The Best CMA Study Materials and Study Strategies

best cma study materials

Preparing for the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam is no joke. It takes time, planning, and a lot of self-motivation. Starting out with the best CMA study materials will boost your chances of passing the CMA exam on your first try.

It makes sense that the test is tough because the CMA accounting certification is a distinction that sets you apart. As a certified management accountant, you can become the CFO of a company or work in business accounting. How you study for the CMA exam is the beginning of all these possibilities. And it will take some work.

That’s why I have put together this resource for you. I have plenty of experience when it comes to CMA exam prep, having passed the exam and coached many others. I know exactly what the IMA is looking for.

This article breaks down everything you need to know when it comes to materials for your CMA exam prep. I’ll be touching on everything from the best CMA review courses to study strategies and exam hacks so you can be prepared on the big day.

Originally published in 2017, this article was updated and republished on February 15, 2024.

CMA Study Materials

cma study materials

For most people, CMA study is going to require a solid set of materials in the form of a CMA course. This is the best way to ensure that you are covering all of the subject matter and have a reliable strategy for test day.

CMA study materials may include video lessons, textbooks, practice tests, and exam question banks. All of these will add up to a rigorous and thorough exposure to the right knowledge, so you can get the right score.

Read on to learn more about the different kinds of CMA study materials and which ones you might find essential for your exam prep.

CMA Prep Courses

One of the most popular study tools is a CMA prep course. CMA prep courses are an excellent choice for many people because they’re generally more comprehensive than other study methods.

A quality CMA prep course will include a timeline for your studies, modules for each part of the exam and each topic that you’ll be tested on, and exam strategies and practice tests so you can be fully prepared before you sit for the test.

Many prep courses also include direct access to a coach, which is an invaluable asset for an exam as difficult as the CMA can be, as well as weekly assignments to ensure you’re staying on track with the course material.

CMA Textbooks

cma textbooks

One vital study resource for CMA exam prep is textbooks. As far as CMA study materials go, written material is the best way to get all of the subjects laid out in black and white.

Even if you aren’t primarily a text-based learner, textbooks provide an accessible source of information that you can go back to time and again, as well as a place to look up specific answers to your questions.

There are a lot of great CMA textbooks, usually sold as an accompaniment to a complete study program. Often, CMA books will come in separate parts, one for Part 1 of the CMA exam and a second for Part 2 of the CMA exam. These are usually hefty books, with several hundred pages of content, and most students think they’re worth the investment.

If you are self-studying for the CMA exam, a textbook becomes even more essential. With a great book, you’ll avoid the error of omitting subjects you may not realize are highly important to passing the CMA exam.

Any way you study, a CMA textbook is pretty much a must-have.

Check out the CMA textbooks published by CMA Exam Academy for in-depth coverage of everything on the exam in an easy-to-understand format. These textbooks are a perfect companion to support an online prep course.

CMA Video Lectures

CMA video lectures are crucial for visual learners, providing a dynamic, classroom-like experience online. They break down complex exam topics into understandable segments, often incorporating visuals to aid comprehension and retention.

This format is ideal for those unable to attend live classes, offering the flexibility to study at one’s own pace with options to pause and review content as needed.

Choosing a prep course with a comprehensive set of video lectures that cover the entire exam syllabus is essential. Look for courses with updated content and interactive features like Q&A or note-taking capabilities to enhance your learning experience.

Investing in high-quality video lectures boosts study efficiency and prepares you thoroughly for the CMA exam, marking it an essential element of your study plan.

My on-demand CMA Video lectures cover every topic on the CMA exam. You’ll get complete video + audio (mp3) review lectures where I explain, in-depth, answers to complex questions.

CMA Test Banks

CMA test bank

Practice tests are an essential addition to your CMA study materials. Taking a full Certified Management Accountant practice test as an early diagnostic is a pretty standard way to start your studies. This gives you a baseline understanding of the areas you’re most likely to pass easily or most need to work on.

As you continue to study for the CMA, test banks will provide you with real CMA exam questions from previous years. These retired questions will mimic the style and substance of the actual test questions.

It’s probably obvious, but the bigger the test bank, the better. Large CMA test banks give you exposure to the largest variety of question types, so you can practice harder and know more.

You may get a test bank as part of a course you buy, or you may be able to buy a test bank separately. Either way, it’s an important part of preparing for the exam and your CMA study materials must include a high number of practice questions.

That’s why our CMA Test Bank includes thousands of practice questions and essay scenarios for both parts of the exam. This test bank includes over 4,000 multiple choice questions, a mock exam mode so there are no surprises on test day, and 27 essay simulations to practice.

CMA Audio Lectures

audio lectures

Almost all CMA courses now come with audio and video content. You may be able to buy a course that has live-streamed content or downloadable content.

Whichever format you prefer, and whatever your learning style, getting exposed to the same information a few different ways is always valuable. This means that, in addition to reading your CMA textbook, you should listen to audio lectures and watch CMA video lectures. Many people find that this repetition in various formats will enhance your understanding and ensure retention.

Note: If you’re buying a CMA course online, it may be helpful to preview the audio or video offered by a test prep provider. Not all audio and video course content is created equal. You would hate to make a sizable investment in a course, only to find that you dislike the presenter or instructor’s style of teaching.

See if they have a CMA YouTube channel or a free preview period before you actually buy the program. Or take up their free trial first.

In CMA Exam Academy’s audio lectures, you can listen anywhere and any time to get extra studying as you drive, run errands, clean, or exercise.

Our audio files cover each topic on both parts of the exam, so whether you learn best by hearing or just want the added bonus of another way to take in the information, audio lectures are a great option.

CMA Exam Formula Guides

CMA exam formulas

On the CMA exam, formulas are the key to performing calculations. You will need to memorize a sizable number of formulas with complete accuracy and recall.

On test day, the last thing you want is to be grappling with a faded memory of how to actually complete an equation or solve a problem.

Formula guides are a small, add-on supplement that can cover all of the important formulas you’ll need for test day. Adding this kind of resource to your study materials can go a long way toward helping you pass the CMA exam.

The CMA Exam Formula Guides are included with our CMA courses, but you can also buy them separately to supplement your studies. These guides make memorizing formulas a breeze.

Virtual 1-On-1 CMA Tutoring

Virtual 1-on-1 CMA tutoring tailors your exam preparation to your unique learning needs, providing personalized guidance from expert tutors. This approach allows you to concentrate on challenging areas, enhancing study efficiency.

Its flexibility is perfect for those with busy schedules, enabling study sessions at convenient times.

In these sessions, you’ll receive instant feedback, ask questions, and tackle challenging problems, which helps deepen your understanding and boost confidence.

Virtual tutoring is a strategic tool for those seeking a personalized prep experience or needing extra help with specific topics.

CMA Exam Academy offers live 1-on-1 private instruction. You’ll work with a Certified CMA who’s been where you are. They’ll work with your schedule to find times that work for you. In addition, they’ll provide you with the help and support you need to go into exam day feeling confident.

CMA Exam Flashcards

CMA exam flashcards are a highly effective study tool that focuses on memorizing key concepts, terms, and formulas crucial for the CMA exam. Their portability allows for study sessions anytime, anywhere, making them ideal for squeezing in quick reviews during breaks or commutes.

Flashcards are interactive, encouraging active recall and strengthening memory connections. They can be part of a prep course or self-made, targeting areas you need to pay particular attention to.

Whether included in a prep course or created personally, integrating flashcards into your study routine is a vital component of a successful exam strategy.

You can download the CMA Coach Flashcards mobile app for Android and iOS in the app stores under the name “CMA Coach.”

CMA Study Guide

cma study guide

The reality is that most candidates spend months studying for the CMA exam. With so much material to cover, it takes time, organization, and dedication to cover it all.

Unfortunately, this is what most candidates struggle with the most.

To maximize your study efforts, here are a few strategies I’ve found helpful over the years.

Don’t forget to download your free CMA study guide for the full step-by-step process.

Create a Study Plan

best cma study materials

If you aren’t following a study plan already, then now’s the time to pull out your day planner and create one.

The CMA Exam Academy course provides candidates with a 16-week study plan that breaks down topics and concepts weekly. This works twofold. Not only does it keep your study efforts organized, but it can reduce the overwhelm you may feel regarding how much material you need to cover.

By breaking down your studying into bite-sized sessions, you can consume information easier and are more likely to retain it. Overloading your brain with material can sometimes be detrimental to your study efforts.

Use the SQ3R Technique

cma online classes

If it’s been a while since you last had to prepare for a major exam, you may be out of practice when it comes to studying. If this is the case then I highly recommend using the SQ3R study technique.

SQ3R stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review. Here’s how it works.

Survey: Skim through the material by reading the introduction, chapter summary, and any headings and subheadings. This shows you how the material is structured, so you can anticipate what the content is all about.

Question: Ask questions like, “What are the core concepts of this chapter?” or, “Which formulas are required for this section?” By asking yourself questions, you will be engaging with the material and making things a little more interesting.

Read: It seems obvious that you would have to actually read the material, but being an active reader is different than being a passive reader. Active reading involves highlighting or underlining key concepts and phrases. Use a notebook to summarize concepts in your own words, committing them to memory in a way you know you understand. See my speed reading tips to enhance your reading rate, comprehension, and memory retention.

Recite: Read a few pages and then take a minute to go back to the questions in step 2 and see if you can answer them. If you can’t, go back over the reading material until you can.

This is quite possibly the most frustrating step, but it also happens to be the step that challenges you to commit the material to memory the best.

Review: Once you have completed a chapter, go back through and review all the notes and text you highlighted. This step helps you solidify the material to your memory.

This process may seem time-consuming, but I assure you, it works. In fact, studies have proven that this technique helps people retain 70-80% of what they study.

Stay Motivated

cma review course

A large part of preparing for the CMA exam is keeping yourself accountable and avoiding falling into a rut of procrastination. Easier said than done, I know!

There are several ways you can declutter your life, make room for the CMA exam prep, and keep your motivation high throughout the process.

Here are a few of my go-to’s:

  • Ask yourself how important this exam is for you. A little introspection can go a long way in keeping you on track.
  • Get rid of your Plan B. Having a “plan B” or contingency plan. This can reduce your odds of following through on things. There’s nothing better than having no fallback plan to light a fire under your butt.
  • Create deadlines or milestones. Celebrating small successes like completing X number of chapters by a certain date gives you something to work towards and can be motivating.
  • Surround yourself with supportive friends and family. Trust me, you will need it, and it can make a world of difference when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed.
  • Don’t forget to schedule downtime for yourself. All that studying can fry your brain, so be sure to set aside some time to relax and recharge so you can come back at it even stronger.

Frequently Asked Questions about CMA Study Materials


Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about CMA study materials.

Can You Self-Study for the CMA Exam?

Self-studying for the CMA exam is possible. There are pros and cons to any path you decide to take when studying for the exam, and self-study is no different. Self-studying allows you to set your own pace, keep a flexible schedule, and is a convenient option for many people.

It does, however, come with a few cons, such as not having any support for questions and a lack of accountability for staying on schedule. Self-study can also take longer because you’ll navigate the path and the pace yourself, meaning you might slow yourself down.

What Is the Best CMA Study Material?

The best CMA study materials are the ones you will use. That said, there are 15 or so top test prep companies that provide CMA study guides, textbooks, video courses, practice tests and more. Great CMA study programs will provide comprehensive materials for both Part 1 and Part 2 of the CMA exam and come with options to add supplemental materials and one-on-one tutoring or coaching.

Where Can I Get Study Materials for CMA?

Most people buy CMA study materials online, and most CMA study courses offer online learning. This means that you should be able to get digital downloads and even live-streaming of the relevant course content. While a few students may prefer an in-person experience, most love the flexibility of online courses. This gives you the ability to study on-the-go or when you have time, optimizing test readiness and accelerating your study timeline.

How Do I Prepare for the CMA Exam?

Purchasing a comprehensive CMA study program is the most efficient way to prepare for the CMA exam. Most courses include a study plan, official CMA questions from previous years, practice tests, CMA textbooks, video or audio instruction, supplemental study materials, and a CMA coach or tutor. All of these will add up to success, if you commit yourself to learning and reviewing everything you’re offered.

Have more questions? Comment below, and I’ll be happy to bring my expertise to your situation. I’ve helped thousands of students pass the CMA exam — I can help you, too!

Nathan Liao

Hi, I’m Nathan Liao (aka the CMA Coach)! For the last 10 years, over 82,000 accounting and finance pros came knocking at my door seeking guidance and help. If you’re also aiming to conquer the CMA exam on your very first try—without wasting away time or money—you’ve found your ultimate guide. Dive in deeper to discover more about me and the dedicated team that powers CMA Exam Academy. Click here and let’s embark on this journey together!

3 Comments on “The Best CMA Study Materials and Study Strategies”

    1. Hi Francis,

      To book pre-enrollment call with me please follow this link.

      I look forward to answering your questions about the CMA exam and our review course program 🙂


  1. Pingback: How to Become a CMA in Just Over 6 Months - CMA Exam Academy

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