Passing CMA Part 2: A Candidate Guide to Cracking the CMA Exam


The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is recognized as a high-standard certification in management accounting and financial management. It is awarded by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) in the US. CMA USA is globally recognized and benefits accounting and financial professionals in different industries. To acquire this certification candidates must complete two parts of the examination.
Candidates can choose whichever parts they are comfortable with to finish, and pass the first chosen part to clear the next section. The CMA USA exam is computer-based. Each of the exams will be 4 hours each with 100 MCQs as well as two 30-minute essays. Therefore, 3 hours for MCQs and 1 hour for essay-type questions.

What is CMA USA Part 2?

CMA USA Part 2 focuses on advanced financial concepts and decision-making skills which are important in the finance field. This part has six sections under it and each of these sections has a certain weightage that is applied to the overall score of the exam. 

These six subjects with their respective percentage weights are:
  • Financial Statement Analysis (20%)
  • Corporate Finance (20%)
  • Decision Analysis (25%)
  • Risk Management (10%)
  • Investment Decisions (10%)
  • Professional Ethics (15%)
This helps candidates analyze their ability in financial data, make strategic decisions, and hold ethical standards in the management field.

Detailed Information of CMA USA Part 2

The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) is responsible for the CMA USA exam and offers the information covered by each exam part in the Content Specification Outlines. The CSOs are fundamentally there to:
  • Lay the foundation for the development of each CMA exam part
  • Ensure each CMA part has consistent coverage
  • Communicate the details of the exam content to interested parties
  • Help candidates prepare for the exam and
  • Equip review providers with information for their courses
Along with the foundation and knowledge scope that the CSO offers for appearing candidates they also assign a coverage level to each exam topic, which ranges from introductory knowledge of each of the subjects to a thorough understanding of the subject matter under the part. The three levels of coverage are:
  • Level A: Requiring skill levels of knowledge and comprehension.
  • Level B: Requiring skill levels of knowledge, comprehension, application, and analysis.
  • Level C: Requiring skill levels of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
Additionally, one must note that the coverage levels build on each other, so Level C may contain the requirements of Level A and Level B. Therefore, it is crucial for candidates appearing for the exam to be very well-versed in the range of topics under each subject.
The following is a list of topics under each of the six sections in Part 2- Strategic Financial Management of the CMA USA Exam:

A. Financial Statement Analysis

  1. Comparative financial statement analysis
    a. Common-size financial statements
    b. Common base year financial statements
    c. Financial trend analysis
  2.  Financial ratios
    a. Liquidity
    b. Leverage
    c. Activity
    d. Profitability
    e. Market
  3. Profitability analysis
    a. Income measurement analysis
    b. Revenue analysis
    c. Cost of sales analysis
    d. Expense analysis
    e.Variation analysis
  4. Special issues
    a. Impact of foreign exchange rate changes on financial statements
    b. Effects of changing prices and inflation
    c. Accounting and economic concepts of value and income
    d. Impact of changes in accounting treatment
    e. Earnings quality
The coverage of this section is similar to that of Section A in Part 1, which discusses financial accounting, but the focus is more on analysis and comparison using key financial data and ratios. In addition to this, one must note that special issues such as foreign currency fluctuations, fair value accounting, and US GAAP vs IFRS are also a part of this subject.

B. Corporate Finance

  1. Financial risk and return
    a. Calculating Team
    b. Types of financial risk
    c. Relationship between risk and return
  2. Long-term financial management
    a. Term structure of interest rates
          Type of financial instruments
    b. Cost of capital
    c. Valuation of financial instruments
  3. Raising capital
    a. Financial markets
    b. Financial Institutions
    c. Initial and secondary public offerings
    d. Dividend policy and share repurchase
    e. Lease financing
    f. Debt financing
  4. Working capital management
    a. Net Working capital
    b. Cash management
    c. Marketable securities management
    d. Accountants receivable management
    e. Inventory management
    f. Types of short term credit
    g.Short therm credit management
  5. Corporate restructuring
    a. Mergers and acquisitions
    b. Other forms of restructuring
  6. International Finance
    a. Fixed, flexible, and floating exchange rates
    b. Managing transaction exposure
    c. Financing international trade
To score well in this section, one must understand short-term and long-term financial management as well as the benefits and limitations of major financial instruments. In this section, one can see a mix of conceptual and computational questions.

C. Business Decision Analysis

  1.  Cost/volume/profit analysis
    a. Break Even analysis
    b. Profit performance and alternative operating levels

    c. Analysis of multiple products

  2. Marginal analysis
    a. Sunk costs, opportunity costs, and other related concepts
    b. Marginal costs and marginal revenue
    c. Special orders and pricing
    d. Make vs. Buy
    e. Sell or process further
    f. Add or drop a segment
    g. Capacity considerations
  3. Pricing 
    a. Pricing methodologies
    b. Target costing
    c. Price elasticity of demand
    d. Product life-cycle considerations
    e. Market structure considerations
This section will test a candidate on how management accountants can provide data and perform analysis for the decision-making process of an organization.

D. Enterprise Risk Management

  1.  Enterprise risk
    a. Types of risk
    b. Risk identification and assessment
    c. Risk Mitigation strategies
    d. Managing risk
CMAs as efficient accountants or organizers need to identify, assess, and react to different kinds of risks faced by an organization for the organization to achieve its ultimate goal. The CMA exam Part 2 concentrates on the ERM model. Candidates appearing for the exam are most likely to get conceptual questions in this section.

E. Capital Investment Decisions

  1. Capital budgeting process
    a. Stages of capital budgeting
    b. Incremental cash flows
    c. Income tax considerations
    d. Evaluating uncertainty
    e. Discount rates
  2. Capital investment analysis methods
  3. a. Net present value
    b. Internal rate of return
    c. Payback
    d. Comparison of investment analysis methods
    e. Sensitive analysis
This section covers how management accountants advise and decide on important matters about investments that are to be made by the organization or even bring out better alternatives.

F. Professional Ethics

  1. Business ethics
    a. Ethical decision making
    b. Types of business fraud
  2. Ethical considerations for management accounting and financial management professionals
    a. IMA’s Statement of Ethical Professional Practice
    b. Fraud triangle
    c. Evaluation and resolution of ethical issues
  3. Ethical considerations for the organization
    a. Organizational factors and ethical culture
    b. Ethical leadership
    c. Legal compliance
    d. Responsibility for ethical conduct
    e. Sustainability and social responsibility
    f. Data ethics
The IMA Statement of Ethical Standards is what presides over this section. The principles and standards have been made concise and easy to understand for candidates. Candidates must prepare how these ethics are applied in real business situations. Candidates appearing for the exam must note that to clear part 2 of the CMA USA Exams is difficult but not impossible. It is hence suggested that they do their research and study very closely on each of the listed topics under each of the six subjects.

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In conclusion, the CMA USA Part 2 exam needs a thorough understanding and effort in financial concepts. With the right guidance and a reputable online coaching center like NorthStar Academy (NSA) which is led by Mr. M. Irfat sir himself a CMA certification holder who helps candidates navigate through difficulties and crack the exam successfully. NSA offers updated study materials, the best mentorship, a 24/7 support team, and guaranteed placements and offers candidates help to share their career path.


  1. What is the exam pattern of CMA USA?
    The CMA USA exam is computer-based with 100 MCQs as well as two 30-minute essays. It is a 2 part exam and both need to be cleared to gain the certification. 
  2. How hard is it to self-study for CMA USA?
    While you can self-study for CMA USA, it will result in a lot of waste of time, effort, and resources. By enrolling in a coaching program, you get to leverage the expertise of mentors and get access to a global cohort as well as comprehensive study material all in one place.
  3. How hard is the CMA USA exam? 
    The CMA USA exam tests the knowledge of students in Finance and Management Accounting. If you are well versed with the CMA USA Syllabus, you can easily score more in both parts.
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