Top 3 Reasons Contributing To The CMA Exam Difficulty

A lot of people are curious about the level of difficulty associated with the CMA exam. After all, if the pass rates are any indication, it’s safe to say that the majority of candidates find it incredibly tough.

To look at it objectively, there are 3 ways we can look at the CMA exam difficulty, so let’s break it down.


Compared to some other financial and accounting  exams, like the CPA and CFA, the scope of material covered is much narrower.

 As you know, the CMA exam is comprised of 2 parts. Part 1 focuses on financial accounting, including planning, budgeting, forecasting, as well as performance and cost management, and internal controls. Part 2 includes financial statement analysis, corporate finance, decision analysis, risk management, investment decisions, and professional ethics.
If you were to compare the CMA exam curriculum to that of a CPA, you would notice that not only is the CPA exam broken up into 4 parts, but that it also covers auditing, business law and taxation.
Additionally, the CMA exam doesn’t dive into the same amount of detail as some other exams, so this should help ease some of the burden you feel when studying.

Pass Rates

Statistics show that only a few dedicated ones are lucky enough to pass the CMA exam. And by few, I mean only 35% for Part 1 and 49% for Part 2.  Not surprisingly, those statistics can make writing this exam even more daunting.

If you look deeper into these numbers you can see how the reduced eligibility requirements may affect this. What I mean is that to write the CMA exam, you only require a bachelor degree and it can be obtained from any discipline in any country. This means you don’t have to have any background knowledge in finance or accounting, which may be contributing to the low pass rates. 

If you however, have a background in this area, I believe you already increase your chances of passing on the first try!

Exam Composition

As I mentioned above, the CPA exam is broken down into 4 parts, whereas the CMA exam is only 2. Many people find that because there are only two parts, the amount of information covered in each part contributes to the difficulty. It means that you have to study more subjects for each section in order to improve your chances of passing.

While this very well could contribute to the CMA exam difficulty, there are several ways you can tackle this, such as following a specific study plan to ensure you cover each topic with the necessary amount of depth and time.

The key is to prepare. Follow my proven study guide and pass both parts on your first try. Get it here.

But first, I want to know what you are finding the most difficult about preparing for the exam. Comment below and let’s see how I can help you. 

Talk soon!


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13 Comments on “Top 3 Reasons Contributing To The CMA Exam Difficulty”

  1. Hi nathan, Can you kindly advise when do the exam results generally get released after sitting for the examination in June window? Kindly advise.

        1. Hi nathan bro, thanks for your advise..I cleared 4 papers. So kindly advise me on the first part.I will definitely and am willing to relocate permanently to USA or Australia.>Both the cultures are pretty similar..Kindly assist on first part..

          1. Sure bro..But i am located in india at the moment due to unfortunate circumstances. Kindly give me tips on clearing part 1 and become CMA by 2016 especially the costing section.

  2. HI Nathan,

    I am facing a huge issue & the exam is within the next few days. In the exam simulation, I am not passing 67% after 2 time trials,
    and I’ve studied all units, might be missing some parts in internal control, but in overall I am good. Here’s the problem, questions always are variable, not only in the data given but also in using the rules to solve it out. This makes me worry as I follow steps & rules, yet nothin gets the right solution. what shall I do? I really need help


  3. I have completed my degree.. I wouldlike to do CMA course.. and I wish to know Can I take two groups of intermediate at the same and write my exams on December2017 .. I’m planning to do self study..! Is tat a good decision which I taken ??

  4. Which course is difficult? ACCA or CMA? I would like to be financial accountant, which course is more preferable?

    1. Hi Pranu,

      Yes, of course. To increase your chances of passing I recommend you to enroll in the CMA Coaching Course. This program offers a 12-week step-by-step study system with weekly assignments and unlimited 1-on-1 coaching for you to ask as many questions as you need to truly grasp the material and pass the exam with flying colors.

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