I Pass The CMA Exam!

Study Plan for a Busy Man: A Systematic Approach to CMA Exam Prep

Sherif is our first blogger from Egypt. He shared his experience as a retaker who finally passed his Part 1 last June. Sherif is now preparing for his Part 2 exam.

The first question I faced when starting the painful CMA journey was how I could possibly find time to study. I am busy with full-day working hours and other family commitments. But with smart moves and a focus on the small details, you and I can survive and study 🙂

Let’s discuss my study plan. I divide mine into 3 phases: preparation, review, and exam mode. Even though I failed my first attempt, this study plan helped me find CMA exam success.

The Preparation Period

I self-studied without any help (Me & the Book only 🙂 ). I did not watch videos or attend sessions because I didn’t have time for all those commitments.

In the beginning, you need to know that everything that is hard to reach requires several attempts. The book topics are not easy. You should not expect to understand all points on the first try.

At this stage, you need to study for about 1.5 hours daily — not more than this.

You need to read each topic for the first time, get the know what’s in there only, nothing more in this step. Just like reading a newspaper.

After that, you start to solve the MCQs (multiple-choice questions). If you get most of them wrong, it is ok. It’s very normal, in fact. It’s most important to understand the wrong answers before getting them right next time.

After you finish each part of the book, read it again within 2 weeks.  This tactic is very useful for the information to stick in your mind.

The Review

By now, you already know about 50% of the book as your knowledge base. All you need is to increase the percentage to 80% by increasing the time for study (recommended 2.5 hours) with one more reading on the topics.

One very important thing you must do is this: when you face a part in the book that you don’t understand, don’t ever leave it, even if you will spend the next 2 hours getting through this part.

The basic rule at this stage is 30% Book and 70% MCQs.

The Exam Mode

I suggest starting this mode 20 days before the exam. My studying hours were increased to 5 hours a day.

Read about the weaker areas from the book for one last time. All the remaining time should be dedicated to practice questions and LOS to cover all the points and be ready.

In the last week, work on the simulation exam every day and cover the wrong answers to reach 100% accuracy.

One Last Question: How did I find all these studying hours?

  • In the Preparation stage, I studied during my 1-hour break time at work (by not eating or chatting). I also used up some idle time. For example, I would turn on my mobile and review while waiting at a restaurant.
  • At the Review stage, I woke up 1 hour earlier before going to work, plus the break time hour and during the time when my daughter was in the park playing 🙂
  • During the Exam mode, it was a lot of commitment with 5 hours. You might need to study at home plus all the break time.

Success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out.” ~ Robert Collier

Note from Stephanie

This is a very systematic approach to a study plan explained in the finest detail! I really like how you slowly progress from reading/reviewing-heavy to practice-question-heavy. This study plan is great for those who need to start from the beginning, whether they are non-accountants, or for those who are not English native speakers.

I will add this post to my FAQ page under study plan tips. Thank you for sharing!

About the Author Sherif Aryan

Hi, I'm Sherif from Egypt and Treasurer of IMA’s Western Province Chapter in KSA. With 10 years of Accounting and Finance experience, I passed part 1 & 2 CMA Exam and become Certified.

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