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Where can I find free CMA exam questions?

Right here! You’ll get access to CMA exam questions for Part 1 and Part 2 when you sign up for a free account.

Our free questions are not simply a random test bank—they’ve been selected by our editors to follow the topic weighting of the CMA exam and are representative of the kinds of questions you may actually see on your CMA exam.

Just like in our courses, every question comes with explanations for the right and wrong answer choices.

When you’re done, you’ll get a score breakdown by topic area.

Click below to get started!

Part 1:

Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics

Part 2:

Strategic Financial Management

Our question library contains some retired exam questions released by the ICMA. Not all of the questions you receive will be retired questions.

The different types of CMA exam questions

The CMA exam is comprehensive and robust, and will challenge your understanding of the material and test-taking skills.

There are two main components of the CMA exam, both of which measure your understanding of financial planning, performance, and analytics as well as strategic financial management.

When you’re considering CMA exam questions and what could be thrown at you on the day of the test, knowing the tips, tricks, and best practices becomes essential. Keep reading to get all the information you need to prepare yourself for any and all CMA exam questions.

Access more CMA exam questions and resources in our course.

We’ve been preparing CMAs for over 40 years with a 99% satisfaction rate!

CMA exam multiple-choice questions

Passing the CMA exam requires you to be very familiar with multiple-choice questions (MCQs). You’ll need to focus much of your study and testing time on MCQs, so we’ve provided you with all the information, examples, and advice you need to prepare for them.

The CMA exam consists of two parts:

  • Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics
  • Part 2: Financial Decision Making

Each part of the exam consists of 100 MCQs and two essay questions. The MCQs are worth 75% of your total score for each exam part, and you must answer 50% of the MCQs correctly in order to progress to the essays.

The exam will present the MCQs in a random order; the order of the questions won’t reflect the order in which the Content Specification Outlines (CSOs) present the exam topics.

You’ll have 4 hours to complete the entire exam (3 hours for MCQs and 1 hour for essays). If you finish your MCQs early, you’re allowed to carry over any time remaining to the essays.

The ideal way to break down your time is:

  • 2.5 hours to answer all of the MCQs
  • 15 minutes to review your answers
  • 1 hour and 15 minutes to respond to the essay questions

Multiple-choice question anatomy

The first obstacle you’re going to face on the CMA exam is the multiple-choice section. Knowing how to answer multiple-choice questions will be key to your CMA exam-day success.

To start, it’s important to understand the anatomy of a multiple-choice question.

  • QuestionThis is the question or scenario you’ll be responding to. The question stem includes the question and information. The information in multiple-choice questions can be classified as one of two types—important information and distracting information. Important information is the information you’ll need to know to answer the question. Distracting information is everything else. Distracting or extraneous information is all of the information within the question that has nothing to do with answering the question. Questions may provide a variety of distracting information. Most questions are straightforward and do not contain any extraneous information, so if you come across a “trick question,” read it again to make sure you’re not just overthinking things.
  • Correct answer choiceQuestions sometimes have multiple answer choices that seem correct, but only one of the answer choices is the best answer.
  • Incorrect answer choicesIncorrect answer choices often seem correct at first glance or are the result of common calculation errors. These try to distract you from selecting the correct answer, just like the distracting information in the question, so it’s important to carefully eliminate each incorrect choice as you work through a problem. Incorrect choices are sometimes called “distractors” as they are designed to distract you from the correct answer choice.

CMA exam multiple-choice question examples

There are several different types of MCQs. Most CMA exam multiple-choice questions just feature four single-statement answer choices and look like the example to the right. 

Standard CMA exam question for CMA exam tips

Questions with negative stems

Some of these standard MCQs have a negative stem, which means that the question stem contains words like except, not, false, least, etc. Some examples of negative stem MCQs can be found below.

Which of the following is not a method of financing international trade?

All of the following statements in regard to working capital are true except…

The ICMA will most likely print the negative words in bold, as we did above, but you should always read the question carefully and completely. Answering these questions will be counterintuitive because your goal will be to select the wrong answer choice, and the remaining answer choices will all be correct. Giving the question stem all of your attention will help you detect when the exam’s expectations have switched in this way.

How to answer CMA exam multiple-choice questions

When it comes to taking the CMA exam, there are some tips that can help maximize your CMA exam score. Learn how to avoid common mistakes on multiple-choice questions and what to expect on exam day.

To give yourself the best chance at success with the multiple-choice sections, follow these tips:

Multiple-choice question answering tips

Work through the MCQ parts systematically
Start the process of answering by reading the actual question, which is usually the last sentence of the stem. Use the question to determine what amount of information in the stem is important and what is non-essential. Write down the important information so it is easier to separate it from everything else in the stem.

Apply your exam time-management strategy when you answer practice MCQs
If you allot 1.5 minutes per question to complete all 100 MCQs on each exam part, you’ll have 30 minutes that you can either spend reviewing your MCQ answers or carry over into the essay portion of the exam. On the exam, you should use as much of this time to review as you need and then move on to the essays. During your study sessions, you should simply stick to answering each MCQ in 1.5 minutes.

Learn from your mistakes
You need to answer a lot of practice questions to prepare for the 200 total multiple-choice questions on the CMA exam, and each question you get wrong gives you the opportunity to avoid making the same mistake when it counts. You learn more from your mistakes than you do from getting everything right, so you should review answer explanations as you complete practice questions. Whether you answered correctly or incorrectly, review the answer explanations for all of the answers. The detailed answer explanations included in Gleim CMA Review will help you understand why the original answer you chose is wrong and why the correct answer indicated is right.

Focus on what the question is asking
Read the question stem first, then go back and read the rest of the information provided to pull out what is needed. Don’t focus on all of the data that a question may provide until after you determined what the actual question is. This will help you filter out misleading information and save you valuable test-taking time.

Be on the look out for questions that ask for an exception. These questions will usually use words such as not, except, false, least, etc. These words will usually be bold on the CMA exam, but do not assume they all will be.

Predict the answer
Right after you’ve read the question, your mind will be the most focused. Make a prediction about what the right answer should be before you read the answer choices. Once you have an answer in mind, scan the answer options to see if your answer is present. Even if your predicted answer is present, it’s a good idea to read the other options to ensure none of them are better.

Read all of the answer choices carefully
Sometimes a question will have multiple answers that could be argued to be correct. Remember, you’re always looking for the answer choice that best answers the question.

In addition, sometimes reading the answer choices can clue you into what the question is asking. If all of the answer choices seem wrong based on your understanding of the question, you should probably reread the question to make sure you’re not missing something.

Watch for qualifying words like “always” or “never.” These words leave no room for exceptions and can often make an otherwise good answer incorrect because exceptions usually exist.

Answer every question on your first pass
You don’t lose points for answering questions wrong on the CMA exam, so never leave any question blank. Even if you don’t know the answer, select one of the possible answers. This will at least give you a 25% chance of answering correctly, and if you’re able to first eliminate two answer choices through educated guessing, you can increase your odds to 50%.

If you don’t know the answer, use your educated guessing skills and mark the question for later review. If you have time remaining in your 3 hours, you can go back and review questions you’ve marked to see whether you’re able to determine the answer. If you still aren’t sure, stick with your first choice and don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it.

Don’t be afraid of making an educated guess
The CMA exam covers a large amount of information, and even a well-prepared CMA candidate is likely to encounter some questions they don’t know the answer to. In these cases, an educated guess can make all the difference.

Follow these steps to improve your educated guessing technique:

  • Rule out answers you think are incorrect right away. Many questions, including calculation questions, will have one or two answers that are easy to eliminate if you’re familiar with the material.
  • Ask yourself whether one of the remaining answers more completely addresses the question than the others. You can usually narrow it down to two choices. Pick the best one of the two.
  • Once you’ve narrowed your options down, trust your instincts. Unless you realize you read the question incorrectly or made a calculation error, your gut is usually correct. Talking oneself out of a correct answer is a common reason for selecting the wrong answer, so select the one that makes the most sense and move on. Use that time you would have spent deliberating where it can make a difference.

Find out how you’ll do on the exam with our free CMA Questions.
Learn where you stand on each topic and review our answer explanations for every question!

Try Part 1 Questions | Try Part 2 Questions

CMA exam essays

Whether you’re an accounting professional or an accounting student, you probably prefer working with numbers over words. However, as a CMA candidate, you will need to be a proficient essay writer. Nowadays, CMAs are expected to have written communication among their on-the-job skills, and so the CMA exam requires you to write essays. Don’t worry though, we have everything you need to know about the essay portions of the CMA exam.

Why does the CMA exam include essays?

The CMA exam uses essays to test your ability to:

  • Evaluate a given set of data
  • Make a judgment when given alternative solutions
  • Justify a selected course of action

Essays allow you to demonstrate these abilities and skills in a situation that more closely reflects the real world than multiple-choice questions can. Furthermore, CMAs are called upon to provide analyses and recommendations based on the numbers, and fulfilling these responsibilities requires strong written communication skills. As an accountant or accounting student, you’ve already learned how to effectively communicate. Therefore, you should focus on learning the topics and practicing in a realistic exam environment.

How many essays are on the CMA exam?

On top of the 100 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) covering these topics, there are two essay scenarios for each exam part. The essay section contains 8 to 14 written response or calculation questions based on two scenarios describing a typical business situation. There are typically 5 to 7 questions per scenario.

How much time do you have to complete the essays?

As a reminder, the total testing time allocated for each of the two CMA exam parts is 4 hours. You have 3 hours to answer all 100 MCQs. Spending the entire 3 hours answering the MCQs gives you a maximum of 1 hour total to finish the essays for both parts of the exam. When you finish the MCQ section in less than 3 hours, your remaining time from the MCQs will carry over and extend the one-hour time allocation for essays.

After you finish answering and reviewing the MCQs, you’ll have the option to move on to the essays if you’ve answered at least 50% of the MCQs correctly. If you don’t answer at least 50% correctly, you will not be allowed to move on to the essay section.

We recommend that you aim to answer each MCQ in 90 seconds to give yourself either 30 extra minutes to review your MCQ answers or to respond to the essays. You can also divide this time between the two activities however you see fit. Keep in mind, you cannot return to the MCQ section once you’ve entered the essay section, so you’ll need to complete your review of your MCQ answers before you move on to the essay section.

What are the essays like?

Refer to the images and descriptions below to learn about how a CMA exam essay question looks and operates.

Essay question sample

The following graphic is an example of how the essay question will look on the day of your test. Keep reading and cross reference the numbers on the page with their description below!

CMA Essays Overview

Essay question screen description

1. Question and Section Number
Indicates which question you are answering and the section of the exam you currently have on-screen.

2. Time Remaining
Displays the time you have remaining in the current section. Clicking it will display the total exam time remaining.

3. Progress
Tracks the percentage of questions complete in the current section.

4. Finish
Don’t click this button until you have responded to or flagged all of the essays. Clicking it will take you to a review showing questions unanswered or flagged, and from there you can move on to the voluntary survey section of the exam.

5. Navigation Menu
A visual representation of where you are on the current section of the exam. You may use this menu to quickly move between questions. The numbered buttons change appearance according to their status (see below for more details).

6. Essay Scenario
Displays a new screen with all of the information you will need to answer the questions. It will open as a PDF (see below for more details).

7. Answer Box
Where you type your response to the current question.

8. Word Processing Tools
These icons, when selected, enable you to select headings, bold, italicize, underline, left align, center, right align, undo, redo, and/or save your progress (much like a standard word processing program).

9. Question
Displays the content of the current question.

10. Calculator
A basic tool for simple computations. It’s similar to calculators used in common software programs.

11. Time Value Tables
This gives you access to Time Value Tables for questions that require them. It will open as a PDF.

12. Preferences
The gear icon leads to a preference menu with options for adjusting the text and background colors of the exam screens. If you experience discomfort or difficulty reading the exam screens due to the default color scheme, this menu is helpful for finding a more visually accessible palette.

13. Help
Contains explanations of exam functionality, but you’ll be familiar with everything if you prepare with Gleim’s exam-emulating Review System.

14. Flag
Mark a question for later review.

15. Back
Move to the previous question.

16. Next
Move to the following question.

Essay navigation menu buttons

As you’re taking the test, you will also run into essay navigation buttons. These buttons exist to help you navigate through the test—it’s helpful to know how they work and what they look like!

Current: This button is green and arrow shaped, and indicates the question you’re currently viewing. It becomes gray once you select an answer choice.

Complete: A dark gray rectangle indicates that you have selected an answer.

Incomplete: A green rectangle indicates that you have not selected an answer. It becomes arrow shaped when it is the question you are currently viewing.

Flagged: A green rectangle with a flag icon next to the question number indicates this a question you have not answered, and have marked for review.

Essay scenario screen

The following graphic demonstrates a practical scenario in which you write your actual essay. Before anything else happens, the answer box will open onto a separate screen, as seen below.

Elements of the CMA exam essay scenario screen

Essay scenario screen description

1. Zoom
Using the “+” and “-” buttons (top left) you may manually zoom in or out, adjusting how large or small the essay text appears. You may also click on “Automatic Zoom” and quickly jump to a preset zoom distance.

2. Navigate
In order to move to the next page of the essay scenario, simply click the “>” button (top right); to move to a previous page, click “<“. Similarly, to quickly jump to the final page, click “>|”, and to jump to the first page, click “|<“.

3. Scroll
The gray scroll bar (right edge of the screen) allows you to scroll up and down the page. If you are zoomed in, and essay texts runs off-screen to the right, you are also able to scroll horizontally using the gray scroll bar at the bottom edge of the screen.

4. Grab
Clicking on the green button with the hand icon (top left) will activate the ability to “grab” and move the essay page using the mouse. To “grab” the page, click and hold the left mouse button, then drag the page in any direction you wish.

5. View Page Thumbnails
By clicking the green button with the double rectangle icon (top left), you are able to see thumbnail images of all pages of the essay scenario in a gray panel that appears to the left of the essay scenario screen. Opening this panel enables you to click on a thumbnail image of any page of the essay scenario to quickly open it in the main viewing area.

6. View Table of Contents
By clicking the green button with the “bookshelf” icon (top right), you are able to view and open links to the Essay Scenario as well as all of the Time Value Tables.

How are the essays graded?

As a reminder, the breakdown for the two types of CMA exam questions count toward the following percentage of your total score:

  • MCQs: 75%
  • Essays: 25%

MCQs are automatically graded online, but essays are not. Instead, subject matter experts grade the essays, and you can receive partial credit for your answers. For example, if an essay asks for three reasons why a selected alternative action is good for a business, and you provide only two correct responses, you will receive partial credit for those two responses. Likewise, you will receive partial credit for having the correct formula for a calculated response question even if your answer contains a mathematical error resulting in the incorrect answer. The possibility of receiving partial credit is the reason why it’s important to show your work on the calculation questions on the CMA exam.

The ICMA grades essays on both the correctness of your answer, your knowledge of the subject matter, and writing quality (communication skills). The subject matter experts will only grade responses relevant to the question asked.

The specific criteria for grading the essays is:

  • Use of standard EnglishText includes proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
  • OrganizationResponse is arranged logically and coherently.
  • ClarityAnalysis is clearly communicated with well-constructed sentences and appropriate vocabulary.

How should you answer essay questions?

Each question within the CMA exam essay section requires you either to write a response or complete a calculation pertaining to the scenario provided. Read the question carefully so you can identify the requirements. Then, outline the grading concepts and any related information on a piece of scratch paper.

When submitting a calculation, show your work! The more on-topic information you provide, the more partial credit you can receive. To create a table, use the spacebar to separate the columns, and label all columns and rows. Include all supporting calculations, but focus more on getting the question correct than perfecting the formatting.

When crafting a written response, be as detailed as possible and mention anything you can on the topic to maximize your score. Proofread and edit your answer once you finish your first draft, but only expand on it if time permits. You want to make sure you can address each question before the total testing time expires. So, you should hold off on improving your answers until you’ve responded to every question and started your review.

How can you practice writing essays?

When you prepare with the most-widely used CMA review course on the market, you’ll have everything you need to excel at the CMA exam essays. Gleim CMA Review covers the ICMA’s Content Specification Outlines and Learning Outcome Statements better than any other provider. We do this so you can be completely confident in your knowledge of the exam content.

Our course also includes the largest test bank and most realistic MCQs and essay questions on the market. Such a high-quality test bank affords plenty of practice and familiarity with the exam questions. See how well Gleim prepares you to pass by learning more about the exam from our free CMA exam guide.

Essay question tips for the CMA exam

Each part of the CMA exam has two essay scenarios. The CMA essays describe a scenario and ask several questions that require a written response, a calculation, or both. CMA essays are not graded by a computer. Your CMA essay will be graded by a subject matter expert, and partial credit may be given, so be sure to show your work!

While the CMA essays can seem daunting, they can be conquered with a good study plan and by employing these CMA essay tips:

Essay question answering tips

Skim the essay scenario before you read the questions
By skimming the scenario, you’ll have context to help you understand the questions. Then you can read the questions to determine which areas of the scenario need your focus (this will help you avoid extraneous information).

Read the question to determine the requirements for the answer
Focusing on the requirements of the question will let you identify the important information in the scenario. You will only get full credit if you answer all of the components of the question, so checking off requirements as you work through the essay can ensure you don’t miss anything.

Answer the easiest questions first
Within any essay scenario, some questions will be easier than others. Getting a few easy questions solved before you tackle a tougher one can help you build your confidence and get your essay started. You can pick up a lot of points quickly. If you have to spend a lot of time on the other questions in the scenario, you won’t lose the opportunity to earn the easy points if you begin running out of time later.

Make sure your solution answers the question being asked
It’s easy to get caught up in writing an explanation, and this can cause your essay to go off topic. Be sure to rein in any off-topic explanations and focus on answering the question that is being asked. Off-topic information won’t earn you any credit.

Show as much of your work as possible in your essay solution
You can receive partial credit for any part of your CMA essay, so including all of your work allows graders to follow your analysis and assign all of the points you deserve. Even if your final answer is wrong, you could receive the majority of the credit for it if the bulk of your work is correct. For example, if your final answer is wrong because of a calculation error, but you showed your work and the grader was able to determine you used the correct formula and chose the correct numbers, you can get partial credit. Graders will not penalize you for a mistake multiple times. Even if the mistake you made appears throughout your response, you’ll only be marked off for it once.

Organize your reasoning so the graders can understand it easily
Writing in an organized manner will ensure the graders can follow along with your process and thoughts. If a grader has to reread a section multiple times to understand what you’re trying to explain, that will probably cost you some points. Remember, the reason there are essay questions is to ensure candidates can effectively communicate the reason behind the numbers and make recommendations based on their calculations to management. Your communication skills are just as important as your ability to calculate the answer. This really boils down to writing short sentences, staying on topic, and organizing your essay in a logical manner.

Go above and beyond the question requirements when time allows
Adding additional, on-topic content can be a great way to earn points on a CMA essay. If you have time and your essay’s organization allows it, adding more detail to a topic demonstrates that you understand the topic and might help improve the grader’s understanding of your essay. However, it’s easy to go too far, so be sure you have a plan for what additional detail you’d like to add. If you just start adding random or off-topic sentences to an otherwise well-organized essay, it could cost you.

Quickly proofread your responses to verify that they make sense
Spending a few minutes rereading your responses will help you catch obvious errors that can cost you points. In addition, it’s a great opportunity to notice if anything is introduced out of order or doesn’t make sense.