2018 is coming. If you’re like most people, you’ve probably had to change your schedule to cope with the bustle of the holidays. For many, that means studying gets sidelined for a couple weeks, and we want you to know that’s fine! Spending time with loved ones is important. Soon though, December will end, and you’ll have to figure out how to get back in the swing of studying. It probably feels like all that comfort food and relaxation is going to make it impossible to take that first step back, but with the right mindset, you can return recharged and ready to accomplish your goals. Even if you haven’t begun studying, there has never been a better time to start than now. This New Year, resolve to pass the CMA exam. To help, here are some tips that will make studying a priority and your goals achievable.
Prioritizing Passing the CMA Exam in the New Year
1. Focus on your most important resolution: passing the CMA exam.
It’s tempting to allow yourself to get swept up in the excitement of making resolutions. You could lose 10 pounds, take yoga classes twice a week, write a novel, and start taking those piano lessons you keep forgetting to sign up for, but is it realistic to do all of that and study for the CMA exam while still keeping up with your current career or other commitments? For most of us, it isn’t. So instead of trying to pile a ton of new things on your to-do list, make studying for the exam the only new item on your to-do list. Passing the CMA exam is the most important resolution you have, and focusing your attention on it will help ensure success. It can be difficult to postpone other noble goals, but an investment of time into earning your CMA certification can begin paying career dividends almost immediately, and you’ll be better equipped to tackle new life goals next year!
2. Develop a study plan based on your real life, not your fantasy life
It’s not realistic to plan to study four hours a night, every single weeknight, and then try to fit another eight hours on Sunday. Few people have the time or energy to do that, even among full-time students. It can help to make a concrete study plan by scheduling your sessions as appointments in your calendar, as long as those appointments are truly feasible and realistic. Gleim has developed a Study Planner, available through the Gleim CMA Review Course, which allows you to personalize your study schedule based on your commitments and limitations. Using the Study Planner tool can help you stick to your resolution.
When the holidays end and you’ve sufficiently celebrated the new year, your schedule will return to normal and become predictable again. Take advantage of that by creating and sticking to the same study schedule each week. Find a schedule that works for you; study a little bit every day, or take an entire day out of the week to dive deep into the material. Gleim generally recommends you study for 10 hours per week. This will vary depending on how far out your exam is and how much time you realistically have to study each week, but for a comprehensive review, you should plan on around 200 total hours of studying. Find the number of hours per week that you have available to study. Be honest with yourself about what you’re willing to cut out of your schedule and what you can and can’t give up. Then, break that down into manageable chunks. Do this and you will steadily move forward toward your ultimate goal: becoming a CMA.
3. Frame your New Year’s resolution as a positive, not a negative.
When you think about studying for the CMA exam, think of it as positively moving forward in your accounting career in a way that will have direct impact on your lifestyle, future jobs, and paychecks for years to come. Avoid thinking of studying in terms of what you’re giving up. You’re doing this for a reason, not just to miss out on trivia night after work or being completely up-to-date on your favorite TV show. Yes, you’re making sacrifices now, but in the long run, they’re minor sacrifices. And, unlike knowing exactly what happens to your favorite character on that TV show the night it airs, studying will benefit your life for years to come.
4. Keep in mind that the first few weeks of studying consistently will be the hardest.
You’re developing a new habit, and that takes some time. Once you overcome the tough work of getting started, it gets easier. Just get through one day at a time, and you’ll get the momentum going. A body in motion tends to stay in motion, so get that motion started!
5. Keep a record of your accomplishments.
This could be a poster-board sized listing of the concepts in Part 1 with boxes to check off as you progress. Or it could be a spreadsheet app in your phone that tracks your work. The point is to show yourself that you’re making progress through the material. Once you see that a third of the concepts are completed, you might feel inspired enough to move on to the next concept a little early. When you have all the concepts completed and checked off, take a moment to acknowledge your hard work and reflect on all you’ve learned.
6. Have a concrete image attached to your overall goal.
For example, if passing the CMA exam will automatically garner you a raise, you might already have plans for that extra money. Maybe you want to go on a ski trip to Colorado or actually sign up for those piano lessons. Put a picture of that ski slope or a piano on your computer monitor. Seeing that picture daily will give your unconscious mind the continued motivation to keep working. You’re not working for just an ephemeral “something” wafting around out there in the ether. You’re working toward riding down that ski slope or making music.
With 2018 approaching, you have three CMA exam testing windows available. Why not make the most important resolution first? Prepare for the exam by establishing or returning to a manageable study plan with specific goals. Make those goals realistic, positive, and concrete. Then, you can choose the exam on the date that works for you and set your study plan in motion.
A CMA Study Guide for Passing the CMA Exam in the New Year
Gleim CMA has trained more CMAs than any other review course by providing all the tools they need to pass the CMA exam. To get your 2018 CMA exam plan started, access the free CMA Exam Guide. This free study guide includes study tips, strategies on how to prepare for the exam, where to take your exam, how the exam is graded, and more.