CMA Exam Results – Interpret Your Score

CMA Exam Results

Once you’ve taken the CMA exam, the nail-biting may not quite be over. The average length of time it takes to receive results is over a month. Over the course of those weeks, you’ll simply have to wait to know if you’re ready to progress with work experience and other steps to becoming certified.

In the meantime, it’s worthwhile to brush up on your understanding of how the CMA exam is scored. This will ensure that the second your results are in, you know what you’re looking at and what it means.

Read on to get all of the info you need to understand your CMA exam results.

What’s the Highest Score on the CMA Exam?

CMA Exam Results and Score

The CMA exam is scored from 0-500. 500 would be a perfect score. You must get a 360 in order to pass. It’s important to note that 360 is not the same as 72%. 360 is simply a numerical score and not a percentage.

In order to pass, you must get 70% points overall, split between the multiple-choice questions and the essays.

Average CMA Pass Rates

The latest CMA pass rates as reported by the IMA are:

  • 45% for Part One (a 10% increase from previous years)
  • 45% for Part Two (a 5% decrease from previous years)

An average of 4,000 CMA certifications are granted in the U.S. each year.


How is the CMA Score Calculated?

CMA Exam Results and Score

Your work on the CMA exam is weighted equally. That being said, there are different versions of the exam. These vary in difficulty. That is why a raw scoring system is implemented.

In other words, if you receive a more difficult version of the test, 65% may be passing. In a different, easier form, 70% may be passing. Percentages are not as important as your final aggregate number.

What you need to know is:

  1. The exam is graded positively, with no penalties for incorrect answers.
  2. You need to get at least 50% on the multiple-choice questions to proceed to the essays.
  3. You need an overall passing score between the two sections.

Here’s the breakdown of how the CMA score is calculated and how your numbers are crunched:

  • 75% of your grade = multiple-choice questions
    90 of the 100 multiple-choice questions are graded. This is because 10 are presented to create future tests and don’t impact your exam score. How you answer the remaining 90 impacts 75% of your score.
  • 25% of your grade = two essays
    The other 25% of your grade is composed of the two essay sections.

Let’s dive deeper into how each of these two categories impacts your final CMA score.

Important facts about CMA multiple-choice questions

  • All MCQs are equally weighted, meaning whether it’s simple or complex, it counts the same.
  • Incorrect answers do not cause penalties, so your grade doesn’t decrease if you answer wrong.
  • You have to get 50% of the MCQs correct to move onto the essays. If you didn’t get to the essays, you have your answer.

Important facts about CMA essay questions

  • You get points for each correct part of your answer.
  • You don’t lose points for incorrect answers.
  • As you show your work, numerical or equation errors will only be penalized one time.
  • You get zero points for a blank question. Writing something is better than nothing.

CMA Scoring Process

CMA Exam Results and Score

Multiple-choice questions are graded by a computer. This is done according to an algorithm and is an objective process. Unanswered questions are zero as are wrong answers, so it’s worth taking a shot and answering everything.

Essay questions are graded by statisticians with the Prometric center. While these testers follow a scientific process for scoring your answers, it’s important to note that they can interpret your effort in a human way. This means that they can see the logic behind your answers and gauge the level of knowledge you brought to the question.

Knowing this may incentivize test-takers to respond in a different way. Your score will reflect both the accuracy of your content and how well it is organized and articulated.

Go here to read more about the test in the CMA handbook.

When Are CMA Scores Released?

CMA Exam Results and Score

Test results are released a few weeks after your test date. Here is a projection of when you might expect to receive your score:

Test Month, 2021Score Release Dates (Predicted)
JanuaryMarch 15
FebruaryApril 12
AprilJune 11
MayJuly 12
JuneAugust 11
JulySeptember 13
AugustOctober 12
SeptemberNovember 11
OctoberDecember 13

Note: if your CMA exam date is impacted by COVID-19, this could also impact your score release.

What if I Failed the CMA Exam?

CMA Exam Results and Score

There is one way to know immediately that you failed the CMA exam. If you answer less than 50% of the multiple-choice questions wrong, you will not be allowed to proceed to the essay portion of the test.

However, if you do but still receive less than a total of 360 points, you will have failed. First, don’t feel too bad: you’re in good company. Remember that only about 35% of candidates passed part one last year.

If you fail, with your CMA exam results, you will receive a performance report. This can be immensely helpful. The performance report will provide you with a descriptive level that tells you how you did. You will receive feedback that tells you whether you were:

  1. Satisfactory
  2. Marginal
  3. Unsatisfactory

These are listed from best (closest to passing) to worst (low score). The report will indicate your performance in each content area, giving you the perfect guide for your next round of study.

CMA Exam Academy Resources

cma exam academy

Whether or not you passed, CMA Exam Academy has plenty of resources to help you out. If you need coaching to try again, we got you. If you are ready to move on to certification, I can give you info about the next steps.

Just want to get pumped about becoming a CMA? Discover your salary potential as a Certified Management Accountant.


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8 Comments on “CMA Exam Results – Interpret Your Score”

  1. I took the CMA part 2 exam and was able to reach the essay portion. I was not able to answer only 1 item in the essay. You I got the result, i shows that I Failed. So it is not a guarantee that finishing both MCQ and essay partion will make you past the exam.

    1. Hi Romeo, it’s not guaranteed but it’s usually a good indicator. When you get your performance report, you’ll see which sections need more attention for the next attempt. Wishing you exam success!

    1. There’s a good chance but it’s hard to know with certainty since we don’t know how well you did in the MCQ section. It’s a good sign that you made it to the end of the exam though.

  2. Hello,
    I scored 270 at CMA part 1 exam and was not allowed to pass to the essay questions. Will you please explain to me what happened and how can it be that I scored 270 and still did not get 50% of the MCQs correct?

    1. Hi Adham,

      The ICMA uses a scaled grading system and there are a few factors such as the difficulty level of the exam form which come into play when they calculate a final score per section and for the entire exam.

      There is no definitive answer to what is the minimum percentage of correct answers needed to pass the exam. It may vary widely depending on the difficulty level of the testing form you get.


  3. Dear sir,
    I was given Cma part 2 exam,in my computer screen shown progress report 88%,I don’t get essay portion, sir I want to know about situation , I will wait reasult or not?

    1. Hi Rathod,

      The progress bar you were seeing was most likely showing the percentage of MCQ you had answered. If you didn’t get to the essay section, unfortunately, that’s an automatic fail.

      You’ll receive a performance report showing how you did in each section two weeks after the exam scores are officially released.

      For next steps to help you prepare for the retake, check out this video.

      If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

      Thank you,

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