You’ve set your sights on becoming a Certified Management Accountant, sent the IMA the required fees, and scheduled your exam. Chances are, you’ve even read a few blogs — CMA Guide and CMA Coach are some of our favs — explaining the CMA Exam format (2 parts, 4 hours each, yada yada). But do you really know what to expect on exam day? After you read this, you will…
To administer the CMA Exam, the IMA partners with Prometric, which has physical testing centers throughout the world. Educational Testing Services, Prometric’s parent company, administers many common computer-based exams such as the GRE and TOEFL. What sets Prometric apart, as you’ll see, is the level of security and verification required for exam candidates.
Where Is Your Testing Center?
This should come as no surprise, but you need to know exactly where your assigned testing center is and how to get there (in good and bad traffic). Use this locator tool to find your testing center.
Arrive 30 Minutes Prior to Your Exam Time
Your Prometric testing center will likely be a small office space located in a nondescript business park or strip mall. Arrive at least half an hour before your scheduled exam time. You will need this time.
Check in with the TCA
First, check in with the Testing Center Administrator, or TCA, when you arrive. They’ll check your ID and physically look to see that the picture matches your appearance. The IMA requires you present either:
There is no leeway on this requirement so ensure you have these documents in hand.
Stow Your Stuff
You will be issued a key to a numbered locker. You are required to stow all of your belongings in the locker for the duration of the exam. This includes::
You may be allowed to wear a sweater or layers if you are concerned about being cold, but it is up to the TCA’s discretion.
Now, the TCA will go through Prometric’s thorough verification process to ensure you are who you claim to be. Prometric’s fingerprint verification processSteps in this process may include:
Next, the TCA will ask that you turn out all of your pockets to show you are taking nothing into the testing environment. They will then wave a handheld metal detector over your body to ensure you are not carrying any electronics or metal objects. This scan has no ill health effects and is completely safe. Do know that a TCA will not place their hands on your body in any way.
Whew! After all that fun stuff, the TCA will present you with the official IMA rules and regulations for your CMA Exam. Please read these carefully and be sure to ask the TCA any questions if something is unclear. You’ll also be given a pair of No. 2 pencils and blank paper for use during the exam.
Don’t Forget a Nonprogrammable Calculator!
The ONE thing that the IMA will let you bring and use during the CMA Exam is a nonprogrammable calculator. If you’re one of those people who think the kind of calculator you use matters, the CMA Coach recommends the Texas Instruments BA II Plus Financial Calculator. Why? We have no idea… either way, be sure to bring a calculator–you’re going to need it!
See the picture at the right? That’s an actual Prometric exam center and exactly what you can expect to see once you’ve had your biometric ID scanned and you’re allowed to enter the testing room. The CMA Exam is administered via a Windows-based PC. So, if you’re a diehard Mac user, try to (re-) familiarize yourself with Windows prior to the exam.
Using the account information provided by the IMA, you’ll now log in to your exam. Before your time starts, you’ll receive a 15-minute tutorial of how to use the computer and take the CMA Exam. While Wiley CMAexcel‘s practice exams and questions are designed to recreate CMA Exam conditions, that doesn’t mean you should ignore or blaze through this tutorial. Be absolutely sure you’re comfortable with how the program and computer works before starting the exam. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS: Raise your hand and the TCA will come to assist you.
And BANG! you’re off. You now have three hours to answer 100 multiple-choice questions. Each question has four potential answers and you have roughly 1 minute and 48 seconds to read, process and answer each question. Skim the questions where possible and try to quickly narrow your options to the two most likely answers — then work from there. Do your best, because if you complete the MCQ section in under three hours…
…that time is carried over to the essay section. You have one hour (or more) to complete two essay questions which each may contain up to eight parts … that a possibility for 16 parts you have to answer!
Once you complete the CMA Exam, you’ll have your biometric ID scanned again and you’ll log out of the testing center. The TCA will present you with an information packet and details about how you’ll receive your exam scores. Expect to receive your CMA Exam scores between six and 10 weeks following your exam.