The CMA exam is not just one of the toughest, but also one of the lengthiest financial exam. A commonly asked question by many candidates is, ” How is the CMA exam graded?”
It is important for every candidate to know beforehand the pattern of the exam and how to maximize their scores by knowing how grading is done. It also helps you focus your attention on the most critical aspects of the exam and prioritize your time accordingly.
To help you maximize your study efforts, I’ve put together this simple explanation for you to highlight on how the CMA exam is graded.
Division of the Exam
The CMA exam is divided into two sections. The first section contains the Multiple Choice Questions, popularly known as MCQ, which contains 100 such questions.
Candidates are given three hours to answer these MCQs. Each question has four answer options of which they need to select one.
The advantage here is that there is no negative marking for incorrect answers so it is highly advisable that you answer each and every question, irrespective of whether you are sure of the answer or not as that just increases your probability of getting an answer correct by 25%.
The next section contains the two Essay Questions. You are given thirty minutes each to complete each essay.
If you do manage to complete the MCQs before three hours then you can utilize the balance time on the essay question but once you do that you cannot review those MCQs at the end, so be very sure before you proceed to the next section.
NOTE – The catch here is that you need to answer at least 50% of the MCQs correctly in order to be eligible to take the essay section.
How the Passing Score is Determined
In terms of weight attached, the first section is the most important with 75% of contribution to the overall score while the second section has 25% importance.
Both these sections are scored on a scale of 0-500. Since all the candidates are given different “forms” of the exam, it is mandatory for them to score passing marks for each form. This balances out the overall relative difficulty of the questions in each form.
A score of 360 indicates the minimum passing scaled score. This helps the candidates know how they have fared vis-à-vis the passing standard of 360. One form may require a passing percentage of 75% while the other form may require a passing percentage of 60%. It is for this reason that a standard scale score of 360 is established as a benchmark. The score doesn’t indicate the percentage of questions you got correct.
What you should do
If you must set a goal then your endeavour should be to score more than 75% in both the MCQ and the Essay section. Working out the permutation and combination during the exam will not just be futile exercise, but also time consuming and may ultimately affect the quality of your answers.
“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”
– Vince Lombardi
Until next time!
Nathan Liao, CMA