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CMA Exam Calculators: Policy and Recommended Brands

CMA exam calculator

While the exam to become a CMA requires less math than other professional accounting exams, you’ll still need to crunch some numbers and calculate formulas. Thus, many candidates wonder whether calculators are allowed for the CMA Exam. Candidates are indeed allowed to bring their own CMA exam calculators to the Prometric Testing Center, but there are rules that you have to follow. Let’s take a look.

CMA Exam Calculator Policy

Simply put, CMA allowed calculators are standard, six-function calculators that are not programmable. The six functions are addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, square root, and percent.

  • The calculator must not use any type of tape.
  • The calculator must be 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.
  • The candidate can’t bring along instruction books.

The exception to the six-function rule are CMA Exam financial calculators like the ones in the following section.

CMA Exam Calculator Comparison

The following CMA 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 may also be used for the CFA and CFP exams.

Texas Instrument TI 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 this Texas Instrument model will work well for you. It is relatively inexpensive and is one of only a few scientific calculators allowed for use on several professional financial exams.

What’s Great about This CMA Exam Calculator

  • More affordable than other models
  • More user-friendly than similar calculators

Limitations

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

Hewlett-Packard HP 12C and HP 12CP

If you are looking for a more advanced calculator that could be useful for your profession beyond just the exam, then you may want to take a look at these HP models. The 12C has been in continuous production for nearly 40 years and remains popular among bankers. The 12CP is a slightly upgraded model with a faster processor and more memory. Although these calculators are programmable, they are still fine for use on the exam.

What’s Great about These CMA Exam Calculators

  • 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 certain formulas is not user friendly (e.g. you need to enter “=” before the numbers. Technically it’s known as the Reverse Polish Notation [RPN] and it’s quite hard to use.)
  • More expensive

For more details on these CMA exam calculators, check out our discussion on CFA calculators (which also include 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 you to get any of the above financial calculators for part two 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 by hand.

Since CMA IMA allows calculators, you might as well use one. And 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. I recommend using your calculator throughout the study process. However, if you’ve gotten a new financial calculator just for the test, make sure you know how to work it. This is particularly important if you’re new to using RPN on an HP calculator.

3. On Exam Day

The Prometric Testing Center may have calculators available, but they are not required to do so (i.e., you can’t blame them if they can’t supply one). Additionally, they will only provide the most basic six-function calculator.

The proctor in some Prometric Testing Centers may not be familiar with the latest CMA exam calculator policy, especially if you plan to use the somewhat 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

Frequently Asked Questions

Can we use calculators on the CMA Exam?

Yes! Especially for CMA part 2, using a calculator on the test is all but essential.

What calculators can you use on the CMA Exam?

According to the IMA’s handbook, “small battery- or solar-powered electronic calculators restricted to a maximum of six functions—addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, square root, and percentage—are allowed. The calculator must not be programmable and must not use any type of tape.”

Can you use a financial calculator on the CMA Exam?

Yes, you can use a TI BA II Plus, HP 10bII, HP 10bII+, HP 12c, or HP 12c Platinum. However, you cannot use any other kind of programmable calculator. Additionally, the TI BA Plus Professional is not allowed.

Can you use a scientific calculator on the CMA Exam?

This depends on the functions of the calculator and strictness of the proctor. Some scientific calculators are non-programmable, but many feature far more than the permissible six functions. For the CMA Exam, scientific calculators probably aren’t the best choice.

Is a TI-30XA calculator allowed on the certified management accountant exam?

It might be, but it’s a bit of a risk to rely on. The Texas Instruments’ TI30-XA is a popular and inexpensive scientific calculator. Unfortunately, it has more than six functions and is not included on the IMA’s list of allowed calculators. Therefore, a strict proctor might not let you use it on the CMA Exam.

What happens if I bring an unapproved calculator to the CMA Exam?

Just as you can’t take any other electronic devices into the exam with you, any unapproved calculators will have to stay outside. Your exam proctor will examine the calculator you intend to use to make sure it fits IMA guidelines. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to put it in the locker with your other things and hope the testing center has some extras on hand. Make sure you do your research beforehand so you don’t receive a nasty surprise in the form of a forbidden calculator.

What is the best calculator to use in the CMA Exam?

The best CMA Exam calculator for you is the one that you’re most comfortable using. Of course, it also needs to fit the IMA regulations. However, once those boxes are checked, you may find that you’re more comfortable with a small, standard model than a high-powered financial calculator. You already have enough studying to do, so don’t pressure yourself into learning to use a new calculator, too.

What else do I need to bring with me to take the CMA Exam?

In addition to your calculator, you should bring two forms of ID. A valid passport is acceptable, as are two other forms of ID, both of which have your signature and at least one of which has a photograph of you. You should also bring a bottle of water and a light jacket or sweater in case the testing center is cold.

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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Leave a Comment:

29 comments
Sarah says February 4, 2019

Is Casio fx-83gt plus or Casio fx-85gt plus calculators accepted in cma exam

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says February 6, 2019

    If it’s not on my list, you’ll need to reach out to the IMA directly to verify.

    Reply
Zeeshan says September 28, 2018

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

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says December 3, 2018

    I wouldn’t recommend it, no.

    Reply
Abdullah Alturaifi says January 9, 2018

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

Reply
A says September 20, 2016

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.

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says September 21, 2016

    Hi A, thanks for sharing! Agree the calculator on screen is good enough for Part 1. Not sure for Part 2 though…

    Reply
Sultan says May 13, 2016

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,

Reply
    Sultan says May 13, 2016

    Sorry, forgot to mention that I am using Texas Instrument BA 2 Plus

    Reply
      Stephanie Ng says May 15, 2016

      Hi Sultan, it is best if you check with your Gleim personal counselor. I am sure he/she faces questions similar to yours and will be able to help you out. Regards, Stephanie

      Reply
lance says April 12, 2016

Hi Stephanie,

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

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says April 12, 2016

    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

    Reply
jerry says July 1, 2015

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?

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

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says July 2, 2015

    Sorry Jerry, this site is for CMA exam only. Please check with the CFP board directly.

    Reply
raquel says April 14, 2015

Hi,

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

thank you.

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says April 15, 2015

    Hi Raquel, it’s likely ok if the calculator is not programmable. How about memory? It is best to check directly with IMA. Good luck! Stephanie

    Reply
mohamed says February 9, 2015

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

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says February 9, 2015

    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

    Reply
d says January 27, 2015

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

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says January 27, 2015

    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.

    Reply
rafsal says October 20, 2014

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

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says October 21, 2014

    Not too sure Rafsal. If you have an existing calculator that you want to use, it is best to double check with IMA directly. I only include the ones that IMA lists out in the handbook. Stephanie

    Reply
      rafsal says October 21, 2014

      so how can i directly contact them?
      through mail ID? if so please give me one

      Reply
        Stephanie says October 21, 2014

        They can be reached at ima@imanet.org

        Cheers, Stephanie

        Reply
Karthik says February 25, 2014

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

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says February 26, 2014

    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

    Reply
Michael says June 6, 2013

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.

Reply
    Stephanie Ng says June 27, 2013

    Thanks Michael. Yes I checked the rule and it does not mention HP 10bII “+” as an approved version. Stephanie

    Reply
Cory says May 30, 2013

What about the HP 10bII+ ?

Reply
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