Using Essay Questions to Your Advantage:  Things you need to know about the CMA Exam.

In order to be a Certified Management Accountant, one of the most challenging and intimidating parts of the exam is the essay questions. Even the most experienced candidates can become stumped because of the vast amount of subject matter knowledge needed to pass the US CMA Exam and the topics on all exam questions are all fair game.

With a basic knowledge of how the CMA USA Exam essay questions work and some practice with your writing skills, you can be fully prepared for the exam if you take it. Here are a few tips for how you can prepare to pass the CMA Exam essay questions.

A minimum of 50% is required on the CMA multiple-choice questions

In order to understand the exam in general, we will look at the basics of it. There are two exams with two sections each. The first section consists of 100 multiple-choice questions which you have to answer over a period of three hours. 75% of your total score will be awarded for multiple choice questions, while 25% will be awarded for the essay section, which is divided into two questions of 30 minutes each.

Before you even begin the essay portion, you’ll have to work hard on the multiple-choice questions. Since 75% of the total test score is made up of these questions, you will not be able to pass if you achieve a score below 50%. In fact, you won't be able to go on to the essay section if your score is less than 50%.

Passing the multiple choice section of the CMA USA exam is incredibly critical; if you fail, everything you have learned and prepared for related to essay questions will have no effect on this attempt. Taking care of the multiple choice section properly will help you be more prepared for whatever topic you receive in the essay section. The key takeaway is to become well-versed in multiple-choice questions before the exam.

CMA Exam Essay Questions Come in Many Forms

CMA Exam candidates are tested on both their knowledge and their ability to apply exam concepts in real-life scenarios, which is why essay questions make up part of the test. A variety of essay questions may be encountered by candidates during the exam, including writing a memo, calculating, comparing, and contrasting certain concepts, among others.  Exam candidates will have to maneuver through a number of parts of the essay questions, some of which are fairly straightforward and others that have several components, just as they would in real life.

A variety of essay questions and practice CMA tests can help candidates adequately prepare for the essay exam part. Test prep should also cover all of the various CMA exam topics, such as financial statement analysis, corporate finance, internal controls, and decision analysis so that you can achieve the highest possible grade.


The CMA exam generally lasts 30 minutes for each section

Generally, there are 3 hours for the multiple-choice section of the exam, and 1 hour for the essay section, that is, two 30 minutes for each written question. However, if you finish the multiple-choice section earlier, you will have more time to work on the essay section.

If you decide to have more time to write your essay questions, consider the exam section weighting mentioned above as the multiple choice questions contribute up to 75% of your score, and if you score poorly on the MCQs, it may be difficult or even impossible for you to make up that score difference in the essay section. Make sure you weigh your options as you progress through the exam. 

Go ahead and spend more time on the essay questions if you finish the multiple choice questions early and feel positive about them. Make sure you're answering the multiple-choice questions to the best of your ability before moving on to the essay section if you find the multiple-choice questions extremely challenging.

If you want to be prepared for the CMA Examination, we strongly recommend taking practice CMA tests ahead of time. These practice exams contain CMA exam questions that are a close match to the actual US CMA Exam and give you real-world experience that will help you pass it with ease. 

Manually graded CMA essay questions 

A CMA exam still relies on human graders when it comes to the Written Communication question, unlike the CPA Exam, which uses both computer and manual grading. In order for human graders to find relevant points in your answer, it will be much easier for you to answer each question in a logical way using standard English, spelling, grammar, and punctuation. This is very similar to real-world communications, in which you'll be communicating with people inside or outside your organization. 

There is a challenge with human graders because they can be subjective. However, the benefit of human graders is that you will have many people to practice with. If you are preparing practice questions for a test, write them as if you were sending them to a superior, or ask your coworkers to review them to make sure they are logical and clear.

It's all about giving you points on the CMA exam

If you provide relevant information surrounding an answer, you get points, which means you can get partial credit for each part of the essay. Since each essay question can have multiple parts, you need to include as much of your thought process as possible as you answer each part of the question.

To begin the writing process, it is best to read the question carefully before starting to write. By paying close attention to the language used in the question, figure out what it is asking. Organize your thoughts using bullet points and outlines once you determine where your answer needs to be headed. Once you've organized your thoughts, start writing. A bullet-pointed answer usually gets more points, since it outlines your ideas logically.

Your goal should be to put as much of your thought process on paper as possible, because the more you do, the more points you'll receive. However, keep in mind that the IMA is looking for clarity and efficiency. In order to get points, it is essential that you make sure that all your information is presented logically, and that your answer answers all the points while still making sense. This is where it's good to reread your answer and make sure every point is addressed. 

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