Avoid These Mistakes in CMA Exam Prep

Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is a prestigious and competitive qualification that is highly revered by professionals in the accounting industry. However, with the respect associated with the qualification, there also comes certain anxiety among candidates preparing for it. This provides scope for mistakes to be made by the students, as commonly observed in the performance of CMA exam results, that can often cost them dearly having to pay the price of time, money, and effort.

Read on to find out how you can avoid these pertinent mistakes when pursuing the CMA course:


Keep track of time

The duration of each part of the CMA exam is 4 hours comprising of 100 multiple-choice questions for 3 hours and two essay questions to be completed in remaining 1 hour. It is advised to allocate 2 hours and 45 minutes and give 1 hour and 15 minutes to the latter. It is extremely important to have timely checks to ensure that you are on track to be able to complete the exam on time. You should ideally have answered all the MCQs before moving on to the essay section.

Test yourself

While studying for the vast syllabus is an important aspect of your preparation for the CMA exams, it is equally essential to test oneself with quizzes, mock exams, question banks, and practice tests to assess and gauge the level as well as the effectiveness of the exam preparation. A common mistake many students make is not knowing when and how to use the different types of CMA study materials. The test banks are very important as they will help you familiarize yourself with the overall test structure and also make sure that you cover every topic in the syllabus. The timed mock exams are another crucial resource that can improve your exam-taking speed and accuracy.

Choose consciously

When making a choice to pick the study material or the training provider for the exam preparation, it is important to keep in mind certain factors that can make or break your journey to success. You must ensure that your choice fits in your budget, the preferred learning style, previous reviews, and the pass rates of candidates associated with the trainers/training institute. It would also be beneficial to look out for a learning provider that makes use of technology offering conveniences such as WhatsApp support, digital recordings of sessions, and online practice tests.

Read carefully

In the essay section of the CMA exam, it is important to be certain about what you intend to convey before you start writing. The examiners are keen on observing the usage of your language with words such as explain, compare, contrast, differentiate, etc. Therefore, ensure that you have sufficiently understood the question before beginning to answer it.

Maintain clarity

One of the criteria to grade an essay in the CMA exam is clarity. By using writing tools such as bullet points, well-spaced paragraphs, and a simple sentence structure you can bring the required clarity to your academic writing. Towards the end of the exam, if time allows, you can review your answers to make sure that you haven’t repeated yourself in the essay or added needless fluff to your writing.

Avoid grammatical errors

Another grading criterion used by examiners to assess the essay section is the “use of
standard English” which means that candidates must be careful about spellings, grammatical mistakes, and punctuation errors.

Have a study plan

A crucial part of exam preparation is to have a study plan in place, and in the case of CMA exam prep, make sure to have study plans for both part one and part two of the exam. Considering the vast amount of conceptual understanding required to pass the CMA exam, it is important to have a comprehensive study plan that focuses on each element of the syllabus sufficiently. You can benefit from having your study plan serve as your roadmap in the CMA exam preparation journey.

Take regular breaks

Not taking regular breaks from the study routine leads to burnout among several
candidates. The pressure is considerably higher when pursuing professional qualifications such as CMA since aspirants are generally in their final leg of education or working professionals and this can cause additional stress from various other elements. It’s advisable that when pursuing the exam preparation, one takes care of their mental and physical health equally, allowing frequent breaks in between long hours of studying.

The CMA is a qualification that requires guts, grit, and significant hard work from aspirants. If you are looking to pursue CMA training in UAE, contact Kaplan to find out how we can help you.

Top 7 differences between CMA vs CPA


For many candidates seeking to grow in the field of accounting, a common question arises when choosing between two certifications: CMA vs CPA? Considering the importance of the decision and the impact it can have on someone’s career, it is only fair that candidates invest considerable time and energy before they come to a conclusion.

The CMA stands for Certified Management Accountant and is a certification pursued by individuals keen on learning budgeting and management accounting while the CPA is short for Certified Public Accountant that offers skills and knowledge in the field of auditing, management accounting, accounts handling, taxation, etc. Both certifications function as value additions in accounting however they have a difference in their approach. As explained above, a CMA handles the cost and financial analysis whereas a CPA overlooks tax and auditing.

To begin with, it is important to understand the difference between the two certifications and the perks that each of them offers. This article will provide you with insights on the key differences in seven important areas to help you make an informed choice.


Awarding Body and Member Network

The CMA certification is awarded by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) that has a widespread network of over 140,000 members across more than 150 countries worldwide.

The CPA on the other hand is awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and has a member network of about 400,000 members in 100 countries globally.

Both the awarding bodies are highly renowned and respected in the field of accounting and membership in either one of them is highly coveted by most accounting professionals.

Exam Pattern and Syllabus

The CMA is a 2-part exam that emphasizes building analytical skills like critical decision making and data reporting. The key subjects that constitute the CMA certification are performance management, decision analysis, financial statement analysis, professional ethics, cost management, budgeting, and forecasting among several others. Between the two parts, the subjects are divided into areas as below:

  • Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance and Analytics
  • Part 2: Strategic Financial Management


The CPA is a 4-part exam that is focused on developing knowledge in subjects such as corporate governance, federal taxation, economic concepts, professional ethics and general business principles, etc. The key areas that the 4 parts of the exam cover are:

  • Business Environment and Concepts
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting
  • Audit and Attestation
  • Regulation


Duration for Completion

To complete the CMA certification in Dubai, UAE, or anywhere in the world, a candidate gets a total duration of 3 years or 36 months to clear both parts of the exam from the day of the registration. However, for CPA, candidates are given 18 months from the time that they clear their first part, to successfully complete all remaining parts of the exam.


As far as eligibility is concerned, both CMA and CPA require a candidate to have a bachelor’s degree or related professional certification. Besides, CMA requires two years of management accounting or financial management experience, while CPA requires two years of public accounting experience.

After being certified, a CMA needs to complete 30 hours of Continuing Education every year to maintain their respective certifications. A CPA, however, needs to complete 40 hours of Continuing Education every year.

Career Scope and Skills Obtained

CMA-certified professionals develop expertise in interpreting data and analyzing it to drive financial improvements within a business. With a higher inclination towards strategic thinking, CMAs are involved in building forward-looking strategies for organizations. In terms of careers chosen, they are observed to have generally shown an interest in working for big corporations with job profiles such as consultants, cost accountants, financial risk managers, etc.

CMA salaries, over the span of their career, are at an average of about AED 250,000 annually according to the IMA’s 2021 UAE Salary Survey.

Certified CPA professionals develop the ability for crunching numbers on a day-to-day basis for various accounting activities with the primary focus on taxation and auditing. They are observed to choose careers such as a financial advisor or accountant with job profiles ranging from public accountants to internal auditors, management accountants, etc.

Salaries of CPAs, over the course of their careers, are reported to be around AED 200,000 annually according to the Robert Walters Salary Survey 2020 for the Middle East and Africa.

Exam Fees and Passing Rates

On average, the CMA certification can cost approximately AED 3,700 which includes all entrance and exam fees whereas the CPA certification costs around AED 5,500 including the application, exam, and licensing fees. However, it is important to also note that both these fees mentioned do not cover the cost of additional review courses that most candidates prefer to take for studying under guidance.

The low passing rates for both are a testimonial of how challenging the exams can be and show that the certifications demand a considerable amount of effort and dedication from candidates. While the CMA has an average pass rate of 45% in the Middle East for both parts [Source: IMA 2020], the CPA has an average pass rate of 50% globally [Source: AICPA 2020].

Exam Availability

The IMA generally conducts the CMA exams every year in three testing windows, that are:

  • January 01 – February 28
  • May 01 – June 30
  • September 01 – October 31


The AICPA has switched the CPA exams to a Continuous Testing Model from 1st July 2020, which allows candidates to appear for the CPA exams anytime throughout the year.


The comparison between the CMA and CPA certifications shows that while both are equally good and respected in the field of accounting, they lead aspirants to different and varied career paths when observed closely. In conclusion, if you’re a candidate seeking growth in management and decision making, then it would be advisable for you to choose the CMA certification, and if you’re keen on developing skills in auditing, taxation, and regulation, then you should opt for the CPA.

Ultimately, the choice is yours to make, and if you are looking to enroll in CMA training in UAE, contact Kaplan Professional to know how we can help you!