CMA exam study tips

What does the CMA credential certify?

The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is a professional credential in the management accounting and financial management fields. The CMA certification signifies that you’re knowledgeable in the areas of financial planning, analysis, control, decision support and professional ethics.

CMA exam study guide

In this CMA exam preparation study guide, you’ll find answers to your commonly-asked questions about the test.

Read on to learn about how Surgent ensures efficient, targeted test prep and to explore sample study materials. Spot something we didn’t cover? Send your question to info@surgent.com.

What’s inside the CMA exam?

Part of preparing for the CMA exam involves becoming familiar with the basics of the CMA exam sections and format. Knowing what to expect gives test-takers a higher chance of passing on the first try.

Here is the content you can expect within the CMA exam:

Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance and Analytics

15% – External Financial Reporting Decisions

20% – Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting

20% – Performance Management

15% – Cost Management

15% – Internal Controls

15% – Technology and Analytics

Part 2: Strategic Financial Management

20% – Financial Statement Analysis

20% – Corporate Finance

25% – Decision Analysis

10% – Risk Management

10% – Investment Decisions

15% – Professional Ethics

Top tips on how to pass the CMA exam

Make the most of CMA exam practice tests

In addition to knowing the makeup of the test, it’s important to be comfortable with the exam formatting. Practice exams can help.

Practice tests give you critical exposure to the tools and features you will see on exam day. They also alleviate anxiety and confusion about the exam interface. Practice tests should mirror actual exam questions and be timed to match the actual CMA exam. 

Surgent’s practice exams feature prior exam questions and realistic exam conditions to ensure that you’re well prepared.

Study intelligently

Studying for the CMA exam can be a challenging and time-consuming process. With a pass rate that hovers only around 43%, it’s clear that the exam is difficult.

But it doesn’t need to be. Your choice of course review provider matters — and the one you choose could be the difference between passing and failing. That’s why Surgent CMA Review prides itself on being the only adaptive CMA course in the market. (Get discounts here). Proprietary software identifies your weak areas and curates a personalized study plan based on what you don’t know. As you progress, the program adapts to make sure you’re always studying the most effectively. 

That’s why Surgent students are passing a CMA exam section after an average 61 hours of study.

Make use of existing knowledge

CMA candidates often think they need to start from scratch as they begin preparing for the exam. Rather, Surgent’s A.S.A.P.® Technology assesses a student’s prior knowledge to determine the best course of study to maximize learning while minimizing study hours. 

In addition, we recommend that test-takers sit for the exam as close to graduation from an accredited university as possible — so you can put those test-taking habits and skills to use. 

But candidates that have been out of school for a while need not worry — that’s where Surgent’s adaptive technology and hyper-personalized study plans step in.

Check your ReadySCORE™ ahead of exam day

No matter how many times you get the correct answers on a practice test, it can still feel like you’re not ready to sit for the CMA exam. That’s the very reason that Surgent created ReadySCORE — a one-of-a-kind exam-readiness metric that tells you what you would score if you sat for the CMA exam today. No more going in blind! 

Try Surgent CMA Exam Prep Review and practice questions for free today.

CMA exam FAQ

1. What job roles are common among CMAs?

While there are a lot of different roles that can benefit from the skillset that CMAs have, the most common job titles that CMAs pursue and hold are:

  • Management accountant
  • Financial analyst
  • Cost accountant
  • Accounting manager
  • Senior accountant
  • Corporate controller
  • Chief financial officer (CFO)

2. Do I need to get a CPA as well as my CMA?

You do not; however, if you’re considering both — great! While it is not required to hold both certifications, having two certifications will heighten your demand within the job market. Studying both also allows students to be time efficient, as some of the topics you’ll need to study for on the CPA exam will cross over to the CMA exam.

3. What salaries do CMAs typically earn?

We all know that when you’re investing time and money into something, you want to see a valuable return. Thankfully, IMA releases their global salary surveys that help you identify just what you could earn with a CMA — and in 2020, that was a 60% increase in pay over non-CMAs.

4. Will there be continuing education (CE) required to keep my CMA?

Yes. To keep your CMA after you pass the exam, you must complete 30 hours of CE per year, maintain membership in the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and pay annual dues.

5. What is IMA membership?

You must be a member of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) to sit for the CMA. Membership comes with multiple benefits, such as access to local chapters of other CMA professionals, continuing education opportunities and discounts and savings on events and publications.

6. Which part of the CMA exam should I take first?

The two exam parts are mutually exclusive. The order in which you complete them is completely up to you. We recommend that you take a close look at the CMA program syllabus to determine the section with which you feel most comfortable. You may wish to take that section first.

Sample CMA Questions and Answers (PDF download)

Click to download Surgent’s CMA Exam Questions and Answers PDF. This document will allow you to practice with real past CMA exam questions. You can download our CMA exam practice questions and answers document here.