CMA Review Course Comparison: Which is the Best Study Materials?

Here is my analysis on the pros and cons of the CMA review courses based on readers’ experience and comments from participants in major accounting forums.

Let Me Find the Best CMA Review Course for You!

I don’t believe in people who say their study materials are the absolute best, because different courses suit candidates with different background and learning style. I am however confident that you will find one that suit you the best here.

gleim_cma_review1-exammatrix-cma-review-courseexam matrix cma Hock CMALambers CMA
IMA Licensed / Strategic Partnersmallticksmallticksmallcrosssmallcrosssmallcross
Video/Audio-Visualsmallticksmallcrosssmallcrosssmallticksmallcross
Test Prep Software5-star4-star5-star4-star n/a
# Practice Questions 2,900+ 1,850+ 2,400+ 2,245 n/a
Performance Trackingsmallticksmallticksmallticksmallticksmallcross
Audio Reviewsmallticksmallcrosssmallcrosssmallticksmallcross
Customer Service Personal Counselor +
Online forum
 Technical
support only
Technical
support only
 Online forumTechnical
support only
Free Trialsmallticksmallcrosssmallcrosssmallcrosssmallcross
Access Time-limit18 months
or until you pass*
12 or 24 monthsn/a (CD format)Unlimited12 months
Money-Back Guarantee*smallticksmallcrosssmalltick Re-registration
Guarantee
smallcross
Pricing (2-parts)$720 (w coupon)$999 (w coupon)$695$750 or $1,100**$595
Pricing (single-part)$405 (w coupon)$689 (w coupon)$379$425 or $600**n/a
Pass rate (unverified)n/an/a>80%~60%n/a
Recommendation
& Analysis
gleim-button2wiley-cmaexcel-button2Exammatrix CMA review courseHock CMA reviewLambers CMA review

* Conditions apply. Please check with the respective providers for details.
** Depends if customers select the “live with Brian” and re-registration guarantee.

Detailed CMA Review Course Comparison

Gleim CMA

Gleim is one of the most popular CMA review courses available and is especially preferred by those who study on their own.

Pros

  • Very established; one of the earliest providers of CMA review course (as well as for CPA, CIA and EA).
  • The Gleim CMA Review System offers an integrated learning approach with audio-visual presentation, test prep software in both various modes, audio review, text books, essay wizard and an online study tracking system called Gleim online.
  • Most comprehensive practice questions with exam mode that closely simulate the real exam you will encounter at the prometric center
  • The free trial for one study unit and money-back guarantee is very attractive.
  • One of the most affordable integrated review courses in the market.

Cons

  • If you have no accounting background, it may be tough to follow (but if you have basic knowledge in accounting e.g. taken one or two introductory classes it should be fine)
  • Not all audio visual presentations are converted to the new video course format.

Recommendation

If you have some accounting background and are the type of candidates who learn from practice i.e. doing lots of practice questions, I have no doubt that Gleim is the best for you.

Wiley CMAexcel (CMA Learning System)

This is also commonly known as the “IMA study materials” in the CMA community. IMA recently partnered with John Wiley & Sons (publisher of #1 CPA exam review books) to co-brand and promote CMALS and the first Wiley CMA Exam Review was published in November 2012.

Pros

  • The notes are clear, precise and easy to read.
  • I feel like the authors really want to teach (versus just want you to pass) through the book, and I actually quite enjoy reading most of the sections.

Cons

  • This is not a weakness but a common misconception: Note that while this is an official IMA endorsed material, the authors do not have any access to the exam questions and therefore there is no advantage of getting these study materials vs the others.
  • The practice questions in the test bank are not as complex and comprehensive. I personally prefer tougher practice questions to get me fully prepared for the exam.
  • It’s one of the most expensive options.

Recommendations

The text books are easy to read and are organized. Strictly in terms of learning experience, I actually prefer Wiley to Gleim and Hock (although a few of my readers like Hock better). In terms of test prep software, we all think Gleim give us more comfort to pass the exam.

Exammatrix CMA Review Course

Exammatrix is an accounting test prep developer that prides itself on a unique offering — a software that learns from your answer.

Pros

  • The “adaptive learning technology” that analyses your weakest areas based on the performance of each study session has a lot of potential.
  • There is a money-back guarantee as long as you are a “good student” (parameters include how much time you spend on the questions, and % of questions done correctly at the end).

Cons

  • Most readers comment that the book is not as comprehensive.
  • Fewer features e.g. no video lecture, audio review and flash cards, although this is somewhat reflected in the lower price.

Conclusion

A good choice for those who know the exam content materials but need to a test prep software for exam preparation. It is also a great choice of supplement if you are looking for additional set of practice questions.

Hock CMA

People may not have heard about Hock outside of CMA review courses but they are quite popular among non-US candidates.

Pros

  • Great notes that explain the concepts well with classroom recordings.

Cons

  • Practice questions are good but coverage is not as wide as Gleim’s.
  • While I appreciate the honesty, the stated 60% pass rate of Hock student is quite low in my opinion.
  • One of the more expensive CMA review courses.

Recommendations

If you need more explanations on the concepts behind the topics covered in the CMA exam, but find Wiley too expensive, Hock could be a good alternative. If you need more practice questions, you can get Gleim or Exammatrix as supplement.

Lambers CMA Review Course

Lambers CMA review course have been around for a long time with broad experience providing review courses for CPA, CFA, CMA, CIA and EA. They offer audio course, flashcards and test prep software for both Part 1 and Part 2.

Pros

  • Lambers’ products are “born out of classroom”, meaning that the materials are prepared by by professors who are actively teaching i.e. someone who understand the needs of the candidates.
  • Least expensive.

Cons

  • The review materials is least expensive for a reason — there aren’t much to offer except for the test bank software, which you can get from ExamMatrix (with better adaptive capability) anyway.

Recommendations

If you would like to get a standalone flashcard, Lambers can be a good choice with reasonable price. However, for test prep software or overall package I would recommend Gleim instead.

Rigos CMA Review Course

Rigos offer a CMA review course but it is not a complete program.

Pros

  • Rigos is a professional test prep review provider with presence in many cities and countries.
  • Both live classes and self-study courses are available.

Cons

  • Rigos doesn’t get mentioned much among CMA candidates. Typically, a course gets mentioned and promoted by word-of-mouth if it’s good.
  • It runs on a franchise model — in my opinion the quality of the lecturers cannot be guaranteed.

You can get a more detailed evaluation of Rigos CMA Review here.

Other CMA Review Course Providers

There are other smaller-scale CMA review courses. They are likely not the best in my opinion, but I haven’t got enough feedback to write a review on them. If you have first-hand experience as a customer, please email me.

My Recommendations

Gleim CMA review courseGiven that this is mostly a computerized test, the thing that will make or break a review program is the multiple choice questions.

I believe most candidates would agree that Gleim CMA has the best test prep software, free trial, personal counselor support, reasonable pricing… all with the Gleim Guarantee. What do you think? Drop a note on my Gleim’s page and we can discuss.

Summary
Reviewer
Stephanie Ng
Review Date
Reviewed Item
CMA review course comparison
Author Rating
5

Comments

  1. ryan justin Talavera says

    Hi Stephanie,

    Thank you for your site you are a big hep to us aspiring CMA.

    I’d like to study on my own at my own pace,. Hope there is some materials you cn share with us.

    Br,

    Ryan Justin Talavera

    • Stephanie Ng says

      Hi Ryan,
      The review courses listed in the table are all excellent choices for self-study. I do have copies for most of them, but given copyright issues I am afraid I can’t share with all of you for free. There are giveaways from time to time so please watch out for it. Regards, Stephanie

  2. Greg Carr says

    Hi Stephanie,

    Being unemployed for the past three months makes it difficult to pay for the Gleim course. I would like to begin studying for the exam. I would appreciate it if you could advise me regarding ‘details on ‘the give always from time to time’
    Thank you

  3. Mohammad Younus. says

    Greetings to your respected self,
    I sincerely congratulate your venerable self for such a great effort which is nascent and noble.
    I am highly motivated for CMA Exam and need your suggestion for selecting Study Material.
    I like self study and have studied Accounting at Bachelor’s Degree Level.
    Thanks very much indeed,
    Sincere Regards,
    Mohammad Younus ,
    Bachelor’s Degree In Commerce ( Gold Medalist),
    University Of Kashmir,
    India.

    • Manoj says

      Dear Younus

      In my opinion Hock is the best . Have you joined CA , as you are a topper in commerce Indian CA is most suitable in your career life.

      regards

      Manoj

  4. says

    Hello Stephanie.
    I live in Orlando Florida.
    I really want to become an CMA
    The problem is that i don’t know where to start :(
    I’m a US citizen but i live here only 8 years.
    During this time i was constantly working 2 jobs never really had a time to study
    It took me a while to realize want kind of career i want to pursue
    I WANT TO BECOME A GENERAL MANAGER FOR MARRIOTT
    I work for Marriott for 6 years now
    My gut it telling me to study B.S in Accounting and than to continue my education in Mater of Science in Accounting Programs and become an Certified Management Accountant
    Do you think this is a good idea or not?
    If not can you please help me with some ideas on how to become an Certified Management Accountant ( please guide me ).

    Thank you
    Best Regards
    Arta

  5. Jaz says

    i have got the review class about cma part 1 sections, and now ‘m preparing for the January window. ‘m doing my post graduation also, so please let me know how can i register as a student member and what are the steps to be taken before exam.

    • Stephanie Ng says

      Hi Jaz,
      As long as you are taking at least 6 credit hours per semester, you are qualified for the student discount. Sounds like you are fine, but please be prepared to supply the proof (e.g. marksheets or transcripts).

  6. Nisa says

    I want to sit for the exam next year (2015), but I purchased the study materials from Gleim a few months ago. How dangerous is it for me to use these materials to study for the exam with these slightly outdated materials? I am just trying to avoid the extra costs of purchasing another review.

    Thank you,
    Nisa

    • Stephanie Ng says

      Hi Nisa, are you getting the Gleim course online? If so it will be switched to the 2015 version automatically sometime (likely Nov but depending which product you get). You may want to contact your Gleim personal counselor on this.

      • Nisa says

        I already have the review books from the most recent edition, but the entire system is out of my price range at this point. Do you think I could use the review book and some online questions and be ok? Or do you think the changes are so jurastic, I would need to switch?

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