I Pass The CMA Exam!

Wrong Actions Lead to Experience and Success

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

This is my first post after last week’s introduction. Hope you like it 🙂

I failed 3 times before in the old system (when CMA was a 4-part exam). Each time I didn’t pass the exam, I was frustrated. But after the third time, I decided to leave the study for a while to reorganize my mind set for the certificate, and to reflect on what I missed to achieve success.

I’ll tell you what I learn from these wrong actions, and how I passed on my first try in the current 2-part exam:

1. Maintain a Strong Will

You must decide to have the will and the ability of the study in pain commitment.

2. Start with a Study Plan

You need to arrange a study plan divided into 3 phases: Preparation, Review and Exam Mode.

3. Create a Weekly Schedule

You need to schedule your day on how many hours you’ll be able to study weekly. I recommend 14 hours per week.

4. Focus in One Source of Review Material

If you choose Gleim and the learning style becomes familiar to you, don’t listen to others who may suggest otherwise. It’s difficult to study from Gleim and then choose Hock or Wiley. Just focus in one source. This will give you the base of content structure set in your mind.

5. Don’t Dwell on the Book

Don’t ever and ever and again ever focus in studying the book more than practicing MCQs. Take the book only as the reference, your base for the studying.

I suggest 30% on reading the book and 70% on practicing,  because the practice will make the information stuck in your mind. This works better than only reading from the book.

6. Check Out the LOS

One of the most important factors for passing the exam is that you must train yourself answering from the LOS (Learning Outcome Statements). This is to make sure the weak points can be identified.  Then, read those areas again and practice more to make the weak points become stronger.

7. Turn Multiple Choice Questions into Essays

My way 🙂 is to convert every MCQ to essay question. If you do this trick, you’ll save time for practicing the essay. That’s what I did and it worked in my exam 🙂

8. Save Time for Relaxation and Enjoyment

You need to give time to yourself with what makes you happy. For me, it’s playing with my little girl. It is like charging my battery to study more.


If you focus in following these actions, your chance of passing will increase. With a little more efforts and keep practicing, you’ll pass. I implemented these actions and it worked with me in Part 1. I’m repeating these strategies in my part 2 preparation.

Note: My next post will cover details on the study plan phases (Preparation – Review – Exam Mode).

Note from Stephanie

Thank you for the very detailed sharing Sherif! I appreciate that you point out #4 on using only one set of review materials. I get emails on frustrating readers who wanted to switch courses after failing an exam. While it could be a factor in the failure, in most cases it is something else. So I try very hard to convince people to stick with their materials, make the best use of it unless they are certain they don’t like the teaching style.

#7 on turning MCQs into essays is excellent! In the CPA exam site, I suggest readers to do just that — by answering the multiple choice questions in an “expanded manner” as required by the task-based simulations. Of course, this strategy should work for CMA exam as well!

Looks like your next post will expand your discussion on #2. Looking forward!

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.

Leave a Comment:

Ahmed karam says June 17, 2017

Thank you for replying me …I need your help about how to find my career path and I need too your advice about what to do these days I mean after graduation

Ahmed karam says May 22, 2017


Thank you all for publishing your experience …I have a question, I will graduate after one month and I prepar to start CMA course ..I want to know is this the right time to start or I should wait ?

    Stephanie Ng says May 27, 2017

    hi Ahmed,
    not sure if Sherif is still checking this as he has “graduated” from his exam and his blogging here, but there are pros and cons of starting at this time.
    Pros: work not as busy since you are free or are just starting to work. As you see, Sherif has to juggle between work and family (as husband and father)
    Cons: not sure about career path, so it may be too early to get a specialized certification e.g. a CMA

    So it depends on whether you are quite sure about management accounting, and whether you foresee yourself to get really busy at a later stage. Hope it helps! Stephanie

M. Farooq Minhas says February 16, 2017

Hi Sherif,

Your CMA story is very motivational. Really like your determination. Your second post is very informative, as it comes through all your personal experience. Waiting for your next post on exam preparation strategy.

    Sherif Aryan says February 21, 2017

    Thx M.Farouq i hope you like my next post 🙂

Sherif Aryan says February 13, 2017

Thanks Steph for your notes, and yes these actions very valuable and shortcut for saving time

    Stephanie Ng says February 13, 2017


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