The Certified Management Accountant Exam is a major component of the process that accounting and financial professionals must successfully complete to earn certification from the Institute of Management Accountants. Understanding the steps necessary to get ready for the exam, how the exam is formatted, which topics are covered and what happens after the exam can provide a significant confidence boost for potential certified management accountant candidates by allowing them to effectively prepare for the exam.

What is a Certified Management Accountant?

Created in 1996 by the Institute of Management Accountants, a respected professional association with a worldwide membership of more than 70,000, the certified management accountant designation is the pre-eminent credential in the management accounting field. It is awarded to professionals who have shown themselves to be experts capable of applying a blend of accounting, finance and management skills in the business arena by meeting the institute’s requirements for education, experience and examination.

What Preparation is Necessary for the Certified Management Accountant Exam?

To qualify to sit for the Certified Management Accountant Exam, candidates must be members of the institute, have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, and have at least two years of experience as an accounting or financial management professional. To prepare for the exam, they must join the Institute’s Certified Management Accountant Program. The cost for this program runs around $2,500. Candidates may choose to attend classes with instructors, study independently using print or online materials, or join online study groups. Once they feel ready for the exam, they must register for the exam and schedule an appointment to take the test, which is offered three times a year at hundreds of testing sites around the globe.

What Format is Used for the Certified Management Accountant Exam?

Offered in a computerized format, the two-part Certified Management Accountant Exam is administered by Prometric. Each part requires four hours and consists of two 30-minute essay questions and 100 multiple choice questions. The parts may be taken in any order, but must be completed independently. Candidates are required to register for at least one exam within one year of joining the Certified Management Accountant Program; they have three years to successfully complete both sections of the exam.

What Topics Appear on the Certified Management Accountant Exam?

Designed to provide a comprehensive measure of a candidate’s knowledge, the Certified Management Accountant Exam covers a great deal of material. Part One: Financial Reporting, Planning, Performance and Control assesses test-takers’ understanding of six areas: cost management, internal controls, external financial reporting, forecasting, budgeting and performance management. Part Two: Financial Decision Making evaluates their proficiency in six additional areas: professional ethics, financial statement analysis, risk management, decision analysis, corporate finance and investment decisions. The institute reports that the pass rate for either part of the exam in the Americas hovers just above 50 percent.

What Happens After the Certified Management Accountant Exam?

Once candidates successfully pass the exam and fulfill all of the requirements, they are awarded the right to use the certified management accountant designation. To continue using the credential, they must complete at least 30 hours of continuing education every two years and maintain their annual membership in the institute.

Related Resource: Chartered Global Management Accountant

A challenging test that demands those taking it prove their mastery over an impressive amount of complex material, the Certified Management Accountant Exam ensures that only the best and brightest in the management accounting field are entitled to call themselves certified management accountants.