This article is a quick summary of how the CMA exam is graded and your score calculated.
Here is an overview of the CMA exam grading system and testing strategies:
If you prefer to read the text, please find the same information written below.
There are 100 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and two essay questions. You can expect to see 75% of points coming from the multiple choice questions and 25% on the essays. On the MCQs, you will have to get a minimum passing rate of 50% to proceed to the essay section.
You are allowed 3 hours for the MCQs and 1 hour for the essay question. If you manage to finish early in the MCQ section you can use the extra remaining time on the essays. Once you confirm that the MCQ section is completed, you cannot go back and make changes.
No. Each question is equally weighted. What can be seen similar to the CPA Exam is that there are different “forms” of the exam and that the difficulty of each form varies slightly. For example, the passing score could be 70% in a particular form but 65% in the other. The raw score is converted to a uniform scoring system of 0 – 500, and 360 being the passing mark.
In other words, if you get 400, it doesn’t mean that you get 400/500 = 80% correct.
I don’t think you need to dwell on analyzing the CMA exam score and grading system. It is robust enough to give you a fair score. Having said that, there are test-taking strategies that you can use based on this particular scoring mechanism:
There is no penalty for wrong answers. Therefore, you should attempt all questions — even blind guessing if you run out of time.
You don’t need a passing mark for BOTH multiple choice and essay sections, but this means that you need to do relatively well on both. In terms of study strategy, you should pay attention not only on the multiple-choice but also on how to answer the essay questions properly (see below for tips).
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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.