CMA Exam Study Guide

Everybody that’s clicked onto this page likely knows that the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is a professional credential in the management accounting and financial management fields, and that the certification signifies that you’re knowledgeable in the areas of financial planning, analysis, control, decision support, and professional ethics.

So, in this CMA exam preparation study guide, you’ll find answers to all your top questions to ensure your test prep is as efficient and targeted as possible, and even provide some study materials! Spot something we didn’t cover? Send us your question to, and we’ll do our best to answer it for you!

What’s Inside the CMA Exam?

Here at Surgent, we recommend that test takers dedicate some extra time to prepare themselves for the exam by really understanding the basics of what the CMA Exam really looks like. This way you know what to expect and have a higher chance of passing on your first try!
So, with that that – this chart breaks down what kind of content you can expect in each exam.


Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics

Part 2: Strategic Financial Management

The duration of the test is 4 hours
3 hours to answer 100 multiple-choice questions

and one hour to answer two essay questions and two essay questions (30 minutes each)


  1. External Financial Reporting Decisions (15%)
  2. Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting (20%)
  3. Performance Management (20%)
  4. Cost Management (15%)
  5. Internal Controls (15%)
  6. Technology and Analytics (15%)

The duration of the test is 4 hours
3 hours to answer 100 multiple-choice questions

and one hour to answer two essay questions and two essay questions (30 minutes each)



  1. Financial Statement Analysis (20%)
  2. Corporate Finance (20%)
  3. Decision Analysis (25%)
  4. Risk Management (10%)
  5. Investment Decisions (10%)
  6. Professional Ethics (15%)


Top Tips on How to Pass the CMA Exam

Really, as well as understanding the makeup of the exam, it’s pretty important to be comfortable with the formatting of it too. That’s where practice exams come in.

They allow you to gain critical exposure to the tools and features you can expect to see on exam day, and ultimately will help to alleviate anxiousness and eliminate questions about the exam interface. Practice tests should be timed to match the actual CMA Exam, as well as feature accurate practice test questions. This should absolutely be a feature in your CMA Review Course.

While the questions won’t be the exact questions you’ll sit there, you’ll have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with real prior exam questions in exam-like conditions to ensure that you’re prepared come exam day.

Studying for the CMA Exam can be time consuming, and with a pass rate that hovers only around 43%, it’s clear that the exam is difficult.

But it doesn’t need to be. Your choice of course review provider matters – and based on your personal learning style, the one you choose could be the difference between passing and failing. That’s why Surgent CMA Review is not like the typical review course. In fact, Surgent prides itself on being the only adaptive CMA course in the market (get discounts here). We identify your weak areas and curate a personalized study plan based on what you don’t know–and then follow along your progress to make sure you’re always studying the most effective material for you.

That’s how Surgent students are passing a CMA Exam section in just 61 hours.

Often CMA candidates can think they need to start from scratch when they get their hands on their exam study guide – but that’s just not the case. In fact, we recommend that test takers sit for the exam as close to graduation from an accredited university as possible – so you can put those test taking habits and skills to use. Plus, think of all of those accounting classes you took – often they can align pretty well to the CMA Exam itself.

For example, Cost Accounting often covers a lot of the material that was tested on the first exam, especially cost management and planning, budgeting, and forecasting. While Financial Management can be helpful for the second exam by covering financial statement analysis, corporate finance, and investment decisions.

But candidates that have been out of school for a while need not worry – that’s where Surgent’s adaptive technology and hyper personalized study plans step in.


No matter how many times you get the correct answers on a practice test, it can still feel like you’re not ready to sit for the CMA Exam. That’s the very reason that Surgent created ReadySCORE™ – a one-of-a-kind exam-readiness metric that tells you what you would score if you sat for the CMA Exam today to 99% accuracy. No more going in blind! Try Surgent CMA Exam Prep Review and practice questions for free today.

Common CMA Exam FAQ

1. What job roles are common among CMA?

While there are a lot of different roles that can benefit from the skillset that CMAs have, the most common job titles that CMAs hold and pursue are:


Management Accountant.

Financial Analyst.

Cost Accountant.

Accounting Manager.

Senior Accountant.

Corporate Controller.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

2. Do I need to get a CPA as well as my CMA?

If you’re considering both – great! You absolutely do not need both, but having the two certifications is only going to heighten the demand around you in the job market. This is also time efficient given some of the topics you’ll need to study for on the CPA Exam will also cross over onto the CMA Exam.

3. What kind of salary do CMAs typically earn?

We all know that when you’re investing time and money into something, we want to see a valuable return. Thankfully, IMA releases their global salary surveys that help us identify just what we could see by gaining a CMA – and in 2020, that was a 60% increase on pay over non-CMAs.

4. Will there be continuing education required to keep my CMA?

Yes, to keep your CMA after you pass the exam, you must complete 30 hours of Continuing Professional Education per year, as well as maintaining membership in IMA, including paying your annual dues.

5. What is IMA membership?

You actually have to be a member of Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) to sit for the CMA. But it does also come with a lot of benefits, like access to local chapters of other CMA professionals, continuing education opportunities and discounts and savings on events and publications.

6. Which part of the CMA Exam should I take first?

The two exam parts are entirely separate, so you will not see questions on Part 2 that are related to Part 1 topics. Because of that, the order you sit for them really is up to you and your experience – we recommend that you take a look at the CMA Program syllabus closely to see which topics you are most familiar with and take that exam part first.

Sample CMA Questions and Answers {PDF download

We wanted to provide a free CMA Exam Questions and Answers PDF, so everybody can practice with real past CMA Exam questions, even if you haven’t settled on a Review Course Provider yet. You can download our CMA Exam practice questions and answers document here.