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.
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?
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.
Now that you know the IMA CMA exam dates, let’s look at some tips for scheduling your appointment.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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?
In addition to knowing the exam windows, you should be aware of a few other restrictions for scheduling your CMA exam.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Join us if you want to get tips on how to plan,
study, and pass your CMA exam… on your first attempt!
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.
Sign up below to get started: