CMA Exam prep: How to best prepare for the CMA Exam

In order to earn the CMA certification, candidates must pass both parts of the CMA Exam. Preparation for the CMA Exam is the key to its success. Becker helps CMA candidates prepare for both parts of the exam with the best CMA Exam prep. Preparing for the CMA Exam requires a significant investment of time and energy, but we’re dedicated to helping you succeed and earn the certification.

CMA Exam study tips

Before you begin preparation for the CMA Exam, you need to understand the exam's content and structure. It includes two parts: part 1 covers Financial Planning, Performance and Analytics, while part 2 covers Strategic Financial Management. Learn more about the CMA Exam topics and structure here.

The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) recommends spending between 150 and 170 hours of studying per exam part. Over 300 hours of CMA Exam prep doesn't come easy especially if you're also working full-time to meet the CMA experience requirement. There are several things you can do to help make the most of your CMA prep time, including following these helpful study tips:

1. Use a CMA Exam prep course

Using the best CMA Exam prep will make your CMA study journey much easier and increase your chances of passing on your first attempt. A CMA certification test prep course will help you study the CMA Exam’s most important concepts, especially those that you’re struggling to grasp fully. Becker’s Adapt2U Technology assesses what you already know and where you need the most assistance in order to pass the CMA Exam. The bottom line: you’ll be studying smarter, not harder.

2. Decide which part you're taking first

You can take parts one and two of the CMA Exam in any order. Your choice should depend on which part you feel the most prepared for -if you know most content in Part 1 already, you may want to consider taking that part first as it will require the least amount of study time. Review the IMA’s Content Specification Outline for the CMA Exam to determine which key topics you’re most familiar with, and which part you’re ready to prepare for first.

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3. Build a realistic study plan

Building a realistic study plan that is based on your work and personal schedule will ensure that you’re setting aside dedicated study time. Set realistic study goals each week to stay on track and organize when you'll cover each of the CMA Exam’s key topics. The IMA provides a learning outcome document that details exactly what you need to know for each section of the CMA Exam. Keep this information handy as you’re building your study plan.

4. Create a productive study environment

Where you study is important -it determines how focused you’ll be. Set yourself up for success by creating a designated study spot with limited distractions, so when it’s time to study you’re ready to jump right into your CMA Exam prep.

CMA Exam prep

Each part of the CMA Exam includes 100 multiple-choice questions and 10-12 essay questions. The multiple-choice questions are presented first. You must score at least 50% on the multiple-choice questions in order to move onto the essay questions.

As you study for the multiple-choice sections of the exams, remember that practice makes perfect. Becker’s accounting exam prep includes several tools to be sure that your study time is as effective as possible. The Becker simulated exams feature new questions that you’ve never seen before - not computer-generated mashups of past modules - written by knowledgeable instructors. Everything from timing to structure is based on the actual CMA Exam to help you prepare for the real exam day.

For the essay questions, both written and quantitative responses are required. Becker’s CMA Exam Review includes 70 essay questions that replicate how the essay section appears on exam day.

Becker’s CMA Exam Review also has unlimited practice tests and you can tailor everything from the topics to the number of questions to answer, including multiple-choice questions and essays.

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CMA Exam prep questions

As you start your CMA Exam prep, test your knowledge in the exam’s topics and review the exam’s question format with real CMA Exam prep questions.

Which of the following refers to a cost that remains the same as the volume of activity decreases within the relevant range?

A. Average cost per unit

B. Variable cost per unit

C. Unit fixed cost

D. Total variable cost


Choice “B” is correct. Variable cost per unit remains the same (constant) as the volume changes (increases or decreases). The total fixed cost remains the same as the volume of activity changes but the fixed cost per unit changes. The average cost per unit (comprising of variable and fixed costs) changes with changes in level of activity.

As the volume of activity decreases within the relevant range, the variable cost per unit would remain the same.

Choice “A” is incorrect. Since the fixed cost per unit increases when volume of activity decreases, the average cost per unit would increase.

Choice “C” is incorrect. The total fixed costs remain constant within relevant range of activity. However, the fixed cost per unit increases as volume decreases.

Choice “D” is incorrect. The total variable costs decrease with the decrease in volume.

The JoyT Company manufactures Maxi Dolls for sale in toy stores. In planning for this year, JoyT estimated variable factory overhead of $600,000 and fixed factory overhead of $400,000. JoyT uses a standard costing system, and factory overhead is allocated to units produced on the basis of standard direct labor hours. The denominator level of activity budgeted for this year was 10,000 direct labor hours, and JoyT used 10,300 actual direct labor hours.

Based on the output accomplished during this year, 9,900 standard direct labor hours should have been used. Actual variable factory overhead was $596,000, and actual fixed factory overhead was $410,000 for the year. Based on this information, the variable overhead spending variance for JoyT for this year was:

A. $24,000 unfavorable.

B. $2,000 unfavorable.

C. $4,000 favorable.

D. $22,000 favorable.


Choice “D” is correct. When many facts are given, the candidate has to discern which components are relevant. A spending variance is favorable when actual costs are below expectations (budget). Answer choices can often be eliminated by determining whether the variance is unfavorable or favorable before completing all of the calculations.

Variable overhead spending variance is calculated as follows: Variable overhead spending variance = Actual hours x (Actual rate -Standard rate)Variable overhead spending variance = 10,300 x [($596,000 / 10,300) -($600,000 / 10,000)]Variable overhead spending variance = $22,000 favorableThe variable overhead is favorable because the actual rate (~$58) is less than the standard rate ($60).

Choice “A” is incorrect. This answer incorrectly computes the variable overhead spending variance based on the difference between the budgeted variable and actual variable factory overhead multiplied by the standard rate.

Choice “B” is incorrect. This answer incorrectly computesthe variable overhead spending variance based on the difference between the budgeted variable factory overhead and fixed factory overhead divided by the budgeted activity level.

Choice “C” is incorrect. This answer incorrectly computes the variable overhead spending variance based on the difference between the budgeted variable factory overhead and the actual variable factory overhead.

A company writes a new artificial intelligence program to detect fraudulent credit card transactions. The team of analysts builds a training data set with various types of known fraudulent activity as well as an equal quantity of legitimate transactions so that the AI program can learn to distinguish between the two. After training the AI with this data set, the company tests the AI program by deploying it to detect fraud in credit card transactions within the retail sector. The company sees astonishingly poor results from the program. Which of the following describes the likely cause of this failure?

I. The training data did not resemble the situation the AI program would encounter after deployment. It should have used the same types of transactions.

II. The ratio of fraud to non-fraud should be the same in the training data as is expected after deployment.

III. After training the AI, a separate data set should be used for testing before deployment in order to determine the effectiveness of the application.

A. I, II, and III.

B. I and II only.

C. II and III only.

D. I and III only.


Choice “A” is correct. All of these errors contributed to the failure of the AI program. Training this type of program is a very complex and lengthy process. The unit of measurement for how much computing power is spent training is the amount of processing the human brain is theoretically capable of in a year, and developers count those by the hundreds.

Training data must resemble the data that the AI program is expected to encounter once it is deployed. As many different examples as possible, of the same type of transaction that it will be asked to evaluate, should be within the training data set. Furthermore, the training data set as a whole should contain approximately the same ratio of fraud to non-fraud as is expected after deployment. If the AI program is trained to expectfraud half of the time, it will build a decision algorithm that will expect, and therefore declare, fraud about half of the time. Because an AI program can be trained into dysfunction, a testing phase should always be undertaken with different data to evaluate the program's readiness for deployment.

Choice "B" is incorrect. These probably contributed to the AI program's ineffectiveness, but the other options likely did as well.

Choice "C" is incorrect. These possibly led to the AI's ineffectiveness, butthe other options probably did as well.

Choice "D" is incorrect. The program's lack of performance could most likely be related to these choices, but so could the others.

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