Indications of CMA Exam Difficulty: Exam Content and Structure

The Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA) has extrapolated on the CMA exam content in the content specification outlines (CSOs). The CSOs reveal that the CMA exam has 2 parts:

·        Part 1: Financial, Planning, Performance, and Analytics

·        Part 2: Strategic Financial Planning

 The first exam part addresses 5 topics:

1.  External financial reporting decisions

2. Planning, budgeting, and forecasting

3. Performance management

4. Cost management

5. Internal controls

6. Technology and Analytics

The second exam part covers 6 content areas:

1.  Financial statement analysis

2. Corporate finance

3. Decision analysis

4. Risk management

5. Investment decisions

6. Professional ethics

Furthermore, the CSOs list 22 total subject areas under Part 1 and 19 total subject areas under Part 2. Then, the Learning Outcome Statements (LOSs), an additional exam resource provided by the ICMA, digs deeper into the topics and subject areas described in the CSOs to reveal the tasks CMAs must be able to perform. The LOSs list hundreds of tasks under both Part 1 and Part 2.

Clearly, the CMA exam covers a lot of topics. And it does so using a large number of questions. Each CMA exam part contains 100 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and 2 30-minute essay scenarios containing about 8-10 written response questions.

The CMA exam is also quite long. To answer all of these questions, candidates have 4 hours of total testing time: 3 hours for the MCQs and 1 hour for the essays.

While the CMA exam may not have as many parts, topics, or questions as some other accounting certification exams, it nevertheless is a complex assessment that asks a lot of candidates.

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