Realistic Study Time for the CMA Exam
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.