CMALS Review Course: Good But Restrictive In Many Ways

CMALS review course: pros and cons

Important Note: IMA partnered with John Wiley & Sons (publisher of #1 CPA exam review books) to co-brand and enhance CMALS. For the 2013 version, Wiley’s role is mostly on printing logistics and distribution and has yet contributed to the content. However, I expect a marked improvement in this product  if Wiley is to get involved in revising the test bank in the future.  Details on the partnership can be found here.

Check out my updated evaluation of
Wiley CMA product offering here.

Summary of this New Replacement of CMALS

Wiley publishes the best-selling Wiley CPA exam review for many years. You can get the CMA review book on Amazon, which usually offer a good discounts (around $100 off from third-party providers using Amazon platform):

1. Text Book + Test Bank (i.e Practice Questions in Computerized Format)

2. Text Book + Test Bank + Online Intensive Review

The following is the original evaluation of CMALS / IMA Materials for your reference.

The Original CMA Learning System (CMALS)

CMALS is provided via the IMA Learning Center, which also provides ongoing training to CMAs with CPE courses and webinars.

The CMALS pack includes a textbook (in hard copy),  online review course, online MCQ practice tests, essay Q&As as well as some reference materials.  A full self-study version and an intensive review versions are available.

Textbook

Part 1. ~ 500 pages following the ICMA content specifications for the CMA exam, 78 exam-type Q&As, 21 retired sample essay Q&As, bonus tips on exam preparation, and reference bibliography

Part 2. ~ 600 pages with 98 MCQs and 19 retired sample essay Q&As

Online Practice Test

  • Lots of multiple choice questions with explanations (800+ for Part 1, 1100+ for Part 2)
  • 6 separate tests—one for each section and one that emulates the full Part 1 exam
  • Essay questions with sample answers
  • Test questions are randomized to provide a different presentation for each test you take

In other words, the offering is more or less the same as the basic package from other CMA review providers. Let’s move on and evaluate the quality of the offering.

Pros

Helpful Notes. The notes in the textbook is brief and focuses on what you need to know. If you have a solid knowledge in accounting, this is probably enough especially if you have accounting reference books that you can refer to.

Cons

1. No advantage despite being an “IMA” official guide. While some of you may think that CMALS may have special advantage in providing review courses, the reality is that the CMA exam is administrated by an affiliate called ICMA (instead of IMA). In other words, the IMA has no special advantage in creating their CMA Learning System than any other company.

2. Online Practice Test Not As Good. Some people find the questions too repetitive, while others believe the explanations are not written with enough detail. In any case, most candidates find it necessary to supplement the study with a good test prep software. For professional exam such as the CMA exam, testing skills are as important (if not more) than knowledge on the topics. Some people may find it easier to learn by working on practice questions instead of read and re-read the notes.

3. Not Enough Explanation. CMALS notes are generally good as a summary but if you rely them on understand a concept, the notes are not comprehensive enough.

4. Subscription Valid For 1 Year Only. The subscription expires after one year which is restrictive compared to most other CMA review providers.

Conclusion

I think it is safe to say that CMALS is good but not great in all major aspects. The fact that it is provided by IMA doesn’t give this review course an edge. Please click on the link for comparison of this and other CMA Review Courses.

Comments

  1. SRINIVAS says

    Hello Ms. Stephanie…How r things?
    Well, Please clarify between Wiley(CMALS) & GLEM..Your review says that for both books to use, you require back ground of accounting especially with Glem as you commented in “Cons”…I have also gone through your other reviews on HOCK, Rigos but not comfortable..
    Now, pl tell me for a Commerce Graduate (India) studied after say 20 years gap, which one to prefer (glem or wiley). Whether the subject studied earlier will go good if preferred for Glem as I am opting self study and I need more concepts & practice papers.
    Please suggest…Ans in details please…Thanks…Srinivas

    • says

      Hi Srinivas,
      You are absolutely right that no review course is perfect. Wiley (and Hock) has more explanation on each topic, while Gleim focuses on practice questions because they believe you learn more from active studying vs passive reading. My personal learning style is more on the “acting” and I believe for most people, even though they may not feel comfortable with it, do better using this approach. So my general recommendation is Gleim, but if you really need to go through the concepts in detail before moving on, then Wiley or Hock could be a better choice. Let me know if it helps! Stephanie

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