Some changes are in store for the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) exam beginning in January 2020, changes that help ensure that the exam remains relevant to the changing skill set required of accounting and finance professionals working inside organizations.

The changes will affect both parts of the exam, which will remain a two-part exam, each part a four-hour test with 100 multiple-choice questions and two essays. What will change is some of the content:
  • Part 1 of the exam will contain a new section called Technology and Analytics. This section, which will comprise 15% of Part 1, will test new topics like information systems, data governance, technology-enabled finance transformation, and data analytics. To accommodate this new material, content from other sections will be reduced. Part 1 of the exam will also have a new title: “Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics.”
  • Part 2 of the exam will also be revised and include greater emphasis on ethics and strategic decision making. It will have a new title as well: “Strategic Financial Management.”
ICMA® (Institute of Certified Management Accountants) decided to implement the changes following the results of its most recent job analysis survey, which it conducts every five to seven years, per industry best practices. This survey, which was sent to IMA members and other practicing professionals in Spring 2018, helps ensure that the CMA remains a valid, high-quality exam. Based on the more than 2,000 survey responses that ICMA received, it became apparent that given the changing nature of the profession, the exam should cover data analytics in more depth and also cover the digitalization of the finance value chain.

Said Paul E. Juras, CMA, CPA, Ph.D., chair of the ICMA Board of Regents, “After consideration of these findings, the ICMA Board of Regents approved a revised CMA Content Specification Outline that will help make the exam even more relevant for our key stakeholders and ensure that the CMA certification will remain the preeminent management accounting certification in the world.”

As a result of these impending changes, the last testing window for the current exam content will occur on September/October 2019 for the English-language exam and in November 2019 for the Chinese-language exam. (Note: Changes to the Chinese-language exam will be effective in April 2020.) Current candidates will get credit for the parts they have previously passed, provided that their entrance fee is still valid.

“It’s important for candidates to note that if you don’t finish both exam parts under the current program by the end of December 2019, you don’t have to retake those parts you passed under the current program. You also won’t have to repay the CMA entrance fee,” added Juras.

Review course providers, which have traditionally provided study materials for IMA's certification programs, will develop new materials to reflect the updated exam content. Please contact these providers directly with any questions.

For more information on these changes, please see the article “Keeping the CMA Relevant” in the January 2019 issue of Strategic Finance and the IMA website at CMA 2020 exam changes.