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 pandemic
For those with slower internet connection or who prefer to read the text version of my suggestions, please read the article below.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Many candidates spend the last month of studying by rereading the entire text book 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 it? 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.
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.
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.
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, there are some new regulations 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, a hot bath, a good jog, 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.
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 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.
Here are the CMA test day things to bring that are necessary to take the exam. You won’t be allowed in without them.
Here are the best things to bring to the CMA exam that aren’t necessarily required:
Don’t forget to bring your confidence on exam 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 into 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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