CMA Study Group

Preparing for CMA exams

  • 1.  Preparing for CMA exams

    Posted 25 days ago

    Hello everyone,

    I have recently passed both parts of my CMA exams and I really enjoyed my preparation. I would like to share my experience so that others can benefit from it in pursuing their CMA.

    1. Mental preparation: It is crucial that you constantly remind yourself how difficult this exam is and think about all the benefits that holding a CMA certification could provide. During my preparation I'd frequently look up the benefits of CMA and read about candidates who have successfully completed the curriculum (this can be found on the last two pages of Strategic Finance magazine provided to registered members of IMA). Also, I kept few positive assertions close to me to keep reminding me that I'm capable of doing this. Simple assertions like: "I'm strong, I'm confident, I'm smart and I'm capable of achieving anything I put my heart into." Mental preparation is the key, don't underestimate it. The goal is not to be scared but to acknowledge the mountain you must climb.
    2. Registering for the exam: For both parts of the exam I only registered after I was halfway through my study material (SM). This helped me in assessing how long would it take to finish the other half of the SM. Once you know how long it'd take to finish the SM, add one month of cushion for reviewing and taking a LOTTTTTTTT of practice questions. If you're like me and you've been out of touch with studying for over 10 years then you will need to provide yourself with a grace period to adjust to studying again. For CMA part 1 it took me 6-7 months of preparation where first 2 months I was struggling with sitting down and focusing. For the part 2 exam I was able to finish all the materials and take the exam in about 3.5 months. It's a long-term investment of time and effort, so plan accordingly.
    3. Study material – I don't want to discuss which study material I picked openly as this could discourage some people if they have invested in the study materials already. But speaking from experience, all study materials have their own strength and weaknesses, but they all do an amazing job in preparing the candidates. I can discuss the further privately, if interested.
    4. Studying for the exam: I chose a very simple strategy to study, and I'll break it down in steps:
      1. Order: When you're going through the material, study in the same order the material has been prepared. Don't skip chapters to tackle easy chapters first or vice versa. Build and continue a rhythm.
      2. Notes: For each chapter make separate notes for yourself. Either you can make notes using a notebook, like I did, or make flashcards that you can carry anywhere. Key point is to make it descriptive enough to review frequently and be able to understand the context.
      3. Studying: I kept a simple flow for studying. I started with studying the first chapter and took my notes Then moved on to practice questions for the first chapter (2-3 practice exams with 15-20 questions). Repeat this for chapter 2. But before moving on to chapter 3 I'd do a cumulative practice exam on chapters 1 & 2. Continue this pattern until the last chapter. Let's summarize this - Study the chapter, take notes, do the chapter related practice exam, then take a cumulative exam with all the previous chapters included. Key is to maintain 70% and above in all the practice exams. When you sign up for CMA, be prepared for lots of practice exams, that's the only way to learn the concepts well. After finishing each chapter, I spent 1-2 days reviewing notes from the old/previous chapters. This way I continue refreshing myself with the older contents.
      4. Essay questions: I didn't spend more than 1-2 days over essay preparation. You will be well prepared for essay questions if you follow step c above and spend some time to understand the material well. Only thing you need to know about essay is how do you format your answers so that you don't waste too much time during the exam thinking about the most efficient way to respond to the question. So, glance over some previous year essay questions and look at how the answer is formatted. You will know the content for your essay question once you have understood the concepts from each chapter. If you don't understand the concepts well from the chapters, then practicing essay is not going to be much of a use.
    5. Conclusion: When you're studying for CMA make sure you know the fact that there are tons and tons of concepts to learn and understand. Understanding is the key here, and this understanding comes from taking lots and lots of practice exams and learning from your mistakes. I practiced with 1,500 questions on average for each part. Also, equally important is that you review your materials repeatedly. If you continue to review your previous chapters throughout the curriculum, you will save yourself from a lot of frustration that comes toward the end of the study material when you can't remember 70-90% of what you have studied in previous chapters. Therefore, review previous chapters as soon as you finish studying for a new chapter in the study material. Also, create a small group with people who are taking the same exam during the same month you're registered to take it. This will motivate you further to be on track. Lastly, take lots and lots of practice questions (learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable). On days when you're scheduled to take practice exams and don't feel like taking them, force yourself to take 5-10 questions at least!!! Challenge yourself everyday to climb a little more of that mountain, soon you'll be on the top! 😊

    I really hope this helps.

    Good luck!!

    Jobin Thomas



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    Jobin Thomas
    Analyst
    Warwick PA
    United States
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  • 2.  RE: Preparing for CMA exams

    Posted 24 days ago
    Dear Jobin,

    I completely second your thoughts.. My process of preparing was almost similar to the pattern you explained. And it really works! Cleared my Part 1 that way and now preparing for Part 2.

    It was really thoughtful of you to put complete structure for benefit of others..

    All the best to you.

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    Abdul Naser Parkar
    Analyst
    Al Nasr, Al Sadd Doha
    Qatar
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  • 3.  RE: Preparing for CMA exams

    Posted 24 days ago
    Hi Abdul,

    Congratulations on passing part 1! and thank you for the acknowledgement.

    I was really clueless when I first picked up the book to prepare for CMA in 2020, and I know there are several people out there with such feelings when they think about taking such standardized exams. I wanted to give back a little from my experience to help others who are riding the same boat that I did.

    I received an overwhelming response in private messages and this speaks volumes for how much people appreciate a simple guidance.

    Good luck for part 2!!

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    Jobin Thomas
    Analyst
    Warwick PA
    United States
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  • 4.  RE: Preparing for CMA exams

    Posted 23 days ago
    Hi John Thomas,

    I would like you ask which study materials you use for the preparation for the exams?

    Thanks

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    Lakhwinder Hans
    Student
    Canada
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  • 5.  RE: Preparing for CMA exams

    Posted 23 days ago
    Hello Lakhwinder,

    Ok, so here it is. I used the Gleim self study material. I was very confused between Wiley and Gleim, however I went with Gleim and I was really happy with the choice. Again, as I mentioned above most study materials do a great job in preparing the candidates. Whichever material you pick, just make sure you have plenty of practice questions to work with, at least 2000 or more. Also, make sure they provide explanations for not just the right answers but the wrong answers as well. You need to understand why the wrong answers are wrong.

    If you decide to go with Gleim, then I'd request you to reach out to the point of contact below. She was very knowledgeable and helped me get all my questions answered when I was picking Gleim.Β 
    Debbie Martin
    Corporate Account Executive
    & CPE Administrator 800-874-5346 ext. 414
    Good luck!

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    Jobin Thomas
    Analyst
    Warwick PA
    United States
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  • 6.  RE: Preparing for CMA exams

    Posted 23 days ago
    I want to thank everyone who sent me messages privately (and here) acknowledging the value in the above post. I received an overwhelming response and I'm happy that many of you found the post useful. I have created a video content of this post to be able to share this information beyond just this community. I'm not a professional content maker, so please excuse my lack of video editing knowledge. I really hope that you find this helpful, and if you do then please like and share with other who can benefit from this information. I really hope to reach out to those candidates who are starting this journey and have many questions regarding CMA preparation. Thank you.

    Link: Preparing and Registering for CMA

    Best regards,
    Jobin

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    Jobin Thomas
    Analyst
    Warwick PA
    United States
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  • 7.  RE: Preparing for CMA exams

    Posted 22 days ago
    Hello Jobin,

    I am also using Gleim too and will have the Part 1 exam in next month. I studied all the materials of part 1 and answered T/F questions after each sub-chapter. I have been re-studying again the whole materials now + practicing quiz tests. I just want to ask when you took the Part 1 exam, how did you find the similarity between Gleim's practice questions with real-exam questions, or they are completely different?

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    TRUC ANH TRAN
    Analyst
    Santa Ana CA
    United States
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  • 8.  RE: Preparing for CMA exams

    Posted 21 days ago
    I used Gleim too and passed both parts. For me, I didn't see as many as sophisticated calculation in exam as in Gleim practice. But if you can get all the concepts behind the problems, you will be ok with the exam.

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    Lan Yin
    Accountant
    Wexford PA
    United States
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  • 9.  RE: Preparing for CMA exams

    Posted 19 days ago
    Hi all,

    Same for me, how do you see the comparison between practice questions and the 'real' exam? Any tips to make sure that I fill in the gap, if needed? So far i can keep repeating chapters and accumulating everything above 80%, but offcourse afraid that I am missing something.

    Looking forward hearing from you Jobin and thanks on the explanation.

    Kind regards, Tim (from the Netherlands)

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    Tim Crispijn
    Controller
    Hazerswoude Rijndijk
    Netherlands
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  • 10.  RE: Preparing for CMA exams

    Posted 18 days ago
    Hi Tim,

    I used Gleim and passed Part 1 with high score with securing approx 1 hour for the essay, so may be able to help you.
    (by the way, if you want to know the tips to save time on MCQs, let me know.)

    First of all, you have to know that there's no single answer to your question about the similarity, because those who understand well all the concepts should see no any difference between practices and the actual, because they only do the same thing; understand what's "really" asked, find necessary info and pick right answer. However, those who tend to only remember the question and can answer them on specific online materials will definitely feel lost in the actual exam, without realizing it's only the wordings that are different from practice materials and everything else are quite the same.

    One way to figure out how much you really understand the concept is to try the retired questions that come with the CMA Support Package under timed environment. This way you can figure out what I meant above; they look totally different from what you've been solving online and might seem difficult at first glance, but they actually aren't. If you feel comfortable answering them, probably you are ready. If not, then it might be that you are only used to the online resource you've been using, but not really understanding the concept.

    Good luck.

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    Eisuke
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