Retaking the CMA Exam After a Failed Attempt: Everything You Need to Know

Retaking the CMA Exam After a Failed Attempt Everything You Need to Know

So, you failed the CMA exam. After months of studying, planning, and prep work, it’s easy to feel defeated.

But those months aren’t yet wasted. You have a better idea of the test and what you need to know to succeed. That means you’re better positioned to pass the exam on your next try. Don’t lose hope.

The truth is more than half of CMA candidates fail the exam on the first attempt. You’re not alone. So, how can you correct the course and ensure you have a better chance of passing?

In this article, I want to explore some strategies for retaking the CMA exam after a failed attempt. Keep reading to learn how to maximize your chance of success.

Originally published on December 9th, 2022, this article was updated and republished on April 18th, 2024.

How Many Times Can You Fail the CMA Exam?

How Many Times Can You Fail the CMA Exam

The short answer: as many times as it takes. There are no limits to how many times a single candidate can take the CMA exam.

However, there is a time limit for the CMA certification cost. Once the CMA entrance fee is paid, candidates have three years to pass both parts of the exam. That doesn’t mean you need to earn your CMA in three years. But it does mean that, if you don’t pass the exams within this window, you’ll have to pay the fees again to buy yourself more time.

What Are Your Options if You Fail the CMA Exam?

What Are Your Options if You Fail the CMA Exam

Let’s be honest: with a global pass rate of 50 percent, the CMA exam is a serious challenge. It’s actually more common to fail your first attempt than to pass it. I know you may feel discouraged, but try to stay optimistic. There are options to help you succeed on your second attempt.

First, it’s crucial to register for the next available exam window as soon as possible.

The exam windows are as follows:

  • January 1 – February 28
  • May 1 – June 30
  • September 1 – October 31

With the material still fresh in your mind and the added experience of having just taken the exam, you’re now in a better position to pass. So don’t delay.

How to Reschedule the CMA Exam

How to Reschedule the CMA Exam

If you’ve recently failed the CMA exam, chances are good that you’ll only need to register for the next available exam window. This is because your IMA membership and the requirements you prepared for your first attempt should still be valid.

Still, it’s a good idea to confirm you’ve checked off all of the following:

Since you’ve completed the process once before, this part should be pretty simple. Nothing about the CMA exam rescheduling process changes for the second attempt, except that your requirements and IMA membership should already be completed.

How to Create a Better CMA Exam Retake Strategy

How to Better Prepare for Retaking the CMA Exam

Now that you’ve registered for the next available CMA exam window, it’s time to plan your study schedule.

To create your new study plan, analyze your previous mistakes to identify your focus areas, assess your study habits for ways to optimize your time, and then use those insights to create a better study schedule. It never hurts to call in a professional, so this is a great time to get a CMA coach to maximize your efforts.

Analyze Your Mistakes

When you fail the CMA exam, the IMA will send you a letter outlining the areas you need to improve. This is an incredibly valuable resource that can help you focus your study plan on the right sections.

It’s simple: if you performed poorly on a section of the exam, focus on those topics until you know them by heart. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t refresh your memory of the topics you did well on, but the bulk of your study plan should revolve around exam topics you struggled to recall.

Assess Your Study Habits

Analyzing your mistakes means looking at more than the exam subjects. If you failed the CMA exam, you should also think critically about your study habits. Did you stick to your study plan? Did you cultivate a good study environment?

Fostering healthy study habits will ensure you give yourself the best chance for success when you retake the exam.

Construct a Better Study Schedule

Everyone’s learning style is different. For this reason, successful CMA exam candidates construct study plans that accommodate their lifestyles and abilities.

You may benefit from study groups or isolated rooms. Similarly, some people prefer to study in the morning, when their mind is fresh. Others can focus more in the evening after work.

When crafting a study plan, you’ll want to follow a simple formula:

  1. Determine the number of subjects you need to study
  2. Divide the number of subjects by the total number of weeks you have before your next exam
  3. Divide that number by the number of days per week you plan to study

The figure you arrive at will be the number of subjects you’ll need to complete each day.

Whatever your schedule looks like, be sure to stay consistent. This is the key to success when it comes to passing the CMA exam.

Get a CMA Study Coach

Study courses and coaching can significantly boost your chances of passing the CMA exam. That’s because coaches help tailor a plan to your unique needs. They offer personalized tips and support to optimize the time you spend studying.

In my 16-week Accelerator Program, you receive unlimited coaching support, video tutorials, test bank questions, and all the study materials you’ll need to pass the exam.

I believe the coaching we provide is a major reason CMA Exam Academy students have a 92% percent pass rate—that’s nearly double that of the global average!

If you failed the CMA exam on your first attempt, don’t worry. Let’s work together to ensure you pass on your second attempt and take the next step toward your dream career.

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!

8 Comments on “Retaking the CMA Exam After a Failed Attempt: Everything You Need to Know”

  1. Hello Team,
    I failed my exam about 2 years ago and I didn’t try again. I need help to catch up so I can pass the exam.
    I read about the pre exam in a Pro-metric test center
    How do we do it if in my country we don’t have one.

    1. Hi Rosa,

      I’m sorry to hear the news about your exam, but don’t give up.

      The best way I can help is through my Accelerator program. I also offer one free Prometric in-person exam Test Drive.

      Test Drives are conducted in Prometric test centers. You can find the nearest test center on Prometric’s website.

      If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to hit reply.

  2. Hi
    I appeared for Part 2 and i couldn’t get to the Essay section. The window got closed on MCQS, does that mean i have failed in the exam

    1. Hi Nimish,

      If the essay section didn’t open, it’s an automatic fail, unfortunately.

      Don’t give up. You’re closer than before because now you have a strong foundation compared to the first time you took the exam.

    2. I enrolled for the professional level for us cma. Will I still have 3 years to complete CMA or just 1 year

      1. Hi Alan,

        Please note that the IMA membership is a fee which needs to be renewed annually and also to maintain your CMA status after you pass the exam.

        The CMA entrance fee is separate, one-time, non-refundable fee that must be paid to enter the CMA program and it is valid for 3 years after entering the CMA program.

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

  3. Hi Nathan,
    I am seeking some guidance here. I failed Part 1 on my first attempt and plan on re-taking it in the new year. What happens to the Part 2 review that I also purchased if I haven’t started using it? Can I put a stop on Part 2 as I continue trying to pass Part 1? Will my access to CMA Academy run out at some point and will I be granted a refund for not passing on the first attempt?

    1. Hi Sophia,

      As an Academy student, you get premium support. Could you please email us directly?

      Our team will look into your request, review your account and provide guidance.

      Thank you!

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