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CMA Multiple-Choice Questions Study Tips

As a CMA candidate, you know earning the certification means facing CMA exam multiple-choice questions (MCQs): 100 per part, to be exact. You might also know that these MCQs account for 75% of your CMA score. But do you know how to ensure you’re ready for this challenging CMA exam question type? Follow our six best study tips for CMA multiple-choice questions and you’ll be well on your way to acing the exam.

Study Tips for Multiple-Choice Questions on the CMA Exam

  1. Follow a study plan.The CMA exam is long and comprehensive, so you can’t skimp on studying. You need to review all of the content to achieve exam success. This process takes candidates an average of 120 hours to prepare for Part 1 and 100 hours for Part 2. Only by prioritizing and organizing your study sessions can you log all that study time. A CMA study schedule is the right tool for the job, so make one as soon as you’re admitted into the certification program. Creating and sticking to a study plan requires discipline and dedication, but all your hard work will be rewarded when you pass.
  2. Take plenty of practice quizzes.You can look at the book all day, but if you don’t test yourself, you can’t gauge how much you know and where you need to study more. Taking practice quizzes lets you prove that you fully understand the topics and gets you familiar with how the MCQs present those topics. You should plan on completing practice quizzes as you work through a study unit, but start each study unit with a practice quiz as well. When you begin your review of new material with a quiz, you can see the content areas you’re unfamiliar with and target those areas during your studies. Whether you are a student or a seasoned professional you’ve already accumulated a lot of knowledge. There’s no need to spend extra time studying what you already know.

    As you answer quiz questions, your goal should always be to choose the best possible answer, even if you have to make an educated guess. Educated guessing is better than not answering the question because the CMA exam doesn’t penalize for incorrect answers. If you work on eliminating incorrect answers during difficult questions on your practice quizzes, this strategy will be second nature by the time you take the exam.

  3. Apply your time management system.You can’t get points for CMA exam MCQs that you don’t have time to answer (or even see). Thankfully, you can make sure you have time by following a CMA exam time management system like this one:

CMA Exam MCQ Time Management System

Question Type

Total Section Time

Time Per Question

Review Time


165 minutes

1.5 minutes

30 minutes

(what is not used for review can be carried over to the essays)

    1. Before you sit, use the practice quizzes from tip two to get your system down. Work through the questions systematically, but don’t take more than the allotted time to answer. Finishing these MCQ answering steps quickly should become habit:

      1. Find the important information in the question stem
      2. Determine the answer in your mind
      3. Select the best possible answer among the answer choices

On the exam, you can use as much of the remaining review time as you need to check your MCQ answers before moving on to the essays. But during your study sessions, you should simply stick to answering each MCQ in 1.5 minutes. If you do poorly because you felt rushed, that’s okay! It’s better to make mistakes now than when they count toward your CMA exam score.

    1. Read the answer explanations for every quiz question.Practice quizzes not only allow you to assess your current depth of knowledge, they also supply you with memorable learning moments. Reading the answer explanations for the correct and incorrect answers reveals the “why” behind them, which either improves or verifies your thought process. You want to select the right answer for the right reason, and answer explanations can confirm whether your understanding of the topic was accurate or if you should change your perspective.
    2. Learn from your mistakes.This step goes hand-in-hand with reading the answer explanations. Getting questions wrong helps you avoid making similar mistakes on the actual exam, so you should review the explanations for your incorrect answers to pinpoint the cause of your error. A lack of knowledge may be the reason you missed a question, but it could also be something else, like
      • Misreading the requirements
      • Failing to understand the requirements
      • Making a math error
      • Applying the wrong rule or concept
      • Being distracted by one or more of the answers
      • Incorrectly eliminating answers from consideration
      • Employing bad intuition when guessing

Because learning from your mistakes leaves such an impression in your mind, it’s a very effective and efficient MCQ study method. The next time you encounter a similar question, you can use the memory of your negative experience (answering the original question wrong) to make a better judgment and answer the question correctly.

  1. Don’t memorize the questions.Your CMA exam won’t ask the same questions you practiced with, but it will test you on the same concepts you learned in your review. So, concentrate on learning the topics that practice MCQs address instead of memorizing the wording these questions use. The CMA exam questions can be similar enough to your practice questions that you may see one that looks familiar and assume you know what the question is asking. However, you could misread the question and consequently answer it incorrectly because it was technically asking something different from the question you had memorized. Clearly, memorizing the questions can actually be a real hindrance to your exam success. Conversely, knowing the accounting fundamentals equips you to answer all kinds of questions about these topics and will serve you well on the exam and in your career. Learning the concepts also gives you the best chance to pass the first time.

Best Review for Multiple-Choice Questions

These study tips are critical to MCQ success, and Gleim CMA Review is essential for following them. Only the #1 CMA review course has the best test bank on the market. Our test bank has more questions than any other, so it provides all the practice MCQs you need to solidify your knowledge while preventing you from memorizing the questions. It also contains our signature answer explanations for every answer choice so you can benefit more from each quiz. These features and many others make Gleim CMA the most widely-used review course.

You can start practicing with CMA exam MCQs right now by accessing our free CMA exam questions!

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