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CMA Exam Dates, Schedule and Calendar [2021 CMA Testing Window]

If you’re planning for your CMA credential, you should know the CMA exam dates, schedule, and deadlines. Plus, it’s essential to understand how to register and manage your time.

My goal is to help candidates understand the CMA exam, how to prepare for it, and pass it. In this post, I will give you all the information you need about Part 1 and 2 CMA exams dates for 2021. I’ll also cover which part of the exam you should take first and how to effectively plan out your entire CMA journey.

Ready for the CMA exam dates for 2021? Here is the latest info.

Overview of 2021 CMA Exam Dates

You need to understand the CMA exam schedule to register for your exam dates. Maybe you’ve been studying for weeks (or even months), and you finally feel confident enough to book your CPA exam date in 2021. However, it’s not possible to take the exam whenever you wish.

First, you must schedule your CMA exam within one of the testing windows. The good news is that we already know the CMA exam dates for 2021, so you have plenty of time to prepare.

Furthermore, understanding the timeframe for the testing windows is essential to your CMA exam schedule. The IMA currently offers three testing windows each year for the CMA accounting exam dates, as follows:

CMA Testing Window First Exam Date Last Exam Date Last Date to Register
January/February Jan. 1, 2021 Feb. 28, 2021 Feb. 15, 2021
May/June May 1, 2021 June 30, 2021 June 15, 2021
September/October Sept. 1, 2021 Oct. 31, 2021 Oct. 15, 2021

Additionally, the dates are the same for each section of the two-part exam. Therefore, the CMA exam part 2 dates are identical to the part 1 dates.

If you miss your testing window, you’ll have more hassles than just needing to reschedule. After all, it could throw your study plan off by months. Missing a testing window isn’t the end of the world, but it’s always better to avoid it when possible. Since the testing windows are always the same, you can avoid this problem by being proactive about your planning.

Once you’ve picked your testing window you want to go for, how do you book your spot?

Booking to Schedule CMA Exam with Prometric

You will schedule your test with a Prometric center, but you can choose the test center closest to you. Take this crucial first step seriously, since planning potential travel arrangements is also essential when you schedule a test. You can also use this same Prometric dashboard to reschedule or cancel your test and to confirm your test once you have scheduled it.

Next, in order to reserve a space at the Prometric exam site, you will need an authorization number. It is advised that you send in your registration around 6 weeks before the intended date of your exam to ensure everything is processed on time. Keep in mind that many people are trying to register, and spots may be limited, especially at more popular testing centers.

Finally, remember that you must be an IMA member before you register for the exam. You’ll need to meet these requirements to get your CMA certification:

  1. Hold an active IMA membership.
  2. Pass Parts 1 and 2 of the CMA Exam.
  3. Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college/university or a related equivalent professional certification.

Now that you know the IMA CMA exam dates, let’s look at some tips for scheduling your appointment.

CMA Schedule Tips

If possible, schedule your exam in the first month of a testing window (i.e., Jan, May, Sep). This gives you more “wiggle room” if you need to reschedule. This could save you money in the long run, as you can incur rescheduling fees.

cma exam windows

Candidates are allowed to reschedule their exams for free within the same testing window as long as their test date is still 30 days away. For example, if you run out of studying time, you can still postpone your January exam to February. If you schedule the exam in February, you can’t extend to May, and instead must pay in full for your next exam.

No one likes to think they will need to reschedule their exam, but you never know what will happen. Putting yourself in the position of having the free rescheduling time is a smart move, just in case.

Now, how do you know which part of the exam you should take first? Do people always take the parts in order? I want to address this common question since it affects the CMA planning and scheduling process.

Which CMA Part Should You Take First?

Interestingly, you do not have to take the CMA exam parts 1 and 2 in order. It’s completely up to you. For example, you can choose to take Part 2 first, if you want. So, how do you decide? The first step is to know what content each part contains. If one part seems significantly easier for you, then you can choose to tackle that one first. There really isn’t a right or wrong way, since in the end, you need to complete and pass both parts to get your certification.

The IMA breaks it down like this:

Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics

Many candidates find Part 1 to be more difficult since it covers more topics and a wider array of subject matter. You can read more about CMA Exam Part 2 difficulty compared to Part 1 if you want to learn more. In general, Part 2 has fewer subjects and units, so many people do consider it easier. Personally, I was more frustrated with Part 2. It seems easier when you look at it, but the questions were not as straightforward as Part 1.

Part 2: Strategic Financial Management

You will have an average of 12-18 months to complete each part, with 3 years to complete both. Many people sit for the exams in order, taking Part 1 first since it seems the most logical. However, some people think Part 2 will be easier for them, so they register to take it first and get it out of the way. The choice is yours. If you want to review the material a bit more and then make a decision, that is one option.

What other CMA dates do you need to be aware of?

Other Important CMA Exam Dates IMA

In addition to knowing the exam windows, you should be aware of a few other restrictions for scheduling your CMA exam.

  • All exam appointments must be made with Prometric at least 72 hours before your exam date.
  • If you need to cancel an exam appointment, you must do so at least 72 hours before your date, according to Prometric’s policies.
  • Exam appointments must be scheduled within the same testing window. For example, if your original appointment was in the January/February window, you can’t reschedule for the May/June window.

Understanding your CMA clock

Furthermore, you also need to understand your “CMA clock.” You have to complete all steps of the certification process within a certain timeline. Please note that the countdown on your CMA exam clock starts the day you pay the CMA entrance fee. On this date, you’re officially “in” and your work to become a CMA begins.

Specifically, you must register for the exam within 12 months of entering the CMA program and pass both parts of the CMA exam within 3 years. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of your window and not to allow these dates to pass you by. If you run down your CMA exam clock, you must start all over again by re-paying the entrance fee.

Keeping a CMA calendar

To manage and track your CMA exam clock, most people keep a CMA calendar. You can also work this CMA exam calendar into your study program to help you stay on track.

It’s quite common for accounting certification exams to require candidates to pass their exams within a set amount of time. For example, CPA candidates have both an 18-month rolling window and CPA credit expirations to consider. Therefore, the 3-year CMA competition deadline is quite normal and even generous, comparatively.

Example of Your CMA Exam Schedule Calendar

Next, let’s take a look at how the CMA exam calendar will work for you.

Let’s say today is January 1, 2021, and you plan to complete the CMA program within 6 months.  Let’s also assume that you have already accumulated 2 years of relevant working experience as an accountant working in a corporation.

  • Apply for IMA membership and pay the entrance fee – Jan 2021
  • Pick a CMA review course and start studying – Jan 2021
  • Pick your CMA test exam dates and register for the CMA exam – around mid-March 2021
  • Sit for the exam (Part 1) – May 2021
  • Sit for the exam (Part 2) – June 2021
  • Pass the 2 parts and get your CMA certification!

I can’t tell you exactly what your CMA exam calendar will look like since it needs to be personalized to you. However, I can guide you on how to create your own. As you see from this example above, you can build your own calendar. Just base your calendar on the days that you register, become an IMA member, and take the exam parts 1 and 2. Look at this roadmap to plan when and how to move through the CMA certification process.

Waiting On Your Test Results

Once you register and take the CMA exam, you’ll receive your results based on an established schedule. Like most people, you will probably be anxious to get them. But, it’s important to know that your results won’t just come straight away. The test results are still calculated manually, by hand. Therefore, there is a processing period from when you take the test until you get the results back.

However, you don’t need to stalk your mail carrier every day! After all, it’s easy to figure out when you will get your results based on when you took that part of the exam. Let’s explore this.

CMA Exam Results Release Date 2021

Your CMA exam result date is based on a formula depending on your test window. They say the waiting is truly the hardest part. And while this may be true, you can do some value-added things while you wait.

So, what are the 2021 CMA exam release dates? It’s easy to figure out with this formula.

Results come 6 weeks from the last day of the month you took the test, plus or minus a day.

Example:

  • If you take the exam on January 30, you will know the date sometime in the middle of March.
  • If you take the exam a few weeks earlier on January 2, your CMA exam result is released the same day as the above. Why? Well, you’ll wait 6 weeks after the end of the month you tested.

So in this example, if you choose any CMA January 2021 exam date, you won’t get your results until March.

The results will be updated online in your IMA profile almost immediately from this date. Furthermore, Prometric will email you a performance report about 14 days after your exam.

CMA Results 2021: Score Release Dates

This chart of score release dates will help you see when you can expect your scores, based on when you took the exam.

Testing months (2021) Jan Feb May Jun Sep Oct
Estimated score release dates Mar 14 Apr 11 Jul 12 Aug 11 Nov 11 Dec 12
Actual score release TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD
# weeks after the end of
testing month
 6  6 6 6 6 6

Some IMA Stats about CMAs

Next, let’s look at some statistics about CMAs. This sounds like a lot of information, planning, and scheduling to get the CMA certification. But is it worth it?

Here is what the IMA has to say about CMAs:

Those are some impressive stats that you now get to be a part of.


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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