Kim CoHESion photo 2015Find out how this working mom passed the CMA Exam in one try.

Meet Kim Salisbury,  Financial Systems Manager at the University of Idaho. In late 2014, she set out to earn her CMA certification but, like many working adults, Kim struggled at first.

“I spent the first week floundering, not exactly knowing how to get through all the materials,” she says.

Kim knew it was inefficient to not have a study plan. “I needed a new strategy. I decided that I could take an hour a night and cover a certain topic instead of trying to do twelve different topics.”

Studying In Manageable Chunks

So that’s what Kim did. Each and every night after dinner, she broke out her laptop, logged into her Wiley CMA review materials and studied for an hour straight.

“I scheduled my exam for February and for the 12 weeks before the exam, I got on a schedule of one hour a night—just going through all of the questions for that section that I could do in one hour,” she says.

Breaking her studying down into that manageable chunk was a huge help to her, as she was able to learn and master a complete topic straight through.

“Give yourself a deadline.  sign up for the test and give yourself a specified amount of time to get it done,” she says. “Instead of just starting to study and saying, ‘Oh, I’ll take it whenever I’m ready.’ It’s important to have a deadline for yourself.”

Getting Family Support

In addition to her full-time job, Kim occasionally provides accounting support to her husband’s construction business and gives guest lectures at the University—while also raising her  nine- and eight-year-old sons.

“My husband had to commit to help me and that was one reason I decided that it was going to be twelve weeks before each exam,” Kim says.

“The boys knew I was studying, so if they needed something, Dad would help them with it. They just knew that was what I was doing for an hour.”

Keep Working The Plan

With just 12 weeks to study, Kim knew she couldn’t afford to procrastinate or stop her studying.

“I ended up studying in some very odd places when I was out of town or traveling,” she explains. “We were camping for three days with no Wi-Fi service, so I printed off enough section tests that I knew it  would take me an hour a day to get through them.”

“Even over Christmas break, we left for 7 days of vacation and the house we had stayed in didn’t have good Wi-Fi. I ended up studying in an Arby’s at 9 o’clock.”

Using A Well-Structured Study Tool

When picking a study tool, Kim knew she wanted to go with Wiley, the IMA’s recommended review course.

While Wiley’s review materials come with many features, Kim found she really only wanted to focus on the study questions and online  section tests.

“I liked that they were divided into sections. So, I would pick a section and then pick 20 questions out of a section,” she says. “I think it helps you focus and to learn each topic to have them divided like that.”

She also preferred to get answer rationales immediately. “If you get one wrong, it gives you the answer immediately and it tells you why. I would study the answers right there instead of looking it up in the book,” Kim says.

“The feedback was really helpful to me because if I was taking the section test and not getting any feedback until the end then I couldn’t even remember what I answered on the question.”

 Getting Ahead With The Right Certification

Kim passed both parts of the CMA Exam on her first try and is confident her new certification will open new doors for her.

“I’d like to stay in higher education and do more in the finance and accounting world. I can see myself staying [with the University] for years and I think my CMA gives me a good, solid way to stay here and to move up.”

“I like that I’m going to do CPE to keep  current every year,” she says. “And, I like that my CMA is going to give me more opportunities down the road. In five or 10 years, wherever I am, I’ll be in a position where a CMA is required.”