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CMA Exam Part 2 Difficulty Compared to Part 1

cma exam part 2 difficulty

Amani is one of our CMA exam bloggers. She writes for us every Tuesday.

Before starting Part 1, I did some online research to see how difficult it could be compared to Part 1. But I didn’t find much on CMA exam Part 2 difficulty, so here is my attempt to analyze the contents of this part.

I have chosen to use the Gleim materials for the Part 2 exam, just as I did for Part 1. This time, however, I plan to use only the printed material without the audios and presentations and prepare my own summary while studying. I didn’t really like Gleim’s summary of Part 1.

CMA Exam Part 2 and Part 1 Content Comparison

Part 2 features fewer subjects than Part 1: Part 2 has 10 units compared to the 13 units in Part 1. Below is a summary of the units as presented by Gleim and their respective weight according to the IMA’s learning outcome statements:

  • Unit 1: Ethics (10%)
  • Units 2 & 3: Financial ratios and analysis (25%)
  • Units 4, 5, 6, 7: Decision analysis and risk management (20%)
  • Units 8 & 9: Corporate finance (30%)
  • Unit 10: Investment decisions (15%)

The allocation of the unit’s weights in Part 2 is unbalanced: Units 4, 5, 6, and 7 accounts for only 20% of exam content despite representing the largest portion of the book. This means that you can study only 6 units and have a good chance of passing.

Having said that, I don’t like to think of it this way. Focusing on the weight of the units tempts us to ignore some sections because we rationalize that a section with a low weight will only be tested lightly. I still highly recommend that you focus on the material as a whole.

CMA Exam Part 2 Difficulty: More Subtle

Going through the Part 2 units, I’ve noticed that this part needs more analytical skills and a comprehensive understanding of the financial effects, unlike Part 1, which is more mathematically focused. Although there are many formulas (mainly ratios) in Part 2, the material focuses more on analyzing the results instead of just calculating them. Therefore, studying the book would be less time-consuming, but the questions would not be as straightforward as those in Part 1. For this reason, Part 2 may be harder than Part 1.

To this date, I have only finished 2 units of the 10, but I believe there is enough time to finish them all and start solving practice questions using the method I mentioned in my earlier post (the post about an alternative method for solving questions).

Dear readers, how is your Part 2 studying going, and how do you think it compares to Part 1?

Note from Stephanie

I have to say I was more frustrated going through Part 2. I did not try to find out why, but your analysis is spot on. This part seems to be easier when you are reading it, but the questions themselves are not as straightforward. Great observation and great tips for those who are about to plan for their Part 2 preparation.

About the Author Amani

Hello, I am from Jordan and a recent graduate. I have passed Part 1 on my first try after 4 months of studying. I accepted a teaching position for a CMA review course and therefore have to postpone my Part 2 to 2016.

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