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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 am planning 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 account 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.

Until 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.

Leave a Comment:

Debjit Biswas says January 12, 2016

I am a 47 old senior accountant working in Saudi Arabia. I hailed from India. I have practical experience in Accounts for more than 25 years.

Do not have any professional degree so want to accomplish this CMA course, what are the way of success in this exam the strategy of success please

    Stephanie Ng says January 13, 2016

    Hi Debjit, I would say work really hard on the practice questions and make sure you understand the question style and what the examiners are going to test you. Also, identify weaker areas and work extra hard on them. I have more tips here: https://ipassthecmaexam.com/cma-exam-prep-tips/

Fatema says December 30, 2015

Hello Im planning to earn CMA in 2016. Bought the books already and will start studying for part 1 on January 1, planning to take the exam on May. And if I pass it, will start studying part 2 to take the exam on October. Im planning to study daily of 4 hours. The question is: I hold finance bachelor degree (graduated 2012) but honestly no experience. Will it be too hard for me? Is it required an experience to understand the material?

    Stephanie Ng says January 3, 2016

    Hi Fatema, we don’t need a finance or accounting degree to take this exam, but we need dedication. Having some experience in accounting helps in some topics, but you can still handle it without. Don’t worry, just keep working hard and try to imagine how you can apply the concepts if you are a management accountant. Regards, Stephanie

Mohamed Essawy says August 22, 2015

sorry ,did you accomplish part 1?

Mohamed Essawy says August 22, 2015

did you passed in part 1?

    Amani says August 24, 2015

    Yes i did, i scored 420/500

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