How Long Does It Take to Pass the CMA Exam?

how long does it take to pass the cma exam

Answering the question, “How long does it take to pass the CMA exam?” comes down to how much you’re able to study. The IMA allows you to take up to 3 years to pass the CMA exam, but you can do it in less than 1 year. It’s entirely possible that you could pass both parts in only 6 months. You just have to form your study plan strategically and stick to it. The best way to plan this out is to outline how much you should expect to study and when you plan to sit for each part.

How Much Time Should I Spend Studying for the CMA Exam?

First things first, how much time are you going to have available to study?

In total, our exam experts estimate you’ll need to study around 220 hours for the two parts combined. Since Part 1 covers more topics than Part 2, that 220 hours breaks down asymmetrically to about 120 hours of studying for Part 1 and 100 hours for Part 2. This may seem overwhelming, so don’t worry about remembering all these number now; we will break this down for you. It’s important to note, that these are estimates based around “average” times from the many candidates we have helped over the years. You are probably going to be different in some ways, and you should adjust the study times based on your own study habits and your strengths and weaknesses.

These numbers are useful when registering for the exam. All you have to do is decide how many hours per week you can allot as study time, and use our estimates to figure out how many weeks it will be before you get through all of the review material. We recommend that you study for at least 10 hours per week. Making your review a substantial part of your week will help keep it part of your routine and help you retain more information.

It would be ideal to sit for the CMA exam immediately after you have finished studying for each part.

This spreadsheet will help you calculate how many weeks of studying you’ll need to allot.

Total Hours

Hours per Week

# of Weeks

Pt. 1




Pt. 2




Both Combined





Scheduling the CMA Exam Parts

Once you know how many weeks of studying you need, you can schedule your testing sessions. There are three testing windows for the CMA exam each year:

  • Jan. 1 – Feb. 28
  • May 1 – June 30
  • Sept. 1 – Oct. 31

You can schedule the part of the exam you’re taking for any day within those windows as long as the Prometric center you’ll be testing at is open and has an available appointment.

If you decide to sit for Part 1 of the CMA exam first, figuring out what date to sit for the test looks like this:

Calculate how many weeks you need for studying, decide what date you’re going to begin studying, and schedule your appointment that many weeks from the start date. Boxing yourself in like this by solidly defining when you need to be done studying can help motivate you to keep working when it gets difficult.

EXAMPLE: Say you’re going to start studying Feb. 1, you plan on sitting for Part 1 first, and you only have 10 hours per week available (the minimum recommended time). You’ll need 12 weeks of studying, so you should schedule your testing session for around May 3 because it’s exactly 12 weeks from your start date and within the May/June testing window.

What about Part 2? Following our guidelines, you need 10 weeks to study. If you begin studying May 4, immediately after the test, you’ll finish at the beginning of July: outside the testing window. You have about 10 extra weeks to wait before you can test in September. In this case, schedule Part 2 for any time in the September/October testing window and wait until Part 2 is 10 weeks away so you can finish studying right before you take it. If you wanted to complete both parts of the exam in the same testing window, you can. You’ll just have to be willing to put in more hours of studying each week than our recommended minimum.

If this method stresses you out or you’re not sure when you’ll be ready to take the exam, we just recommend you schedule your appointment at least 6 weeks ahead of time. This is enough time to ensure the testing center near you will have available appointments when you want to take the test.

Alternatively, if you feel pretty confident, you can register for both parts at the same time and just space them out with enough time to study in between.

You are allowed to reschedule your testing session as long as it’s within the same testing window for $50. If you don’t feel ready when your testing date comes up in May, you can pay to push it back to any time in May or June.

Again, you can schedule both parts of the exam during the same testing window. You just have to study more than 10 hours per week. Passing both parts in the same window makes you eligible for ICMA awards.

Note that the ICMA doesn’t give you your results until six weeks after the end of the month you took the test in. In the example above, you would find out how you did around the middle of July. Usually, you shouldn’t wait for your results from one part to schedule the other.

Gleim Helps You Pass Fast

Gleim is the best way to pass the CMA exam efficiently while achieving award-winning scores. Our CMA review course is used by more CMA Award Medal Winners than any other course on the market, all of whom passed both parts in the same testing window. Our CMA review course comes with an intuitive study planner, so you can make sure you stay on schedule, and a Personal Counselor, to advise on scheduling strategies based on your specific needs and goals. Check out some free CMA sample questions today and get a grasp on how much studying you’ll need in order to pass the CMA exam. Let us help you pass the CMA exam this year.