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CMA Exam: What to Bring on Your Test Day

Your CMA Exam test day is fast approaching. What’s the best way to prepare for the big day? Here is my take – in video form – on what you should (and should not) do in the last month, week, and day of the exam. We’ll also list, according to regulations from Prometric, what to bring on test day. This post has been updated to include Prometric regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For those with a slower internet connection or who prefer to read the text version of my suggestions, please read the article below.

What to Do One Month before Your CMA Exam Test Day

Ideally, you should have covered all exam topics by now and completed at least some of the practice questions.

The focus of this last month is to:

  • Secure your place in the Prometric Test Center IMA CMA
  • Double-check your ID
  • Improve performance of your weakest areas
  • Put theory into practice by working intensely on test prep software
  1. Schedule Your Exam

On the one hand, I like the idea of starting your studying before setting a date for the CMA certification test. You can see how your progress goes and schedule once you are comfortable taking the exam in the next testing window.

Having said that, you shouldn’t wait until the last minute because the testing sites host all kinds of different professional exams. They do get full as the remaining CMA testing days get fewer and fewer. This is especially the case in the last testing window of the year (i.e., September/October), and particularly the last few days in October.

I suggest scheduling at least one month in advance for the January/February and April/May/June windows. I’d suggest 6 weeks in advance of the September/October window.

  1. Check your ID and Travel Arrangements

It is also a good idea to check whether your forms of identification are valid. Prometric requires you to provide either a current government-issued passport or two forms of other acceptable ID. These other IDs must have your signature, and at least one of them must have a current picture of you. Here are Prometric’s acceptable forms of ID for CMAs.

Photo ID

Non-photo ID

  • Passport
  • Photo-bearing driver’s license with signature
  • Employee ID card
  • Official state or government ID
  • Military ID
  • National country ID card
  • Credit card with photo
  • Driver’s license without a photo
  • Valid credit card with signature
  • Bank automated teller machine card


Note that you can’t use your Social Security card or student ID. Whatever you do pick, make sure your name is spelled exactly the same on your ID as on the CMA exam registration form.

You’ll pick your testing location as part of scheduling your exam. Not every candidate has a testing center located conveniently nearby. If you need special arrangements for travel and accommodation, it is time to confirm your reservations.

  1. Improve Performance in Weaker Areas

Many candidates spend the last month of studying rereading the entire textbook or going through all the exercises. What a waste of precious time.

Don’t spend any time on topics that you already know well – this strategy won’t help you get extra points. Instead, work exclusively on your weaker areas, starting with the ones you struggle with the most.

Is there a topic you just don’t get? Prepare to spend half a day figuring it out once and for all. Once you understand how the concept is applied, you can immediately improve your score. You’ll go from scoring little to nothing on this topic to getting some decent points.

Similarly, rework the practice questions you’ve gotten wrong previously. Before, you might only have had a 20% chance of getting that tricky question right. Now the odds increase to 80% because you studied the trick.

  1. Put Theory into Practice

Understanding the concepts is important, but knowing how they can be applied in real business situations is critical to passing this exam. It’s time to stop reading the textbook, even if you don’t feel ready. Switch to “test mode” and work on as many practice questions as you can, starting with those you got wrong previously. Take at least one practice test for CMA certification to help you get ready for the length and timing of the real thing.

As you review, it is also important to read the explanation of each answer and understand the underlying concepts the examiners are trying to test you on. If you have the time, read the explanation of all answers (including the incorrect answers), so you know why the others are wrong. It will take more time to go through each question, but it’s worth every minute.

One to Two Weeks before CMA Exam Test Day

Pick a date to test-drive your way to the testing center. Try to pick the same day of the week and time of the day for a realistic look at the traffic conditions. This will help get you psychologically prepared and remove one uncertainty related to the exam.

Note that some testing centers allow you to do an official Prometric CMA test drive. This is a “dry run” of the check-in and test CMA procedures that will allow you to become familiar with the requirements. You can also verify that your forms of identification are acceptable. This experience does cost $30, and you’ll need to schedule an appointment. However, if you’re prone to test-day anxiety, this may help reduce some of the unknowns about the testing experience.

One Day before CMA Day of Test

Don’t spend all day trying to cram or taking CMA prep tests! This will merely drain your energy and confidence, both of which are critical to success. Instead, you may want to pack your bag today. Check that your calculator is working and has enough battery power. If you drive, make sure there is enough gas in the car.

As the Covid pandemic is still ongoing, some new regulations are in place to ensure the safety of the test takers and the Prometric staff. These include wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, and there will be hand sanitizing stations around. Please watch Prometric’s video on what to expect on test day, and check the company’s updated test center policies in case any of the regulations have recently changed.

Then, do anything that is relaxing – for example, watch a bit of TV, take a hot bath, go for a good jog, or have a hearty lunch with friends. Make sure to set your alarm to give you plenty of time the next morning. After a pleasant day, go to sleep early and tell yourself that you ARE ready.

On CMA Exam Test Day

Be sure to arrive at least 30 minutes before the test is supposed to begin. This will give you time to check in, put your things in a locker, use the restroom, and do anything else you need to do without forcing you to rush.

The test center administrator will check your identification, sign you in, and assign you a locker. You’ll place your belongings along with any jewelry, accessories, or hats into the locker. After that, you may need to stay in the waiting room until you’re called in to take the exam.

When you’re called into the room, you’ll have to submit eyeglasses for inspection and pull up your sleeves to show that you don’t have any recording devices on your person. You’ll also have to turn your pockets inside out and pull up your pant legs to show your ankles. The test administrators are very careful to prevent anyone from bringing in any recording devices to capture exam content and facilitate cheating.

What to Bring on CMA Test Day

Here are the CMA test day things to bring that are necessary to take the exam. You won’t be allowed in without them.

  • Form(s) of identification
  • Confirmation number
  • Medical or cloth mask that covers your nose and mouth (while pandemic regulations are in place)

Here are the best things to bring to the CMA exam that aren’t necessarily required:

  • While a calculator isn’t actually required, it’s a good idea to have one with you. Here’s our post on CMA exam calculators for more information.
  • Take along a jacket in case the air conditioning at the exam site is too cold for you.
  • If you need any kind of medication during or after the exam, be sure to bring it. You may need to let the proctors know that you will require access to this medication.
  • Bring along your flashcards or summary notes. You don’t really have time to study, but it’s comforting to bring along something to read. However, your textbook is too overwhelming for a last-minute review.
  • If you’re driving yourself, you should have already taken a test drive. Nevertheless, it’s prudent to bring a map, cellphone, and/or any device with GPS.
  • The lockers at Prometric testing centers are usually quite small. Thus, it’s better to bring a small bag and leave bulky and unnecessary items at home.
  • Bring a water bottle to sip before the exam or during the break.
  • Similarly, bring a favorite snack to pamper yourself afterward.

Don’t forget to bring your confidence on exam day!

What NOT to Bring on CMA Exam Test Day

It’s also helpful to know what to leave at home. Be aware that CMA exam Prometric proctors will carefully examine any jewelry, eyeglasses, or other accessories you wear in the exam room to check for recording devices. Most jewelry, hair accessories, cuff links, tie pins, and similar items will need to stay in the locker, so we recommend leaving them at home. Wedding and engagement rings are fine, though.

Additionally, leave any masks with one-way valves or wearable technology at home. They don’t meet the current safety regulations. We don’t recommend bringing any textbooks or extensive CMA test study guides, either, as that’s too much to review and might only add to your stress. You don’t need to bring scrap paper or pens, as these will be provided for you, and you can’t bring your own into the exam room.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you need to bring on CMA test day?

As far as what you absolutely can’t forget, remember your form(s) of ID and your confirmation number. While pandemic regulations are still in place, you must also bring a mask. We also recommend a calculator, a jacket, a small bag, a water bottle, and some snacks.

What can you bring on the CMA exam date into the testing room?

While you’ll have to leave most of your possessions outside in a locker, you can bring your calculator and a jacket into the room with you.

Can you bring snacks to CMA test day?

You can – and should – bring snacks for after the exam, and possibly for the break if you know you’ll get hungry. However, be advised that you can’t take them into the testing room or eat them during the test itself.

Can you take notes on the CMA exam?

Although you can bring some notes with you to the testing center if you like, you won’t be able to take them into the actual exam room with you. They will need to go into the locker with the rest of your things.

Do you get scratch paper for the CMA exam?

Yes, CMA Prometric test administrators will provide you with blank scratch paper, as well as pens. You will need to leave both behind when you’re finished with the exam.

Are there metal detectors at the CMA test site?

Some – though not all – Prometric testing centers do have metal detectors. If there is a metal detector, you will need to walk through it as part of the check-in procedure.

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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