

Here are Surgent’s eight CMA study tips to make your experience as productive and effective as possible. Paired with our CMA Exam prep, ensure that you’ll study less and pass faster. 

1. Choose quality CMA Exam study sessions over quantity of hours

Did you know that the quantity of multiple-choice questions and hours does not equal success? This is one of the biggest misconceptions about exam prep CMA candidates face. 

Let’s say you tell yourself – “I will power through 20 practice questions in my daily sessions.” You’ll likely get through the questions as quickly as possible whenever you have some time.   

But practicing working at this fast pace is harmful. In fact, practicing rushing through questions is detrimental to your exam day performance.   

Instead, plan to have a study session when you are in a productive mindset, and do not get up until you answer 80% of every group of 10 questions correctly. That way, you are building a habit of thoroughly working through questions.  

2. Practice your tempo in CMA practice exams

Studying is like training for a marathon. You’ll need to practice answering questions at a steady pace in your studies to ensure you have enough time on the exam.   

As a general rule, aim for one minute per MCQ on average. Some will take longer, but the better you get at keeping the easier MCQs around a minute, the more cushion you will give yourself on exam day. 

3. Take practice exams in an environment similar to the CMA Exam

Mimicking an exam environment means getting uncomfortable during your practice tests. Try sitting at a computer with minimal breaks, working in a different room than you typically study, and using a computer you’re unfamiliar with.   

Practice as you play – taking exam environments into consideration during your studies will better prepare you for the big day.

4. Rely on study apps to give you a boost

You want to study as efficiently as possible, and 8-hour straight study days might not be as productive as they sound. If you find yourself getting side-tracked or easily distracted while you’re trying to study, you might be pushing too hard for too long. Your learning style may require a new approach. 

Luckily, there are plenty of study-time based apps out there that time how long you study and build in breaks for you. Popular techniques have you study for 20 minutes and take a ten-minute break; some have longer or shorter durations.   

Play with some of these apps and find a good study to rest ratio that works for you. You’ll find you’re more refreshed before studying and it’s easier to get through large amounts of material.   

Here are a few apps that you could try:

  • Focus Booster – This web/mobile app uses the Pomodoro method, which means you’ll study in timed spurts. Maximize your focus and use the app to measure the effectiveness of each session.   
  • Focus Keeper – This web/mobile app has both a time and background noise feature. Listen to nature or rainfall as you work to drown out distractions.   
  • Surgent CMA Review – Remember that Surgent’s CMA Review course has built-in planning and progress features. Measure your predicted score in real-time, see which areas you need more help with and follow a guided plan to reduce admin work. Better still, the Surgent Companion App lets you study from mobile devices and sync your progress back to your course.  

5. Turn off social media while you study for the CMA Exam

Social media is one of the biggest distractions we face. One minute you’re checking your notifications, and an hour later you find yourself spiraling out of control watching cat videos. And who’s to blame you – the apps are designed to be addictive!  

Limit your access to social media while studying. You can leverage an app, have a friend change your password, or put your phone in another room while you study. Removing the temptation will help you maintain your study focus.

6. Plan your social days in advance (and let people know)

Just like social media, your social life can be a distraction from zoning in on your studies. Studying is hard work, so it’s easy to jump at last-minute plans to give yourself an excuse.   

The reality is, if you really want to pass the CMA exam, you need to accept that your social life should take a backseat.  

Plan your social days in advance and let people know when you’re available. If you like to get outside on the weekends, make Saturday a social day and let friends know it’s the only day of the week you’re available.   

This solidifies break days for you to go out and have fun and prevents your friends from tempting you through invitations on your busy days.  

7. Use a learning-based study planner

Planning out study time is one of the most effective ways to make sure you’re studying enough. But who has time to sit down and pencil out a study plan every week?  

Learning-based study planners, like Surgent’s, do that for you. They take note of what you’ve learned, what you need to learn and when you’re taking the exam. Follow a pre-built study plan each day.   

When you can sit down and immediately start studying (instead of planning what to study), you’ll save time. 

8. Debrief and continuously improve

Take 15 minutes or so at the end of each week to evaluate how the week went. Did you study as much as you liked? Did you stick to your daily plans? Did you feel your study to rest ratio was correct?  

Evaluating your week can help you find weaknesses in the way (and amount of time) that you study. Maybe you found your 4-hour long study sessions were incredibly boring and inefficient. In that case, switch to a different length of study time or consider adding more breaks.  

Or maybe you realized that you prefer flashcards, audio lectures or mock exams to textbooks. It’s important to reflect on which study materials boost retention for you. 

Over time, you’ll uncover what works for you and what doesn’t.  

With a few small changes and some forward-thinking planning, you can be on your way to passing both parts of the CMA exam as quickly as possible.

Become a Certified Management Accountant while studying less

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