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CMA Exam Changes

Your guide to upcoming CMA exam changes, the timeline for the new exam, tips for current candidates, and more. 

2024 CMA Exam Changes

Based on recent surveys and analysis, ICMA is changing the CMA exam with minor updates and additions. The changes will ensure that the CMA exam equips CMAs with the skills and knowledge that accounting and finance professionals need in their jobs. These changes also ensure that the CMA certification remains relevant and valuable to the profession.

The updated CMA exam will include new topics in both Parts 1 and 2. The table to the right lists the new topics being added.

The new CMA exam will go into effect beginning September 1, 2024. Registration is already open, so you can go to IMA’s page Opens in new window to register now to sit for the new exam in the September/October 2024 testing window.

New CMA Exam Content
Part 1 Part 2
Consolidated statements Financial trend analysis
Contribution margin Debt financing
Other costing systems Discount rates
Testing methods of internal controls Sensitivity analysis
Control deficiency remediation Types of business fraud
Data Management Data ethics

When should I take the CMA exam?

Although the upcoming changes are minor, we typically recommend that current CMA candidates try to pass before the exam changes. The unknowns you face when taking a revised exam can create anxiety and undermine your confidence, as you aren’t able to rely on other test takers’ experiences. To pass before the exam changes, you must sit in the January/February 2024 or May/June 2024 testing windows.

Be sure to consider your personal circumstances. If you can’t realistically make time to prepare, there’s no reason to rush to sit for an exam you won’t pass. The upcoming 2024 changes are relatively minor, and you’ll retain credit for any part you pass before the exam changes as long as you still pass both parts within your 3-year program window. 

We’ve outlined key considerations below to help you decide when to take the CMA exam.

Benefits of testing now

You can avoid having to test on entirely new material

This is probably the most obvious advantage, but we’re mentioning it anyway. If you take the CMA exam before it changes, you’re not going to have to worry about studying material that is brand new to the exam (and “untested” on CMA candidates).

If you pass one part, you won’t lose credit

You don’t have to rush to pass both parts of the exam before changes take effect. Even if you only pass one part, that is still great! Credit for any part of the exam you’ve already taken remains valid for up to three years. If you pass Part 1 or Part 2 before the exam changes, you don’t have to take the new version of that part even though the exam has changed.

The deadline is a great motivator

If you have a hard time motivating yourself, having an outside deadline is a great way to hold yourself accountable. Many CMA candidates are professionals juggling work and personal commitments and don’t have an abundance of time to study. Having a firm deadline can help make your studies a priority. Plus, the sooner you pass both parts of the CMA exam, the sooner you can start reaping the benefits of being a CMA.

Benefits of testing later

You’re testing on the most up-to-date material

The CMA exam changes for a good reason—because the industry expectations for CMAs have changed. Testing with the most up-to-date material will ensure your skills best match the current or expected industry demand. If you’re already in the workforce, you’re likely already familiar with the content the CMA exam is going to add.

You’ll have more time to complete your studies

If you don’t have time to complete your studies, it’s best to avoid rushing to sit for the exam. Testing when you’re unprepared can waste money and hurt your motivation if you fail. Consider how much studying you need to complete and how much time you have before you resolve to sit for the CMA exam before it changes.

You’re more likely to get the testing appointment you want

When the CMA exam changes, many candidates hurry to sit for the exam before it changes. This can make testing centers fill up quickly, especially in the last testing window before the CMA exam changes. If you’re going to try to take the exam before it changes, be sure you make your testing appointment early.

Why does the CMA exam change?

The CMA exam is meant to reflect the current role of management accountants across industries, and as that role changes, the exam is updated to keep pace. Roughly every five to seven years IMA conducts studies on the role of the CMA in the accounting industry and surveys CFOs, controllers, and other professionals about the knowledge and skills a CMA needs to be effective and successful. The degree of exam changes depends on the results of these studies and surveys. 

In general, most changes to the CMA exam add or remove topics or revise existing sections or content. These changes may involve placing greater or lesser emphasis on certain topics or sections, affecting what portion of the exam tests on those topics/sections. Sometimes there are changes to the exam format itself. Over time (1997-present) format changes have reduced the number of parts the exam is broken into, as well as the duration of the exam itself. The exam has also evolved to include essays on all parts of the exam, as more value has been placed on accountants’ written communication skills.

Past CMA exam changes

2020 CMA Exam Changes

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.

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” (2 LOSs)
  • 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.

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%
  • Coverage – 20%
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”

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

2019 CMA Exam Changes

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.

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

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