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

CMA review courseHere 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 CPA 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 | Hock | CMALS | Lambers | Rigos | Exammatrix

You can also go straight to My Recommendation here

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 (if not) 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
  • One of the most affordable products 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)
  • There is no classroom recording but an audio visual presentation.

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.

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 those offered by Gleim
  • The website is somewhat difficult to navigate.

Recommendations If you need more explanations on the concepts behind the topics covered in the CMA exam, or you learn best by listening to audio recordings from live classes, then Hock is a great source. If you need more practice questions, you can always get Gleim as supplement.

Wiley CMA Learning System (CMALS)

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.
  • There is the Wiley CMA test bank included in the book (online access), but the questions seem to be pretty basic. It’s good learning experience, but I am not sure whether the practice is rigorous enough to train me pass this exam.
  • It’s one of the most expensive options.

Recommendations The text books are easy to read and are organized. In terms of learning experience, I actually prefer Wiley to Hock but some of my readers like Hock better. In terms of test prep software, we all think Gleim give us more comfort to pass the exam.

  •  You can get a more detailed evaluation of CMALS here.

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.

Cons

  • One of the reasons why a candidate may pick a CMA review course other than Lambers is that… there simply isn’t a clear reason why a candidate wants Lambers in the first place. In other words, everything is good, but not great enough for people to say — yes, I like this feature that’s exactly what I want.

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

Rigos CMA Review Course

Not too much info on Rigos, but here are my preliminary thoughts on the pros and cons 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.

Exammatrix CMA Review Course

Exammatrix is another relatively new name that prides itself on a unique offering — a software that learns from your answer. Pros

  • An “adaptive learning” software that analyses your weakest areas based on the performance of each study session.

Cons

  • Similar to Rigos CMA review course, I haven’t heard of past users/readers talk about it (at least not yet).
  • Demo signup is quite a hassle and needs to give away lots of personal information.

My Recommendations

Given that this is mostly a computerized test, the thing that will make or break a review program is the multiple choice questions. I think if most candidates agree that Gleim has the best CMA test prep software, and that it is among the most affordable product out there, I would go for it. Good luck!