In spring 2020, I was fortunate enough to receive the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) Scholarship through Kent State University, an honor that would allow me to take both parts of the CMA exam at no cost. At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom and a part-time student pursuing my master of science in accounting. After that spring semester wrapped up, I attempted to start studying for the CMA without any concrete study plans. I flipped through some study materials and quickly grew overwhelmed. Before I knew it, I was derailed from the goal I had set for myself, which was to pass both parts of the CMA exam and earn my certification.


For the next two years, I continued to pursue my accounting degree. It wasn’t until summer 2022 that I began reflecting on the generosity of the faculty who entrusted me with the CMA Scholarship and on all of the opportunities the CMA certification might bring me in the future. With newfound resolution, I decided to take both parts in the fall 2022 exam window before my scholarship ran out. I knew it was an aggressive goal, but I was determined to stay focused and give it all I had. I first purchased study materials and came up with a study plan. My plan was to evenly distribute the study materials into the days before each part of the exam, allocating a few days for a final review right before each test day.


Over the next few months, I focused on executing my plan. Every day, I would first scan the study materials for that given day and then quiz myself using a batch of timed multiple-choice questions. I would then review the questions I missed and attempt another round of questions. I repeated this process throughout the day until I felt comfortable with the material and my speed. For my final review, I took mock exams and revisited areas where I struggled. This part was crucial because it not only helped me identify my weak areas, but it also helped me become familiar with the test structure and how to manage my time during the actual exam.


When the exam day arrived, it was all about putting everything I knew on paper. My main goal was to stay focused, think positively, and remain calm. I told myself that I had put in the time, and I should know enough to pass. I watched the clock closely in order to keep a steady pace. And if I didn’t immediately recognize the material that was asked in a question, I would make an educated guess and move on. I was very surprised (even to this day) that somehow I not only managed to pass the exam, but I also received the Priscilla S. Payne Outstanding Student Performance Award for earning the highest exam score for the September-October 2022 testing period.


If I could share some advice for prospective CMA candidates based on my own experience, I’d say come up with an attainable study plan that works with your schedule and be consistent. There will be days when you don’t want to study or you feel discouraged, but you should find a way to get up and do what’s needed. Remember, that’s the only thing that separates you from your goal. Obviously, it’s easier said than done, but there’s no easy way out.


Best of luck to those of you pursuing the CMA!

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