I Pass The CMA Exam!

Wiley CMA Learning System 2018: My Pros and Cons Report

Wiley and IMA co-brand Wiley CMAexcel Learning System Exam Review, or better known as the CMA Learning System. Disclosure: The I Pass Team may 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!

cma learning system

Save $400 on the Platinum Course (June 2018)
Click here + use promo code CMALECTURE

Wiley CMA Learning System vs CMAexcel

Please note that Wiley offers 2 study tools for the CMA exam:

1. The CMAexcel review course is a fully-integrated course with video instruction, interactive study planner and online tracking system. The evaluation of this product can be found here.

2. The CMA Learning System is the self-study package consisting of a textbook and an access to the test bank, at a lower price.

We cover the CMA Learning System in this analysis.

My First Impression

Wiley is kind enough to send me a complimentary copy so I can thoroughly read through the two books and try out the test bank (test prep software).  The books look formidable: 1,600+ pages and 10+ cm thick when stacked together!

When I flip through the pages, it doesn’t look as bad because the books are printed on thicker paper, font size is reasonable with lots of white space for me to jog down notes in the margin. The layout reminds me more of Becker’s materials than Wiley’s for anyone who has used their CPA products.

wiley CMA learning system 2015

Wiley CMA Product Offering

1. Wiley CMA Learning System

The Wiley CMA Learning System includes 500-page textbooks for each part, and access to the Online Test Bank.

Part 1

The book is divided into 5 sections:

2018 version 

  • Section A: External Financial Reporting Decisions
  • Section B: Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting
  • Section C: Performance Management
  • Section D: Cost Management
  • Section E: Internal Controls

Both versions include additional chapters on how to create a study plan and on essay exam support materials.

CMALS IMA MaterialsThe first 3 sections are longer with around 100 pages for each. For example, in Section A the author goes through topics related to budgeting concepts, forecasting techniques, budgeting methodologies, annual profit plan and supporting schedules and top-level planning and analysis.

There are a few basic questions (knowledge checks) for you to answer at the end of each subsection, and a set of sample exam questions (practice questions) at the end of Section A.

Throughout the book, you will also find boxes highlighting important elements such as key formulas, study tips.

Part 2

The format is the same as Part 1 with the following sections:

2018 version

  • Section A: Financial Statement Analysis
  • Section B: Corporate Finance
  • Section C: Decision Analysis
  • Section D: Risk Management
  • Section E: Investment Decision
  • Section F: Professional Ethics

2. Online Intensive Review (OIR)

The OIR includes an online interactive self-study course with examples and references, CMA glossary and practice essay questions with model answers (35 in Part 1 and 35 in Part 2).

The OIR (for 2 parts) costs only $160 extra if you get it in a bundled package.

Let Me Show You the Wiley CMA Test Bank in this Video

In this video, I’ll show you the entire process from PIN activation to the navigation of this online test prep software. Take a good look at the 3 study modes, and the respective features, layout and usability:

Feel free to watch the parts you find interesting:
0:29 Pros and cons of Wiley CMA Review
0:42 What to be aware of when getting the Wiley CMA Learning System
1:40 Look and feel of the Text Book
2:38 How to activate your Test Bank
3:29 Test Bank demo #1 – Practice Questions module
4:44 Test Bank demo #2 – Study Mode module
6:33 Test Bank demo #3 – Practice Exam module
7:27 Performance Reports
8:12 Info on the 2016 version

Wiley CMA Learning System: Pros

1. Well Written and Organized

To my surprise, I actually enjoyed reading the book. These exam study materials are meant to be boring, but this review book is written in something similar to a  narrative style, and from time to time the author includes comments on what he/she thinks the concept can apply to our daily lives. The topics are often practical and involve discussion on that we do as management accountants and strategic planning professionals.

This particular writing style can be explained by the fact that the original material is prepared by the IMA and not a commercial review provider, and IMA does want us to learn and not just pass the exam.

2. The Great Feeling of a Real Book

The videos and audios are great, but I am old-school and I love to study off a real book. It is easier to pace myself and to drop down notes in the margin if necessary.

3. An Integrated Review Product

The two Wiley CMA books come with the online test prep software (known as the “test bank”) that you can access via the Internet.  The premium version includes the Online Intensive Review (OIR) which functions as a cram course. These offerings work well together as an integrated product and is a definite advantage to those providers that offer only the study materials or the practice questions.

4. 10-Day Money-Back Guarantee

You can get a refund of the CMA Learning System (less shipping cost) within 10 business days of purchase.

Wiley CMA Learning System: Cons

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

This by itself is not a weakness, but knowing that many candidates pick the CMALS review books solely based on this incorrect assumption, I should make this point clear.

ICMA (and not IMA) develops, administers and grades the CMA exam. ICMA is an affiliate of IMA but is completely separate in that IMA does not have access to ICMA’s exam questions.

2. Relatively Expensive

If you really like the products, you can get the CMA Learning System without the Online Intensive Review. The textbooks + online test prep software cost $950 instead of the full bundled package (with OIR) at $1,110.

3. There may be “Better” Practice Questions Out There

I need to work on more practice questions to find the best adjective to describe what I feel about the test bank, but in general, the practice questions seem a bit too basic.

It feels great that I can easily go through the questions without given them too much thought and still get a relatively good score, but knowing the questions are wordy and complex in the actual exam, I have to say I have some reservations on the test prep software.

In other words, I have a good learning experience using Wiley CMA Review but I want to totally nail this exam, I might want a supplement to get myself better prepared.

4. Some (Minor) Errors Not Fixed

I have been getting some feedback lately on how Wiley fails to correct errors identified by their customers. These are reported in their forums with some dated back two years ago. It doesn’t reflect well on their customer service, but thankfully most of the errors are minor.

My Bloggers Who Use Wiley CMA Learning System

heather cma blogger Yen Wiley CMA Review customer
Heather (US)
Wiley CMAexcel
Take Part 1 in 2016
Yen (Vietnam)
Wiley CMA Learning System
Passed Part 1 and 2 on first try


There are strengths and weaknesses in each review course, and Wiley CMA Learning System is no exception. It is an excellent set of materials to learn more about management accounting, strategic planning and financial management covered in the CMA exam.

If budget is not a big concern, getting the CMA Learning System and supplement it with other CMA practice questions (from Gleim or Surgent, for example) could be just what you need to pass on your first try.

$400 savings using  discount code CMALECTURE
Expires June 28:

Bring me to Wiley CMA Learning System Now!
Reviewed Item
Wiley CMA Review Textbook and Testbank
Overall Rating

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.

follow me on:
  • Mike says:

    Thank you for this objective review. Have you had any experience with Hock International CMA materials? It’s what I’m using and I feel fairly good about them (the questions range from basic knowledge to very challenging), but of course I won’t really know until I take Part 1 next week.

  • MaRk says:


    While preparing for the 2015 windows, does it make sense to go for the 2014 review or wait for the 2015 editions ?

    Is there too much of a change between these ?

    Thanks in advance !

  • Bhuvana says:

    Your comments are great supportive start of the all those who wish do their CMA.

    I planning to start preparing for CMA exam for 2015, but not sure if i need the support of any study center, because the cost they charge is comparatively more. So could you guide me how to start, how long does it take to prepare for exams, when should i register , how to proceed .


  • harry says:

    hi Stephanie, thank for writing up this review.

  • ALI says:


  • Saj says:

    Dear Stephanie,
    I am using Part 1 Wiley CMAexcel for my preparation.
    For Section A (External Financial Reporting Decisions), I found there are more topics covered than what is required in LOS (eg Pension). My doubt is should I be learning all or follow the LOS.

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Saj, are you using Wiley’s CMA learning system (the book) or Wiley CMAexcel (the full course)?

      In any case, Wiley is the official licensee of IMA review materials so technically their book/course should be the one closest to the official syllabus… but it’s hard for me to tell. In previous versions IMA tend to include more information because they think it is good reference for you as a management accountant. If it isn’t too much trouble, I’ll study that also.

  • ROHAN says:


    though im a BCOM graduate & done my Master in Finance? my accounting concepts are not that strong…

    so can u please advise if i should go for wiley or gliem ?.. money is not a problem..

    please recommend the book that is only helpful to clear my CMA exam… thanks


    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Rohan,
      I like both. Gleim is more “hard core” with more complex practice questions and “denser” review materials (although they are amended and are now a lot easier to read this past couple of years).

      For Wiley, I really like the video lectures which is available in the premium Wiley CMAexcel course instead of the Wiley CMA Learning System. For the book itself, I feel like I learn more from the Learning System as a management accountant, vs just getting some notes to pass the exam.

      But to give you some objective data, as far as I know, a lot more readers use Gleim. Cost could be an important factor, but I think there must be readers like you who aren’t tight in budget.

      So I encourage you to think over your preferred learning style. If you really can’t decide, Gleim is a “safe” choice. Hope it helps!

  • Terence says:


    I have the Wiley 2015 review materials. Can I use this in preparation for the 2016 exams.

  • Hari says:

    Hi Stephanie

    I am confused and need some guidance. I just read your reviews on Wiley and Gleim, and also read all the comments as well. Please guide me on which of these two courses is best for my situation;

    Practice Questions: unanimously Gleim is the best.

    Audio/video lectures: I don’t like audio and video lectures and therefore wont be going for any of these so this factor is irrelevant for me.

    Books: I personally like to read books which explain the topic in detail with examples rather than concise books with a lot of information in less space. I get bored with such books.

    Background: I don’t have a strong accounting background.

    So my question is: in my situation, where I wont be using any audio/video material what would you suggest? Is it best to go for a COMBINATION of Wiley books (as they are more detailed) and Gleim practice questions (as they are more challenging). Please disregard the cost/money factor.

    From others comments it seems that Gleim is the safe harbor and Wiley may be like taking a risk. Is that true?


    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Hari, it is a bit overwhelming to use both materials in my opinion. Their study units do not align. I generally lean towards Gleim in your situation but now that both of them have free trials, I encourage that you sign up for both and see. If you need supplements on accounting concepts, Gleim does have the ebook that explains things in detail (in fact, most people find it too detailed which make this their negative in those students’ opinion). What Gleim lacks in my opinion is more examples. If this is the only thing that you need, you can get plenty of those in any management accounting books.

      Ideally, if you have the time, it’s nice to have the Wiley book as the supplement. But you need to identify your core study materials and use the other as a supplement. For practice questions, it can be more flexible. Hope it helps! Regards, Stephanie

  • Izhar says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    i went to a session yesterday promoting wiley, they claimed that wiley is authorized by IMA (my question is gleim not recognized) .

    further the instructor claimed that wiley is more focused on CMA related question (2000+) as opposed to gleim drawing upon all the other expertise it has ( CPA, CIA, CFA) to make the database(5,000+ questions), and ultimately the candidate ends up doing question not relating to CMA, is this true?

    given a majority of aspiring for the CMA credential are full time students or have full time jobs which course in your opinion will give more focused CMA practice questions?

    any help will be highly appreciated.


    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Izhar, Wiley is indeed the one “authorized” by IMA because they took over the review materials originally published by the IMA. But as mentioned above, they don’t really have an edge because the entity that develops the exam questions are completely separate. Gleim is the “strategic partner” of IMA. Not sure what it means officially but to me it simply means that while Gleim doesn’t have the same historical relationship with IMA as Wiley, it is a big enough and good enough so IMA wants to recognize that.

      On your second question, there is some truth to it but I won’t necessary agree with their conclusion. Gleim does incorporate questions from other exams in their test bank, and that’s one of the reasons why they have a bigger number of questions. This is true. But it is done purposely so to train students think on their feet when they encounter a question they have never seen before. Bear in mind that CPA, CIA, CMA (Gleim doesn’t cover CFA) are all based on one set of accounting principles. The difference is the focus in different niches. So to me there is nothing wrong to “borrow” a few other questions as long as most questions cover the core exam you are taking.

      I understand your point of having a smaller and more focused set of questions. I encourage readers to spend less time on reading but more time on practice questions, so to me this isn’t a big issue. But if you really don’t have much studying time, this is a good reason to choose Wiley. Both Wiley and Gleim are on my recommended list.

      Hope it helps! Stephanie

  • Yolanda Leamon says:

    Do you know if the Wiley CMA Review is on IBooks?

  • Harji Kaur says:

    hello stephaine..
    I’m preparing for cma exam, and I want to give 1 exam in jan-feb n the other 1 in may-june. can u pls suggest me which part exam should I give in jan-feb window?Plz help me for this.

  • Thu Thanh says:

    Hi Stephen!
    I have read your review about CMA and it is really wonderful.
    I will take part in CMA course next November and I want to ask some questions related to needed documents.
    1, About text book : I am recommended to use Wiley CMAexcel Learning System Exam Review. Can I use the verson 2016 materials for 2017 exam? You said that there is not significant change, so what is often differences between years? I am going to purchase text book here 🙂 http://www.vividbook.org/2016.Wiley.CMA.asp
    2, About test bank online: My center recommend to buy online account of Wiley too. Is it ok? If I do not use this way, is there any difference ways to practice? How about your recommendation?
    3, Besides 2 documents above, is there any other needed documents?
    I am looking forward to your response!

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Thu, thanks for your note. If you are taking a course through a center, it is better to follow their advice (I suppose they will have lectures helping you along the way?)

      This page evaluates CMAexcel, which is the full version of Wiley CMA with the videos, online study planner etc.

      For the text book and the test bank you mentioned, you can check out the pros and cons here:

      It isn’t as good as CMAexcel (not a fully integrated), which makes sense because of the lower price. People do pass with this alone, and you can see how Yen did this exactly here: https://ipassthecmaexam.com/vietnam-blogger-cma-exam-journey/

      For other providers, you can check them out here:

      … but again, if you are taking classes through the center, it is most efficient to match whatever they recommend. If you don’t agree, it’s better to ditch the center and do it on your own instead of doing both at the same time.

      Hope it helps! Stephanie

  • Thu Thanh says:

    I see!. Thanks for your advice, Stephanie!
    Can I purchase an online test prep software severally if I have had text books already? If it is posible, how much will I need to pay?

    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Hi Thu, I don’t think you can get Wiley test bank separately, but you may want to check out other providers. I have to say that most are available as packages — the value is mostly on the practice questions anyway.

  • Umer says:

    I am planing to buy intensive course and test bank. Searching for promo codes and discounts and no luck yet. Any help?

  • Owen says:

    Hi Stephanie

    I really lik d your review. I’m thinking of purchasing the Wiley learning system (monies the intensive online course), but noticed that your $500 discount code was only effective until May 17th (2 weeks ago). Do you have an updated discount code?


    • Stephanie Ng says:

      Ah sorry Owen I have been busy and forgot to change the code. Typically, if you visit wileycma.com, they show the current discount on the front page. For now it’s CMAGUIDE (20% off) valid until 29 June, 2017.


    Now am using Wiley excel learning system. I ask you that will i require to practice Gliem bits compulsory.

  • Dafne says:

    …all the errors are still there, I believe that Customer Support actually does not exist at all – as the errors are pretty basic and could be fixed easily. I have sent many emails so far on the same issue, nothing changes. My test exam for Part 2 is actually the exam for Part 1….so..many issues to be solved.

  • >