To make sure the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) exam stays relevant to the evolving demands of the management accounting profession, changes are in store for the exam beginning January 1, 2020. Changes to the Chinese language version of the exam will be effective in April 2020.

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:
  • Fifteen percent of Part 1 will feature a “Technology and Analytics” section. Part 1 will now be titled “Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics” and include content focusing on external financial reporting decisions, planning, budgeting and forecasting, performance and cost management, and internal controls.
  • The revisions to Part 2 will include greater emphasis on ethics and strategic decision making. Part 2 will now be titled “Strategic Financial Management” and include content on financial statement analysis, corporate finance, risk management, and investment decisions.
In 2018, ICMA® (Institute of Certified Management Accountants) and its Board of Regents conducted an independent job analysis study and developed a survey on the knowledge required of management accountants on the job. The global responses from more than 2,000 professionals will be reflected in the updated exam in January 2020.

“We’re always tracking changes in the profession to keep the CMA exam relevant,” said Dennis Whitney, CMA, ICMA senior vice president, certifications, exams, and content integration. “The job analysis study showed that the current exam is comprehensive but needs more coverage in technology and data analytics. We’re making the adjustment as both areas are becoming more important for management accountants.”

Added Paul E. Juras, CMA, CPA, Ph.D., chair of the ICMA Board of Regents, “The CMA is the preeminent management accounting certification in the world and is experiencing incredible global growth. With advancements in technology and ongoing changes in the profession, it is natural that the exam that awards our certification adapts to these changes to benefit our stakeholders as best as possible.”

The current version of the English language exam will be offered through October 31, 2019, and the current version of the Chinese language exam will be offered through November 2019.

Note: Candidates who do not finish both exam parts under the current program by the end of December 2019 will not need to retake those parts passed under the current program. They will also not have to repay the CMA entrance fee.

Review course providers, which have traditionally provided study materials for IMA's certification programs, will develop new materials to reflect the updated exam content.

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.