CMA Coach and CMA Exam Academy are launched by Nathan Liao, a graduate of the University of Phoenix’s South California campus, and a CMA certificate holder since 2010. His latest corporate job was controller at a company in Southern California.
He is now running CMA Exam Academy full time with students from over 25 countries.
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CMA Exam Academy: Live Coach over the Internet
You may have read my post on why I prefer self-study courses to live classes in non-US countries. The main issue is that it’s hard for anyone to track the quality of the instructors. Also, many teach in the local language and candidates are caught off-guard when hit by the lengthy, complex questions (in English) in the actual exam.
CMA Exam Academy is the answer to those who need guidance and flexibility in their CMA journeys. Nathan offers customized coaching and support, and you can get this at the comfort of your home.
CMA Exam Academy Product and Services
The course has an online study structure broken down by week over 12 weeks (13 weeks including the introduction). It is designed based on his experience in running CMA coach and the kind of struggles he knows a candidate would face.
It comes with video and audio lectures, online test prep utilizing Exammatrix’s adaptive learning technology, and his own interactive text books.
All coaching is done in 3 ways: via email, Q&A below each video lesson inside the course, and via the private group that they have. Every question is answered within 24 hours and includes complete explanations on excel spreadsheets.
Please check out this walk-through video:
1. Unique 1-on-1 Coaching
This is the most unique (and best) feature offered by CMA Exam Academy in my opinion.
Similar to CMAexcel’s instructor mentoring feature, Nathan answers questions by email.
What’s different is that Nathan tracks the videos his students have watched, as well as tracking the weekly assignments they have to turn in to him. When weekly assignments are not turned in, he emails each one as a follow up until they turn them in. Think of it as a live instructor but over the internet.
Nathan also sends them weekly emails on topics to be covered in the upcoming week. He believes that these two features are more effective in keeping students on track and accountable to finish and take the exam.
2. More Video Lectures
CMA Exam Academy has more than 100 hours of video lectures. This is considerably more than Hock (~60 hours), Gleim (~40 hours) and Wiley CMAexcel (23 hours).
These videos are 100% mobile friendly, available until you pass and you get updates automatically.
3. I like the Interactive Textbook
As you see in the video, the interactive text book is a great way to minimize the disadvantages of electronic books. There are features such as highlighting, adding bookmarks and comments, with embedded little quizzes through the book makes it a lot more fun and effective to read.
4. Audio Review Available
This is also quite unique for CMA review course materials. These audio lectures are in essence the audio versions of the video lectures. This provides flexibility and another form of studying since many people prefer to listen and study on the go. Students can download these files.
5. 30-Day Money Guarantee
There is a 30-day money guarantee to all candidates. Although this is not the best offer when compared to Wiley and Gleim (they offer free trials with no initial commitment), it’s better than Hock.
1. More Expensive than Gleim and Hock
If budget is a consideration, please note that CMA Exam Academy is more expensive: $1,794 vs $1,124 (Gleim) and $1,099 (Hock).
The higher price is partly due to the attention and time on each student. This course isn’t a self study; it is a live course experience over the internet to provide convenience and flexibility.
2. Competitors are More Established
I admire the fact that Nathan launches his own coaching as a young CMA, but at the same time I have a lot of faith in Dr Gleim who is a renowned professor at the University of Florida and has been teaching CMA, CPA and a few other certifications for over 40 years.
Doug Clinton from Wiley CMAexcel is an accomplished professor at Northern Illinois University serving on the ICMA Board of Regents (regulators of the CMA exam).
When I watch the videos more closely, it is clear that the experience and expertise does make a difference. For example, Nathan typically talks about the “how” in the video. Instead, Amy Ford (Gleim lead instructor) explains the “why” behind the concepts. It makes one feel comfortable that Amy understands the concepts inside out to be able to articulate the explanation at a deeper level.
3. Mistakes and Typos in the Text Book
We spotted quite a few errors not only in terms of typos, but also word usage and context. It doesn’t mean the concepts are wrongly presented but one may feel uncomfortable studying from a book that is not properly edited and vetted.
Gleim, Wiley and Hock have a team of staff specializing in technical accounting, content development and customer support. As someone who have authored a book under Wiley, I highly value the work of editors double checking my work and customer representatives collecting feedback.
In fact, as our blogger Sasha pointed out, she spotted many typos after 1 week of studying with CMA Exam Academy. After getting the second version of the book a week later and still spotting the errors, she decided to ask for a refund and got Gleim. You can check out her first and second posts here.
Update: Nathan told me he hired a team of editors who are going over the 2017 edition and correcting all of it. New version of Part 1 was released on March 2.
4. I don’t Agree with the Pass Rate Definition
You will see from the front page that the pass rate of “other courses” is 35% vs CMA Exam Academy at 72%.
I find this quite misleading because:
(1) 35% is the overall pass rate of Level 1 in 2015. This calculation counts every candidate, including those who didn’t take any review course, as well as those who did take courses including CMA Exam Academy. This number cannot be compared to the 72% figure.
(2) 35% is the overall pass rate of Part 1 in 2015. Level 2 pass rate in the same year was 50%. Unless the 72% also only represent Part 1 results, it is not useful as a comparison.
For your information, this is how different course providers define their pass rates:
I calculate my pass rate as “number of students who passed the exam divided by total number of students who took the exam”, not by number of students who “completed” the course.
Wiley CMAexcel states that “8 out of 10” candidates who took their courses passed. This is how CMAexcel calculates the pass rate:
We have been measuring our students’ pass rates since 2013. The pass rate is calculated as the number of parts passed divided by the number of parts completed.”
Exammatrix reports a pass rate of over 80% (without further explanation). Gleim and Hock do not have the tradition of disclosing pass rate information.
CMA Exam Academy vs Wiley CMAexcel
Since the CMA Exam Academy’s pricing level is the same as that of Wiley CMAexcel, here is a comparison for your easy reference:
|CMA Exam Academy||Wiley CMAexcel|
|Main lecturer||Nathan Liao, CMA|
Former corp controller/ Entrepreneur
|Doug Clinton, CPA, CMA, PhD|
Professor at NIU
|Text book developed by||Nathan||The Wiley Team|
|Individual coaching||Email with Nathan||Email with lecturers|
|# hours of videos||100+||23|
|Study planner||Fixed schedule for 12 weeks||Online and personalized|
|Progress tracking||Weekly with Nathan||Online|
|Exam Formula Guides|
|Access until you pass|
|Free trial / 30-day guarantee|
|Free shipping of books (if required)||(US only)|
1. I like the idea of the 12-week program, but what if I need to postpone the exam due to various commitment?
The program is flexible enough that if a student needs to postpone the exam, Nathan can reset their program and start from the beginning or from any week of their choosing.
2. What’s the difference between Deluxe and Complete course?
They are the same. The complete course is the single-part version at $997. The deluxe package is two-part version at $1,794, or $997 x 2 – $200 bundle discount.
If you have the discipline to:
- study on your own
- rely on the performance tracking tools to identify weaker areas and manage progress
- prefer a more established provider in the market…
… then Gleim, Wiley, and Hock have good offers.
But if you believe that:
- private coaching is very important to you
- you need someone to check on your progress on a more personal and regular basis
CMA coach’s CMA Exam Academy is a good option and the only one with one-on-one coaching on the Internet. For non-US candidates in particular, I believe this is a better offer than your local private coaching.
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