CMA Exam Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics

Although there are two parts that make up the computer-based Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam, for the purpose of this article, we will focus on Part 1: Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics.

For Part 1
of this exam, you will be given four hours to complete 100 multiple-choice
questions and 2 essay questions.

testing accommodations are available for those who have conditions that are
approved by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Some testing accommodations include extended testing time, additional breaks, and Braille test materials.

On what cognitive categories will the exam questions be based?

For the CMA Exam, the questions will be based on a combination of six cognitive categories.

The first is knowledge. This is the ability to recall previously learned material.

The second is comprehension. This is the ability to understand learned material.

The third is application. This is the ability to use previously learned material in new ways.

The fourth is analysis. This is the ability to break down information to find relationships between different components.

The fifth is synthesis. This is the ability to take components of material learned, and put them together in such a way that wasn’t there before

The sixth is evaluation. This is the ability to judge the material learned.

Additionally, questions will cover one of three levels. Level A questions require knowledge and comprehension. Level B questions require knowledge, comprehension, application, and analysis skills. Level C questions require knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

What categories and topics are covered on this portion of the exam?

  • External Financial Reporting Decisions: 15% of questions
  • Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting: 20% of questions
  • Performance Management: 20% of questions
  • Cost Management: 15% of questions
  • Internal Controls: 15% of questions
  • Technology and Analytics: 15% of questions

The External Financial Reporting Decisions category focuses on financial statements and recognition, measurement, valuation, and disclosure.

The Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting category focuses on strategic planning, budgeting concepts, forecasting techniques, budgeting methodologies, annual profit plan and supporting schedules, and top-level planning and analysis.

The Performance Management category focuses on cost and variance measures, responsibility centers and reporting segments, and performance measures.

The Cost Management category focuses on measurement, costing systems, overhead costs, supply chain management, and process improvement.

The Internal Controls category will focus on governance, risk, and compliance, internal auditing, systems controls and security measures.

The Technology and Analytics category will focus on information systems, data governance, technology-enabled finance transformation, and data analytics.

How can I register for this exam?

Register online.

What is the cost of the exam?

For professional members of the Institute of Management Accountants, the cost to take Part 1 of this exam is $415.

For student/academic members of the Institute of Management Accountants, the cost to take Part 1 of this exam is $311.

What are the testing dates and locations?

The three testing windows each year are January/February, May/June, and September/October.

There are hundreds of testing sites throughout the world.

What should I do the day of the exam?

Arrive on time at the testing center. It is recommended that you get there 15-30 minutes early in order to park, complete the check-in procedures, etc.

Bring two forms of identification. One should include your name, signature, and photo. A passport or driver’s license would be suitable. The other, such as a social security card, must have your name and signature, at a minimum. Also bring your scheduling confirmation.

Each testing center has its own rules about what is acceptable at the testing center or in the testing area, so be sure to confirm this with them before the day of the exam.

What happens after I take the exam?

Within approximately two weeks of taking the exam part, you will receive an email with your score report.

What is the minimum passing score of the exam?

The score range for each part of the exam is 0-500. The minimum score you must receive in order to pass is 360/part.

What happens if I don’t pass the exam?

You can only take this exam part one time in a testing window, but you can sit for as many testing windows in a 3-year period as necessary to pass.

How Can I Prepare for the CMA Part 1?

That’s a great question.  We’ve broken down the answer into three parts.

  1. Do yourself a favor and study.  Do not walk in unprepared. We have recommended prep materials below, but that only helps if you actually try.  Plus, studying is actually proven to be the best antidote to test anxiety.
  2. Take care of yourself.  Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping.  All of these things are scientifically linked to brain performance.  If you take care of your body, you’ll be helping your grades.
  3. Get a study guide or set of flashcards.  Some people study better a certain way. Find your study strengths and make the most of them.  We’ve tried to make it easy for you by tracking down the best study guide and flashcard set for your exam.  Below you’ll see links to both!

Study Guide



Last Updated: November 9, 2023