February 20, 2020 at 7:50 pm #2939505
I see that the CMA has lower pass rates vs the CPA, but I'm not necessarily convinced that means that CMA is harder. I think people will fight harder for the CPA. Can anyone backup this up? I'm considering pursuit of the CMA designation. I also looked at the CFA but I threw up in my mouth… I'll leave the CFA for the super brains of the world… Haha!February 21, 2020 at 6:06 am #2939949MercenaryParticipant
I'm scheduled to take Part 1 this week. I originally thought I could take part 1 in Jan and 2 this month, but there was more content than I expected and I didn't feel like studying as much as I did for the CPA. For part 1 I'd say there is more content than for any single CPA exam. For both, maybe similar to the four CPA exams. I'm not sure that it is harder or not. It may depend on the person. The application process is easier though, faster and you can take the exam in more locations.
For me personally, I see the essays as harder than sims were. The sims I could even guess or do some guess and check work. Now the essays may have some questions like that with calculations but its still all just written out as opposed to ever having any selections or forms. And when you have to just write a response to something I feel its much harder than multiple choices. Thats a reason that I was concerned about the BEC exam with its WCs, but I lucked out on getting easy ones there. So here is hoping I get essays I know the answers to.February 21, 2020 at 8:54 pm #2940969February 23, 2020 at 8:48 pm #2943162HelenParticipant
CMA is 2 parts, while CPA is 4. CPA has sims, whereas CMA has essays. I also think the question of difficulty just depends on your strengths. For example, cost accounting was my best subject, so CMA felt easier for me. Also the fact that you have most of the CPA exams out of the way should make it seem easier, since you are used to the process of studying and taking a 4 hour exam. Ultimately, it just depends on the person, but in my opinion CPA is harder than CMA.February 25, 2020 at 10:47 am #2945361Lucky88Participant
I would say they are comparable on the difficulty level. If you can pass the CPA successfully, you will pass the CMA successfully and vice versa.February 26, 2020 at 11:13 pm #2947515MercenaryParticipant
Okay, I just finished taking part 1 so I can better answer this now. I felt the difficulty was pretty much in line with the Gleim content I studied.
Super BEC though really is a good way of looking at it. Similar difficulty but more overall content covered.
Just make sure you study IT/Data analysis type stuff a lot. And Variance Analysis.
Essays were okay. Didnt take too long to do them. I ran out of time on my last MCQ though, like right when I knew the answer, before I could click it pushed me forward to the essay section. They werent too bad though, just took time for a few. And like CPA I had times where I could narrow it to two but then just hwd to guess. Now there is a 6 week wait until the results…February 27, 2020 at 5:26 pm #2948430
Thanks for the replies. I read that it takes the average person 1 year to complete but has 3 years to complete? What starts the clock on the 3 years, applying to sit? Also read that it would take take slightly less than 400 hours to prepare for? BEC topics are my kind of jam so this is looking more appealing!March 1, 2020 at 5:22 pm #2951039NoNameParticipant
See my recent thoughts on the subject: https://www.another71.com/cpa-exam-forum/topic/cma-or-cpa-or-both/March 14, 2020 at 3:23 pm #2961821TParticipant
I took the CMA exams back in 2017 before tackling the CPA exams in 2019/2020. The four exams vs two definitely makes the CPA exams feel like a marathon, but I think the content of the CMA exams can be very difficult for many because typical accounting curriculum in most US universities do not emphasis cost accounting the way they do GAAP and standard financial accounting. For this reason I found the material to be more challenging, as I was not that familiar with many of the topics, such as flexible budgets and transfer pricing. The benefit of this (and why I would HIGHLY recommend the CMA exam to any motivated accounting/finance professional working in industry or consulting roles) is that by studying for the CMA you learn highly applicable concepts and skills that many traditional accountants do not possess. In my opinion, to say BEC is a slightly slimmed down version of the CMA exam is an understatement as the depth of the testing is far greater on the CMA exam.
All that being said, the CPA is not to be taken lightly. FAR tests on a wide range of topics that even those working in public accounting are likely to not have encountered. Tax is a technical field that does not always follow the logic that GAAP follows which makes REG challenging. Auditing is fairly conceptually, but without real life experience to apply these concepts to, I can see how the exam would be extremely challenging. I am confident that if I did work in tax and auditing while studying for REG and AUD, I would not have done as well as I ended up doing no matter how much more I studied. For this reason I don't necessarily agree with studying for these tests before gaining hands on experience, but different things work for different people.
Another item to keep in mind when looking at pass/fail rates is that many more people who take the CMA than CPA exam do not have English as their first language. We all know how are difficult these tests are. Now imagine trying to decipher the multiple choice questions in a language that is not your first…I can't even speak a second language, yet alone take an exam in one, so I suspect language alone drags down the pass/fail rate for the CMA being as the CPA is taken by mostly US based applicants.
Anyways this has become a long post, but in summary: I would not underestimate the CMA exam as it tests concepts that your average CPA applicant is likely to not have much exposure to. I went to work in private industry out of school and then switched to public accounting after 7 years to get licensed after having the CMA. After working hard to pass both exams, I respect those who pursue either one or both credentials!