Each part of the CMA exam contains two essays. You have at least 1 hour to complete both.
If you finish your multiple-choice questions section in less than 3 hours, your remaining time will be carried over to the essay section and added to the standard 1-hour allocation.
Each CMA exam has two essay questions, and each question presents a business scenario that will have multiple questions. You have 1 hour to answer both essay questions. You have 3 hours to finish the multiple-choice question section of
the exam before starting the essay portion. If you finish the multiple-choice questions section before the 3 hour limit, the remaining time gets carried over to the essay section. The focus of the essay questions is on the
CMA candidate’s ability to understand and apply concepts presented in the part being tested to a business scenario.
See Subunit 4 of this study unit for more information on essay time budgeting and control.
The written-response questions will not be graded online. Instead, the questions will be graded by subject matter experts, and partial credit will be given.
Partial answers will also award you points. For example, if you had to calculate 10 ratios but were only able to calculate 6, the experts will award you partial points for your answer. So if you get a tough essay question
, try to work on it as much as possible, even if you don’t complete it. You’ll be able to get some points. Be sure to show your calculations.
For example, if you are asked to give three reasons why a selected alternative action is good for a business and you provide only two correct reasons, you will receive partial credit for these two responses.
The subject matter experts who will score your essay responses will use a grading guide. There are more points in the grading guide than points that can be awarded. For example there may 120 possible points but only 100 can be awarded in total. The experts goal is not to deduct points from your essay answers, but to award you points.
Likewise, for questions requiring a calculated response, partial credit will be given for a correct formula even though a mathematical error may have been made in the final number. In addition, you should include everything you know about a topic, even if you do not have a good grasp on the main topic.
Written by CPAs and CMAs in an easy-to-understand format. It covers every single section and topic you'll be tested on your CMA exam.
You may receive points for extraneous information because it shows you are knowledgeable about the general subject.
The ICMA grades candidates on both subject matter and writing skills on the essay portion of the CMA exam.
For writing skills to be graded, the response must be relevant to the question asked.
The essay portion of the exams are worrisome to many CMA candidates, and this is for good reason. The essay questions consist of written and quantitative analysis and responses. Because of this, all CMA candidates should be well versed in word processing and electronic spreadsheet programs.
The specific criteria for the ICMA’s grading are as follows:
- Use of standard English - includes proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
- Organization - response is arranged logically and coherently.
- Clarity - analysis is clearly communicated with well-constructed sentences and appropriate vocabulary.
Gleim Pass the CMA Exam Video Series
Does studying for the essay portion of the CMA exam have you stressed? Get the answers to all your questions about this crucial part, along with other tips on how to be successful, in the Gleim “Pass the CMA Exam” video series!
It is important to become familiar with the information below so that you can spend more of your time focusing on the content of the exam rather than on the format.
We have added screenshots of Prometric-emulating essay questions to better prepare you for how the exam will look.
The IMA hosted a webinar this week about the Essay portion of the CMA exam. It was very insightful and informative.
The following example shows a typical essay question:
- Question Number: The question number indicates which question the candidate is answering out of the total questions in both scenarios.
- Time Remaining: This information box displays to the candidate how long (s)he has remaining to complete and review the essays. Consistently check the amount of time remaining in order to stay on schedule.
As you can see, the module shows you the number of questions on the top left hand corner, and your time remaining on the top right hand corner.
- Scenario: This section displays the content of the current essay’s scenario.
- Question: This section displays the content of the current question the candidate is answering.
- Answer Box: This area is where the candidate types in his or her response to the current question.
- Word Processing Tools: These icons, when selected, enable the candidate to cut, copy, paste, and save the content of his or her response (much like a standard word processing program).
- Calculator: The calculator provided is a basic tool for simple computations. It is similar to calculators used in common software programs.
- Time Value Tables: This function allows the candidate to access Present/Future Time Value Tables as needed.
- Previous: This navigation button allows the candidate to move back to the previous question.
- Next: This navigation button allows the candidate to move ahead to the next question.
- Mark: This button allows the candidate to mark a question for later review.
- Review: Clicking this button takes the candidate to the Review screen, which contains a scrollable listing of all the question numbers and indicates if the question has been marked for review, completed, or skipped.
Back to top
5.3 Saving and Reviewing
Saving Your Response
Clicking on “Save” stores what you have typed in response to the current question.
I’d like to share with you the specific topics they covered and also what I’ve done to successfully answer the essay questions on the exam.
It is recommended that you save your answer every 5 minutes. When you have finished answering the question, review your answer and make any final revisions. Once you are satisfied with your answer, click on “Save” to store this answer.
Claim yours while supplies last. Click on “I Want My Free Textbook“ now.
Clicking on “Next” to move on to the next question will automatically save your completed response.
At the end of the exam, you will see a scrollable listing of all the question numbers. This list displays each question number and indicates if the question has been marked for review, completed, or skipped.
1. To review questions
Click on the Review All button. You will be moved to the first question.
If you are worried about this section of the exam, learn what I’m about to share with you and you’ll be in a much better position to pass on your first try.
Clicking on the Next button will cause you to move to the next question. You can also double-click on the question number in the list to move to a particular question.
2. To review marked questions
Click on the Review Marked button. You will be moved to the first marked question. Clicking on the Next button will cause you to move to the next marked question.
3. To review incomplete questions
Click on the Review Incomplete button. You will be moved to the first incomplete question. Clicking on the Next button will cause you to move to the next incomplete question.
Back to top
5.4 Essay-Answering Techniques
The essay questions in the Gleim CMA Review Course and Essay Bank allow you to prepare for the essay section of your exam under true exam conditions. Each study unit in the Gleim CMA Review Course includes one essay scenario with multiple questions.
Don’t be afraid of this section of the exam. Many, including myself, have gone through it with success. If others could do it, you can too!
Each study unit in Essay Bank (a component of the Gleim Mega Test Bank) contains at least two additional scenarios. After you grade each essay question, you should review the concepts that you marked and/or did not answer correctly. The objective is to determine why you missed each question in order to
avoid making similar mistakes on the CMA exam.
The following suggestions are to assist you in maximizing your score on the essay section of the CMA exam. Remember, knowing how to take the exam and how to answer individual questions is as important as studying the subject matter tested on the exam.
For each scenario, note the suggested time allocation (ie., half your total time) and plan your response.
- Budget your time.
- We make this point with emphasis. Just as you would fill up your gas tank prior to reaching empty, so too should you finish your exam before time expires.
- You have at least 1 hour to answer multiple questions based on two essay scenarios. If you finished your multiple-choice section in less than the allocated 3 hours, your remaining time will be carried over to the essay section and added to the 1-hour allocation.
- If you begin the essays with 1 hour on the Time Remaining clock, you should allocate 30 minutes to each essay scenario, no matter how many questions it has. Each scenario may have one or more questions, but the ICMA has designed all scenarios to require approximately 30 minutes each and to count for the same number of points, regardless of the number of questions they contain.
First of all, being a CMA confirms that you have a mastery of the critical skills and knowledge in planning, analysis, control, and decision support. This is in the realm of accounting, finance, and business management.
For the scenarios that contain more than one question, divide 30 minutes equally among the questions (see below).
Example (assuming 1 hour on Time Remaining clock):
scenario with 1 question
scenario with 3 questions
(10 minutes per question)
scenarios, 4 questions
- If you begin your essay section with more than 1 hour remaining, simply divide the time you have left in half and complete one essay scenario per half (see below).
Example (assuming 1 hour, 15 minutes on Time Remaining clock):
scenario with 1 question
scenario with 3 questions
(12 minutes per question)
scenarios, 4 questions
(1 hour, 15 minutes)
- For more on essay time management, see Study Unit 7, Subunit 9.
If you are new to this community and to the CMA journey, let me point you to a resource page that will help you get started. The CMA Toolkit page is packed with the best resources to make your CMA journey a total success.
Answer questions in sequential order.
- Read requirements for each question carefully.
- Focusing on what is required enables you to hone in on the relevant information.
- Allocate your time spent per question associated with each scenario by dividing your total time for that scenario equally among questions.
- On a sheet of scratch paper, outline the grading concepts for each of the requirements. Also note any related information you may be able to include to add to your points.
- Type your answers, proofread, and edit.
Time is precious. You will likely need the entire hour to answer all of the questions. Be prepared to stay at your Prometric computer for the entire time (ie., no breaks).
- Do not agonize over any one question or scenario. Stay within your time budget.
- As time permits, you can return to questions previously completed.
Many have passed the exams. I’m confident that with good preparation, you will too!