The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam series is a series of exams developed by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). This exam series contains four parts, and it is necessary to pass all four exams to become certified. Three of the parts are computer-based multiple choice tests, and the fourth part is a computer-based essay section. The tests are administered by Prometric at centers around the United States and internationally.
Prior to registering for any part of the CMA exam, it is necessary to first join the Institute of Management Accountants. This can be done on their website, and the necessary entrance fee of $125 must also be paid at this time. In addition, certain education and experience requirements must also be fulfilled prior to registering for the CMA exam. Specific details about these requirements can be found on the IMA website.
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Registration for any part of the CMA exam may be done online on the IMA website, by calling IMA directly, or by faxing or mailing the application to IMA. A downloadable copy of the application can be found on the IMA website. On the application, the part of the exam that one wishes to take (one, two, three, or four) should be indicated, and all necessary exam fees must be paid as well.
After the application has been received and approved by IMA, the candidate will receive a registration acknowledgment. This acknowledgement contains an authorization number (or numbers, if signed up to take multiple parts of the exam), candidate instructions, and a testing window (or windows). The testing windows for parts one, two, and three of the exam are 120 days. The testing window for part 4 of the exam is one month.
Once these materials are received, the candidate then must schedule a testing appointment with Prometric. This can be done either online or via phone. Locations and testing times can be found on the Prometric website. The multiple choice parts of the examination (one, two, and three) can be taken any time during the year. Part four of the exam can only be taken in February, May, August, or November.
It is important to schedule the examination(s) with Prometric as soon as possible so the candidate can get their preferred testing date and time. It should be noted that parts one, two, and three must be passed before a candidate can register for and take part four of the CMA examination.
The CMA program consists of four separate CMA examinations. Parts one, two, and three are multiple choice exams and are computer-based in nature. Part four is also computer-based, but consists of written and quantitative responses. Part one of the exam deals with Business Analysis, and it consists of 100 multiple choice questions. These questions deal with the following topics:
- Business Economics (25%)
- Global Business (20%)
- Internal Controls (15%)
- Quantitative Methods (15%)
- Financial Statement Analysis (25%)
There are three hours to complete this part of the exam. Part two of the exam deals with Management Accounting and Reporting, and it consists of 140 multiple choice questions. These questions deal with the following topics:
- Budget Preparation (15%)
- Cost Management (25%)
- Information Management (15%)
- Performance Measurement (20%)
- External Financial Reporting (25%)
There are four hours to complete this part of the exam. Part three of the CMA exam deals with Strategic Management, and it consists of 110 multiple choice questions. These questions deal with:
- Strategic Planning (15%)
- Strategic Marketing (15%)
- Corporate Finance (25%)
- Decision Analysis (25%)
- Investment Decision Analysis (20%)
There are three hours to complete this portion of the exam. Finally, part four of the CMA exam deals with Business Applications. This part consists of between three and seven written essays and quantitative responses. These topics deal with all of the specified topics in parts one through three of the CMA exam, as well as organization management, organization communication, behavioral issues, and ethical considerations. There are three hours to complete part four of this examination. Further details about the contents of the four parts of the CMA exam can be found online on the IMA website.
Parts one, two, and three of the CMA exam are each first given a raw score in the scoring process. The raw score is the number of test items answered correctly. There is no penalty for incorrect answers, and each question has an equal weight and point value. Because of differences in exam versions and their difficulty, all raw scores are then converted to scaled scores.
The scaled scores for each of the multiple choice parts of the exam range from 200 (low) to 700 (high). A passing scaled score is 500. If a passing score is not achieved, a Detail of Performance report is sent to the candidate within two to three weeks following the exam.
This report shows how the candidate performed on each topic, and this helps with study for future attempts at the exam. A score report is also available immediately after the completion of each of the multiple choice sections of the exam. Part four of the CMA exam is not graded by a computer, rather, it is graded by subject matter experts. The scores on this part of the exam are noted as pass or fail, and all grades will be mailed to candidates approximately thirty days after taking the exam.
Prior to taking any part of the CMA exam, there are several ways in which one can prepare. First, knowing the content and structure of the CMA exam is useful. This will help with knowing what areas should be studied to be fully prepared to take the exam. A suggested reading list for use in studying can also be found online on the IMA website.
In addition, taking sample tests and answering sample questions can also help gauge performance and indicate areas that need further attention. On the day of the exam, it is important to make sure that all test items are answered, since leaving answers blank counts as incorrect responses. It is best to guess the answer if the correct answer to a particular item is not known. In addition, pacing during the exam is crucial, so as to make sure that all test items are answered.
A calculator is also allowed to be used during the examinations, so making sure that an approved calculator is brought to the exam is important. Details about the types of calculators that may be used during the examinations can be found online. And, finally, taking advantage of the computer tutorial before each examination section is also useful.
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