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CMA Coach and CMA Exam Academy Reviews: 5 Pros and Cons

cmacoach NathanCMA 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 controller at a company in Southern California. Disclosure: The I Pass Team may be earn a small amount of compensation if you purchase from our links; our team uses these revenues to maintain the site and produce awesome free content just for you!

He is now running CMA Exam Academy full time with students from over 25 countries.

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CMA Exam Academy: Live Coach over the Internet

You may have read my post on why I prefer self-study courses to live classes in non-US countries. The main issue is that it’s hard for anyone to track the quality of the instructors. Also, many teach in the local language and candidates are caught off-guard when hit by the lengthy, complex questions (in English) in the actual exam.

CMA Exam Academy is the answer to those who need guidance and flexibility in their CMA journeys. Nathan offers customized coaching and support, and you can get this at the comfort of your home.

CMA Exam Academy Product and Services

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 in running CMA coach and the kind of struggles he knows a candidate would face.

It comes with video and audio lectures, online test prep and his own interactive text books.

All coaching is done in 3 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.

Please check out this walk-through video:


1. Unique 1-on-1 Coaching

This is the most unique (and best) feature offered by CMA Exam Academy in my opinion.

Similar to CMAexcel’s instructor mentoring feature, Nathan answers questions by weekly live call or email.

What’s different is that Nathan tracks the videos his students have watched, as well as tracking the weekly assignments they have to turn in to him. When weekly assignments are not turned in, he emails each one as a follow up until they turn them in. Think of it as a live instructor but over the internet.

Nathan also sends them weekly emails on topics to be covered in the upcoming week. He believes that these two features are more effective in keeping students on track and accountable to finish and take the exam.

2. More Video Lectures

CMA Exam Academy has more than 100 hours of video lectures. This is considerably more than Hock (~60 hours), Gleim (~40 hours) and Wiley CMAexcel (23 hours).

These videos are 100% mobile friendly, available until you pass and you get updates automatically.

3. I like the Interactive Textbook

As you see in the video, the interactive text book is a great 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.

Another cool feature is that students can ask Nathan questions directly. By using the Comments feature, he gets emailed every time a student posts a question and he responds back right on the same spot making it a true interactive reading experience.

4. Audio Review Available

This is also quite unique for CMA review course materials. These 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.

5. 100% Refund if Not Pass the First Time

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), and certainly better than Hock.



1. Competitors are More Established

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 a few 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 does 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.

2. I don’t Agree with the Pass Rate Definition

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:

Nathan said:

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.

6. Pricing a Tad Lower than Gleim and Hock

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.

The higher price may still be attractive if students prefers a virtual live course experience.

CMA Exam Academy vs Wiley CMAexcel

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
Text book developed by Nathan The Wiley Team
Individual coaching Email with Nathan Email with lecturers
# hours of videos 100+  23
Study planner Fixed schedule for 12 weeks Online and personalized
Progress tracking Weekly with Nathan Online
Live support smalltick smallcross
Exam Formula Guides smalltick smallcross
Audio review smalltick smallcross
Access until you pass smalltick smalltick
Free trial /14-day guarantee smalltick smalltick
Flashcards smallcross smalltick
Free shipping of books (if required) smallcross smalltick

Readers’ Questions

1. I like the idea of the 12-week program, but what if I need to postpone the exam due to various commitment?

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 Deluxe and Complete course?

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.


If you have the discipline to:

  • study on your own
  • rely on the performance tracking tools to identify weaker areas and manage progress
  • prefer a more established provider in the market…

… then Gleim, Wiley, and Hock have good offers.

But if you believe that:

  • private coaching is very important to you
  • you need someone to check on your progress on a more personal and regular basis

CMA coach’s CMA Exam Academy is a good option and the only one with one-on-one coaching on the Internet. For non-US candidates in particular, I believe this is a better offer than your local private coaching.


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CMA Exam Academy Discount

You can save 10% with my exclusive CMA Exam Academy discount. To save, enter the CMA Exam Academy promo code below. The discount will apply to your entire purchase of CMA Exam Academy CMA materials.

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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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  • Anil says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    You have mentioned in the post that CMA Exam Academy has more than 100 hours of video lectures and also mention that this is considerably more than Hock (~60 hours), Gleim (~40 hours) and Wiley CMAexcel (23 hours).

    Could you please let us know the quality of lectures in CMA Exam Academy’s video compared to quality of lectures in videos of Hock, Gleim and Wiley?

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Anil, good question. I will ask Nathan and see if he has a video clip that I can embed on this page. While it is really great that Nathan covers all topics in video, some of you need to consider whether you actually have time to watch videos for 100+ hours. I believe it is a deliberate decision for Gleim and Wiley to record only the most important topics.

      • preeti says:

        I am currently taking cma review with Nathan so far no complains. He replies back with in 24 hours and keep you motivated with studying. I was register for both parts with his Thanksgiving special in 2015 for $1k.
        Videos get too much to watch so i only watch them when need clarification with the topics or when i dont get 100% on chapter quizes.

        • Stephanie Ng says:

          Thanks for the feedback Preeti. It’s certainly helpful!

        • Antony says:

          Which book is that you using to learn can we get his cma academy books to study i have wiley books but i cant understand what that written on that. Could u tell me how much it will cost to learn cma from nathan liao and what i have to do get cma

  • Shahrayar Malik says:

    Great Analysis! this clears my perspective & confusions with CMA coach.
    Thanks ever so much in taking up this topic.

  • Solomon Mitku Wordofa says:

    Hi first I thank you for your support to deliver for free the course. Second how to start the course.

  • Aditi says:

    Thanks a lot for this wonderful analysis..Your guidance make things very simple..!!

  • karan says:

    hii iam from india comleted my bachelor degree .and looking for study in europe along with US CMA ..i want to know the demand and job oppurtunities for the us cma in germany and other european countries ..can i step forward ?? for germany and a best PG level degree along with US CMA ..p-lz guide me …… thanking you…

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Karan, I have to say that Europe is probably the least covered for US CMA. If your decision is set for Europe, I might look for ACCA / CIMA or better yet, local qualification in the specific country because those will be better recognized. Regards, Stephanie

  • Chris says:

    Hi Stephanie,
    You said Nathan allows to postpone the classes depending on the exam schedule. But what if I want to fast track my classes because my exam is in less than 12weeks?
    Thanks 🙂

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hmm… not sure if you can do that. The lessons are rolled out in scheduled sequence as far as I can tell, and I doubt if Nathan can change that just for you. But you can email him on that? I will try to find out as well.

  • Haneen says:

    I am sitting for the exam next June CMa part 2
    What are your recoomndations now
    What to do ? Re read material or keep solving mcq
    I am using gleim material
    Please tell.me your recxomdatuons

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