Kiruthika Hariharan, a former computer engineer turned commercial finance manager, earned her MBA in Strategy and Finance back in 2007. She then proceeded to accomplish her long-awaited goal—earning her CMA certification—in 2018. “The single most important step I took to get there,” she says, “was to challenge the status quo. I had to be determined to complete my qualification. The rest just happened.”

If she makes it sound simple, well, it wasn’t. Kiruthika, who lives in Surrey, UK, had a young family to consider, so much of her time—outside of work—was split between her daughter and husband, and her studies, which often took place after her family was asleep. “My daughter and I spent our weekends baking. I also enjoy reading and traveling. So, my biggest challenges were having to work full time managing a team and making sure I had time for my family, while also preparing to take the CMA exam.”

While she wasn’t always true to her plan, it helped to have Wiley accompany her along the way. “Wiley CMA study content and IMA (Institute of Management Accountants) practice papers were the only materials I used throughout my study process.” Having succeeded with Wiley products in the past (for her GMAT), it made sense for Kiruthika to use Wiley materials to prepare for her CMA. “I naturally felt an inclination to use Wiley,” she says. “I also noted a lot of mixed reviews about other test prep providers, so my previous experience with Wiley made me choose it again.”

A born organizer, Kiruthika charted out a study plan six months prior to taking the CMA exam. “I started with reading the books and working through the different sections in the self-study mode in the Wiley Test Prep online system. This gave me a good idea of my weaker areas.” She then focused on problem areas—questions that she struggled with—and worked through them for each section. Then she completed a test on each section to review the concepts again and give her some speed and proficiency. “In the actual exam,” she says, “I would never follow the order of the questions. I would try to finish off the ones that needed almost no calculations first. Then I would focus on the ones with minimal calculations. And finally, I would look at solving the complex or lengthy ones. Wiley CMA’s mock exam helped me to practice this test-taking technique before the exam.”

Kiruthika’s hard work and a knack for detail paid off. She passed the exam the first time, scoring 400 in Part 1 and 390 in Part 2. “I used the Wiley CMA books and desktop app for my preparation,” she says. “I found the online version the most helpful. The look and feel of the software are identical to the actual exam format, so I was able to dive straight into the exam without requiring further familiarization to the application on exam day.”

In the end, Kiruthika’s approach and philosophy emphasized simplicity: “Keep calm and don’t give up! It may look tough at first, but stay focused and the CMA exam will be yours in no time.”