The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) is a membership organization advocating honest business practices in management accounting and finance. It offers a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification for students and professionals. The CMA exam is a two-part test that measures a candidate's knowledge in financial management and accounting. To take the test, you must first become a member of the IMA, pay an entrance fee and file the registration form for the exam. To pass this rigorous test, you must familiarize yourself with the subject areas covered on the exam.

Step 1

Visit the IMA website. Click "Resources" under the "CMA Certification" heading. Click "CMA brochure" to download a PDF document that details what is covered on the test. Part one covers financial planning, performance and control, and part two covers financial decision-making. Each part of the exam is four hours and has 100 multiple-choice questions and two 30-minute essays. You can take the exam in any order you choose. Scores from the essay section are added to scores from the multiple-choice section for a total weighted score that determines whether you pass or fail.

Step 2

Review the major knowledge areas required for each part of the test. For part one, you must know about planning, budgeting and forecasting, performance measurement, professional ethics, cost management and internal controls. For part two, you must be familiar with different kinds of investment decisions, decision analysis and risk management, corporate finance, financial statement analysis and professional ethics.

Step 3

Download a suggested reading list from the IMA website. This is a PDF document that provides a list of about a dozen books that will help you study for the two-part exam. The list includes the title of the books, the authors and the year of publication. You can also buy a CMA study guide that includes sample questions, test tips and a study plan.

Step 4

Take a practice test to gauge the subject areas in which you are proficient and the areas that require more studying. Focus your studies on your weaker subject areas and use the study guide and the suggested reading list to help shore up your knowledge. Work the practice problems and take the sample exams until you have a firm grasp of the areas in which you are weak. Once you score consistently in a high percentage, you are ready to take and pass the CMA exam.

Step 5

Consider enrolling in CMA self-study preparation courses, many of which are available as online tutorials that feature practice problems, flashcards, interactive graphs and charts and certified instructors who you can contact to ask questions. Check the IMA website for a list of these courses.