Preparing for CMA Essays and Problems
“Practice, practice, practice” may get you to Carnegie Hall, but if you want to gain prestige and advance your career by becoming a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), you’ll need “preparation, preparation, preparation.”
Achieving a passing score of 360 (out of 500) on the CMA Exam requires a lot of studying, dedication and hard work. You’ll take the exam in two parts, each including a three-hour section with 100 multiple-choice questions, followed by a one-hour essay section comprising 10-12 written response or calculation questions based on typical business scenarios.
As with most things in life, working smart on your CMA Exam prep is just as important as working hard. Here are a few tips that will help you prepare for CMA Exam questions and essays in the most efficient and effective ways possible.
CMA Exam prep tips
- Know the CMA Exam topics
Before you begin CMA Exam prep in earnest, it’s a good idea to review the Content Specification Outlines from the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) in their entirety. This will ensure you have a comprehensive grasp of the topics covered by the exam and give you a foundation on which you can build your study plan.
Here are the Core Competencies of the CMA Exam, which you can review in greater detail in the outlines:
Part 1 – Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics
- External Financial Reporting Decisions
- Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting
- Performance Management
- Cost Management
- Internal Controls
- Technology and Analytics
Part 2 – Strategic Financial Management
- Financial Statement Analysis
- Corporate Finance
- Decision Analysis
- Risk Management
- Investment Decisions
- Professional Ethics
- Use a CMA Exam review course
You don’t have to do this alone! A CMA Exam review course can help you study more effectively and better retain information through interactive modules, digital flashcards, practice tests, online resources and more. The Becker CMA Exam Review course includes several features to ensure that you get the most from your CMA Exam prep time.
Our Adapt2U Technology constantly assesses your knowledge as you study, allowing you to focus more on the areas where you need the most help. At the end of every unit, our AI technology creates an adaptive review session to test your knowledge and help you become more proficient.
Becker also offers unlimited practice tests. You can customize your progress tests to focus on your weaknesses and take as many practice tests as you need as you prepare for the CMA Exam.
- Build a study plan
Now that you know what’s on the test and you’ve brought in some backup, you’ll want to create a study plan to better organize your efforts.
Your plan should include specific times dedicated to studying each topic on the CMA Exam. This helps prevent procrastination and ensures you have enough time to cover everything—as well as review your weakest topics until you’ve got them down. If you’re currently working a full-time job, building a detailed study plan is even more critical.
Everyone’s study plan will be different, and your plan will likely evolve as you discover the topics for which you’re already proficient and those where you need the most work. But be careful of using that as an excuse not to create a plan at all. Don’t “wing it”—unless you want to crash and burn.
Instead, include flexibility and room for changes within your plan. For instance, you might want to leave increasingly more study slots empty as you get closer to the exam date, with the intention of filling them in as you gain a greater understanding of the topics that require the most work and repetition for you to master.
- Take CMA practice exams
The more practice tests you take, the more confident and comfortable you’ll be on the day of the CMA Exam. The Becker CMA Exam Review course offers unlimited CMA practice exams that include multiple-choice CMA Exam questions covering every exam topic, along with 70 essay questions that replicate how the essay section appears on exam day.
Taking practice tests helps you grow more familiar with the testing environment, enables you to retain more knowledge and sharpens your overall test-taking skills and multiple-choice strategy—which is especially important if you’ve been out of school for a while.
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