If you are preparing for the CMA (Certified Management Accountant) exam, you may have some concerns about the essay section. This concern is understandable and common among candidates. In fact, it’s a topic I’ve written and spoken about before, and it’s worth revisiting.
The Good News: Unifying Your Study Efforts
A common misconception is that preparing for the Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs) and preparing for the essays are two separate undertakings. The reality, however, is that the content tested in the essays is the same as that in the MCQs. What this means is when you are preparing for the MCQs, you are also preparing for the essays.
The Common Thread Between MCQs and Essays
Consider this: you might get a capital budgeting question in the MCQ section, and you could also get a similar question as an essay. The same goes for questions about ratios or any other topic.
For example, let’s say you’re asked to calculate the debt-equity ratio in an MCQ. You’ll carry out the necessary calculations, arrive at a number, and then choose the best answer from the options given (A, B, C, or D). Now, if you have a similar question in the essay section asking you to calculate the debt-equity ratio, you would perform the exact same calculation. The only difference is that you don’t have to match your answer with multiple-choice options.
Prepping the Right Way
Many essays are set up as a series of questions based on a given fact pattern, essentially resembling a set of MCQs without the multiple-choice aspect. The skill set you need to answer both MCQs and essay questions is the same, so as you go through your textbooks, watch videos, and tackle practice questions, remember that you are preparing for both types of questions simultaneously.
Additional Steps for Essays
While the core content and skills remain the same, there is one aspect where you might need to do a bit of extra work for the essay section. It would be beneficial to go through past essays released by the IMA (Institute of Management Accountants) to become familiar with how questions are framed and what different types of requirements might appear. This will help you understand the types of questions that you are likely to encounter on the actual exam.
The syllabus tested is the same regardless of the format of the question. So, the key takeaway here is that as you’re preparing for the exam, you’re automatically preparing for all its components. There is no need to fragment your efforts; a well-rounded study plan will equip you for success in every part of the CMA exam. Happy studying!
If you’ve begun your journey preparing for exams, chances are you have faced the difficulty of time management, especially when tackling Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs). Many candidates find it challenging to complete MCQs within the time given for the exam. If you’re one of them, don’t worry—you’re not alone. In this blog post, I will share some ideas on how to efficiently handle MCQs and be ready to complete your exam in the time you have.
Don’t Worry about the Timer – At First
When you initially start studying and practicing MCQs, you may notice that it takes you longer to answer each question than the time you have during the exam. This realization often leads to stress, but it’s important to remember that it’s completely natural at this stage. The first part of your study journey is not about speed; it’s about understanding the content.
Learning vs. Exam-taking
There’s a crucial difference between learning the content phase and the exam phase of your studies. When you’re in the learning phase, it’s naturally going to take you longer to answer MCQs. You’re still getting familiar with the material, figuring out the formulas, and understanding how to interpret the information presented in the questions. Therefore, your initial focus should be solely on comprehending the content, understanding why a particular answer is correct, and why another choice is incorrect.
Speed Comes with Practice
As you attempt more MCQs, you’ll find that you become faster answering them. You’ll start recognizing how questions are framed and learn to sift through the information more efficiently, understanding what’s relevant and what’s not. Your speed will naturally increase as you grow more familiar with the content and question patterns.
Timing Matters, But Later On
As you approach the end of your study schedule and enter the final review stage and start taking mock exams, that’s when you need to be conscious of time. By this point, you should be more comfortable with the subject matter, allowing you to answer questions more quickly. Some MCQs will still take longer to answer, while others will take less time, but that’s perfectly okay. The key is to be ready to answer each question as efficiently as possible.
Focus on Learning First, Speed Will Follow
If you’re at the beginning of your study journey and are anxious about the time it’s taking you to answer the MCQs, take a deep breath and relax. Don’t worry about speed initially; concentrate on learning and understanding the material. As you practice and get deeper into your study material, you’ll naturally become quicker at answering MCQs. In the end, it’s not just about being fast; it’s about being accurate and knowledgeable, and speed will come as a by-product of that understanding.
Today, I want to talk about a critical element that could determine the success of your study sessions. If you’re like most people, you probably don’t jump for joy at the thought of opening a textbook. Studying often competes with other activities that are much more appealing. So, what’s the one essential thing that you need to do to make your study session effective? The answer is simple but powerful: just start.
The Hardest Part Is Starting
Believe it or not, the most crucial action in any study session is beginning. Whether it’s a Monday morning or a Tuesday evening, just starting to study is half the battle. The temptation to procrastinate or do something more enjoyable can be overwhelming. However, the key lies in overcoming inertia and just starting to study.
Reframing Your Perspective
It’s easy to get bogged down by thinking about the length of time you’ll have to dedicate to studying. You might dread a two-hour session or even a one-hour session. However, don’t focus on the length of the study session; instead, concentrate on the first minute. Once you’ve conquered that first minute, you’ll find that the remaining time passes much more quickly than anticipated.
Why Starting Is So Important
This principle of starting doesn’t apply only to study sessions; it’s universally applicable to any long-term project or task. The first step may not be glamorous or exciting, but it’s absolutely necessary. You will never get to the end of your goal without taking the first step and once you’re in motion, it’s easier to stay in motion.
The Psychological Boost
Interestingly, once you begin a study session, you often find that it’s not as dreadful as you’d imagined. Your focus sharpens, your energy increases, and before you know it, you’re in a study “zone.” You may even find that you’re enjoying the learning process and the time you’ve allocated for studying goes by quickly.
So, the next time you have a study session planned, and you’re not particularly excited about it, remember that the most crucial part is to start. That simple action of sitting down and opening your book or turning on your computer sets the stage for a successful learning experience. No matter how long your study session is supposed to be, the most important minute is the first one. Make it count, and you’ll find that the rest of the session will unfold more smoothly than you’d think.
How long should I study?
A common question we get is, “How long should I study for each Part of the CMA exam?” Unfortunately, there is no one answer that is the same for everyone. Each candidate comes with a different background, education, and work experience, and all of those factors influence how much time each person needs to study to be ready to pass their CMA exams.
Calculating the minimum
There are still some minimums that we can use to determine what that target number of hours should be. We will base this on the reality of the study process, not just a number that sounds good or a number that we think students want to hear. This process is what we do when we create our time estimates for studying for the exam. For example, every MCQ you do requires some amount of time. For MCQs and other things, let us assume that you need:
- Three minutes to read an MCQ, to answer it, and to look at your answer to understand why you got it correct or incorrect.
- One minute to watch one minute of video. (It may actually be a little more than that – you rewind something, you listen to something again, but we will say one minute to watch one minute of video.)
- Four minutes for every page of the textbook that you read. In addition to just reading it, you may need to think about it or reference something else. But, for our purposes here, we will say four minutes per page.
- Thirty minutes for every essay you solve.
Now, with those times in mind, let us calculate how long it will take you to study for one Part if you have the following study materials:
- 2,000 MCQs
- 30 hours of videos
- 40 essays
- 300 pages of textbook
Doing the math
We can now calculate how long it will take to prepare as follows:
- 2,000 MCQs at three minutes each will be 6,000 minutes or 100 hours
- 30 hours of videos will take you 30 hours
- 40 essays at 30 minutes each will be another 1,200 minutes or another 20 hours
- 300 pages of a textbook at four minutes per page will be 1,200 minutes or 20 hours
In total, this brings us to 170 hours to do those MCQs, read the textbook, watch the videos, and do those essays. This 170 hours does not include a mock exam, let alone two mock exams. Also, you haven’t reviewed anything, and you have not done any of the MCQs a second time. So, if we add in doing some of the MCQs a second time, two mock exams, and a final review, we are getting to about 200 hours per Part.
Additional study materials
If you decide to add any additional study materials to your study plan, that is going to add more time. If you get a second test bank and solve 1,000 more MCQs, that will add 50 hours to your study time. If you watch additional videos, that is going to add time as well. Everything you add to what you study is going to add time to the amount of time it takes you to prepare.
This does not mean that you shouldn’t add additional items; you should if you need them. But, as you add additional questions or videos or textbooks, you need to make certain that those additional study materials are adding value to you. This means that you need to make certain that those additional study materials will increase your chances of passing your exam. Doing more questions just to say that you did more questions is not going to help you pass your exam. This is why we rarely recommend that a candidate needs a second test bank. A second test bank adds a lot of time to your studies, but it doesn’t really add very much value.
Total study time for the CMA exam
Having gone through all of this, we can come back to the question we started with, “How long do you need to study for your CMA exam?” We have seen the numbers, and we have done the math. To be realistic, you should start with at least 180 hours as a minimum in your mind. Your actual number may prove to be a little bit more or a little bit less based on your background, education, and experience, but 180 hours is a very good starting point based on the reality of how long it takes you to study what you plan to study.
If someone tells you that you only need 100 hours (some providers even suggest you need only 70 hours per Part), you need to ask yourself what it is that they’re expecting you to do as Part of your studies. And more importantly, is what they are suggesting that you do in 100 hours going to be enough to prepare me for the exam? One hundred hours is just enough time to do 2,000 MCQs – and nothing else. Is doing only 2,000 MCQs going to prepare you to pass your exam?
The key is that you prepare as many hours as you need to pass your exam. The amount of time your friend or colleague needs may not be the same as what you need. 180 hours is a good, realistic starting point for your planning. However, as you study, you need to be ready to adjust this so that you study the number of hours that you need to pass your exam.
If you haven’t started your CMA exam preparation yet:
Start with the free CMA exam trial. The trial lasts for 14 days and includes all HOCK study materials for CMA Part 1 Section A and CMA Part 2 Section E. That is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the exam topics, practice MCQs, and see if your learning style matches with HOCK.
If you are looking for additional study materials:
As mentioned above, reading another textbook or practicing more MCQs will add a lot of time to your study process but not necessarily add value. Instead, check out HOCK stream. HOCK stream is a subscription-based video platform with CMA videos in various formats. You can choose the most challenging topics for you, watch step-by-step explanations, and join CMA experts for office hours. The subscription starts with a one-week free trial.
If you are ready for the exam and want to check your knowledge:
Take free CMA Mock exams to practice! It will help you practice your time management, build stamina (CMA exam is a four-hour exam without any breaks), and help you identify topics that you need to review before the actual exam.
What is HOCK stream?
We are thrilled to introduce a revolutionary CMA exam study tool – HOCK stream! HOCK stream is a subscription-based CMA video platform that includes all of the CMA Video content that HOCK has created. This includes the CMA teaching Videos by Brian Hock, the Step By Step Courses and Short Courses taught by Mr. Kazim, MCQ and essay videos, and more. HOCK stream also includes Live office hours with our CMA experts and an engaging learning community to connect with other CMA candidates.
How much does HOCK stream cost?
You get a one-week free trial, and after the trial, the cost is $29 per month. Of course, you can cancel your subscription at any time.
Is HOCK stream enough to prepare for the CMA exam?
HOCK stream is an excellent study tool and supplement for all CMA exam candidates. However, to fully prepare for the exams, you need at least a Test Bank with MCQs and Essays. A Textbook would be helpful for most candidates as well.
Who is HOCK stream for?
HOCK stream is intended for all CMA candidates who are looking for a way to improve their understanding of the exam topics and increase their chances of passing their exams. In other words, all CMA candidates will benefit from their HOCK stream subscription.
You can have materials from any provider and HOCK stream will be an excellent addition to your study materials. HOCK stream also provides you with more than one video style and structure so that you can find exactly what you need for each topic.
- Maybe you are just starting your CMA journey and want to ensure that you have the best tools and expert support available to you and the learning community. In this case, you will be looking for the Step-by-Step Videos.
- Maybe you failed your exams, and you are looking for additional content for just a couple of months while you prepare for your next attempt. In this case, you may be looking for the Short Courses, and some of the CMA with Brian Hock Videos as well. And you may need to subscribe for only a month or two.
- Or maybe as you are getting closer to your exam date, and there are still a few topics that you are not comfortable with. The short courses and MCQ videos will be very helpful for you, and again, you may be looking for only a month or two of access.
Every CMA exam candidate will find HOCK stream useful and it will add to the confidence that you need to pass the exams. Depending on where you are in your CMA journey, you can subscribe for just a month or for as long as you need to.
What Videos are included in HOCK stream?
There are four different groups, or libraries, of videos that are available on HOCK stream:
- HOCK CMA Classroom Videos (also called CMA with Brian) – there are about 32 hours for Part 1 and 30 hours for Part 2. These are the videos that are part of our You Pass or We Pay Guarantee and cover the entire LOS.
- Short Courses – each of these Videos looks in depth at a specific topic and includes both teaching concepts and solving some MCQs. There are currently 27 Videos for Part 1 and 20 for Part 2. Each video is about 2 hours long and taught by Mr. Kazim Nazeer.
- New Step-By-Step courses that Mr. Kazim is posting on a weekly basis. These courses are our most detailed coverage of the syllabus and include both teaching and MCQs solved by Mr. Kazim Nazeer. The full set of videos for Parts 1 and 2 are scheduled to be completed by the end of May 2023, so you will have access to them before the end of the June exam window.
- Solving Essays and MCQs videos. Although we believe that the most important part of preparing for the exams is understanding concepts, it is also helpful to see the process of solving MCQs and Essays. These short, practical sessions are recorded by Brian Hock and Mr. Kazim and demonstrate solving the more challenging questions and essays.
Why a subscription and not a one-time purchase?
Think Netflix, Spotify, Adobe Acrobat, and other subscription-based platforms. Why do you need unlimited access and ownership of something that you only need for a short period of time? Why buy a movie on DVD if you are only going to watch it once? Subscription is the way for you to get what you want, for as long as you want, at a very affordable price.
As a stand-alone, one-time purchase, CMA with Brian costs $649, and Short Courses would be about $1,100 total, and Step By Step Courses about $1,000. This is a total of almost $2,800! And all of that content is available to you for only $29 per month.
What are office hours?
In addition to all of the video content, HOCK stream is also hosting weekly Live Office Hours with Mr. Kazim for each Part. While each week there is a topic for that Office Hour, you can ask Mr. Kazim any questions you have about that Part of the exam. And if you have a lot of questions or very detailed questions, Mr. Kazim may connect with you outside of Office Hours to answer them.
What is the Learning Community?
The Learning Community is a virtual community where CMA candidates from around the world are able to share study tips, find accountability partners, and motivate each other to the exam date. HOCK experts will also be a part of the community to answer questions and provide support and motivation throughout your study process. With the Learning Community in HOCK stream, self-study doesn’t have to be alone anymore!
Welcome to the HOCK stream!
Before HOCK stream, your options to prepare for the CMA exams have been either self-study or joining in-person classes. However, with self-study, exam candidates often lack community, support, and motivation to keep going. In-person classes require you to follow their schedule at their place and may provide only limited-time access.
That’s why we built HOCK stream. It is a unique learning platform that offers you world-class CMA prep courses in various formats. We have been helping CMA candidates pass their exams for more than 20 years and we are excited about making this new method of studying available to you.
We invite you to prepare for the CMA exams in a practical, personal, and affordable way!
Many people made a resolution to pass a professional exam in 2023. There are plenty of articles on staying motivated and keeping up with your resolutions that recommend:
- Have a "Why" and keep the big picture in mind.
- Develop small habits and do a little bit every day.
- Practice self-care.
- Find an accountability partner.
Forbes also suggests Five Ways To Keep Your New Year's Resolutions Based On New Research.
All of these are excellent general recommendations, but we find that the following six steps are the most helpful for keeping your resolution of passing a professional exam:
1 - Sign up for the free trial materials
Our free trial is the best way to see if the HOCK materials are a good fit for you so that you can determine if you like the learning platform, if the textbook is clear to you, and if the videos match your learning style. You don’t have to pay anything to get started, so sign up for CMA Free Trial or CIA Free Trial right away! Don't procrastinate!
2 - Learn how to use PassMap
PassMap is your step-by-step study guide that includes the Personal Study Plan, ExamReady progress bar, study tips, and connects you to the student forum where you can get unlimited CMA and CIA support from HOCK experts. Learn more with our Free PassMap Demo Session.
3 - Choose the materials package that works best for you
The biggest difference between HOCK Standard and HOCK Complete packages is that Complete includes videos and the "You Pass Or We Pay" Guarantee. Compare the HOCK CMA Exam Packages and CIA Exam Packages.
4 - Save money
Once you choose which materials work the best for you, save 50% with our No Excuses sale! That is the best price on the market! Don't miss the deal! Buy CMA materials with 50% off or Buy CIA materials with 50% off.
5 - Set up your personal study plan
Scheduling and planning are the keys to passing a professional exam. We have designed a Personal Study Plan for CMA and CIA exam candidates that shows what to study week by week. The plan automatically adjusts based on the study units you have completed, how many units you have left to study, and how many days you have until your exam.
6 - Ask questions
As the PassMap is leading you through every topic, be sure to understand each unit fully before moving on. Follow the sequence: read textbook and watch the video(s), then practice the MCQs and essays, and use our expert teacher support. If you have any questions, see if it was already answered on the student forum, and if not, you can ask and get an answer from our experts. Check out HOCK CMA and CIA Student Forums.
We wish you a successful and productive year – the year you become certified!
It is often difficult to start on ambitious goals. There is always a reason that we can find that allows us to postpone starting something big and meaningful. Exam certifications are one of those ambitious goals that you may be having trouble getting started. How long have you been thinking of becoming a CMA (What is CMA certification?), CIA (What is CIA certification?), or getting another professional certification (Which accounting certification is best for me?)? Getting certified is one of the best investments you can make in your own career. However, you are likely using one or more of these excuses to delay getting started: not enough time, too difficult, or too expensive.
When it comes to the decision to start studying for your professional certification, all of these excuses can be used to procrastinate. Guess what? You no longer have these as your excuses.
Here at HOCK, we have eliminated these excuses for you – all you have to do is to start studying, and you will pass the exams in 2023!
I don’t have enough time
You may think you do not have enough time, but our interactive study system PassMap efficiently guides you through all the content that you need to know. A personalized study planner will take you through the exam syllabus week by week and adjusts accordingly if your study schedule changes.
It is too difficult
You may think studying will be difficult because the syllabus is so large. But, with our comprehensive and easy-to-understand study materials, we make learning the content as straightforward and as structured as possible. Regular review and practice sessions, detailed video explanations, a final 3-week review system with multiple Mock exams, study tips, and ongoing support from the CMA and CIA experts will make studying much easier than you can imagine!
It costs too much
You may think it costs too much, but we have done everything we can to help you with that as well. Right now, all HOCK CMA and CIA study materials are 50% off. This is the biggest discount we offer during the year, and it is for a limited time. If your purchase is $299 or more, you can use our interest-free payment plan.
With the HOCK PassMap, our study materials, unlimited access, expert support, and a 50% discount, you have no excuses left. Take advantage of this limited-time offer to start your exam studies right now. Start studying today! No excuses!
How to study for the CIA Exam
Studying for the CIA exam is not an easy task (What is the CIA exam and who is it for?). If you are pursuing this certification, you are most likely a motivated internal audit professional with increasing professional responsibilities. You may be managing a growing team and playing a role on multiple projects, in addition to executing against your typical weekly responsibilities. So as you embark upon the process of preparing for the CIA exam, what are some strategies and tactics to keep in mind to make the study process as efficient as possible and, most importantly, maximize your chances of passing?
In this article, we’ll explore some foundational concepts, strategies, and tactics to apply to the process of preparing for the CIA exam (or really any standardized test, professional exam, or academic endeavor).
Recognizing the Relative Importance of Talent & IQ vs. Practice & Preparation
When it comes to performing well in school or on standardized tests and professional exams, most people place far too much weight on IQ, raw intelligence, or “natural talent.” They assume that others may be easily understanding the material while they struggle.
The fact is, yes, some people may “get it” slightly faster than others when it comes to mathematics, others are more comfortable reading and writing, and some people may be better than others at learning new languages. That said, these differences in natural ability are seldom anywhere close to what you might imagine them to be. No one learns how to do math, read, write well, or understand a new language without a lot of practice and preparation and focus on the task at hand. You often just can’t see how much practice another person is putting in and thus assume it’s easier for them.
Quality of Study vs. Quantity of Study
When preparing for a professional licensing exam, it can be difficult to put your finger on the level of “quality” of the study session you just engaged in. Too many people spend a lot of hours studying, but they aren’t studying the right way. For example, simply reading material for long stretches of time is a very poor way to study (especially for tasks that require problem-solving and critical thinking), even though you might feel like you’ve accomplished a lot.
Many studies show that the key to learning and building skills is a concept called deliberate practice.
What is Deliberate Practice?
Deliberate practice is high-quality practice and done in large quantities, often explains what many people inaccurately perceive as “natural talent” in any given domain. While lots of studying is better than some studying and some studying is better than no practice, the quality of your practice matters a lot. Five hours of good studying for the CIA might be better than simply reading notes and PowerPoint slides for 15 hours. But what makes studying “good?” How do you study using the principles of deliberate practice?
It’s about achieving a high level of focus, full engagement, and immediate feedback. It involves, but requires much more than hard work.
When you study for the CIA exam, try to do so in the following ways, which are consistent with the principles of deliberate practice:
- Shift your focus from completion of readings to true understanding. You aren’t trying to finish, you’re trying to understand fully
- Be incredibly focused (i.e., no cell phones, TV, computers, etc.)
- Build a foundation by striving for complete understanding of basic concepts before moving on to more complex ones.
- Break concepts down to their component pieces, looking for patterns in what makes one question easy, the next a little harder, and the most difficult ones the trickiest
- Receive immediate feedback. Do a lot of “mini-quizzes” along the way. You may not be able to have a personal tutor available. But you can do 10 questions and review what you missed immediately instead of doing 50 problems and forgetting what you were even thinking when you answered a question a certain way.
- Push yourself to the mental limits of what you are currently capable of. This is a key dimension of the skill-building process. You should be mentally tired after an effective study session. Your muscles are tired after lifting weights and your heart is beating fast after running a mile. Attempt to give your brain the same workout.
- Don’t study for more than 1-2 hours. This implies that if you are going to spend, just as an example, six hours studying for the CIA, you should break that down into 3-5 study sessions, not one marathon study session on Sunday morning.
One of the most important elements of deliberate practice is full engagement and ownership over understanding the concepts. Read to truly understand. Test yourself often. You must avoid the temptation to open the book and read how to get to the solution unless you are definitely lost and don’t know what to do.
Who is most likely to engage in Deliberate Practice when studying for the CIA?
Many experts in psychology and education believe strongly that the best way to explain why, for example, person X is able to obtain a Ph.D. in Mathematics when person Y failed, comes down to true interest and passion for the material. These experts surmise that those who enjoy a subject and are passionate about it are far more likely to engage in a large number of hours of deliberate practice to build their skills. They are truly curious and dedicated. The Math Ph.D. must focus with passion on learning more and uncovering the why and how of mathematical reasoning. If they aren’t interested in math, they just are less likely to put in the work.
But you are not getting a Ph.D. in Mathematics, you are studying for the CIA exam. In many regards, this makes things easier. Many people have to take math classes in high school and college as part of their major, even though they’d rather not. But you probably are not required to pursue the CIA designation – it is something that you have chosen to do. If you are not truly interested in building your skills as an audit professional, you probably aren’t interested in the CIA material you are studying. The CIA designation is not rocket science, but you must be truly interested and engage with the material and, in some sense, look forward to your CIA exam prep sessions.
How to build a CIA study plan
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about how to study specifically when you are literally studying. But let’s step back. You don’t want to just jump into studying for any exam. You should always follow the below steps:
- Reflect on the timing of your exam and your personal schedule between now and then
- Plan in advance which days and times of the week you will study
- Review at least a few different types of CIA prep materials to determine what’s best for you. Don’t just go with the first thing that pops up on Google or whatever your friend used. Think about how you learn (text vs. videos, etc.), the amount of content, etc. (Compare the CIA exam study materials providers here).
- Build a detailed study plan taking the above into consideration, and following deliberate practice principles (e.g., don’t try to study for more than two hours in a day).
- Don’t cram your studying into the weeks before the exam. Prepare in advance.
- Take regular practice tests under timed conditions, especially later in your study process
You will be far more likely to pass the CIA on your next attempt if you follow the principles of deliberate practice and recognize that it takes practice and preparation to do well on the exam. You should also be sure to build a detailed study plan that includes regular practice tests to track your progress.
About the Author
Mark Skoskiewicz founded MyGuru in 2010 based on a belief that customized, 1-1 tutoring, following the principles of deliberate practice, was the best way to improve general academic and test prep performance. Today, MyGuru offers a wide range of subject tutoring and test prep. In addition to offering CIA tutoring, MyGuru specializes in GMAT tutoring and private tutoring for many other standardized tests and professional licensing exams. He has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and an undergraduate business degree from Indiana University.
Approach Your Exams Like a Buffalo
The Rocky Mountains go through the state of Colorado and big mountain storms come down from the mountains and head east into the Great Plains of the United States. While many animals live in the Great Plains, it is the cows and the buffalo that we are interested in.
As a storm arrives, the cows walk with the storm trying to stay ahead of it. Of course, the storm moves faster than the cows so the storm overtakes the cows. And because the cows are moving in the same direction as the storm, the cows spend even more time in the storm than if they had just stood still and let the storm pass over them.
The buffalo, on the other hand, take a different approach. As the storm approaches, they walk into the storm. While this is a strong and cold headwind, because the buffalo are walking against the direction the storm is moving, the amount of time that they spend in the storm is greatly reduced. The buffalo spend significantly less time in the storm than the cows because the buffalo know (somehow) that heading into the storm with determination is the fastest way to get out of the storm.
Your Exam Is the Storm
If you have not figured it out yet, in this analogy the amount of time that you need to prepare for your exam is the storm. And you have the choice to be either a cow or a buffalo. If you take the cows’ approach and do not make a dedicated effort to do your studying, the time that it will take you to get through your preparation will be a lot longer. It may seem for a while that you have been able to stay ahead of the storm, but eventually you will realize that even if you delay, the storm is still coming and you will need to pass through it. All you have done is extended the amount of time that you have had to live with your preparations.
You could instead choose to be the buffalo. When you do this, you make a plan, make a schedule, and start your studies from the beginning with the intent of sticking to your plan even when it is difficult and you are tired. But, by doing this, you will reduce the number of weeks that you spend studying and you will get to the other side of the storm much faster.
Whether you have not yet started studying, are partway through your studies, or are almost done, you can decide how you will go through the remainder of your studies – like a cow and drag it out for longer, or like a buffalo and attack the storm head on so that you can get through it as quickly as possible.
Brian Hock, CMA, CIA
The CMA Exam results came out last week and while there were many candidates who were successful, there were also some candidates who did not pass their exams. If you are one of these candidates, I encourage you to continue your studies and take a realistic look at how much you think you need to study to pass the next time you take the exam. Based on this assessment, you can determine when you should plan on re-taking the exam. As a general guideline, if you scored 320 or above, you are close to being ready to pass, and should probably plan to take the exam as soon as you are able to. If you scored less than 320, then you may want to plan a few more months of studying before you take the exam again.
Do you need a second Test Bank?
After results come out, we get requests from candidates who are looking to purchase a second Test Bank to study from. It is my experience that a second Test Bank does not add a lot of value to your preparations. All of the main providers use released CMA Exam questions as the foundation of their Test Banks. We all add some of our own questions to the Test Bank as well, but the majority of questions between providers will be the same. Therefore, even if you purchase a second Test Bank, you will not be getting a second set of questions to prepare with.
What additional materials should you consider?
If you are looking for additional study materials, I often recommend that you purchase Videos, especially if you do not have Videos already. While there are differences between the Textbooks of the main providers, a second Textbook is still a book that you read. Some candidates learn more effectively by listening or watching, so if you purchase Videos, you are getting a new way of learning the material, and a new perspective on that material.
Do you already have all of the materials from a provider?
If you already have a Textbook, Videos and a Test Bank and are still looking for additional materials, you should look to purchase the study tool that you think will be most beneficial to you. If you did not always understand the Textbook that you have read, another Textbook will bring value to you. If you did not like the Videos that you have, someone else’s Videos will provide greater value to you. If you have a Test Bank that does not have answer explanations to the incorrect answers, another Test Bank with incorrect answer explanations will be very helpful to you.
Use free samples before purchasing
Before you purchase a second of any study tools, make certain to use the free samples that all of the main providers offer so that you can see the Textbook, Videos and/or Test Bank you are looking to add.
Don’t give up!
While we would always prefer to pass an exam on our first attempt, the global pass rate for the CMA Exams is only about 50%. If you are in the position of having to take the exam again, I encourage you to keep striving for your goal of becoming a CMA. And while additional study tools may be helpful, make certain that you think carefully about what you already have and what would be helpful to you. This analysis will help you make good decisions about what additional investments you need to make to pass the exam on your next attempt.
Brian Hock, CMA, CIA