CMA Exam Strategies
The best preparation you can make for taking the exam is thoroughly studying the material and content covered by the examination. Beyond that, however, there are several strategies you can use while taking the test that will help to maximize your performance.
- Answer the questions that you know first.
Try to avoid dwelling on any particular question(s) for extended periods of time. This will give you the opportunity to answer all of the questions you may know and also allow you to see how much time you have to devote to the questions that are more difficult for you.
- Mark the difficult questions for later review.
You should approach the test with the expectation that you will encounter at least some questions that you cannot immediately answer. Keep in mind that each question is worth the same number of points (i.e., 1 for correct and 0 for incorrect), regardless of its difficulty. Do not agonize over any particular question, but mark those questions you are unsure of so that you can readily locate them when you are ready to look at them a second time.
- Read each question carefully, noting any key words.
Pay close attention to the wording of the question. Words such as except, least, and most in a question will have a significant bearing on the correct answer. Think each question through very carefully before answering. You may want to jot down key words that appear in the question, or to rephrase the question in your own words if you are having trouble understanding it.
- Try to answer the question in your mind before actually looking at the options.
Then see if the answer you formulated exists among the options. Doing this could serve as a sort of verification of the correct answer. You should still carefully review the other options as well, to be certain there isn’t a more appropriate answer than the one you selected.
- If you are uncertain about an answer, try to make an educated guess.
You are likely to know something about the topic presented in the question and are, therefore, often able to eliminate at least one incorrect option. If you come across an item for which you truly do not know the answer, try to eliminate those options that you deem likely to be incorrect. This will increase your chances of selecting the correct answer.
- Answer ALL of the questions.
The CMA exams do not employ a penalty for incorrect answers. Points are not deducted from your score for an incorrect answer. There is nothing to gain by leaving questions unanswered; therefore, answer all questions on the exam.
- Keep scratch paper organized.
You will be given a booklet similar to a college “bluebook,” to be used as scratch paper for doing calculations or other notes. Label these notes clearly, and show your work clearly. The scratch paper booklet is turned in at the end, and is not used in scoring your exam. However, when you go back to review your work, it is much easier and quicker if you do it neatly.
- Keep track of time
When taking the multiple-choice test, plan the amount of time given vs. the number of questions that will be presented. Watch the time you invest in each question—don’t get stuck for too long on one question. Keep moving through the questions.
- Use the full time allotted to you.
In a similar vein, there is no advantage in ending the test early. Make the most of any remaining time you may have by reviewing your work, making corrections, or going back to more difficult questions. It is possible that during such review time, you will recall some fact or information which you may have previously overlooked on one or more questions. Though it may seem like a relief to end the test early, bear in mind that the allotted time will end soon enough, and you will want to make the most of the few minutes you have remaining to you to help maximize your score.
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