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VanZante, N. R. 2010. IMA's professional certification program has changed. Management Accounting Quarterly (Summer): 48-51.

Summary by James R. Martin, Ph.D., CMA
Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida

Professional Exams Main | IMA Main Page

The purpose of this article is to update the author's 2005 paper on IMA's professional certification programs.1 The information provided in this paper is very similar to the information provided by Brausch and Whitney earlier this year.2 However, VanZante adds a chronological history of the CMA program and explains why the CFM exam was discontinued and merged into the new CMA exam.

History of the CMA Exam

According to VanZante, more than 32,000 CMA certificates have been awarded since 1972 when the exam was established. A chronological history of the CMA exam is provided at the end of this note adapted from Tables 1 and 2 in the article.

During the period from 1972 to 1990 the exam consisted of five 3.5-hour exams. When the program began, the exam was given over a three day period once per year in a few selected locations. Parts 1 and 2 were given on the first day, followed by parts 3 and 4 on the second day, and part 5 on the third day. Most of the exam consisted of essay questions and problems, i.e., 25% multiple choice, 75% problems and essay questions. The exam was offered twice per year beginning in 1977.

The CFM exam was offered during the period from 1996 and 2006, but was discontinued for lack of an audience. Since Part 2 of the CFM exam was the only difference between the two exams, CMA's could add the CFM designation simply by passing Part 2 which emphasized finance topics. Most of this finance material has been merged into the new CMA exam.

In 1991 the CMA exam was changed from five 3.5-hour exams to four 4-hour exams with the same percentage of multiple choice, essay and problems, i.e., 25% and 75%.

In 1997 the exam was computerized and became four 3-hour multiple choice exams, i.e., 12 hours rather than 16 hours.

In 2004 a new exam was offered that consisted of a somewhat different set of topics (see Chronological History below) that included a 4-hour section (Part 2) and a section with essay questions and problems in the area of business applications (Part 4). From 2004 to 2007 the 1997 and 2004 versions were both offered to CMA candidates.

The New 2010 CMA Exam

In 2010 a new exam was designed consisting of two 4-hour exams each containing 100 multiple choice questions and two 30-minute essay questions, i.e., 8 hours (see Chronological History below). The new exam assumes candidates have a strong foundation in financial accounting and knowledge of topics such as economics and statistics. Some topics have been added or given increased emphasis on the new 2010 CMA exam. These include the following topics:

Top level planning and analysis,
The Treadway Commission's internal control framework,
International financial reporting standards,
Corporate restructuring (mergers & acquisitions),
Risk assessment,
Risk mitigation strategies and enterprise risk management,
Valuation, and
The IMA statement on management accounting, values and ethics.

Some topics that are no longer tested on the new exam include:

Linear programming,
Network analysis,
Decision tree analysis,
Queuing theory,
Markov processes,
Development of accounting standards,
Financial statement assurance,
Information systems,
Total quality management,
Strategic marketing,
Organization management, and
Behavioral issues.

A Chronological History of the CMA Exam

1972-1990 (17.5 hours - Each part was 3.5 hours)

Part 1 - Economics and Business Finance 25% Multiple choice, 75% Essay & problems

Part 2 - Organization & Behavior, including Ethics 25% Multiple choice, 75% Essay & problems

Part 3 - Public Reporting Standards, Auditing, & Taxes 25% Multiple choice, 75% Essay & problems

Part 4 - Internal Reporting and Analysis 25% Multiple choice, 75% Essay & problems

Part 5 - Decision Analysis, including Modeling& Information Systems 25% Multiple choice, 75% Essay & problems

1991-1997 (16 hours - Each part was 4 hours)

Part 1 - Economics, Finance, and Management  25% Multiple Choice, 75% Essay & problems

Part 2 - Financial Accounting and Reporting 25% Multiple Choice, 75% Essay & problems

Part 3 - Management Reporting, Analysis, and Behavioral Issues 25% Multiple Choice, 75% Essay & problems

Part 4 - Decision Analysis and Information Systems 25% Multiple Choice, 75% Essay & problems

1997-2007* (12 hours - Each part was 3 hours after the exam was computerized

Part 1 - Economics, Finance, and Management 100% Multiple choice

Part 2 - Financial Accounting and Reporting 100% Multiple choice

Part 3 - Management Reporting, Analysis, and Behavioral Issues 100% Multiple choice

Part 4 - Decision Analysis and Information Systems 100% Multiple choice

2004-2010* (13 hours - Parts 1, 3 and 4 were 3 hours. Part 2 was 4 hours)

Part 1 - Business Analysis 100% Multiple choice

Part 2 - Management Accounting and Reporting 100% Multiple choice

Part 3 - Strategic Management 100% Multiple choice

Part 4 - Business Applications 100% Essay & problems

2010 New Exam  (8 hours - Each part is 4 hours)

Part 1 - Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting 30%. Performance Management 25%. Cost Management 25%. Internal Controls 15%. Professional Ethics 5%. 100 Multiple choice & two 30 minute essay questions

Part 2 - Financial Statement Analysis 25%. Corporate Finance 25%. Decision Analysis and Risk Management 25%.
Investment Decisions 20%. Professional Ethics 5%. 100 Multiple choice & two 30 minute essay questions

* Both versions of the exam (1997 and 2004) were offered between 2004-2007.

For more information see IMA's CMA Certification web page.

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1 VanZante, N. R. 2005. IMA's professional certification programs. Management Accounting Quarterly (Winter): 22-25

2 Brausch, J. M. and D. Whitney. 2009. CMA: The quest for increasing value. Strategic Finance (December): 9-10, 12. (Summary).

Other related summaries:

Krippel, G. L. and S. Mitchell. 2011. What's your CMA worth? We show you how to estimate the lifetime value of the certification. Strategic Finance (November): 41-47. (Note).

Martin, J. R. Not dated. IMA salary calculators 2010-2015. Management And Accounting Web. http://maaw.info/ArticleSummaries/ArtSumSalarySurveys.htm

Schiffel, L., K. A. Smith and D. L. Schroeder. 2011. IMA 2010 salary survey: How's that recovery workin' for you? Strategic Finance (June): 26-46. (Summary).