Difficulty Level of The US CMA Exam | Zell Education

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      How Difficult Is The US CMA Exam?

      US CMA or Certified Management Accounting is a US-based course that can be completed between six to eight months. Considering the duration of this course one must feel that US CMA is a short course that can be completed quickly. While it is a short course, it’s not as easy to complete as it seems. Mainly because US CMA is not just about theoretical knowledge and common accounting practices, it is a skill-building course that helps you gain strategic management ability along with problem-solving skills. The US CMA Exam has two levels and each of the levels have six subjects. In the first level, you would be learning all about financial planning, performance and analytics, while in the level, you’ll be equipped with strategic financial planning skills. Since the profession demands you to think logically and lead your organisation in a strategic way, it is understood that this course is not set in a manner that can be easily cleared by students. 

      The US CMA course requires constant dedication and a proper study plan in order to clear the examinations and become a Certified Management Accountant. If you’re thinking of pursuing this course, then here’s what you need to know about the exam and it’s difficulty level.

      US CMA exam syllabus

      The US CMA exam syllabus comprises of two parts on is Financial Planning, Performance and Analytics and the other is Strategic Financial Management. You can appear for the second part only after successfully completing the first. In case if you happen to fail in any of these papers, you need to register for the course again.

      Here’s what the syllabus for the US CMA syllabus looks like and weightage for each of them. 

      Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics Strategic Financial Management
      External Financial Reporting Decisions (15%) Financial Statement Analysis (20%)
      Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting (20%) Corporate Finance (20%)
      Performance Management (20%) Decision Analysis (25%)
      Cost Management (15%) Investment Decisions (10%)
      Internal Controls (15%) Investment Decisions (10%)
      Technology and Analytics (15%) Professional Ethics (15%)

      CMA Prerequisites 

      A course developed by the Institute of Management Accountants, the US CMA or the Certified Management Accounting course requires certain qualifications before you get into the course. Here are some of the eligibility requirements you need to have before you can apply for the US CMA certification.

      • Students can purse the US CMA course directly after passing the 12th grade
      • To become a certified CMA professional, you will require a Bachelor’s degree, completion of the CMA papers and 2 years of work experience.

      US CMA Passing rates

      The US CMA papers are about 4 hours long and are divided into two formats – MCQ type and essay. You get about three hours to complete the MCQ type questions and an hour to complete the essay questions. 

      Most students find the format of the US CMA exam quite daunting mostly because it consists of only two parts. This is because each of the US CMA parts consist of about six challenging topics each. What intimidates most students is covering such a vast amount of information in just two parts.

      Due to these reasons the passing rate of US CMA exams has been quite cutting-edge. Here’s a year wise look into the passing rates of US CMA exams.

      Exam Part 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
      Part 1 35% 35% 36% 35% 35% 40% 35% 45%
      Part 2 42% 49% 55% 52% 50% 50% 50% 45%

      Skills tested in the US CMA examination

      As mentioned earlier, US CMA is a skill building course wherein a candidate is tested on various parameters. Some of the skills tested by US CMA examinations include –

      • Accounting knowledge  
      • Comprehension
      • Analysis
      • Strategic thinking
      • Efficient management
      • Synthesis
      • Evaluation

      tips to clear us cma exam

      Clearing the US CMA exam is certainly not a cakewalk, even for accounting students who have knack for strategic planning and management. This course requires dedication and a disciplined study plan. Before you start with your US CMA preparation, it’s best to enrol in a coaching institute that helps you train practically as per industry-relevant case studies. Zell Education is one of the leading coaching institutes that’s well known for its training and delivery for US CMA.

      Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is a credential awarded by the Institute for Management Accountants, USA. This global certification is open to all students who have completed their 10+2 or the high school equivalent. If you are interested in pursuing a career in accounting, check out our Certified Management Accountant (CMA) course.


      Is US CMA tougher than US CPA?
      Comparatively US CMA has two parts while US CPA has 4 papers . However the pass rate of CMA exams is slightly lower than the US CPA exams. That’s why it can be said that US CMA is tougher that US CPA.

      How much does the US CMA earn?
      There are several varying factors when it comes to the salary earned by US CMA professionals. The starting salary of US CMA in India starts from 7 lpa.

      What are the registration fees for US CMA?
      In order to register for the US CMA exam, a candidate needs to pay a one-time non-refundable fee of USD 250.


      Satyamedh Nandedkar, a seasoned finance professional, holds ACCA, CA, US CMA & CS credentials. With 10+ years of experience, he’s a master ACCA tutor, IFRS trainer, adept in global financial standards, and a trusted advisor in navigating complex financial landscapes.

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