Accounting 1 Final Review Essay

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The IMA hosted a webinar about the Essay portion of the CMA exam. It was very insightful and informative.

I’d like to share with you the specific topics they covered and also what I’ve done to successfully answer the essay questions on the exam.

If you are worried about this section of the CMA exam, learn what I’m about to share with you and you’ll be in a much better position to pass on your first try.

 What Will You Learn from this Post?

  • Why you should become a CMA
  • Understand the CMA exam format
  • The 12 best CMA exam essay strategies
  • What the essay section looks like and how to answer essay questions

Why Should You Become a CMA?

If you are reading this post, probably you have already decided to become a CMA. Kudos to you! But if not, let me tell you why becoming a CMA will do wonders for your career and success.

First of all, being a CMA confirms that you have a mastery of the critical skills and knowledge in planning, analysis, control, and decision support. This is in the realm of accounting, finance, and business management.

Lastly, salary surveys continue to show that CMAs earn substantially higher than their non-certified peers. On average, CMAs earn over $115,000/year.

Understand the CMA Exam Format

Part 1 – Financial Reporting, Planning, Performance and Control

4 hours, 100 multiple-choice questions, and two 30-minute essay scenarios

  • External Financial Reporting Decisions (15% of the exam)
  • Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting (30% of the exam)
  • Performance Management (20% of the exam)
  • Cost Management (20% of the exam)
  • Internal Controls (15% of the exam)

Part 2 – Financial Decision Making

4 hours, 100 multiple-choice questions, and two 30-minute essay scenarios

  • Financial Statement Analysis (25% of the exam)
  • Corporate Finance (20% of the exam)
  • Decision Analysis (20% of the exam)
  • Risk Management (10% of the exam)
  • Investment Decisions (15% of the exam)
  • Professional Ethics (10% of the exam)

CMA Exam Structure and Feedback

  • 3 hours of multiple-choice questions – 75% of score
  • 1 hour of essay scenarios – 25% of score
  • Must earn at least 50% on multiple-choice section in order to advance to essay section. If in the exam you are not advanced to the essay section, it means that you failed the exam.
  • Cannot return to the multiple-choice section once you’ve advanced to the essay section of the exam.

CMA Exam Testing

  • Exams administered at Prometric testing centers
  • Schedule your exam date and time online, only after receiving your exam authorization from the IMA.
  • Three exam testing windows offered: January & February, May & June, September & October

 The 12 Best CMA Exam Essay Strategies

  1. Stay positive and don’t be afraid of this section
  2. If you show your work and assumptions, you can earn partial credits
  3. Expect 3 to 6 questions for each essay scenario
  4. You can scroll between questions and scenarios within the essay section. This will help you assess how much time you’ll need for responses
  5. Pay close attention to verbs. If it says compare or contrast, don’t spend your time defining something. Only do what is asked on the question
  6. Read the entire question to understand all requirements
  7. Focus is on the use of standard English, organization and clarity
  8. Graders are looking for effective writing skills
  9. Be brief and to the point. Bullet points are OK
  10. Don’t leave questions blank. If short on time, at least write an outline of your main points
  11. Graders are looking to give you points, not take them away. Make it as easy for the graders to give you points by showing your work.
  12. Be sure to use all the time available to you

What the CMA Exam Essay Section Looks Like

Type your responses into the text box. This is similar to MS Word but easier and simpler. If you are familiar with MS Word, this won’t be an issue at all.

As you can see, the module shows you the number of questions on the top left hand corner, and your time remaining on the top right hand corner.

Don’t be afraid of this section of the exam. Many, including myself, have gone through it with success. If others could do it, you can too!

If you are new to this community and to the CMA journey, let me point you to a resource page that will help you get started. The CMA Toolkit page is packed with the best resources to make your CMA journey a total success.

Already know what you’re looking for? Head to the CMA Coach Shop and grab your study  materials now!

Best of luck on your CMA exam!

Back to Frequently Asked Questions

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Essay Tactics – Part 1

This week we begin our series on how to prepare for the essay questions on the Two-Part Exam.

Both parts of the Two-Part Exam contain 2 essay scenarios with 1-4 essay questions each.

The first step to performing well on the essay questions is to study with the Gleim CMA Review System, which consists of the Gleim Online, Gleim Essay Wizard, Books, Test Prep Software download, and Audio Reviews.

The Gleim essay questions in Gleim Online and Essay Wizard (both are part of the Gleim CMA Review System) allow you to prepare for the essay section of your exam under true exam conditions. Each study unit in Gleim Online includes one essay scenario with 1-4 questions. Each study unit in Essay Wizard contains two additional scenarios. All Essay Scenarios have been updated to include a self-grade function for writing skills, which the ICMA will begin grading on in 2012. We also have ample practice and guidance for the spreadsheet response tool that some candidates will see on their essay portion of the CMA exam.

After you grade each essay question, you should review the concepts that you marked and/or did not answer correctly. The objective is to determine why you missed each question in order to avoid making similar mistakes on the CMA exam.

Check back next week for the second in our series of Essay Tactics when we discuss time budgeting techniques.

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