You’re coming up on the final days of studying and it’s almost time to sit for the real deal. After sending IMA the required fees and spending months studying with a test prep review course, are you ready to take on the CMA Exam? Let’s make sure you know exactly what you are walking into by reviewing several important CMA exam prep tips. That way, you can rest assured on exam day that you’re 100% prepared to become a Certified Management Accountant!

Take It Easy the Day Before

On the day before your CMA test, you should be adequately prepared: not cramming at the last minute with a full study guide. After spending hundreds of hours studying for the CMA Exam, exam day needs to be low key and include only light review. Look over your CMA exam review notes, summary sheets, or audio lectures for a few hours.

”If you got a question wrong, you may start to doubt yourself and spiral into full on panic mode—don’t do this!”

During your brief self-study session, avoid any mock exams or review materials with practice test questions. You don’t want to freak yourself out by getting practice questions wrong; it can cause you to doubt yourself!

Ultimately, you should make sure you’re relaxed and mentally prepared for the next day. You’ve studied all you can and the best thing you can do for yourself now is to unwind and get a good night’s rest. If you followed your CMA prep course or CMA exam prep study planner all the way through, you should be in excellent shape!

Getting to the Test Center

Rise and shine, it’s test day! Eat a hearty breakfast and head out to your testing center. CMA Exams are administered through Prometric centers that can be found throughout the world. You can locate your closest testing center here.

You are going to want to arrive at least 30 minutes early to your exam to ensure you have enough time to go through all the check in procedures. I even recommend that all candidates drive to their testing center before CMA exam day. This way, you’ll know how to get there and how long it will take.

The CMA Exam Check-In Process

The first thing you will do when you walk into the test center is check in with the Testing Center Administrator (TCA). They will match your ID to your appearance and paperwork. The IMA accepts a valid international passport or two forms of ID, one of which needs to be a valid government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license. Unfortunately, if you don’t have the proper and valid identification that matches your name and appearance, you will not be allowed to take the exam. Don’t forget them or you’ll miss your chance at CMA certification!

Once you’ve done the initial check-in, you will be issued a key to a numbered locker. You need to store all of your belongings in this locker before taking the exam. This includes your notes, phone, wallet, and jacket. Some TCA’s will let you wear sweaters or layers for warmth, but the general rule is all secondary clothing needs to be stored in your locker.

Next, you need to go through the Certified Management Accountant Exam verification process with your TCA. This may vary depending on the testing center, but the process will include the following steps:

  • The TCA will take your picture with a digital camera and add it to your account.
  • Your government issued ID(s) will be scanned while you enter your personal information into your profile.
  • Your unique biometric ID will be created based on six different fingerprint scans. This will be your new ID for logging in and out of the Prometric testing centers.

Lastly, you will need to be physically checked before walking into the testing room. The only thing you can bring in with you is a non-programmable calculator (I suggest the Texas Instruments BA II Plus Financial Calculator). You will have to turn out your pockets and have a handheld metal detector waved over your body to ensure you aren’t carrying any other electronics.

You will then be given the IMA rules and regulations for the exam as well as a pair of No. 2 pencils and a blank piece of paper. Finally, you are all ready to go!

During the CMA Exam


You need to feel confident throughout your entire examination. The best way to secure confidence is to be well prepared for all aspects of the CMA Exam. You can limit surprises that may arise by practicing in exam-like environments. For example, if you use a Mac computer, you should do a practice test or two with Windows. After all, the CMA Exam is administered via a Windows-based PC; hence, you should be comfortable using the Windows platform.

Even if you have to fake it, confidence is better than doubt when facing a test on your first try. You’ve done everything you can by this point, so take a deep breath and tell yourself that you can do this. Walk into your test center feeling confident: as if you have a 100% pass guarantee!

Pace Yourself

Once you sit down at your testing cubicle, you will have 15 minutes to take a tutorial on how to take the exam. Don’t rush through this because it will help get you into the right mindset for correctly answering the CMA exam questions.

Each exam part is four hours long. During the first three hours, you will have to answer 100 multiple choice questions, which leaves you roughly 1 minute and 48 seconds to read and answer each question. If you have any inquiries during the exam, raise your hand and the TCA will come and assist you to the best of their ability.

Do your best to be efficient with your time in the multiple choice section because any extra time can be carried over to the essay questions. You have one hour (or more if you carry over time) to complete two essay prompts which may contain up to eight parts—a possible total of 16 parts to answer.

After the CMA Exam

Once you’ve completed your exam (woo hoo!), you’ll have your biometric ID scanned again to log out of the testing center. The TCA will present you with an information packet that explains when and how you’ll receive your exam scores. It can take between 6 to 10 weeks to receive your exam scores.

Now it’s time to go and party! Whether or not you finished your first or final part, you deserve a day off to celebrate completing your CMA Exam.