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Wiley CMA Learning System 2020: Is This the Same Course as Wiley CMAexcel?

The Wiley CMA Learning System is under the Wiley CMAexcel umbrella. However, the Learning System isn’t a full and complete course. So, to help you choose the right CMA review system for you, I’ll provide details about this important distinction.


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cma learning system

Wiley CMA Learning System vs. Wiley CMAexcel

To prepare CMA candidates to pass the CMA exam, Wiley CMA offers 2 different study tools:

1. The Wiley CMAexcel Review Course: a fully-integrated course with video instruction, an interactive study planner, and an online tracking system. You’ll need to choose this course if you don’t already have a CMA review course to study with.

2. The CMA Learning System: a self-study package consisting of a textbook and a test bank. Since this option only includes 2 learning components, it isn’t a full course. Furthermore, this system has a lower price than the full course. Therefore, it’s better for supplementers (CMA candidates who already have a review course) or retakers.

These 2 offerings are distinctly different. So, to decide which one you want, you must learn more about the full Wiley CMAexcel Course and how it stacks up against the Wiley CMA Learning System.

Wiley CMA Learning System Contents

wiley CMA learning system 2015

Wiley CMA was kind enough to send me a complimentary copy of the Learning System so I could read through the 2 books thoroughly and try out the Wiley test bank (test prep software).

1. Wiley CMA Books

The Wiley CMA Learning System includes 2 800-page textbooks for each part and access to the Wiley CMA Online Test Bank, which aligns with the textbooks.

With 1,600+ pages that are 10+ cm thick when stacked together, the books look formidable! But don’t let the size of the textbooks scare you. Wiley actually prints the pages on thicker paper and makes the font size larger. Conveniently, this formatting allows for better note-taking since you can write in the margins or use a gel pen without marking up the other pages.

Consequently, the textbook layout reminds me more of Becker CPA Review more than Wiley (CPAs and CPA candidates know what I’m talking about 🙂 ).

CMALS IMA Materials

Both textbooks include 100% of the ICMA Learning Outcome Statements (syllabus). So, the Wiley CMAexcel textbooks cover each and every topic that you might see on the CMA exam.

Additionally, the textbooks include:

  • Coverage of critical concepts
  • Explanations of calculations (examples)
  • A small sampling of CMA practice questions
  • 80+ retired essay questions
  • Study tips and study plans

The end of each subsection presents a few basic questions (knowledge checks) for you to answer, and the end of each major section features a set of sample exam questions (practice questions).

Furthermore, throughout the book, you will also find boxes highlighting important elements such as key formulas, study tips, and more.

2. Wiley CMA Test Bank

The online test bank contains an interactive self-study tool that includes practice multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and CMA essay questions. In total, the test bank has 3,800 MCQs and 10 essay questions for you to answer as part of your studies. Additionally, detailed analytics help you see where your weak areas are.

Because the Learning System isn’t a full course, you must navigate the course on your own. Likewise, the course won’t prompt you when you are struggling with a weak area. So, even though you will have access to practice questions, you’ll need to decide for yourself when to move on and what topic area to focus on next. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you go back through your weak areas before sitting for the actual exam.

If you purchase the 2-part set, you’ll have access to the test bank for 2 years. However, if you only purchase 1 part at a time, you’ll only receive 1 year of access for each part.

Using the Wiley CMAexcel Test Bank

Although the Wiley CMAexcel test bank is fairly basic, it contains plenty of helpful tools for CMA candidates. Within the test bank, you can choose to do the following:

  • Study in test mode: tells the system to withhold the answers until you’ve completed all the questions in your practice set
  • Study in practice mode: commands the system to provide the answer and explanations immediately after you answer each question
  • Flag questions: affords you the chance to come back to questions at a later time
  • Isolate topics: lets you answer questions about specific topics or even subtopics
  • Filter questions: enables you to avoid questions you’ve seen or haven’t seen before
  • Select question type: permits you to answer either MCQs or essay questions
  • Specify question number: allows you to dictate the number of questions within your practice set

Additionally, the test bank does a good job of emulating the Prometric exam environment that you’ll see on your exam day. And while the system isn’t a 1:1 replica of the CMA exam, we appreciate that the developers at Wiley CMA did so well with this detail.

What’s more, the Wiley CMA test bank includes answer explanations for each of the questions I reviewed. However, I did notice that some of the answer choice explanations were pretty basic and not as helpful as I’d have liked. Therefore, I still think that Gleim CMA Review is the gold standard for test banks and answer explanations.

Reasons to Consider the Wiley CMA Learning System

1. The Books Are Well-Written and Organized

To my surprise, I actually enjoyed reading the book. CMA exam study materials are generally dull, but this review book is written in an almost narrative style. And, from time to time, the author includes their personal thoughts and provides real-world examples. Furthermore, the topics are often practical and feature discussions about what management accountants and strategic planning professionals do.

The explanation for this particular writing style is the fact that the IMA prepared the original material and not a commercial review provider. And the IMA was trying to train CMAs as well as prepare them to pass the CMA exam. In contrast, review providers usually structure their courses in such a way to help candidates pass as quickly as possible. Both approaches have their merits. In this case, getting through the books may take a bit longer but should be less tedious.

2. The Books Are Great for Linguistic Learners

Courses that include audio and video lectures are great, but I am linguistic learner, so I love to study with a real book. Using a book helps me pace my studies, and I can scribble down notes in the margins if necessary.

However, you should know that most review courses include real books. So, if actively reading and writing notes as you study best suits your learning style, then I encourage you to pay to have the textbooks shipped to you. Reading from a digital device just isn’t the same.

3. The Product Is Integrated

The 2 Wiley CMA books come with the online test prep software (known as the Wiley CMA test bank) that you can access via the internet. And the books work in tandem with the online test bank. So, studying with these 2 tools is a pretty seamless process.

4. 10-Day Money-Back Guarantee

You can get a refund of the CMA Learning System (less shipping costs) within 10 business days of purchase. Since you can’t get a refund outside of this 10-day window, you should ship your materials back as quickly as possible.

Things Wiley CMA Isn’t So Proud Of

1. This “Official” IMA CMA Study Material Does Not Give You an Edge on the Exam

The fact that the IMA’s official endorsement of Wiley doesn’t give Wiley insider information to use in its course is not really a weakness. But candidates do need to understand this fact because many of them base their decision to use the Wiley CMA Review Course solely on the incorrect assumption that Wiley does get secret exam insight from the IMA.

You’ll see a lot of marketing from Wiley CMAexcel that references them as the official CMA review course of the IMA (and other similar messages). But Wiley’s status as such simply comes from a licensing agreement with the IMA. As a result of this partnership, Wiley can stipulate that they are the only course the IMA has licensed. However, Wiley CMAexcel continues to receive just as much information about the CMA exam as Gleim and other CMA review providers. When the IMA releases a new CMA exam syllabus or makes a change to the current syllabus, they give all of the review providers the same news.

Finally, neither Wiley CMAexcel nor any other CMA review provider has access to the live questions that appear on the actual CMA exam.

2. The Wiley CMA Materials Are Relatively Expensive

The prices of both the Wiley CMA Learning System and the Wiley CMA Test Bank are pretty high. In contrast, you could save several hundred dollars by purchasing the Gleim CMA Mega Test Bank instead. Gleim’s test bank is the closest thing to the Wiley test bank available, and it may even be better.

3. Better Practice Questions Are Available Elsewhere

The questions in the Wiley CMAexcel test bank seemed a bit too basic for me. I know that on the actual CMA exam, candidates receive difficult application-based questions. So, I was a bit disappointed that the Wiley test bank didn’t serve a lot of complex questions for me to answer.

Now, going through the practice questions easily without giving them too much thought and still getting a relatively good score feels great. But, knowing that the actual exam questions are wordy and complex leaves me with reservations. Therefore, because I need to pass my exams on the first try to save money and not get frustrated, I want my test bank to show me the most difficult questions too. And sadly, the Wiley test bank doesn’t do that.

4. Some (Minor) Errors Remain Unfixed

I have been getting some feedback lately on how Wiley CMAexcel fails to correct errors their customers have identified. Customers reported some of these errors in Wiley’s forums as long as 2 years ago. Failing to address these errors doesn’t reflect well on Wiley’s customer service, but thankfully, most of the errors are minor.

Wiley CMAexcel vs. Gleim CMA Review

I’ve written in great detail about the differences between these 2 courses. So, you can see who wins the battle in my head-to-head Wiley CMA vs. Gleim CMA showdown.

My Conclusion About the Wiley CMA Learning System

Every review course has its strengths and weaknesses, and the Wiley CMA Learning System is no exception. Because the CMA Learning System is not a full course, I only recommend using it if you have already another course like Gleim CMA Review. I suggest buying a full review course first because then you’ll have access to far more practice questions and additional benefits like instructional videos, access until you pass, and more.

However, if you are looking for additional CMA practice questions, then the Wiley CMA Learning System is a great resource. And, the Learning System may also be good enough as a complete offering if you have just graduated, have an excellent background in accounting and finance, and/or don’t mind putting in a lot of work into manually reviewing all the materials. Since this option doesn’t supply you with additional assistance in case you get stuck on a particular subject, you must decide if you have enough previous knowledge of the subject matter to go it on your own.

So, if you need a complete course, you’ll find a great one in Gleim CMA Review. In fact, Gleim CMA Review is the #1 most widely used CMA course, and our readers highly recommend it.

Finally, you can check out the Wiley CMAexcel Course. This course includes many of the same elements as Gleim and has a more complete inventory of learning components than the Wiley CMA Learning System.

Wiley CMA Learning System Discounts

Wiley CMA frequently discounts its products, but while the Wiley CMA Learning System does have applicable discounts sometimes, it’s not as common.

Take Me to the Wiley CMA Learning System Now!

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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