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CMA Exam Part 2: Certified Management Accountant Exam Part 2

cma exam part 2

Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam has 2 parts: Part 1 and Part 2. Each part addresses a different assortment of topics in order to provide an objective measure of your management accounting knowledge and skills. To pass the exam, you have to be well acquainted with each part. Learn about CMA exam Part 1, then use this information to help you master CMA exam Part 2.

CMA Part 2 Syllabus

CMA Part 2: Strategic Financial Management

Content Area Coverage Percentage Coverage Level
A. Financial Statement Analysis 20% Level C
B. Corporate Finance 20% Level C
C. Decision Analysis 25% Level C
D. Risk Management 10% Level C
E. Investment Decisions 10% Level C
F. Professional Ethics 15% Level C

As this table shows, Part 2 of the CMA exam is called Financial Decision Making and has six content areas.

The Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA) produces the CMA exam and reveals the information covered by each exam part in the content specification outlines (CSOs). The CSOs serve to

  • Lay the foundation for the development of each exam part,
  • Ensure each part has consistent coverage,
  • Communicate the details of the exam content to interested parties,
  • Help candidates prepare for the exam, and
  • Equip review providers with information for their courses.

Within the CSOs, a coverage percentage appears next to each exam part topic as a representation of that topic’s relative weight. The CSOs also assign a coverage level to each exam topic, ranging from introductory knowledge to a thorough understanding of the subject matter. The three levels of coverage are:

  1. A: Requiring the skill levels of knowledge and comprehension.
  2. B: Requiring the skill levels of knowledge, comprehension, application, and analysis.
  3. C: Requiring the skill levels of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

The coverage levels build on each other, so Level C may contain the requirements of Level A and Level B.

The CSOs don’t tell you the order or the frequency of the topics on the exam.

Topics of CMA Part 2

Part 2 focuses on financial decision making. In the CMA Handbook, the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), the worldwide association of accountants and financial professionals in business that offers the CMA certification, summarizes the CMA Part 2 content areas and topics.

A. Financial Statement Analysis

  1. Basic financial statement analysis
    • a. Common size financial statements
    • b. Common base year financial statements
  2. Financial ratios
    • a. Liquidity
    • b. Leverage
    • c. Activity
    • d. Profitability
    • e. Market
  3. Profitability analysis
    • a. Income measurement analysis
    • b. Revenue analysis
    • c. Cost of sales analysis
    • d. Expense analysis
    • e. Variation analysis
  4. Special issues
    • a. Impact of foreign operations
    • b. Effects of changing prices and inflation
    • c. Impact of changes in accounting treatment
    • d. Accounting and economic concepts of value and income
    • e. Earnings quality

You also must be informed about special issues such as foreign currency fluctuations, fair value accounting, and US GAAP vs IFRS.

The coverage of this section is similar to that of Section A in Part 1, which discusses financial accounting, but the focus is more on analysis and comparison using key financial data and ratios. In other words, Part 1 Section A requires you to understand past performance using financial statements, while Part 2 Section A involves evaluating future prospects.

B. Corporate Finance

  1. Risk and return
    • a. Calculating return
    • b. Types of risk
    • c. Relationship between risk and return
  2. Long-term financial management
    • a. Term structure of interest rates
    • b. Types of financial instruments
    • c. Cost of capital
    • d. Valuation of financial instruments
  3. Raising capital
    • a. Financial markets and regulation
    • b. Market efficiency
    • c. Financial institutions
    • d. Initial and secondary public offerings
    • e. Dividend policy and share repurchases
    • f. Lease financing
  4. Working capital management
    • a. Working capital terminology
    • b. Cash management
    • c. Marketable securities management
    • d. Accounts receivable management
    • e. Inventory management
    • f. Types of short-term credit
    • g. Short-term credit management
  5. Corporate restructuring
    • a. Mergers and acquisitions
    • b. Other forms of restructuring
  6. International finance
    • a. Fixed, flexible, and floating exchange rates
    • b. Managing transaction exposure
    • c. Financing international trade

To do well with this section, you must understand short-term and long-term financial management as well as the benefits and limitations of major financial instruments.

You will see a mix of conceptual and computational questions. The variety of questions can be very broad, but the calculations are likely quite basic.

C. Decision Analysis

  1. Cost/volume/profit analysis
    • a. Breakeven analysis
    • b. Profit performance and alternative operating levels
    • c. Analysis of multiple products
  2. Marginal analysis
    • a. Sunk costs, opportunity costs, and other related concepts
    • b. Marginal costs and marginal revenue
    • c. Special orders and pricing
    • d. Make vs. buy
    • e. Sell or process further
    • f. Add or drop a segment
    • g. Capacity considerations
  3. Pricing
    • a. Pricing methodologies
    • b. Target costing
    • c. Elasticity of demand
    • d. Product life-cycle considerations
    • e. Market structure considerations

This section will test you on how management accountants provide data and perform analysis for the decision-making process.

Decision analysis also includes risk management, but we will go through this topic in Section D.

D. Risk Management

  1. . Enterprise risk
    • a. Types of risk
    • b. Risk identification and assessment
    • c. Risk mitigation strategies
    • d. Managing risk

Organizational managers need to identify, assess, and respond to risks in order for the organization to achieve its goal. The CMA exam Part 2 concentrates on the ERM model. You are most likely to get conceptual questions in this section.

E. Investment Decisions

  1. Capital budgeting process
    • a. Stages of capital budgeting
    • b. Incremental cash flows
    • c. Income tax considerations
    • d. Evaluating uncertainty
  2. Capital investment analysis methods
    • a. Net present value
    • b. Internal rate of return
    • c. Payback
    • d. Comparison of investment analysis methods

This section covers how management accountants help make important decisions about whether to proceed with an investment or choose between investment alternatives.

F. Professional Ethics

  1. Business ethics
    • a. Moral philosophies and values
    • b. Ethical decision making
  2. Ethical considerations for management accounting and financial management professionals
    • a. IMA’s Statement of Ethical Professional Practice
    • b. Fraud triangle
    • c. Evaluation and resolution of ethical issues
  3. Ethical considerations for the organization
    • a. Organizational factors and ethical culture
    • b. IMA’s Statement on Management Accounting, “Values and Ethics: From Inception to Practice”
    • c. Ethical leadership
    • d. Legal compliance
    • e. Responsibility for ethical conduct
    • f. Sustainability and social responsibility

The content of this section is based on the IMA Statement of Ethical Standards. The principles and standards are concise and easy to understand. Candidates should memorize the names of the four standards, and more importantly, know how they are applied in real business situations.

CMA Exam Part 2 Format

Each CMA exam part contains a specific number of 2 types of questions:

  • 100 Multiple-choice questions (MCQs)
  • 2 Essay questions

You’ll have 4 hours of total testing time for each exam part, and your time will be divided like this:

  • 3 hours for the MCQs
  • 1 hour for the essays

You will only be eligible to move on to the essay section if you answer at least 50% of the MCQs correctly. If you are eligible, the exam will send you on to the essays once you’ve answered all of the MCQs or after 3 hours have passed, whichever comes first. You can’t go back to the MCQ section once you leave it: you have to remain in the essay section.

In the essay section, you read 2 scenarios describing a typical business situation and complete 8-10 written response or calculation questions based on these scenarios.

CMA Part 2 Questions

The CMA exam MCQs have 3 parts:

  1. The question stem: includes the question, necessary details for answering the question, and sometimes, irrelevant information as well.
  2. The correct answer choice: responds to the question stem better than any of the other answer options.
  3. The 3 distractors: appear to be correct at first glance but are actually incorrect.

Along with the more common, straightforward MCQ question, you’ll see a few other types of MCQs on each exam part:

  • Negative question stem: demonstrates that the correct answer choice is an exception by using words like “not,” “least, “false,” and “except”.
  • Combination of correct answers: asks which of three to four numbered statements are correct by providing answer choices with different combinations of the statement numbers.
  • Multiple variables: asks candidates to select the answer choice comprising all the correct variables presented in multiple columns of variables.

Essay Questions on CMA Part 2

Part 2 of the CMA exam expects you to respond to 2 essay scenarios by answering about 3-5 questions. To answer the questions, you may have to write a few paragraphs or perform a calculation.

Subject matter experts grade the CMA exam essays and award partial credit when merited. Because there is the opportunity for partial credit, you should always write as much as you can about the topic when answering a conceptual essay question, as this process will help you maximize your points.

For that same reason, you should show your work when completing computational questions. An example of getting partial credit would be receiving points for using the correct formula even if you made a mathematical error.

When making a chart or table, keep the formatting simple and the information organized clearly.

CMA Part 2 Pass Rate

The historical pass rate of CMA Exam Part 2 is around 35%.

CMA Exam Pass Rates

2013* 2014* 2015* 2016* 2017*
Part 2 42% 49% 55% 50% 50%

Because CMA exam Part 2 boasts higher pass rates than Part 1, it looks like Part 2 is easier. However, the reason for Part 2’s higher pass rate could be that most candidates take Part 1 before Part 2, so they are typically more prepared when they reach the second part of the exam. However, as neither part consistently presents a pass rate higher than 50%, there’s no doubt that the CMA exam, on the whole, is quite challenging.

CMA Part 2 Passing Score and Grading Process

To pass either exam part, you must achieve a score of 360. The CMA exam scores are scaled and range from 0 to 500. The ICMA transforms your raw score (the number of questions you got right) to a scaled score so that no matter which test form you take, the ICMA can report the scores with uniformity and consistency.

CMA Grading Process

The ICMA grades the CMA exam essays offline in a long and laborious process, so you won’t receive your CMA Part 1 exam results of a pass or fail immediately. In order to achieve consistent, accurate, and fair grading, the ICMA grades all of the CMA exams taken within a testing window at the same time and performs sample grading first to ensure that every solution has been accounted for. Reviewers check the grades throughout the grading process and, once the grading is complete, conduct an additional review of exams on the border of passing.

The ICMA calculates your final score by adding the score of the MCQ section to the score of the essay section. Your score for the entire part will be scaled to reflect the total weighted score of pass/fail. You don’t have to pass both sections; your total score determines your pass/fail status.

You should receive your exam results about 6 weeks from the end of the month in which you tested. They will be emailed to you and posted to your online profile. If you failed an exam part, Prometric will email you a Performance Report about 14 days after your results show up in your candidate profile. Your Performance Report will label your performance for each of the key topic areas in the MCQ section as either satisfactory, marginal, or unsatisfactory. You’ll also see your overall performance on the essays.

CMA Part 2 Study Time

You can sit for both Part 1 and Part 2 of the CMA exam at one of Prometric testing centers around the world. You can only take an exam part during these three testing windows:

  1. January/February
  2. May/June
  3. September/October

Various CMA exam industry voices have suggested different amounts of study time for Part 2.

CMA Exam Part 2 Study Time

IMA Gleim Wiley Hock My Recommendation
Part 2 150-170 100 90 150 60 minimum / 120 maximum

My minimum CMA exam study time recommendation for Part 2 is based on how much time you’ll need to complete these specific activities within the Gleim CMA Review System:

  • Complete the diagnostic quizzes
  • Read the textbook
  • Answer the True/False questions
  • Watch the Gleim Instruct videos
  • Take the MCQ practice quizzes
  • Complete one practice exam

My maximum recommendation also includes answering all of the practice quizzes in the test bank and reviewing the answer explanations for your incorrect answers.

The biggest factor affecting how much time you’ll need to study for the CMA exam is your level of familiarity with the material at the start of your review. But no matter how much you know at the beginning of your studies, you must still resolve to study for as long as it takes to reach the cognitive levels at which the exam tests.

If you’re already fairly confident with several of the Part 2 topics, you can probably base your study schedule on the minimum amount of time I recommend. If a good portion of the CMA exam material is new to you, you should plan to study for my suggested maximum amount of study time. To reach these study time marks, you’ll need to study for this many weeks and hours per week:

CMA Exam Part 2 Study Schedule

Total Hours Number of Weeks Number of Hours Per Week Approximate Number of Hours Per Day
Minimum 60 6 10 ~1 ½
Maximum 120 12 10 ~1 ½

Study Plan for CMA Part 2

Make your CMA Part 2 study plan by following these steps:

  • Evaluate your current weekly schedule to identify the number of study hours you have available each week.
    • Lay out a general timeline of your week covering all your weekly activities and the amount of time each takes.
    • Tally up all your free hours to ensure it’s enough to accommodate your CMA exam studies.
    • To acquire more study time, determine the activities you can remove or reduce until you’re done with the CMA exam.
  • Decide to study for 1-2 hours a day.
    • Complete a few short study sessions or one longer study session a day.
    • Study when most convenient for your mind and body (you want to feel awake, alert, and comfortable).
    • Rely on your study planner to stay on track.
  • Schedule your exam date.
    • Once you know how many weeks you’ll require to be completely prepared, determine which CMA testing window you will be able to test in.
    • Contact Prometric (either via their 800 number or website) as soon as possible to secure your preferred test date.
    • Pick 2 or 3 equally ideal test dates in case of unavailability.

CMA Part 2 Practice Questions

Download free CMA Part 2 practice questions and free CMA study materials.

CMA Part 2 Syllabus Overlap with Other Professional Exams

If you’ve already taken a different professional accounting exam or are planning to take another after the CMA exam in the future, I’ve got good news for you: There is quite a bit of content overlap among the CMA exam and these accounting and finance exams.

CFA Exam

There is some overlap in Section A (Financial Analysis) with the CFA FRA section as well as with the entire section on corporate finance. There is also a lot of coverage on Ethics in CFA Level 1. The Codes and Standards are different, but the underlying concepts as well as how the questions are formatted are quite similar.

CPA Exam

It’s hard to match the syllabus overlap by section, but you’ll see quite a few Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) questions in CMA Part 2. You’ll definitely have an advantage if you’ve taken these 2 exams recently.

CIA Exam

Unlike CMA Part 1, Part 2 has little overlap with the Internal Auditor exam except that it also covers professional ethics.

How to Pass CMA Exam Part 2

If you’ve already passed Part 1, you can take a day or 2 to relax, but you should get back into studying shortly thereafter so you stay in study mode. Remember, you’ve already done this, so you understand the testing layouts and types of questions you’ll see. Use this information to establish your study priorities and apply the best habits for studying effectively. If you’re starting with Part 2, finalize your study plan and dive right in so you can pass efficiently.

You’ll need to know many different financial ratios to pass Part 2. I suggest you memorize the formulas of all the key ratios and get very familiar with the analytical tools as well. You can make flashcards to help you accomplish this. In each flashcard, write down the formula and any important analysis information. You’ll also need to know the applications and understand how external investors use them to evaluate the company’s financial health.

Finally, you can prepare for Part 2 success by applying some of the portfolio management concepts to your personal investments in a spreadsheet. This practice will give you a better understanding of the concepts and ratios.

Above all, you must commit to the exam, pick the right review course, and study with a strong strategy. Taking these steps gives you a much better opportunity to pass.

More Help with the CMA Exam

Now that you know so much about CMA exam Part 2, you’re well on your way to passing it. But, to give yourself the best chance of achieving complete CMA exam success, you should also rely on the right CMA review course for you. You can use my comparison of the CMA review courses available to discover which course you need. Then, you can use my exclusive CMA review discounts to save big on the best CMA exam study materials.

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:

Mohankumar says March 1, 2021

My daughter gone through course materials. she need to do mock up test ..is there separate link available for mock up

sehrish says December 29, 2018

Hi Stephine, i have done my intermediate recently. i also read every single comment of yours. i wanted to know that how can i start it i am new comer in ICMA. so many of peoples told me that it is too difficult. can you pleae give me a humble and kind suggestion please??

    Stephanie Ng says January 16, 2019

    Hello, this site is for CMA US. Please let me know if I have misunderstood.

faizan says November 15, 2017

HI, how are you ? i want to ask you that i have done my MBA finance now i want to do CMA , so it will be helpful for my future ? The second thing is how many courses will be exempt after MBA.
i will be waiting fot your positive response thanks………………

    BALAJI VARADAN says November 15, 2017

    Hi Faizan,
    I am fine thank you. Really i appreciate about your wise decision. This is right choice to you. In CMA we never get any exemption from our previous Degree. But i assure you we have much clear understand about CMA subjects with helps of our previous Degrees. I hope you will be a part of our CMA family. I am hearty Welcoming you. Then, Please go through this link which will give you clear idea about CMA. https://ipassthecmaexam.com/how-to-become-a-cma/

      Stephanie Ng says November 20, 2017

      Thanks for helping out Balaji! Stephanie 🙂

    Stephanie Ng says November 20, 2017

    Hi Faizan,
    Thanks for your note. This CMA certification is a qualifying exam instead of a “course”, so we can’t really get exemption from MBA etc.
    And whether it’s helpful to get a CMA… it depends on where you work and what type of work you’ll be specializing. This page may help: https://ipassthecmaexam.com/why-become-a-cma/

Balaji says July 1, 2017

I am very impressed with your info’s. I am very eager to do cma. So guide me without any dealy what are the steps I should follow. Dear sir if you are not help me out in this regard I will take any decision and I may spend money irrelevantly. Please guide me I am believing more Thanks in Advance

Kouser says July 18, 2016

hi Stephanie
I am new here in your blog.I am planning to go for a qualification like CMA or ACCA. I am confused which one I should choose.which one will give me much return.and how much these courses will cost?

    Stephanie Ng says July 18, 2016

    Hi Kouser,
    CMA is more focused on management accounting while ACCA is more general. A closer comparison would be CPA vs ACCA, which I present my analysis here: https://ipassthecpaexam.com/acca-vs-cpa-us/

    In terms of which one is more useful, it depends on where you plan to work. We discuss this point in the comparison page as well. Regards, Stephanie

Rami says April 10, 2016

Hey Stephanie,

Just want to ask whether its enough if I only solve multiple choice questions in the Test Prep question bank, because it turns out the books I bought only have the question bank for the multiple choice questions and not the practice essay questions!! Sent Gleim an email and they said I’d have to pay an addition $150 for each part to get the Essay bank, so that kind of sucks…so not sure if its worth the investment now. Do you think I would really need it to pass or is it enough if I just practice on the multiple choice questions?

Thanks a lot.


    Stephanie Ng says April 11, 2016

    Hi Rami, do you have the mock exam? If you have at least one chance to see how the essay questions may look at, it is not a must to get them in my opinion. Most people find the essays more straight-forward. You can take a few classic multiple choice questions and turn them into essay questions, and write down (or better, type on computer) and see how well you do in a timed environment. If you pick a few questions from each study until, you will be well prepared. Good luck! Stephanie

    Here is my page on essay question for your info: https://ipassthecmaexam.com/cma-exam-essay-prep/

      Rami says April 12, 2016

      Hi Stephanie. Well I think I should have the mock exam, not sure. It just turned out that I only have access to the normal Test Prep without the essays with the books that I bought…let’s hope it’s enough! Can’t stand studying anymore, really want to get over with it!

      Thanks again :))

        Stephanie Ng says April 12, 2016

        Totally understand… stay strong! 🙂 Stephanie

Rob says April 8, 2016

Hi Stephanie,
I wanted to say I passed part 2 exam.
Remember I thought it was long… I wanted to thank you for your help.
I am working on part 1 now… how do you recommend I prepare for that one?

    Stephanie Ng says April 10, 2016

    Hi Rob, you are most welcome. Congrats and really happy for you! I would use the same strategy that helps you pass Part 2 🙂 Stephanie

Latif says January 10, 2016

Thank you Stephanie for this great information. I hold MS in finance, and I would like to start with CMA part 2 and then part 1. I am not sure whether this is possible or not.

    Stephanie Ng says January 13, 2016

    Hi Latif, definitely possible. You don’t need to take Part 1 and 2 in sequence. Regards, Stephaie

Rami says January 3, 2016

Dear Stephanie,

First of all, thanks for such a great website! It’s become my go to guide for anything related to the CMA. I just have two small questions I hope you can help me with..I’ve only recently decided to go forward with studying for the CMA and bought the Gleim books with the online Test Prep. That being said:
1. Starting studying in January 2016, do you think its possible to pass the exam in the February testing window (probably end of Feb), which is basically 2 months?
2. Is studying only the Gleim books enough to pass? As going through the books I noticed the text seems quite direct and short and didn’t involve a lot of explanations and analysis.

Looking forward to hearing from you and many thanks in advance!

    Stephanie Ng says January 4, 2016

    Hi Rami, glad to hear you’ve made the decision to go for the CMA! Happy to know you like my site. If you able to study and work on the practice questions for ~150 hours within 2 months, then yes, should be fine.

    For most candidates, Gleim is sufficient. There are a lot of explanations in the multiple choice answers. There used to be criticism on how dense the Gleim book was, so they streamlined it and made them shorter and more direct. There are also not that many examples. But you can certain take any of the multiple choice questions as example. As far as I know, this new format works and sells much better. Regards, Stephanie

      Rami says January 4, 2016

      Hi Stephanie, thanks a lot for the swift reply, you’ve been very helpful! Keep up the good work :))

        Stephanie Ng says January 5, 2016

        Thanks 🙂

Neha says December 1, 2015

I have the gleim 2015 edition cma review book. Will that suffice for 2016 cma exams?

katamba lsmail says August 29, 2015

Hello am katamba in Uganda. I want to offer CMA, hope with how I can access it online

    Stephanie Ng says August 29, 2015

    Hi Katamba, you can certainly study online (as long as your internet connection is fast enough). For the actual exam, you have to take it at an exam center. There should be one in or near Uganda. Regards, Stephanie

Rob says August 10, 2015

Hi Stephanie,
Quick Question,
I am going through some of the MCQs that are available under the gleim system (part 2) and I am noticing that most questions (90%) are from the textbook information but there are around 10% of them that are very detailed that you can’t find in the text. Is that by design? or will we have major surprises on the real exam from that of the gleim tests? or was this just an anomaly and gleim information very much mirrors the real thing?

    Stephanie Ng says August 12, 2015

    Hi Rob, we can never tell, but Gleim has some questions that look out-of-the-blue because they could be mixing questions from other professional exams, e.g. from CPA and CIA. Some students skip them, but I recommend not, because they are there for a purpose. One of them is to train you think on your feet. No review courses can cover everything that could be out for the actual exam, so by getting some really hard questions, you get used to it, at least mentally 🙂 That’s how I see it anyway. If you go through the comment section I believe some other readers raise this point as well. Cheers, Stephanie

Rob says August 7, 2015

Hi Stephanie,
For the exam, will we get an annuity table or will we need to rely on our financial calculator for PV calc’s etc.?

    Stephanie Ng says August 7, 2015

    Hi Rob, I remember there is a table and I think it’s for those type of calculation… most people rely on financial calculators. You can sign up for a free trial (Gleim and CMAexcel offer free trials), click on the practice questions and check out the table. They make it look exactly like the one you will see in the actual exam. See if it work.

    You can get the free trials here:

    Cheers, Stephanie

farida says May 13, 2015

I am new to this blog.I want to appear for my cma exam part two in next test window i.e in june.I want to know about preparation .Can you help me out?I am from middle east area.

Dalia says April 14, 2015

Dear Stephanie ,

Please I need to take CMA certification to improve my career bath, how can you help me I will start study CMA part 2 self study, is there any way to help me.

Ram says February 19, 2015

Dear Steaphanie, I am one of the followers of your site, Over the period, you have improved the site and contents. Kudos to you and your team. Just want your guidance; I have started CMA 2013; Out of touch in 2014. How to proceed now? Regards, Ram

    Stephanie Ng says February 20, 2015

    Hi Ram, thanks for your note! The process is the same, but the syllabus has changed slightly especially in Part 1. You may want to check this out before proceeding and consider getting new materials: https://ipassthecmaexam.com/new-cma-exam-changes/

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