CMA Exam Pass Rate 2014: Latest Trend and Analysis

cma exam pass rateDid you ever have the impression that the CMA exam is easy (or easier)? If you look at these CMA exam pass rates, you will be surprised.

Latest Statistics

The CMA exam is divided into two parts:

  • Financial Planning, Performance and Control
  • Financial Decision Making

Here is the latest passing rates (January to October 2014) released by IMA. You can see that while there are some ups and downs in different regions, the macro picture is similar.


Source: IMA

We analyze the performance in Part 1 and Part 2 in more detail.

CMA Exam Pass Rate: Part 1

cma exam part 1 pass rate

Note: 2012 covers the 9-month period from Sep 2011 to Jun 2012; 2013 covers the 10-month period from Jan 2013 to Oct 2013; 2014 covers the 10-month period from Jan 2014 to Oct 2014.

The worldwide pass rate is a rather scary 31%-35% in this 3 year period, but if you exclude Middle East, the statistics looks much better. It is quite obvious from the above that if your native language is English or you have a chance to learn English in your country (notably Europe, and to a lesser extent, Asia), you have a higher chance to pass.

Asia pass rate is higher possibly because Chinese candidates can take the exam in their local language.

Why English Could be a Major Factor in Pass Rates

The CMA exam tends to have wordy and complex questions which could be a challenge for those with slightly weaker comprehensive skill in the English language. Also, the CMA exam comprises not only multiple choice questions but also an essay section that are graded by human examiners.

One evidence can be found in China where candidates can choose to take the CMA exam in English or in Chinese. The pass rate in China on the English version is 46%, but the pass rate in China on the Chinese version is 59%. The 7 points difference is statistically significant.

In light of this, international candidates should therefore work on practicing English writing as part of the exam preparation.

CMA Exam Pass Rate – Part 2

cma exam part 2 pass rate

The data reveals that the pass rate of Part 2 is considerably higher, and even more significant in the non-English speaking regions.

The year-on-year improvement is also encouraging, with the Middle Eastern region reaching all-time high of 37%.

What We Can Learn from These Passing Rate Statistics

Before these low pass  rates scare you away, let me try to explain how we can analyze the data.

1. Diversified Pool of Candidates

First, while CMA exam welcomes candidates from all over the world, the exam format is US-centric. Candidates outside of the US may not be familiar with how the multiple choice questions are written and also, if their native language is not English, it is hard to score well in the essay section.

2. Low Barrier of Entry Attracts Casual Takers

Second, IMA (the exam administrator) makes it very easy for anyone with a bachelor degree to apply, unlike, for example, the CPA exam where candidates must take a substantial number of accounting and business courses.

The low barrier of entry attracts candidates who just want to give it a try. These casual takers do not invest sufficient time, money and effort to properly prepare for the exam.

What Does It Tell Us?

  • If you have a good command of English; or
  • If you work hard and do lots of practice questions to get familiar with the style of the multiple choice questions…

… your chance to pass the CMA exam is much higher than this average statistics.

Here is a Summary in Video Format

I go through the analysis with more pictures and charts in this video:

Now, How do YOU Increase Your Chance of Success?

Don’t miss my mega post on the ultimate CMA exam prep guide, with 50 actionable tips to help you nail the exam!


For more information and updates on the CMA exam, please consider signing up to my e-course which is completely free. You can learn about the mini-course here or sign up directly below.


  1. ibrahim elhelw says

    could you please, help me to get a course make me good in English ?
    cause I think that language is the only problem that faces me and thank u so much for mini course because it help me so much to understand some points I couldn’t understand.

    • StephanieStephanie says

      Hi Ibrahim this is a tough question… but I guess it depends whether you want to improve your reading or writing skills. For writing there is a book called “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. which is a classic for this purpose. hope it helps! Stephanie

    • Amr says

      سلام عليكم.
      my opinion m.ibr that the language(Eng) is not the problem of the CMA.
      I am CMA . My Language is not Sound as it should be
      its only by practice

  2. Helemish says

    So kindly gentlemen,if i am working as a chief accountant on Egypt, and passing CMA exam and became certified. Is it enable me to work in USA and Canada in a good suitable position. While i have fluency in English cause i am working in a multinational company and my business language is English.
    I do appreciate your prompt response.

    • Stephanie says

      Hi Helemish,
      Getting the CMA will help you recognized in companies around the world especially in the US. For Canada, they have their own CMA certification but getting that requires studying within Canada, which could be hard to do.

      So getting back to your question, while it helps I wouldn’t say it will guarantee you any jobs there. If you are working in a multinational company it will likely easier if you request for an opportunity to transfer to the US or Canadian regional office for a temporary exchange. If people there like you enough they will more likely offer you a permanent position. This is the easiest way to get hired in the US/Canada in my opinion, and I have readers who have done that. Hope it helps! Stephanie

  3. Amir says

    Hi Stephanie,

    Regarding CMA pass rates can you pls tell us about the score scale and the pass score, i think it s from 500 and am in Egypt how should i get to pass the exam


  4. Tin says

    i’m currently reviewing for part 2 of cma exam and i’m finding it so much harder than part 1. i wonder why the passing rate for part 2 is higher than in part 1…

    • StephanieStephanie says

      I hear you Tim… it depends on individual background, and also, the content can be difficult but the exam itself may not be so. For example, it can also depend on how “tricky” the questions are, whether the examiners test you at introductory level or advanced level of the same topic… by the way, which review course/material are you using? It makes a difference as they can over/under prepare you.

      Hope the higher overall pass rate will give you some encouragement! Stephanie

      • Tin says

        i got the cmals 2-part combo package. but to be honest, i am having difficulty with it. lots of errors (both book and online practice) and the explanations are not complete. i’m trying to find other review sources (without spending again) as i have already spent so much on cmals if you know of any free resources for the cma review, would be very grateful! am already on panic mode…

        • StephanieStephanie says

          Indeed CMALs is probably the most expensive… but Tin I am sorry to tell you that I haven’t found anything that is free regarding the CMA exam, and I don’t expect to find any honestly unless someone is willing to lend you a copy of the book. Anyway the value, in my opinion, is in the test prep software. I will still stick to working on those practice questions if your budget doesn’t allow another test prep provider.

          Indeed you sounded stressed… maybe you can take a break for a day or two? Things usually “click” the next day. I know this is a cliche advice but it does work for me and quite a few of my readers. Good luck to your Part 2!! Stephanie

          • ahmed says

            is it harder than the cpa or what ?

            i dont want to be surprised if u know what i mean

          • Stephanie says

            I personally think it is not as hard in comparison, because CPA is a lot broader and I especially dreaded REG especially the US taxation section. For CMA it’s more like an expanded BEC and some CFA materials. I guess it also depends on your own background. Mine is much closer to corporate accounting than US tax accounting.

            The lower pass rate can be explained by the fact the entry barrier is lower. For CPA a candidate is effectively an accounting major (often with masters’ degree) and therefore must do better when compared to the many CMA candidates who have never studied finance or accounting (since it is not required to sit for the exam).

            Also, there are a lot more non-US speaking international candidates especially from China and the Middle East and the language should have some impact at the pass rate at a macro level.

  5. Ikram Mansoor says


    I have passed CMA part 1 exam with a score of 400. I am not sure how it converts into percentage to have an idea how well I have scored. Pls of someone can translate this score 400 out of 500 into some meaningful measure, it would greatly help

    • StephanieStephanie says

      Hi Ikram, first of all congratulations! With such a low passing rate for part 1 I think you should be happy that you pass with any score. For your information, the full mark is 500 and the passing mark is 360. I don’t think they release any info on standard deviation so it would be hard to know which percentile you fall into, but I would say that with 400 you should have comfortably passed part 1.

      Are you all ready for Part 2?

  6. ahmed says

    hi there

    i am a cpa candidate , and i am considering the idea of taking the part 1 cma exam since it is very similar to the BEC section

    what do u think about it ?

  7. bakri alradi says

    i have strong desire to read and pass cma exams,it is not only English language level that make people from countries other than Europe,America and all countries that English language is their formal language not to be able to prepare for this certification but many obstacles may prevent and even deprive them to do this .one of these problems is how to attain cma questions and model answers and this is my my self, ifeel that ican do well just if ihave attained the required questions and answers covering part 1 at this stage.

  8. Rafay says

    Well I am appearing for the CMA Part1 exam in
    Sep2013 and I m preparing it from Wiley and doing
    Practice from exam support package, and getting
    62% in that package, my question is are the
    Question are similarly related to the exam question
    Or exam question wil be some different

    • Stephanie Ng says

      Hi Rafay, I guess it is hard to generalize but from readers’ feedback the actual ones tend to be lengthy and more “narrative” than the ones in Wiley… It’s a good idea to rework the ones you did wrong to improve your accuracy to 75-80%.

  9. MOHSIN says

    Hello Sir,

    I want to start CMA Part 1 preparation for exams, is it possible to prepare for exams by self study or it must that you have to take coaching for it, please guide me about this.


  10. Paulette says

    Hello Stephanie,
    First of all, thank you for all the information you are providing in your website; It is a goldmine!
    I am mooving to canada in January 2014 (waitng fo my visa) and I would like to arrive there having my CMA part 1 done , and take the part 2 once there.
    1st question, can I tak the part 1 in Ireland, and the part 2 in Montreal with a tourist visa (if i will still be waiting for my working visa) ? I guess yes…but just to be sure.
    2nd question:
    I have a master degree in international management and 2 years exp as a junior project controller. English is not my native language but i do feel quite comfortable with it. I am wondering if I start in August 2013 to learn by my self , how long should I wait to take the part 1 (and 2).
    Do you think end of septEember would be too early?
    3rd question: I checked availabilities and it looks that they are tests for part 1 and 2 in november 2013 too in Dublin which strange as normally it is sept/oct and jan/feb… do you know if it is in fact possible?

    THANK YOU IN ADVANCE for the time you’ll spend on my questions!
    All the best!

    • Stephanie Ng says

      Hi Paulette,
      Thanks for your note! Before I answer your questions, could you let me know whether you are looking at the US CMA or Canadian CMA? Because getting the Canadian version makes more sense in your case if you work in Canada. My site only covers the US CMA offered by the IMA.


  11. tamer says

    could you please tell me how many years allowed to get the cma after registration?
    the three years are after the registration or after passing part one.

  12. mudassir khan says

    hi stephan i like to ask u a question i am currently student of ACCA i just cleared 3 papers i now heard about CMA so i m now thinking to give CMA and get exemption in ACCA ?and how many exemption are?

  13. Mostafa says

    There are some questions are bouncing in my forehead and need some answers if anyone could help:
    Firstly, I am egyptian. SO, my 1st Q is:
    How many people did achieve CMA certificate in my country or even in my region? in Average
    2nd Q:
    What are the perfect tips that could help me pass the certif. with a high score? referring that I am a commerce faculty grad plus I am working as an accountant. How to prepare and those steps should be taken
    3rd Q:
    Need to know the steps of making account for IMA
    4th Q:
    Which parts to focus on, in part 1?
    5th Q:
    Will I use Grammer & language kinda related stuff to express my answers in the essay’s question ?

    Also if any CMA holder have other advices for me. well, that could help alot!

    Best Regards

  14. Mus Meg says

    Hi Stephanie,

    I’m using Gleim book and software for part 1, and i’m wondering how close are the MCQ in Gleim to the ones in the exam?

    Thanks for your help and keep it up.



    • Stephanie Ng says

      Hi Mus, it’s really hard to tell, but I don’t think you should expect the same questions pop up in the real exam. At least gleim has some out-of-the-blue questions that train you to think on your feet. At least that’s what I like about Gleim. Cheers, Stephanie

  15. Mahesh Kumar says

    Hi Stephanie,

    As you mentioned in your many answer that minimum passing marks is 360 out of 500.

    Is 360 score including essay ! If someone will gets 70% scoring in MCQ but he will get zero in essay , what will be the final result. Will he pass in the exam.


    • Stephanie Ng says

      Yes Mahesh, 360 is an overall score. The administrator doesn’t disclose the exact formula (it’s likely too complicated anyway) so I can’t answer your question, but generally candidates find the essays manageable. MC is the difficult part. Stephanie

  16. Khaled says

    The reason that CMA part 1 has much lower passing rate in the middle east is a combination between 2 factors, English language and Internal Controls (Audit) Part, which almost has no numerical numbers and rely heavily on candidates English language specially when it comes in the Essay part of the exam

  17. Muhammad Khabeer says

    sir i live in pakistan and i,m student of CMA(USA) kindly tell me how can pass the cma in first attempt and also tell me the reason of failure and also tell me the future of cma.thanks

  18. jaleel says

    iam Jaleel from india.If i passed both papers in CMA.Can i get a job in a reputed company for practical experience, by producing 2part’s marklists.

    • Stephanie Ng says

      Hi Jaleel,
      Yes you certainly can but there won’t be a job waiting for you. You need to apply just like any other candidates. With the CMA certification it helps especially if you look for companies in manufacturing, or involve in cost and inventory accounting, or the Fortune 100 companies in general. But you still need to proof yourself in other areas with a well crafted resume and good performance in interviews. Best of luck! Stephanie

  19. Binoy Chacko says

    Hi Stephane,

    I have completed my Degree in maths,PG in maths and MBA in Finance.I have been working in Qatar as Finance Manager/Finance controller for last 15 years.I would like to join to CMA to enhance my accounting skills.Would you mind to advise whether maths skills will add value while preparing and appearing for CMA course and exams.

    Thanks and regards,

    Binoy Chacko

    • Stephanie Ng says

      hi Binoy,
      I would say math and other quantitative majors do help, since accounting is very related to numbers. But then, advanced math like differentiation, integration and theoretical math is not necessary. So I guess it helps to a certain extent. Hope it helps? Regards, Stephanie

  20. rafsal says

    iam a bcom graduate student from india. i plan to join cma in this coming july.
    is this cma a better option than mba finance? my famly is more sterssing on me for that. as i love accounting i go for a different course.
    how many it consit of problem based and theory based. iam not good in theory papers as like problem papers.
    thanks in advance

      • rafsal says

        thanx staphine,
        what noe iam looking at is to register an distand mba along with cma.

        how many problem portions & theory portion it consists? can you tell me in a percentage form.

        • Stephanie Ng says

          Hi Rafsal, do you mean the proportion of theoretical vs computational questions in the CMA exam? I don’t think the examiners disclose such information, and it is likely that the proportion changes in every exam. Remember it is a computerized exam which means that they generate different sets of questions for candidates, but the difficulty level is the same. I would focus on both theory and calculations as they help each other in your exam prep. Regards, Stephanie

  21. irfan says

    helo sir..
    i am irfan from pakistan
    and i want to know that from where i can get the past papers mcqs??

  22. abdul says

    hi…. i got 300 score in part 1 :( i am currently studying part 2… i want to know that is it possible to manage both parts in same window..????

    • Stephanie Ng says

      Hi Abdul, sorry to hear that, it’s quite close to pass! There are certainly readers who manage two parts with success. It depends on your available time and commitment. Since you should have known the materials for Part 1, it should be easier this time. I would suggest that you focus on the practice questions. Best of luck! Stephanie

  23. Adi says

    Hi guys! Many of you are having doubts about the comparative difficulty of different US based exams. Here is a comparison starting from the hardest to the easiest.
    CFE=certified fraud examiner.
    Hope it helps!

  24. says

    I am faisal from jeddah currently doing job nd I hv plan to start CMA BUT I completely dont hv any idea about CMA .just recently I come to know I just want to make sure if I gv my 3 to 4 hours daily after 4 months I would be able to appear in part 1.
    2nd I want to know the scope in saudi arabia and in future can I get job

    • Stephanie Ng says

      Hi Faisal, thanks for your note. It usually takes about 100-150 hours of study for a typical candidate. Based on your plan, it would be 3.5 hours x 30 days x 4 months which is totally enough. Having said that, you do need breaks in between but even if the breaks it looks fine to me.

      On whether you can get a job in Saudi Arabia, I understand the CMA certification is getting quite popular in the middle east so this is certainly helpful. But it also depends on your previous experience and your skill in interviews etc. Anyway, just work towards the goal one step at a time! Regards, Stephanie

  25. Vaibhav says


    Thanks for info. I will be writing in June15, can i study my own without help of any review course?


  26. sarada akella says

    Hi stephanie,
    I have given my cma part 1 and my score is 310 . I did very well in my exambut the scores are disappointing. Please let me know the grading system and the way i have to prepare. im using gliem CMA Review system.
    Thanks and regards
    Sarada Akella

  27. John says

    Hi Stephani,

    I’ve gone thru almost all comments! and I am curious – will i Pass, If I take this challenge ??
    I’m an average student but lazy bone! I do have good grasping power and intellect but with a moderate practice of say 10 hours a week, can i Pass one part in three months time ?

    well, I am commerce post graduate and working as an accountant for three years now!

    • Stephanie Ng says

      Haha John thanks for the honesty! You don’t need to be a A+ student to pass this exam, but do need to work hard. If your 10 hours per week is all solid studying hours, ie within that 10 hours it is all studying, and not occasional checking of emails, facebook etc, then you should have enough time to get well prepared in 3 months time. It all depends on your attitude. Good luck!

  28. Siyu says

    Hi Stephanie,

    I am a juninor in Penn State, and my major is accounting. Can i take the part 1 test in China because i know there is a Chinese CMA test in Aug 8 in China. And then finish the second part in USA?

  29. binoy says

    Hi Stephanie,

    I have appeared for part 1 during Feb 2015 and I got 340 score.

    I would like to re appear during June 2015.Do you have any advise where i missed 20 marks .

    Also can you advise whether there is any exam promotions price going on now.



  30. Binoy says

    Hi Stephanie,

    I have lost part 1 with a small margin .I got 340.Shall I apply for a re grade of the same.

    Please advise



    • Stephanie Ng says

      Hi Binoy,
      Sorry to hear that, it was indeed very close. I’ve talked to a few candidates on this as well, but our consensus is that it is very, very unlikely that they will change the mark for you. For the border line ones they should have had manually checked for chances to bump you up (or down in some cases).

      I have this post for retakers if you are interested to read further:

      Regards, Stephanie

  31. harikrish says

    While comparing cma with cia which one is toughest course? Cia with mba without having cma is useful or not?

    pls reply

  32. mohamed says

    Hi stephani
    I passed CMA course via group coaching (3.5 months ) and one month review after that ( gleim book and CD ) with 420 as passing score in may /June 2015 first attempt
    My question is
    For part 2 do I have to change any thing in my studying way or the same should do the trick
    Thanks Stefanie and your tips was always helpful

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