Whether you just received the bad news or you simply dread that moment, you need to know what happens if you fail the CMA exam. I know that failing the exam is devastating after you’ve made such a big investment of time, money, and effort. But if you are serious about passing the exam, you’ve got to move on from a failure. Let me help you consider your options, evaluate what went wrong, and, most importantly, discover how you can pass your next attempt.
First things first: if you don’t reach a CMA passing score and fail part of the CMA exam, you have 2 options. Your first option is to take that part again. You can’t do so in the same testing window, but you can sit in as many testing windows as necessary to pass both parts within 3 years.
Your second option is to quit the CMA certification process. Please don’t do it! Quitting on the CMA is unproductive because
These are just a few of the many reasons not to give up on the CMA. Doing so would be disadvantageous and wasteful. If you need more motivation to keep going, just remember why you wanted to become a CMA in the first place. That logic is still valid despite a CMA exam part failure. Once you’ve got your spirits up again, you can take the following steps to retake the exam part you failed:
After you decide to retake your failed exam part, you must determine why you failed. That way, you can correct your review process as necessary and pass next time.
Almost all candidates who fail the CMA exam do so for 1 of 4 reasons:
Unless you take the CMA exam right after or even before graduation, chances are that you will have to balance your schedule with work and studying. You may also need to allocate time to family or other commitments as well.
So, let me ask you: Before you failed, did you study all of your CMA review course topics? Or did you skim over the exam content without taking time to understand the details?
If the answer to that second question is yes, then congratulate yourself: You found the reason for your CMA exam failure.
In this case, I would suggest you do the following:
If you failed the CMA exam, you have to honestly ask yourself: Have you really put enough effort into your studies? Consider whether you really understood the topics and the concepts behind them or if you just read through the text half-heartedly, only to forget half the information the next day.
You must also ask yourself how focused you were during your studies. If you gave yourself 2 hours to review, did you dive right into the book, watch some videos, and then complete several practice quizzes? Or did you make yourself some coffee, check your email, jump on to social media (*gasp*), and then answer some practice questions for the last half hour?
I know it’s hard, but you can’t let the temptation to take it easy prevent you from earning the CMA certification and enjoying all its benefits for the rest of your career!
To help you stay motivated, I’ve put all my treasured motivational quotes into this video clip:
I also have some more motivational quotes that you can use to succeed on the exam, in your career, and life.
In some cases, you may know for certain that you spent enough time and effort on the CMA exam and still failed. At this point, the next possible reason for failure could be that you didn’t really grasp the concepts as deeply as you thought you did. Your CMA review materials may have been too general or too complicated to understand.
Earlier, I suggested that you re-read your textbook. But, I know that this step doesn’t always help non-linguistic learners very well. If reading and taking notes isn’t the best way for you to learn, you must find an approach that compels you to learn more actively.
If you’re a visual learner, you should watch the video lectures. Auditory learners should listen to the audio lectures. Kinesthetic learners should use flashcards or read digital textbooks, so they’re interacting with the computer. These steps will help you develop your knowledge in a way that addresses your learning style.
But one additional thing that everyone should do to increase their comprehension of the topics is to answer more practice questions. Answering practice questions allows you to apply what you’re learning. It also equips you to strengthen your weaknesses until the relevant concepts naturally come to mind when you read the question.
If you’ve chosen a course with a large test bank, you probably still have more than enough practice questions to answer. But if you believe you need a new set of questions, I recommend switching to Surgent CMA Review. The adaptive learning technology that powers this course will tell you where to focus your efforts. It will also continuously serve you the questions you must answer to be prepared for the exam. Surgent’s system is beneficial if you just want a supplement instead of another full review course.
Of course, if you just need to score a few more points to pass the CMA exam, you might only need to keep studying for a short period of time. In that case, you could consider a monthly subscription service for CMA materials. For example, NINJA CMA Review includes multiple-choice questions and essays, practice exams, and access to private study networks. What’s more, it’s also available for a low monthly price. So you can study the concepts you missed on the CMA exam, retake and pass it, and then cancel your NINJA subscription.
In my experience, more candidates fall into this category than the first 3. As they can verify, time management is crucial for CMA exam success.
The best way to improve your time management is to develop a time management system. Then, apply it every time you complete a practice quiz. Using a time management system allows you to refine the skill of reading, contemplation, and answering questions with the exam time limit. Remember, you must answer 100 multiple-choice questions and 2 essay scenarios in 4 hours. When you use questions that emulate the exam content and the exam format and functionality, you can also get comfortable with the Prometric testing environment.
To better manage your time, you must work with a test bank that covers all of the exam content and recreates the exam layout better than any other course. For this reason, I highly recommend using Gleim CMA Review. Gleim has the most comprehensive and exam-emulating CMA exam questions. Additionally, the Gleim course comes with a tried-and-true time management system.
Also, you can utilize Becker CMA, which allows you to have unlimited access at the Pro package level. This means you won’t have to pay for CMA study materials again even if you don’t clear the exam on your first attempt.
And if you can’t decide between Becker and Gleim, read my Becker CMA vs. Gleim analysis.
Failing the CMA exam is not the end of the world. You can overcome and pass that part. Don’t worry — the CMA exam is an exam that everyone can pass with the right knowledge and tactics. For more insight into recovering from a CMA exam failure, read the stories of guest bloggers Vinoth and Joan. If you’d like more specific advice for your situation, share your story below. I’ll try my best to help. Finally, check out these absolutely free CMA exam study resources!
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.