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CGMA Exam Prep: Latest Format, Coverage and Review Course

The CGMA exam was recently launched in January 2015. Let’s take a look at the latest development.


The CGMA designation is a new qualification for global management accountants jointly created by CIMA and AICPA. We talk about the history, pros and cons and the requirement on this page.

Exam Format and Coverage

CIMA is responsible for the development of the CGMA exam. It is delivered online in a case study format. The coverage includes financial strategy, risk management, strategic management as well as research, data analysis and communication skills.

Based on the practice exam, the duration is 3 hours divided into three 60-minute sections. The frequency of exam is currently unknown.

CGMA Exam Prep

In terms of preparation, there is a set of “pre-seen” materials, free practice exam and tutorial.

1. Pre-seen Materials

This is essentially reference material in PDF format. During the real CGMA exam, all reference material will be provided in separate documents.

In the sample pre-seen materials provided by CGMA (available for download below), we are given 14 resources on a company called The Cast Group. These resources include:

  • Cast Group overview
  • Industry analysis
  • Risk factors
  • Mission statements
  • Directors biographies
  • Internal audit department
  • Accounting policies
  • Corporate social responsibility report
  • Press release
  • Business daily
  • Competitor analysis
  • Share prices
  • Financial statement extracts of two competitors

The PDF document is 39 pages long. Here is a paragraph in p.3 for your reference:

cgma exam prep

2. Tutorial

The tutorial is provided by Pearson VUE, which runs the sites for the actual exam. The tutorial goes over the format and navigation of the exam.

You can choose to download the software version or the PDF version of the tutorial (content is exactly the same). I recommend opening the PDF file and quickly skim through it instead of taking the time to download the software.

Here is a snapshot of a page in the tutorial:

CGMA exam tutorial

3. Practice Exam

The practice exam is hosted on Pearson-VUE website, and you can practice as many times as you wish. Registration is free as long as you don’t mind filling in some personal information (it states “to purchase an exam” but it is in fact free). It takes around 5 minutes to complete the registration and you can start right away.

Here are the screenshots from the practice exam, showing the case study question of Cast Group:

There is an answer sheet that for download and self-checking.

CGMA Review Course Materials

CGMA has its own sets of review materials at $619 ($489 for AICPA members). Commercial review courses may become available subject to the popularity of the designation.

My Thoughts

After reviewing the pre-seen materials, I find this exam to be very different from the traditional multiple-choice based questions we are familiar in the (US-style) accounting professional exams. Don’t want to scare you, but it looks like task-based simulations at the next level.

I do believe this is a better way to test the competency of candidates in solving real business problems, and I personally find the case study exercise interesting.

However, in all honesty, if you simply want to pass the exam and get the designation, this could be a tougher road as you’ll need to adjust to the very different exam style. It is also not as clear cut as multiple choice questions.

If you are serious about taking the CGMA exam, I encourage you to download these materials and give the practice exam a try, so you can have a first-hand experience.

for Your Further Reading

About the Author Stephanie Ng

I am the author of How to Pass The CPA Exam (published by Wiley) and the publisher of this and several accounting professional exam prep sites.

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