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CMA Exam Calculators: Policy and Recommended Brands

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CMA exam calculatorCandidates are allowed to bring their own CMA exam calculators in the prometric center, but there are rules that you have to follow. Let’s take a look.

CMA Exam Calculator Policy

  • Simple six-function calculators that is not programmable (except for the financial calculators listed below). The six functions are addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, square root, and percent.
  • The calculator must not use any type of tape.
  • Small, quiet, and battery- or solar-powered.
  • The calculator’s memory must be temporary, and it must erase when the memory is cleared or the calculator is turned off.
  • Can’t bring along instruction books

CMA Exam Calculator Comparison

The following financial calculators are allowed:

* Texas Instruments BA II Plus “Professional” is not allowed.

**Since January 1, 2013, candidates can use HP 12c / HP 12c Platinum which are very popular among finance professionals and are approved for the CFA and CFP exam.

1. Texas Instrument BA II Plus

If you are looking for a calculator with basic features that satisfy your CMA exam requirements, such as calculating NPV and IRR, then the Texas Instrument model works well for you.

What’s Great about this CMA calculator

  • More affordable
  • More user-friendly

Limitations

  • May need more keystrokes to accomplish the same tasks
  • Keyboard slightly less sensitive than the HP models

2. HP 12C and HP 12CP

If you are looking for a more advanced model that could be useful for your profession, then you may want to take a look at the HP models. This calculator has been around for 20+ years and have been popular among bankers.

What’s Great

  • Fewer keystrokes for frequently used calculations e.g. NPV
  • Very sturdy keypads
  • Good size (3″x5″) for your suit pocket

Limitations

  • The way you key in the formula is not user friendly, e.g. you need to enter the “=” before the numbers. Technically it’s known as the Reverse Polish Notation (RPN) and it’s quite hard to use.
  • It’s more expensive

For more details on these CMA exam calculators, check out our discussion on CFA calculators (which also use TI BA II Plus and HP 12C). Disclosure: The I Pass Team may be earn a small amount of compensation if you purchase from our links; our team uses these revenues to maintain the site and produce awesome free content just for you!

TI BA II Plus HP 12C HP 12C Platinum

Other Notes to Candidates

1. Before The Exam

I encourage that you get any of the above financial calculators for Part 2 of the CMA exam. Although the NPV and IRR calculations can be done using NPV/IRR tables supplied by the CMA examiners, it takes a longer time to complete each computation.

Since you need to get one for your exam anyway, it is a good idea to practice using the calculators during your study session.

2. A Few Days Before Your Exam Day

Make sure your calculator has fresh batteries.

3. On Exam Day

The Prometric center may have calculators available, but they are not required to do so (i.e. can’t blame them if they can’t supply one) and they only carry the most basic version.

The proctor in some Prometric center may not be familiar with the latest CMA exam calculator policy, especially if you plan to use the newly approved HP 12C. It is best if you can print out the calculator policy in the CMA Candidate Handbook (p.11) and bring it with you.

TI BA II Plus HP 12C HP 12C Platinum

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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  • Cory says:

    What about the HP 10bII+ ?

  • Michael says:

    The IMA recently confirmed with me that the HP 10B II+ is disallowed because it automates some particular functions that the Exam Developers want to test.

  • Karthik says:

    Is the ban on the BA II Plus Professional still valid ? The Canadian CMA site
    shows that the Professional Version is also ok.

    Could you please advise? Thanks

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Karthik, the Canadian CMA is a different qualification from the US CMA administered by IMA. This may explain the reason, but it is possible that the rule is changed too. I’ll read the latest handbook again later to double check. Stephanie

  • rafsal says:

    how about a 12 digit display calculators? how many digits are alloeable?
    is tax tabs not allowable?

  • d says:

    For part 1of the exam. do i really need to use a financial calculator for that exam or can i use Ti 84 plus by Texas instruments

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi D,
      Technically you don’t need a financial calculator; a “normal” one for simple calculations is fine. The issue I see with Ti84 is that it has storage and operational memory. I don’t think IMA will allow this but you can double check with them.

  • mohamed says:

    Hi ,
    Currently I am playing to enter the CMA part 1 next May and was wondering how vital is it ( to have a financial calculator ) for part 2 and if it is vital and i will be getting one any way do you recommend to use it in part 1 and is there any benefit for it in part 1
    Also I am so panning to buy the (TI BA II plus ) or do you recommend any other one , this is my first time with a financial calculator

    Thanks in advance for any feed back

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Mohammad, in Part 2, in theory you can use the tables to look up the data but I don’t think anyone does it these days. So for part 2 I would definitely get one myself. For part 1 it’s likely ok to use a normal calculator.

      In terms of which one to pick, I would recommend Texas Instrument in your case because it works like the normal calculator while the HP still uses the reverse polish notion, ie you press the + – keys after the numbers. If you don’t know what I mea, it’s basically a very confusing way to use the calculator.

      Also TI is more affordable. For detailed pros and cons please click on the link above. Cheers, Stephanie

  • raquel says:

    Hi,

    I know it’s not in the list of approved calculators but is “Casio fx-991MS” allowed? it’s non-programmable.

    thank you.

  • jerry says:

    Has the CFP exam policy changed? It seems to show that the HP18bii+ and TIBAii Plus Professional are approved.

    Will either of those calculators give any additional benefits for the CFP exam?

    http://www.cfp.net/docs/default-source/cfp-certification—cfp-exam-requirement/2015-calculator-policy.pdf?sfvrsn=4

  • lance says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    I will be taking the CMA Part 1 Exam this coming May 2016. Is calculator Casio DM-1400B allowed?

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Lance, is this a “simple” calculator, that is, without memory and formula functions? Looks like it is, and if so you should be ok. If I were you I would double heck with IMA by sending them an email: ima@imanet.org. Regards, Stephanie

  • Sultan says:

    Hi,

    I have a slight difference between Gleim’s answer & the calculator result. IT is for any calculation involving the Present value or future value

    Does anyone face the same problem ?

    Thanks,

  • A says:

    I have not taken Part 2 yet, but for Part 1, I found that I was much faster using the computer calculator that was available on the exam. It was because I was used to it, but also because I could easily copy and paste calculated values. The computer calculator had 1/x and other functions you’d find on the simple 2007 windows calculator. I also found it much easier to use than the Gleim calculator.

  • Abdullah Alturaifi says:

    Hi,

    I’ve just started studying for the CMA through the MEGA Test Bank. I want to confirm if the calculator that I’m using is allowed or not. It’s “Casio fx-991ES Plus Scientific Calculator, 10 + 2 (10 Mantissa + 2 Exponential) Digit, Full Dot Matrix.”

    I’ve read the IMA policy but not sure if this is allowed or not.

    Regards,

    Abdullah

  • Zeeshan says:

    Hello!
    Is a normal (non-financial) calculator for part 1 is sufficient?

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