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CMA Exam Changes

Your Guide to CMA Exam Changes and Updates

CMA Exam Changes are coming in 2020, but as the leading CMA review provider, Gleim is prepared to help you. Candidates have counted on Gleim for decades to make sure they are completely prepared for the content tested on the CMA exam. Our Access Until You Pass® guarantee means you get free updates to your review materials as long as you are studying. This means that with our Premium Review you will get updates if you need to sit for any part(s) under the new 2020 exam changes.

Want to learn about the changes? You will find all you need to know about the new exam changes right here in our comprehensive guide. You may also find our Free CMA Exam Guide and CMA practice test useful as you take the next step to becoming a CMA.

Access this free webinar and learn about the 2020 changes and how Gleim CMA will help you prepare.

The ICMA is making major changes to the CMA exam that will appear on the CMA exam beginning in January 2020. To summarize:

CHANGES TO PART 1

NEW CONTENT: Technology and Analytics, Integrated Reporting
DELETED CONTENT: Internal Auditing

These changes are arguably more significant, because Part 1 will include an entirely new section of coverage, namely Domain F: Technology and Analytics. This domain was not previously covered in the exam, but now amounts to 15% of exam coverage (52 LOSs). Some other domains’ coverage was reduced in order to make room for this new inclusion. Domain B: Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting has been reduced by 10% (to 20% coverage), and Domain D: Cost Management has been reduced by 5% (to 15% coverage).

Based on the changes made to Part 1 of the exam, there are a few key takeaways. It is clear that the ICMA still feels that it is important for CMAs to have knowledge of Internal Controls. However, CMAs should play less of a role in internal auditing and be more involved in managing controls. The reduction of coverage in Cost Management (Domain D) and Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting (Domain B) emphasizes the significance of Analytics skills as a knowledge area that will define the CMA’s role more specifically as a data reporter and critical decision maker.

2020 CMA Exam Part 1 Coverage Breakdown
CHANGES TO CMA EXAM PART 1
  Old Exam New Exam
Part 1 Title “Financial Reporting, Planning, Performance, and Control” “Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics”
Domain A: External Financial Reporting Decisions
  • Did not test “integrated reporting”
  • Tested “off-balance sheet financing” (2LOSs)
  • Tested “operating and capital leases”
  • Tests “integrated reporting” (5 LOSs)
  • No longer tests “off-balance sheet financing”
  • Tests ASU 2016-02 (Leases), changing the classification of leases from “operating and capital” to “operating and finance”. Tested on the CMA exam beginning Jan/Feb 2020.
Domain B: Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting 30% Coverage 20% Coverage (no deleted LOSs)
Domain C: Performance Management No material change No material change
Domain D: Cost Management 20% Coverage 15% Coverage (no deleted LOSs)
Domain E: Internal Controls Tested “internal auditing” (7 LOSs) No longer testing “internal auditing”
Domain F: Technology and Analytics 0% Coverage Tests on a new domain; 15% Coverage (52 LOSs)

CHANGES TO PART 2

NEW CONTENT: Business Ethics, Sustainability and Social Responsibility
DELETED CONTENT: Off-Balance Sheet Financing, Bankruptcy, Tax Implications of Transfer Pricing

These will involve some shifts in coverage, as well as the addition of some new LOSs. Domain A: Financial Statement Analysis and Domain E: Investment Decisions will both see coverage reduced by 5%, while Domain C: Decision Analysis and Domain F: Professional Ethics will both see coverage increases of 5%. Domain F’s coverage increase is due, in part, to the inclusion of new LOSs on “groupthink”, “diversity of thought”, “ethical leadership and traits of ethical leaders”, and “facilitating payments”.

Given the increase in coverage of Professional Ethics, we can see that the ICMA is placing more value on workplace ethics, including the “tone at the top.” Additionally, the title change to Part 2 of the exam emphasizes the CMA’s evolving role as an important strategic asset to a company/organization rather than someone who simply does calculations and reporting.

2020 CMA Exam Part 2 Coverage Breakdown
CHANGES TO CMA EXAM PART 2
  Old Exam New Exam
Part 2 Title “Financial Decision Making” “Strategic Financial Management”
Domain A: Financial Statement Analysis
  • Coverage – 25%
  • Tested “off-balance sheet financing” (1 LOS)
  • Coverage – 20%
  • No longer testing “off-balance sheet financing”
Domain B: Corporate Finance
  • Tested “bankruptcy” (1 LOS)
  • Tested distinction between “reorganization” and “liquidation” (1 LOS)
  • Tested “tax implications of transfer pricing” (1 LOS)
  • No longer testing “bankruptcy”
  • No longer testing the distinction between “reorganization” and “liquidation”
  • No longer testing “tax implications of transfer pricing”
Domain C: Decision Analysis 20% Coverage 25% Coverage (no new LOSs)
Domain D: Risk Management No material change No material change
Domain E: Investment Decisions 15% Coverage 10% Coverage (no deleted LOSs)
Domain F: Professional Ethics
  • 10% Coverage
  • Tested “methods to monitor ethical compliance” (1 LOS)
  • Tested “requirements of SOX Section 406 – Code of Ethics for Senior Financial Officers” (1 LOS)
  • 15% Coverage – Increased coverage is due, in part, to new LOSs on “groupthink”, “diversity of thought”, “ethical leadership and traits of ethical leaders”, and “facilitating payments”.
  • No longer testing “methods to monitor ethical compliance”
  • No longer testing “requirements of SOX Section 406 – Code of Ethics for Senior Financial Officers”

The ICMA is making major changes to the CMA exam that will appear on the CMA exam beginning in January 2020. To summarize:

CHANGES TO PART 1

NEW CONTENT: Technology and Analytics, Integrated Reporting
DELETED CONTENT: Internal Auditing

These are arguably more significant, because Part 1 will include an entirely new section of coverage, namely Domain F: Technology and Analytics. This domain was not previously covered in the exam, but now amounts to 15% of exam coverage (52 LOSs). Some other domains’ coverage was reduced in order to make room for this new inclusion. Domain B: Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting has been reduced by 10% (to 20% coverage), and Domain D: Cost Management has been reduced by 5% (to 15% coverage).

Based on the changes made to Part 1 of the exam, there are a few key takeaways. It is clear that the ICMA still feels that it is important for CMAs to have knowledge of Internal Controls. However, CMAs should play less of a role in internal auditing and be more involved in managing controls. The reduction of coverage in Cost Management (Domain D) and Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting (Domain B) emphasizes the significance of Analytics skills as a knowledge area that will define the CMA’s role more specifically as a data reporter and critical decision maker.

2020 CMA Exam Part 1 Coverage Breakdown
CMA Exam Changes Part 1

CHANGES TO PART 2

NEW CONTENT: Business Ethics, Sustainability and Social Responsibility
DELETED CONTENT: Off-Balance Sheet Financing, Bankruptcy, Tax Implications of Transfer Pricing

These will involve some shifts in coverage, as well as the addition of some new LOSs. Domain A: Financial Statement Analysis and Domain E: Investment Decisions will both see coverage reduced by 5%, while Domain C: Decision Analysis and Domain F: Professional Ethics will both see coverage increases of 5%. Domain F’s coverage increase is due, in part, to the inclusion of new LOSs on “groupthink”, “diversity of thought”, “ethical leadership and traits of ethical leaders”, and “facilitating payments”.

Given the increase in coverage of Professional Ethics, we can see that the ICMA is placing more value on workplace ethics, including the “tone at the top.” Additionally, the title change to Part 2 of the exam emphasizes the CMA’s evolving role as an important strategic asset to a company/organization rather than someone who simply does calculations and reporting.

2020 CMA Exam Part 2 Coverage Breakdown
CMA Exam Changes Part 2

WHAT IS NOT CHANGING IN 2020

Though the CMA exam changes for 2020 are significant, they will NOT impact:

  • Number of exam parts
    • The CMA exam is still a two-part exam
  • Question types on each part
    • Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and Essay Scenarios
  • Number of questions per part
    • 100 MCQs
    • 2 Essay Scenarios
  • Exam administration
  • Eligibility and registration
  • Exam fees
  • Total testing time
  • Scaled score of 360 required to pass

WHAT IS NOT CHANGING IN 2020

Though the CMA exam changes for 2020 are significant, they will NOT impact:

  • Number of exam parts
    • The CMA exam is still a two-part exam
  • Question types on each part
    • Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and Essay Scenarios
  • Number of questions per part
    • 100 MCQs
    • 2 Essay Scenarios
  • Exam administration
  • Eligibility and registration
  • Exam fees
  • Total testing time
  • Scaled score of 360 required to pass

CMA EXAM CHANGES WEBINAR

In our new webinar, Melissa Leonard, Gleim CMA Product Manager, covers the exam changes coming in 2020. She discusses the impact these changes will have, breaks down the specifics, and advises you on how to study and prepare so you can pass the exam before 2019 is over.

Laptop computer displaying a CMA webinar hosted by Melissa Leonard

CMA 2020 FAQs

If I have to take a part in the new content, do I get credit for parts previously passed under the current exam content?

Yes, as long as your entrance fee is still valid and you pass both parts of the exam within three (3) years of one another. Credit for passing either part of the exam remains valid for three years, so you don’t necessarily have to pass both parts of the exam from the same version of the exam.

When is the last testing window that the current exam content will be tested?

For the English language exam, the last window is September/October 2019.
For the Chinese language exam, the last window will be November 9, 2019.

When will the updated exam begin being offered?

For the English language exam, the new version will begin being offered on January 1, 2020.
For the Chinese language exam, the new version will begin being offered in April 2020.

When will registration begin for the new exam?

For the English language exam, you may register for the new exam any time after February 16, 2019.
For the Chinese language exam, you may register for the new exam any time after November 11, 2019.

Why the CMA Exam Changes

Certified Management Accountant discussing his analysis of a data report

The CMA exam is meant to reflect the current role of management accounting across industries, and as that role changes, the exam is updated to keep pace. The IMA conducts studies on the role of the CMA in the accounting industry and workplace, and surveys CFOs, controllers, and other professionals about the knowledge and skills a CMA needs to be effective and successful.

As the accounting industry evolves, and faces more technological changes, it is essential for a CMA’s skill set to evolve alongside the adaptation of new, more sophisticated software and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Robotic process automation (RPA) is changing the accounting industry just as it has impacted many others. Many accounting skills and duties, especially those of the bookkeeping variety, are being streamlined and automated by accounting software, in order to allow businesses to perform a number of daily processes much more quickly and with greater accuracy.

Human accounting is unlikely to disappear due to RPA, but going forward, CMAs will be expected to be much more highly effective and reliable analyzers of data. They need to be able to make critical decisions based on valuable numeric insights which cannot be left to computerized, automated processes alone. Therefore, new content being tested on the CMA exam, beginning in 2020, will better reflect what skills CMAs use on a day-to-day basis, including Data Analytics.

The CMA exam is meant to reflect the current role of management accounting across industries, and as that role changes, the exam is updated to keep pace. The IMA conducts studies on the role of the CMA in the accounting industry and workplace, and surveys CFOs, controllers, and other professionals about the knowledge and skills a CMA needs to be effective and successful.

As the accounting industry evolves, and faces more technological changes, it is essential for a CMA’s skill set to evolve alongside the adaptation of new, more sophisticated software and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Robotic process automation (RPA) is changing the accounting industry just as it has impacted many others. Many accounting skills and duties, especially those of the bookkeeping variety, are being streamlined and automated by accounting software, in order to allow businesses to perform a number of daily processes much more quickly and with greater accuracy.

Human accounting is unlikely to disappear due to RPA, but going forward, CMAs will be expected to be much more highly effective and reliable analyzers of data. They need to be able to make critical decisions based on valuable numeric insights which cannot be left to computerized, automated processes alone. Therefore, new content being tested on the CMA exam, beginning in 2020, will better reflect what skills CMAs use on a day-to-day basis, including Data Analytics.

CMA Exam Changes in 2019

CHANGES TO THE 2019 PROMETRIC TESTING INTERFACE

The Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA) announced that the CMA exam will have a new look beginning January 1, 2019. Candidates taking either part of the exam on or after January 1, 2019, will see these interface enhancements.

These changes are being implemented at all Prometric Testing Centers around the world. These are just visual updates designed to enrich the testing experience. The ICMA is not making any modifications to the format of the exam or the Content Specification Outlines/Learning Outcome Statements.

Click here for a preview of the design and functionality of the new interface.

Understanding how to use the CMA exam software is essential to the smoothest, most comfortable exam-day experience, and we cover all these changes here.

old and new CMA exam Prometric interface screens

CHANGES TO THE 2019 PROMETRIC TESTING INTERFACE

The Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA) announced that the CMA exam will have a new look beginning January 1, 2019. Candidates taking either part of the exam on or after January 1, 2019, will see these interface enhancements.

These changes are being implemented at all Prometric Testing Centers around the world. These are just visual updates designed to enrich the testing experience. The ICMA is not making any modifications to the format of the exam or the Content Specification Outlines/Learning Outcome Statements.

Click here for a preview of the design and functionality of the new interface.

Understanding how to use the CMA exam software is essential to the smoothest, most comfortable exam-day experience, and we cover all these changes here.

old and new CMA exam Prometric interface screens

CHANGES TO 2019 EXAM CONTENT

Below are the changes the ICMA made to the Learning Outcome Statements (LOSs) effective January 1, 2019 and how this affects candidates preparing for the CMA exam.

Part 1 – Financial Reporting, Planning, Performance, and Control

Section A.1. Financial statements

No longer testing the basic disclosures related to each financial statement

Section A.2. Recognition, measurement, valuation, and disclosure

  • Revised content on the measurement of inventory subsequent to initial recognition in accordance with Accounting Standards Update 2015-11
  • Revised content on the classification of debt and equity securities in accordance with Accounting Standards Update 2016-01
  • No longer testing the proper income statement and balance sheet presentation of income tax expense and deferred taxes
  • No longer testing the issues involved in determining the amount and classification of tax assets and liabilities
  • No longer testing the reasons for the appropriation of retained earnings
  • Revised content on revenue recognition principles in accordance with Accounting Standards Update 2014-09

Section E.2. Internal auditing

No longer testing the basic disclosures related to each financial statement

Part 2 – Financial Decision Making

Section D.1. Enterprise risk

Revised COSO enterprise risk management (ERM) content in accordance with updated COSO ERM framework

Section F.1. Ethical considerations for management accounting and financial management professionals

Revised ethical standards content in accordance with updated IMA Statement of Ethical Professional Practice

How the CMA Exam Has Changed In the Past

Roughly every five-to-seven years the IMA conducts the studies which result in exam changes at a later date. Most years there are no changes, some years there are small changes, and sometimes there are significant changes, depending upon the results of these studies and surveys. In 2015, for example, the IMA made changes to the CMA exam which resulted in about a 10% overall change to exam content. These changes primarily affected Part 1 of the exam, and involved the addition of materials related to the topic of “financial accounting and strategic planning”.

In general, most changes to the CMA exam concern the addition of new topics (or LOSs), the exclusion of old or existing topics (or LOSs), or revisions to existing sections or content, which may involve placing greater or lesser emphasis on certain topics or sections, affecting what portion of the exam tests on those topics/sections.

The IMA has also been known to make changes to the exam format itself, and over time (1997-present) it has most notably reduced the number of parts the exam is broken into, as well as the duration of the exam itself. Further, the exam has evolved to include essays on all parts of the exam, as more and more value has been placed on accountants’ written communication skills.

Man sitting at a laptop and studying for the CMA exam

Roughly every five-to-seven years the IMA conducts the studies which result in exam changes at a later date. Most years there are no changes, some years there are small changes, and sometimes there are significant changes, depending upon the results of these studies and surveys. In 2015, for example, the IMA made changes to the CMA exam which resulted in about a 10% overall change to exam content. These changes primarily affected Part 1 of the exam, and involved the addition of materials related to the topic of “financial accounting and strategic planning”.

In general, most changes to the CMA exam concern the addition of new topics (or LOSs), the exclusion of old or existing topics (or LOSs), or revisions to existing sections or content, which may involve placing greater or lesser emphasis on certain topics or sections, affecting what portion of the exam tests on those topics/sections.

The IMA has also been known to make changes to the exam format itself, and over time (1997-present) it has most notably reduced the number of parts the exam is broken into, as well as the duration of the exam itself. Further, the exam has evolved to include essays on all parts of the exam, as more and more value has been placed on accountants’ written communication skills.

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