CMA Coach and CMA Exam Academy are launched by Nathan Liao, a graduate of the University of Phoenix’s South California campus, and a CMA certificate holder since 2010. His latest corporate job was a controller at a company in Southern California.
He is now running CMA Exam Academy full-time with students from over 25 countries. If you are wondering whether or not this review academy or coaching is right for you, then I hope to answer those questions for you in this post.
Now, let’s dig into CMA Exam Academy and what it offers. This is a live coach over the internet. There are going to be some benefits to this, depending on who you are, where you are, and what your study and review needs are. Let’s explore more.
You may have that I prefer self-study courses to live classes. The main issue is that it’s hard for anyone to track the quality of the instructors. Also, many teachers in the local language and candidates are caught off-guard when hit by the lengthy, complex questions (in English) in the actual exam. This is one likely reason for low CMA exam pass rates in certain countries and areas of the world.
CMA Exam Academy customized coaching and support, and you can get this at the comfort of your home. However, nearly every CMA exam prep course offers this feature as well.
The course has an online study structure broken down by week over 12 weeks (13 weeks, including the introduction). It is designed based on his experience running CMA coach and the kind of struggles he knows a candidate would face. This personalization speaks directly to the challenges candidates may have and it shows he knows the subject matter well. Sometimes with coaches who advertise themselves online, you don’t really know their background or how qualified they are
It comes with video and audio lectures, online test prep, and his own interactive textbooks.
All coaching is done in three ways: Via email, Q&A below each video lesson inside the course, and via the private group that they have. Every question is answered within 24 hours and includes complete explanations on excel spreadsheets.
As I said above, Nathan Liao is the founder and owner of CMA Exam Academy. Let’s take some time to learn more about him. It always pays to research who is behind a particular course or program so you know that you can trust the material. Nathan started this business on October 1, 2014.
He had been blogging about the CMA exam for a few years, attempting to help other people with their CMA prep. The business was a natural extension of this desire to help others pass the CMA exam easier. Nathan says, “A friend of mine gifted me his formula for pre-launching offers. I used it to test the waters and gauge interest for test prep among the subscribers I already had on my blog.”
On his own site, he describes himself as a Certified Management Accountant earning six figures, and that he can teach you to do the same. Granted, much of his earnings are likely from selling his course now, and not from actual CMA duties, but he did work as a successful CMA prior to that and clearly shows passion for the subject. What are his credentials?
Nathan has an undergraduate degree in Accounting from the University of Phoenix. Additionally, he wasn’t enrolled in their popular online program but rather attended one of their campuses in Southern California. He obtained his CMA designation in 2010.
Finally, he also claims he scored 420 in Part 1, and 360 in Part 2 on the CMA exam.
Furthermore, he says he began his career in the accounting field as a clerk back in 2001. Later, he moved up the ranks until he was promoted to Corporate Controller. He says, “I know firsthand that the knowledge gained from the CMA designation helped me thrive as a Management Accountant.”
So, he’s been there and done that and his guides and coaching are meant to help you do the same. Let’s look at the pros and cons of his Academy and related coaching.
This is a feature offered by CMA Exam Academy.
Similar to Becker CMA’s feature, Nathan answers questions by weekly live call or email.
These videos are 100% mobile-friendly, available until you pass and you get updates automatically. If you are a candidate who learns really well from video lectures, this could be a big selling point for you.
The interactive textbook is a way to minimize the disadvantages of electronic books. There are features such as highlighting, adding bookmarks and comments, with embedded little quizzes through the book makes it a lot more fun and effective to read. Some people just really like (and need) to have their study material physically in their hands. This interactive textbook is kind of the best of both worlds. What’s more, nearly every other CMA prep course offers interactive textbooks too.
4. Audio Review Available
The audio lectures are in essence the audio versions of the video lectures. This provides flexibility and another form of studying since many people prefer to listen and study on the go. Students can download these files and take them with them wherever they go. Gleim CMA offers audio lectures as well, but unlike CMA Academy, their audio lectures are 100% unique.
This is what Nathan offers: Pass the first time or 100% refund. To me, it’s equally attractive to the options offered by Wiley and Gleim (they offer free trials with no initial commitment). Hock has a unique guarantee in that you will pass your exam or they will pay for your next attempt.
So, maybe all that sounds great to you but we still need to be thorough and look at the cons.
I admire the fact that Nathan launches his own coaching as a young CMA, but at the same time, I have a lot of faith in Dr. Gleim who is a renowned professor at the University of Florida and has been teaching CMA, CPA, and many other certifications for over 40 years.
Doug Clinton from Wiley CMAexcel is an accomplished professor at Northern Illinois University serving on the ICMA Board of Regents (regulators of the CMA exam).
When I watch the videos more closely, it is clear that the experience and expertise do make a difference. For example, Nathan typically talks about the “how” in the video. Instead, Amy Ford (Gleim lead instructor) explains the “why” behind the concepts. It makes one feel comfortable that Amy understands the concepts inside out to be able to articulate the explanation at a deeper level.
You will see from the front page that the pass rate of “other courses” is 45% vs CMA Exam Academy at 72%.
I find this quite misleading because 45% is the overall pass rate in 2016 (latest figure). This calculation counts every candidate, including those who didn’t take any review course, as well as those who did take courses including CMA Exam Academy. This number cannot be compared to the 72% figure.
For your information, this is how different course providers define their pass rates:
I calculate my pass rate as “number of students who passed the exam divided by total number of students who took the exam”, not by number of students who “completed” the course.
Wiley CMAexcel states that “8 out of 10” candidates who took their courses passed. This is how CMAexcel calculates the pass rate:
We have been measuring our students’ pass rates since 2013. The pass rate is calculated as the number of parts passed divided by the number of parts completed.”
Surgent reports a pass rate of over 80% (without further explanation). Gleim and Hock do not have the tradition of disclosing pass rate information. Again, it’s important to have all the facts and look at everything in perspective.
Even when you apply the discount code, the CMA Exam Academy is priced at $1,324 vs $1,124 at Gleim and $1,099 at Hock. I also provide CMA prep discounts for my readers, which bring the prices for the top courses down even further.
The higher price may still be attractive if students prefer a virtual live course experience.
Back then when Nathan used Wiley’s product as his teaching materials, people asked for a comparison. Nathan has since launched his own product, but I keep the comparison for reference:
|CMA Exam Academy||Wiley CMAexcel|
|Main lecturer||Nathan Liao, CMA
Former corp controller/ Entrepreneur
|Doug Clinton, CPA, CMA, PhD
Professor at NIU
|Textbook developed by||Nathan||The Wiley Team|
|Individual coaching||Email with Nathan||Email with lecturers|
|# hours of videos||100+||60+|
|Study planner||Fixed schedule for 12 weeks||Online and personalized|
|Progress tracking||Weekly with Nathan||Online|
|Exam Formula Guides|
|Access until you pass|
|Free trial /14-day guarantee|
|Free shipping of books (if required)|
1. I like the idea of the 12-week program, but what if I need to postpone the exam due to various commitments?
The program is flexible enough that if a student needs to postpone the exam, Nathan can reset their program and start from the beginning or from any week of their choosing.
2. What’s the difference between the Deluxe and Complete courses?
They are the same. The complete course is the single-part version at $797. The deluxe package is two-part version at $1,394, or $797 x 2 – $200 bundle discount.
So, here’s the magic question, right? Is this review course right for you? I believe that there are different types of review courses out there because there are so many different types of people and we all learn differently. What’s right for you may not be the best choice for someone else. It’s all about assessing your needs and the way you learn best and then researching the best course for those needs.
If you have the discipline to:
… then Gleim, Becker, and Hock have good CMA prep promos.
I still find Gleim to be a more thorough option for the price. Gleim also offers coaching, mentoring, and they can do it by phone or email. CMA Exam Academy is fine and it may help you pass, but it’s not my favorite course.
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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