Wiley CMA recently hosted an in-depth webinar on CMA certification and the CMA exam. With over 300 attendees, we received tons of great and important questions. Here are answers to some of the most common questions people have about the CMA exam and certification. 

I see professionals with both the CPA and the CMA. Is only having the CMA a smart choice?

If you are working in or wish to work in management accounting, CMA certification is the most appropriate designation for you and the best choice. That said, doubling up your certifications is a great way to stand out in the job market and expand your career options. Here’s a great overview of why double-certification makes perfect sense for a lot of professionals.

I am currently a Controller. Would CMA certification help me move to the next level in the accounting field?

Yes, CMA certification is an excellent way to advance your career by gaining new skills and expanding your professional network.

I currently perform some management accounting functions but I’m not a manager. If I pass the CMA exam, do I have to have to be in management to keep the certification?


I noticed that multiple session speakers have CMA & CGMA. Why one over the other?

We currently recommend CMA certification over the CGMA due to the history and rigors of the certification process. Learn more about why we recommend the CMA here.

It seems like CMA and CPA certifications may be more valuable than a master’s degree. Can you expand on that more?

This is a great question and the answer depends on your professional situation. In terms of time and money invested, the ROI of earning CMA and/or CPA certification can pay off much faster than a master’s degree. Even so, many job openings require a master’s degree as a minimum requirement to apply.

Here’s an example of how CMA certification proved more valuable than a master’s degree for one professional (who had a lot of experience).

What is the difference between management accounting and financial accounting?

Financial accounting focuses on financial statements – such as balance sheets, income statements, statements of cash flows, and statements of changes in stockholders’ equity – which are distributed outside of a company. Managerial accounting focuses on providing information within the company so that management can operate effectively. Examples include revenue and profit forecasts, operational budgeting, and capital budgeting.

Why IMA membership is important?

IMA membership is required to earn and maintain CMA certification. It comes with many benefits, including access to local chapters of other CMA professionals, continuing education opportunities, and various discounts and savings on events and publications.

If you are taking the CPA exam, should you take the CMA first or after?

We recommend taking the CMA second, as some of the CPA topics will translate to the CMA exam. Click here for the exact topics that are overlapped on the CPA and CMA exams.

After earning CMA certifications, are there requirements to keep the CMA? If so, are they similar to the CPA requirements?

Yes. You must maintain membership in the IMA, including paying your annual dues. You must also complete 30 hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE), many of which can and do overlap with the CPE requirements for maintaining a CPA license.

Here’s everything you need to know about the CMA certification, the exam, and all the requirements you’ll need to meet along the way.

If you do well on the multiple-choice questions but poorly on the essay section, do you still have a chance to pass the exam?

You cannot pass the CMA Exam solely on the MCQ section, so you must put equal attention into the essay portion. Most students perform better on the MCQ section and struggle with the essay portion. However, with the right strategy of focusing on providing the correct answer to the essay question – even if not in perfect essay form – you can pass the CMA Exam.

Which part should I take first?

CMA Exam topics are not inter-connected between the two exam parts, so you will not see questions on Part 2 that are related to Part 1 topics. You should examine the CMA Program syllabus closely to see which topics you are most familiar with and take that exam part first.

Is the exam like the CPA where you get a certain window of time to complete all the parts?

Yes. You have 12 months from your first exam date to pass bot

Your website says 100+ hours of prep per part. Is that realistic for someone who has completed graduate-level coursework and is a working professional?

Yes. You need to learn the IMA Learning Outcome Statements thoroughly to pass the CMA Exam and that can take more than 100 hours of dedicated study, even for professionals working in management accounting.

To keep your certification, do you have to be employed in the field or can you simply complete the yearly credits and maintain membership in the IMA?

You must complete your CPE hours and pay your annual IMA membership dues to maintain your CMA certification.

How often are the exams?

The CMA Exam is offered during three two-month windows throughout the year:

  1. January & February
  2. May & June
  3. September & October

How can we appear in this exam from an international location?

All parts of the CMA Exam are administered through Prometric Testing Centers, which have 8,000+ testing centers in 160 countries.

Are there any “in-person” classroom review classes offered?

Yes! We recommend using a certified training provider to ensure the best instruction. Here is an overview of some providers.

Will the multiple-choice questions all carry the same weight?

Yes. The CMA Exam is NOT adaptive like the CPA Exam.

How can I reschedule the CMA exam?

If you decide early to reschedule, there is no penalty. You can change your exam date through Prometric via its website or by calling. If you need to reschedule within 30 days of your exam date, the process is the same but you have to pay $50 administration fee. All exam appointments must be scheduled at least 72 hours in advance of the exam date.

If I heard correctly, the essay portion is not graded on the writing or sentence structures and can be bullet points?

Yes. The essay portion is graded based on your answer and how you got to it, not on sentence structure and essay format. So, bullet points can be used to arrive at the correct answer but we recommend learning how to craft essays correctly, as this will help you greatly in your professional career.

How many hours should you study for the CMA Exam?

We recommend 100 hours per exam part, at least.

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