Everything you need to know about the CMA exam pass rate
The CMA exam pass rate statistics only tell one small piece of the story when it comes to passing the CMA exam. In addition to the CMA exam pass rate, it’s also helpful to know how the CMA exam is scored, when scores are released, how to prepare, and how to succeed even if it takes a second try.
The CMA exam is administered in two parts that you must pass separately. According to IMA, the CMA exam pass rate averages 50% for both Parts 1 and 2. These numbers are higher than in past years, possibly due to exam changes implemented in 2020.
While the new CMA exam released in 2020 appears to be beneficial for candidates, the sample size is small and CMA exam pass rates have fluctuated only slightly in recent years. These pass rates might seem disheartening, but there are multiple reasons why these scores are lower than you may hope.
Why are CMA exam pass rates so low?
Don’t let the numbers discourage you. Know that if you invest the time studying and practice for the exam day atmosphere, you can pass the CMA exam.
The CMA exam has two parts. Each part consists of 100 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and two essays. Within each exam part, 75% of your score comes from the MCQs and 25% from the essays.
Exam scores are scaled from 0 to 500 based on the difficulty of questions on the CMA exam administered to you. You must have a score of 360 to pass, but note that it does not equate to exactly 72% of questions answered correctly. You won’t know how much a given question is worth during your exam, but different questions can be worth a different number of points, depending on their difficulty. It’s how IMA keeps things fair across the different versions of the CMA exam you could receive. Additionally, essays can give partial credit.
Don’t worry too much about how difficult your version of the exam will be and don’t stress out if it seems like you got a tough draw. You can’t control this aspect, and the scaled scoring negates the variance in degree of difficulty. The purpose of the CMA exam is to ensure anyone who passes can perform the duties of a CMA. If you’re able to earn a score of 360 or higher, you’ve shown you have the knowledge required.
Give every MCQ your full attention (even if it means coming back to it later) and answer with your best educated guess. You won’t be docked for wrong answers, so there’s nothing to lose. Also keep in mind that your CMA exam will include an undisclosed number of “pretest” questions to gather data for future exam updates. Pretest questions do not count toward your score. If you’re struggling to answer a question, there’s a chance it may be a pretest question—but you don’t know, so again, answer every question based on the knowledge you’ve gained and can deduce from your general exam prep.
The essay portion of the CMA exam is broken down into various questions. Your answers are manually graded by a subject-matter expert, and essays can be awarded partial credit. Just like with the MCQs, never leave an essay item blank. Any knowledge you’re able to demonstrate can potentially help your essay score.
CMA graders are looking to give you points, not take them away. Write freely and at length. The more of your thought process you show, the better the chances are that the grader may find your work worthy of points. That said, you don’t want to throw unrelated topics into your essay. If you begin to write poorly or present conflicting arguments, the grader may have no moral choice but to dock for disorganized content.
CMA exam scores are usually released 6 weeks after the end of the month in which you took your CMA exam.
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