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CMA Study Tips for the Holidays [Updated for 2020+]

Studying for the CMA exam over the holidays.

The next CMA exam testing window is coming up in January/February. If you’re prepping to take the exam during the first testing window, you’ll probably want to plan ahead to deal with the upcoming holidays.

Although the holidays may look different this year, you may stick to your usual routines, if a bit modified. Holiday parties held online, shopping through dozens of websites, or sending out cards to those you might otherwise have seen in person. Figuring out this year’s schedule can seem like another reason to delay your studies, but these tips can still help you keep on track!

Even if you don’t celebrate any holidays personally, there are plenty of people around you who will. Between responsibilities at work, family obligations, and various celebrations and parties going on, you can be pretty sure that your time will be stretched over the next few weeks.

Here are some study tips for the holiday season to help you maintain your study plan for the CMA exam.

Remember why you are pursuing the CMA certification

As challenging as it might be, this is the time to stay focused and dedicated to your goal: achieving your CMA certification.

You already know the benefits of becoming a CMA, so take the time to remind yourself—and your support system—why you’re making this extra effort.

  • More opportunities to advance your career
  • Higher salary
  • Greater job satisfaction

Now is the time to keep your focus on the long-term goal, not just the next few weeks.

Have a realistic CMA study plan

One question to ask yourself is, “Do I have realistic expectations for how much I can study while working, socializing, traveling, and, most importantly, sleeping?”

Think how busy you are during “normal” life and add holidays to the mix; you may already feel behind and overwhelmed. If you’re working full-time (maybe with some overtime), traveling to visit family or friends; fulfilling home responsibilities; and still trying to shop, eat, and sleep, well, you’ve already got a full plate! You probably can’t do it all, so step back for a minute to make conscious choices about how much time you can devote to study during this busy time of year.

  • Make your CMA study plan and block out your study sessions deliberately.

    • You’ll enjoy the socializing more if you’ve accomplished part of your study plan and aren’t stressing about falling behind with your studies.

  • Make the most of any free time you have during this season.

    • If you’re traveling during the next few weeks, make a plan to incorporate that mental downtime into productive time.

    • You can study and rack up those frequent flier miles at the same time! Take your study materials with you.

    • If you’re driving, consider listening to the Gleim audio lectures.

    • If you know you’ll have a day between a big party and a family visit, consider using half of that day to really buckle down and get some study units completed.

Make use of time-saving resources to find more time to study

Consider taking advantage of some of the time-saving services now available in many areas.

Maybe you have a huge shopping list to get ready for a holiday meal or even just your regular weekly shopping list–something that would take you two hours to complete. Use the store’s online pick-up order function instead. You’ll spend fifteen minutes online clicking some buttons, five minutes driving to the store, and NO time doing the shopping yourself. Just pick-up and go! Some areas even have delivery services that will save you even more time.

Or, for the next few weeks, use a laundromat’s wash/dry/fold service. The same goes for housecleaning and yard care; try outsourcing these chores for the next few weeks to help you get through the holidays and your test preparation.

Now you’ve just “found” three extra hours a week for studying.

If you don’t want to pay an unknown service provider to help you with your chores, remember you have a support system that, by now, knows why you are studying for the CMA exam. Ask for help.

If buying gifts is part of your holiday plans, consider making this task easier on yourself.

  • Shop now and get your list done early.

  • Simplify your list (maybe all those distant relatives get a gift card).

  • Shop online if possible. Save that six-hour trip to the mall and have it all delivered, either to you or directly to the recipient.

  • Make use of gift wrapping services.

Have small manageable CMA study sessions

Plan on shorter study sessions. You probably won’t get six hours in a row to study, but you can take advantage of forty minutes at the train station, or thirty minutes waiting for your mom at the salon, can’t you? Be realistic about the opportunities you’ll have, and take advantage of those little bits of time to take a quiz or get through part of a study unit.

By planning short bursts of time, you are setting yourself up for greater success because you won’t get discouraged when you can’t sit down for a six hour study session.

Remember, this study crunch time is only for now

This is a big crunch time for everyone; it won’t last forever. Come January 2, you’ll probably be feeling a bit relieved (and a bit tired) from your holidays.

Schedule at least a couple of days completely off from studying. By giving yourself a total break from the work, you’ll come back to it refreshed and ready to go. Make use of this personal time to indulge in some self care, such as making a massage or a salon appointment; checking out one of the new movies on a weekday afternoon; trying a new fitness class or something that gets you moving. Do something nice just for yourself.

A CMA study plan for the holidays that works with your CMA Review

Gleim CMA is the most widely used CMA Prep Course on the market because it gives candidates all the tools they need to succeed. The Gleim CMA Review Course includes an interactive Study Planner tool that lets you schedule blocks of study time and treat-yourself days. With Gleim, it’s easier for you to maintain your goals and your personal well-being. Access our unlimited free demo here to see how the Study Planner will work for you during this time of year and all year long.