I have had the opportunity to personally test out the most common CMA review courses available: Wiley CMA, Gleim CMA, Surgent CMA, and Becker CMA.
Not only has this opportunity allowed me to analyze their strengths and weaknesses, but it made me realize that I wasn’t fully satisfied with any one course in particular. In fact, this is what led me to create my flagship review course, CMA Exam Academy.
While I stand behind my review course wholeheartedly, I believe in being fully transparent. This is why I’m going to break the top six CMA review courses so you can make an educated decision.
Originally published in 2020, this article was updated and republished on April 17, 2022.
CMA Review Course Comparison
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the best CMA review courses available online.
16-Week CMA Accelerator Program
Avg Exam Pass Rate
Exam Pass or 100% Refund
16-Week Guided Program
Weekly Coaching Calls
Weekly Accountability Check-ins
Prometric In-Person Exam Rehearsal
24-Hour Email Response Time
Exclusive 15% IMA Discount
Free Shipping Worldwide
Fundamentals of Accounting Textbook
Whiteboard Explainer Videos (MCQs)
1-Year CPE Subscription
Printed CMA Textbooks
Digital CMA Textbooks
Audio mp3 Lectures
As you can see, there are several different options and clearly not all CMA review courses are designed the same. For a deeper look at features and prices, check out our comparison of Wiley vs CMA Exam Academy.
Breaking Down the Best CMA Review Courses
Each breakdown will feature the strengths, weaknesses and unique selling factors that brought each of these CMA exam prep options to my top list.
Before diving into the breakdown, I want to remind you that not every course is built the same. Furthermore, not all CMA courses are designed to accommodate your individual learning style.
Be sure to take into consideration your particular learning style — which will impact how to study for the CMA exam effectively — when making this incredibly important decision.
After all, which CMA review course you choose can make or break you on exam day. The global average CMA exam pass rate for both Part One and Part Two is only 45%. With such low statistics, you don’t want to risk choosing the wrong course.
So let’s get down to all the details and check out my comparison of the best CMA review courses now.
CMA Exam Review Courses Detailed Breakdown
CMA Exam Academy
CMA Exam Academy is my flagship Certified Management Accountant review course. Over the years, I have continued to improve on it based off candidates’ feedback.
CMA Exam Academy Strengths
Weekly Guided Coaching Support and Accountability
Weekly coaching is one of the most critical support systems you can have when preparing for the CMA exam.
As your dedicated coach, I offer years of coaching experience, as well as personal knowledge having taken and passed the CMA exam myself.
Along with my team of active CMAs, we’ll help keep you stay accountable with weekly assignments and check-in emails, as well as weekly live calls where we can talk about progress and strategy, like how to streamline your studying by identifying your weaknesses.
On top of that, I offer unlimited coaching support via email, so that whenever you have questions or need help grasping the material, you can drop us an email and my team and I will get back to you with a detailed explanation within 24 hours. We’ll be by your side during your entire journey and assist you with anything you need to pass the exam on your first attempt.
The core of CMA Exam Academy is the highly successful 16-week study program per part including tutorials and lectures. Each topic is broken down into easy-to-understand terms.
Every video is high quality in both sound and picture so there are no distractions to the lesson at hand.
CMA Test Bank with PassRate Technology
CMA test banks are a great tool for testing your knowledge with questions that are structured and formatted just like the ones found on the actual CMA exam.
CMA Exam Academy’s test bank contains both 100% unique CMA questions, and retired test questions from previous exams to offer you the real exam-day experience.
You can take mock exams by topic to assess your knowledge of the material and pinpoint your weaker areas, or practice on exam simulations to get familiar with the exam format.
Each exam simulation practice test is timed to put you under the pressure of the clock, just like the real exam. And thanks to our innovative PassRate Technology, you will know you’re ready for the real exam when you reach 86% and above on your test bank dashboard.
16-Week CMA Study Guide
If you require guidance and structure then the 16-week CMA study plan is perfect for you. There are two 16-week programs: one for Part One and another for Part Two. Each is designed to tackle every important topic that you will need to know in order to pass the CMA exam in as little as 8-month’s time.
Don’t think your schedule is flexible enough for only 16 weeks of study? No worries.
We can accommodate students who need more time. After all, you do have access to the course for 1 year per part, or 2 years for both parts combined if purchased together.
If you don’t have a background in accounting and finance, no worries. CMA Exam Academy comes with formula guides that are essential to exam success.
Candidates also receive exam and study hack guides, plus audio review materials for on-the-go studying.
You can also opt for the on-demand CMA video lectures, which allows you to follow along anywhere, anytime, on any device.
Free Prometric Test Drive
All CMA Exam Academy students can benefit from a FREE Prometric CMA Test Drive. This is a test simulation that perfectly mimics testing environment and processes, so you can practice dealing with distractions, anxiety and stress. The cost of the Prometric Test Drive is included in the price of each of our course, so it comes free to you.
Exam Pass Guarantee or Your Money Back
Investing in the CMA review course can come at a high price for many candidates. That is why I offer an exam pass guarantee.
When you buy this course, I guarantee to help you pass or you get your money back.
Still not convinced? Check out my post on CMA exam case studies for a few more reasons why I think you should try it out!
CMA Exam Academy Weaknesses
2-Year Course Access
Unlike some CMA courses that offer you lifetime access, CMA Exam Academy limits your access to two years if you enroll in both parts at the same time, or 1 year per part.
While this can be a downside for some, it is my experience that most candidates take and pass both parts of the exam in less than two years. On top of that, unlimited access to CMA exam prep tends to encourage procrastination which inevitably works against your success.
CMA Exam Academy: Final Verdict
CMA Exam Academy provides all of the materials, resources, and accountability that you need to pass the CMA exam. What sets it apart is its 90% exam pass rate framework and weekly guided program that most other CMA courses lack. If you’re looking for in-depth CMA exam prep, a weekly program with built-in accountability, and weekly coaching with a team of only CMAs, CMA Exam Academy is for you.
Becker CMA is a course that utilizes modern technology to offer a streamlined digital experience. CMA prep should be seamless and easy. Becker takes that concept on a new level.
Becker CMA Strengths
The goal of buying a CMA review course is that it’s an easy-to-learn, easy-to-use tool for studying, and Becker delivers on both of those fronts. A streamlined UX lets you choose your dashboard arrangement, view style and how content is delivered.
Custom, Unlimited Practice Tests
A lot of learning is about repetition, and with Becker’s CMA review course,you get unlimited opportunities to practice. Their software takes all of the multiple choice questions and creates unique practice tests, giving you an enhanced ability to review material as much as you want.
Tracking Test Readiness
Obviously, as you study for the CMA, you’ll want to strike when the iron is hot, ie, take the test when you’re truly ready. Becker CMA has built-in monitoring (Adapt2U Technology) to assess test readiness for each student. A proficiency badge will be earned when you’ve sufficiently mastered a certain topical area.
Becker CMA Weaknesses
No Data on Pass Rates
Becker CMA has been recently updated, and some of the newer features have yet to be accompanied by data. There is no published record of how students who study using Becker CMA actually perform on the CMA exam.
Guarantee, but no Money Back
Becker gives a guarantee with their CMA review, and it’s this: if you fail after studying with them, you can use their study program again at no extra cost. However, they do not offer a money back guarantee.
What’s unique about Wiley’s CMA review course is that they actually offer two different versions: CMAexcel (which I will be focusing on) is their all-in-one study program, and CMA Learning System is their self-study learning pack and only comes with a textbook, access to the test bank and online review.
Wiley CMA Strengths
When it comes to choosing the right CMA course you don’t want to risk picking the wrong one. That’s why a Free Trial is so alluring. Wiley offers a free 14-day trial of their CMA test prep material so you can test it out yourself.
During this free trial you will have access to a select few CMA online classes, full access to their study text, practice questions, select video lectures, and more.
Another strength for Wiley CMA exam prep is their video lectures. You have access to 66 hours of video instruction covered by Professor Doug Clinton.
With over 15 years of experience and an engaging presence, Prof. Clinton breaks down key topics in bite sized lessons so they are easy to digest compared to some CMA exam prep lectures.
Extensive CMA Test Prep Questions
Compared to other CMA test review courses, Wiley CMAexcel offers more than 4000 questions that you can test yourself on. This includes unique, and retired CMA multiple-choice questions.
Study on-the-go thanks to Wiley’s mobile access. Now you can download the Wiley app to your mobile device and have access to their flashcards, video content and practice questions. You can even use it offline.
Wiley CMA Weaknesses
Wiley is the most expensive CMA exam prep software available. With a price of $1,800 for both Part One and Part Two, many people do not have the budget for this, especially since they do not offer a payment plan option. There are plenty of other options in this CMA review course comparison with a lower price.
If you purchase each part individually, you are looking at a fee of $1,200 per Part. If you opt for this review course, it makes more sense financially to buy both parts together and save $600.
Did I mention this is the price for a self-study course too?
No Money-Back Guarantee
Wiley does not offer any sort of money-back guarantee when you purchase their course. This may be why they offer a free trial instead. This course costs nearly $2,000, which is a lot of money for most people. A Money-Back Guarantee or a Pass Guarantee gives candidates a certain peace of mind.
Wiley CMA: Final Verdict
Wiley CMAexcel is an independent learning course that provides convenient mobile access and hours of instruction videos. The free trial allows students to try the program out before they decide to fully invest in it. Wiley CMAexcel is good for students who need more flexibility and less guidance in their CMA exam prep.
Surgent CMA is known as a fast-paced course. The study material is structured in a way that accelerates learning and reduces the necessary prep hours for passing the CMA exam.
Surgent CMA Strengths
Surgent A.S.A.P. Technology™
Surgent has a proprietary, award-winning technology known as A.S.A.P. Compared to a linear method of studying, this adaptive approach is said to accelerate progress by customizing the content you work with. You start off by completing quizzes and then an algorithm sets up your entire study plan based on the results.
Test Readiness With ReadySCORE™
In alignment with Surgent CMA’s goal to get you test-ready faster, the ReadySCORE feature updates in realtime. So, every practice test you take or module you complete updates how test-ready the program rates you. This can speed things up and get you to test day ready to perform.
Bite-sized lectures and reading material also set Surgent CMA apart. Where some programs give micro-learning opportunities, Surgent CMA Review basically gives everything in this format, which can accelerate things as you conquer learning goals.
Surgent CMA Weaknesses
No Data on Pass Rates
Surgent CMA Review makes a lot of big claims about getting students ready for test day faster, but unfortunately there isn’t hard data to back much of this up yet. Surgent is plenty well-known as a test prep company, so positive data is probably coming; it just isn’t available right now to help in a thorough CMA review course comparison.
Again, because Surgent CMA has a cutting-edge product, it hasn’t been very thoroughly tested yet, at least not to the larger public. This means you’re getting in on the early days, which can be exciting but of course risky, especially if there are still some kinks to work out.
Gleim CMA Strengths
Created by Dr. Gleim
Dr. Gleim is one of the first Certified Management Accountants in the USA and is highly respected in the world of finance and accounting. Along with a team of professionals with years of experience, they created Gleim CMA review.
Amy Ford is the lead instructor featured in the video lectures for Gleim’s CMA courses, and also happens to be an IMA recipient of their Certificate of Distinguished Performance.
Access to Counselor
Gleim offers candidates a counselor that they have access to at any time. You can ask them questions about topics you are struggling with or they can advise you on creating a study plan that works for you.
While a counselor is a great addition, it is not the same as CMA Exam Academy’s one-on-one coaching.
Exam Simulator Close to the Real Deal
It can be hard to imagine what the environment and subject matter will be on exam day. This is why an exam simulator can really help you pass the CMA exam.
Gleim’s exam simulator tests you on all the most important material and is structured like the actual CMA exam. And this is true with most CMA review courses. When using “test mode” you can take a practice test that is designed to reflect the same format found at Prometric centers.
The more you practice with the simulator, the more confident you will become.
Gleim CMA Weaknesses
Must Have Accounting Background
Gleim’s Certified Management Accountant course was designed specifically for accountants with financial backgrounds.
If you don’t understand the core concepts of accounting to begin with, you may need to buy additional resources or choose from the other options in this CMA review course comparison. This is definitely one of the downfalls to self-study programs.
No CMA Knowledge Guide
If this is your first time taking a CMA review course online and you do not have any previous knowledge of CMA material then you may feel overwhelmed.
CMA exam prep content that covers the fundamentals is especially important for those who do not have a strong accounting background.
Textbook Format Lacking
Readability can really affect your ability to grasp information and feel confident with what you are consuming.
The Gleim textbooks, though full of information, lack a format with clear readability. Larger headings, subheadings and bullet points could be a beneficial addition in future textbook revisions.
Gleim CMA: Final Verdict
Gleim CMA Exam Review works well for students who already have a background in accounting. Because of this, their textbook and materials assume that their students have certain accounting knowledge. This could be an asset to students who are looking for a quick program where they can brush up on newer concepts through self-study.
Why You Should Use a CMA Review Course
The CMA exam is made up of 2 parts and you must pass both parts in order to earn your certification. Each part covers quite a lot of material, which is why using a CMA review course is incredibly important.
The ICMA breaks down the exam content into Content Specification Outlines (CSOs) and Learning Outcome Statements (LOSs). CSOs are essentially a high-level overview of the exam content, while the LOSs dive into more detail about the skills and abilities that candidates are expected to have.
Why am I telling you this? Because the best CMA review courses are designed to expertly tackle all of this material so your only focus is to learn and digest it.
Why am I telling you this? Because the best CMA review courses are designed to expertly tackle all of this material so your only focus is to learn and digest it.
Review courses can help measure your progress and level of understanding as well. The best CMA review courses offer progress reports that break down your content comprehension, material strengths and weaknesses, and more. These reports allow you to stay accountable to laser focus your studying to weaker areas and give you an idea of how you are understanding core concepts.
By far, the biggest reason you should be using a CMA review course is for its built-in support system. Review courses offer encouragement, guidance or accountability to help you on your CMA journey.
Determining Your Personal Studying Style
The truth is, everyone understands information differently. How you breakdown and digest information can greatly impact your ability to pass the CMA exam so understanding your personal learning style is key.
If you’ve never thought about what kind of learner you are, here’s a look at the most common types so you can self-identify your personal learning style:
- Auditory – understand material when someone explains it to you orally
- Kinesthetic – learn by doing or moving because it helps you concentrate on the material more
- Linguistic – reading and taking notes helps ingrain the material into your brain
- Logical – you must understand the reason behind something in order to fully get the concept
- Social – study groups or peer-to-peer settings help you learn
- Solitary – self-study or researching on your own is ideal
- Visual – when watching videos or demonstrations helps you understand
If you resonate with two or more of these learning methods that is totally normal. Most people are a combination of learning styles, but understanding which methods work best for you is what’s most important.
For example, if you are an auditory/visual, solitary learner then you will want a self-study CMA review course that offers video tutorials and other tools you’ll need to succeed on your own.
On the other hand, if you identify as a social, logical learner who needs a structured approach you may feel more comfortable in a traditional class setting whether it’s online or offline with access to an instructor.
Cost of CMA Review Courses
When it comes to the best CMA review courses, the cost for programs, study materials and supplemental study resources varies greatly.
Textbooks and quickie online cram courses can be as cheap as $59 a pop, but they lack the depth and scope of a full blown review course. I don’t recommend this option to anyone.
As outlined above, the most common CMA review courses are CMA Exam Academy, Becker CMA, Wiley CMAexcel, Surgent, and Gleim. The price for these courses ranges anywhere from $699 ot $1800 USD.
You may also want to take into consideration the full CMA exam cost which includes:
- IMA membership (from $45-275 annually)
- One-time entrance fee ($210 for students, $280 for Professionals)
- CMA exam fee for Part One and Part Two ($345 per part for students, $460 per part for Professionals)
- Undergraduate degree (varies depending on College, but anywhere between ~$40,000-$140,000+)
There are so many considerations to take into account when becoming a CMA, so I hope I’ve made choosing a CMA review course a bit easier for you.
People Also Ask:
How long does it take to study for the CMA Exam?
You will need to dedicate a minimum of 150 hours of studying for each exam of the two exam parts in order to pass. To improve your chances of passing considerably, we recommend studying for at least 200 hours, spread over two 16-week periods of dedicated study.
What does a CMA Exam prep course cost?
Comprehensive CMA prep courses cost anywhere from $699 to $2,000 and more. Our Complete CMA Review Course Combo costs $499 plus three monthly payments of $329, costing $1,486 in total. If you pay for the entire program upfront, it will cost $1,394.
What skills do you need to become a CMA?
The skills you need to become a CMA involve both accounting and finance. Successful candidates are skilled and knowledgeable in areas such as budgeting and forecasting, risk management, corporate investing, leadership, and even IT and data analytics.
How difficult is the CMA?
The CMA exam is quite difficult. Pass rates for the CMA are as low as 45% for Part One and 45% for Part Two. But with diligent study and the right prep course, you can easily pass both sections.
How do I prepare for the CMA?
There are a number of different approaches to studying for the CMA. Start by choosing a high-quality CMA review course. Next, develop a study plan that works for your schedule. Finally, choose a method of studying that works best for you, and helps you retain the most amount of information. If you’re looking for a done-for-you program, considering joining our program: Complete CMA Review Course Combo
Which is the Best CMA Study Material For You?
In my experience, candidates thrive when they choose a review course that offers accountability, personal coaching and a structured study program. As I mentioned above, most of your success depends on the type of review course you choose based on your personal learning style.
I highly recommend using the section above to identify your personal learning style.
Those with a more solitary, linguistic learning style and who are self-starters would likely benefit from a self study program.
On the other hand, those with social, visual or auditory learning styles and who need structure and coaching support would do well with a program like CMA Exam Academy.
With one-on-one coaching, access to the most up-to-date information and a high level of accountability, you are bound to crush your exam.
For even more information or to enroll now, click here.
Good luck on this new and exciting journey!
More from Nathan
Hi, I’m Nathan Liao (aka the CMA Coach)! In the past 8 years, over 37,000 CMA candidates came knocking at my door seeking guidance. And just like them, I’m here to show you how you can pass the CMA exam on your first attempt without wasting money or time. Click here to learn more about me and the awesome team behind CMA Exam Academy.