The Highway To CMA Is Open Now

Yeeun Kim 1Before I come to the CMA story, I like to introduce myself briefly. I am Kim Yeeun, (April is my English name.) from Korea. I studied and graduated from the De La Salle University – Dasmarinas in the Philippines.  I studied here in the Philippines, simply because of my father’s mission here. But I realized that it was not just his mission, but also my mission from God.

My CMA story starts from the time I decided to study the major management accounting. I searched the certificates during my first year college, 2013, and learned about the CMA. Yet it seemed unrealistic, because its estimated cost was too high and the bloggers wrote that I need to take it in U.S. So I just prayed to God to give me the chance for the CMA even after working for some years.

But surprisingly God gave me the chance much earlier than I expected. My professors introduced about the CMA and the Insights when I was a graduating student. I thanked God about it and started reviewing as I graduated from the college.

At Insights, I was given a lot of materials to practice. At the first time I received the books, I was so excited to study for the CMA. But as time went, I felt bored for the repeated questions and the lengthy lecture book. I tried to study with the Hock lecture book and every detail in the book. I tried to prepare myself to be able to answer every question, especially the essay questions. I memorized the terms, the definition and the formulas if needed and, for problem solving, I continued to practice solving for the questions which I was used to make mistakes. Also I made my own notes and summarized the Hock material and added some information from Gleim and Wiley during problem-solving. My weak point was the theory, so I focused more on theory. Then after 2-month of reviewing, the time for first exam (I took Part 2 first) came. For the one-week before the exam, I was too nervous to do or think other things; I only thought and prayed about the exam. I felt like I know nothing. I read and read, practice the essays during the one-week.

I thank God for the wisdom and knowledge He provided during the exam. I actually finished the multiple choice questions for 2-hour only and reviewed all the questions for 30-minutes, then proceeded to the essay questions. The time was enough for me, since I practiced solving problems for averaged 1-minute per question.

After the first exam, I started reviewing for the other part while waiting for the result. I did not change my studying style. I still tried to practice problem solving and made my own notes, memorized the theories. This studying style helped me to finish the multiple questions in both parts for 2-hour and to review the questions for 30-minute, to allot the time 1 and half hour for the essay questions.

For the result, I passed both parts with the scores above 400. I like to give the advices the future CMAs in preparation. First, you need to try the multiple questions as many as possible (target the time allotted for each question to 1 to 2 minutes only) and know your weak point. And focus on the weak parts. And you should not just read the essay questions and answers, but tried by yourself even if you already read the answer. You should practice writing in your words. Though the materials are lengthy, (you may feel bored) still continue reading. You do not know everything yet. Never assume you already perfectly master the part. You should estimate at least 10% chance you would not get the right answer.

Actually these tips are all from the Insights facility. The Insight can provide you all the proper mentoring and guide you into a short-cut way for the exam, yet you need to walk it yourself. Do your best above all for God’s glory, and yourself.

Last tip for the future CMAs: Pray before reviewing, studying, and taking the actual exam. Trust God for He is good to you, providing whatever you ask in His name. May God be glorified through this humble accomplishment.

Lastly, I would like to thank God for the chance and the help to finish these exams. And I also thank all the professors of my beloved alma mater, De La Salle University – Dasmarinas. Lastly, thanks to the Insights Team for their full support during and after the exams.

The highway to CMA is open now. You just need to go through it.

The In-Betweens

Grad pic - Aljes Reyes 1“While the difficult takes time, the impossible just takes a little longer.”

True. Anything is within your reach if you only know how to strongly grasp to your dream. Not even a thing can hinder you from achieving great things. If you let faith drive you, you become unstoppable. But good as it is, you should not let God take it all alone, we must do our part. I believe I’ve done mine. So, this…is my CMA journey, the realization of the dream that was once impossible.

I first heard of the CMA title during our freshmen orientation in college. It was the time that CPA and CMA were new to my ears. It was cited that BSA degree is to CPA (Philippine License) and BSMA degree is to CMA (International Certification). It is quite ironic, passing through a tight screening to be retained as a BSA and passing the CPA examination gives you a national license while being shifted to BSMA and passing the CMA examination gives you an international one. This impression is in fact not true because anyone with a college degree can be a CMA. In the end I realized that BSA and CPA are neither superior nor inferior to CMA and BSMA. They have their own merits which can complement each other. In that instance, I subconsciously dreamed the impossible to be both a CPA and CMA.

The opportunity came when IMA Philippines and Insights Financial Review launched the 1st National CMA Quiz Bowl. I joined the regional elimination and the national competition wherein I earned my CMA scholarship. I placed 4th in the regional elimination but didn’t imagine placing 3rd in the nationals. It was a blessing from above indeed. And it would really be impossible without the help of my professors and Bicol University who shouldered the cost of joining the competition. I was also very lucky that Sir Angel Secerio granted us full CMA program scholarship instead of the partial scholarship initially awarded. I think that’s part of God’s plan for me to pursue my CPA-CMA dream which I will be deeply grateful forever. But before every success is our share of mishaps, pain and hopelessness. Countless challenges lie in taking both the CPA and CMA exams in the same month of October 2015. The preparation for both was never so easy. The grueling demands of each exam were nearly unbearable. How did I do it? Balance. There’s no perfect formula for this because each of us has our own. But I will tell you this, if you know how to prioritize and manage your time, you can save yourself from a lot of frustrations and I-think-I-cannot-do-it mindset. It is matter of sacrifices and maybe a little bit of escape and absence from your social life and spends more time to your long-time books and handouts.

The 2-Part CMA exam itself is relatively different from the CPA exam. It includes both a multiple choice section and an essay section. The essay section is actually out of my comfort zone compared to the pure multiple choice Philippine CPA exams. The coverage for both exams somehow overlapped. The CMA exam tackles advanced topics in management services, basic topics in U.S. GAAP financial accounting in contrast with IFRS, U.S. GAAS auditing, internal auditing and some international laws.

The review was full of ups and downs. I knew that I was not in my full capacity during the exams and I was still far from my limit. But I told myself that I was never giving up. Still having a month before my D-Day, I took the risk of cramming for both, a 2-week marathon for the CPA exam and a 1-week marathon for the CMA exam. I doubted myself in passing both exams. But what else can I do but to trust myself and to do my best.

The CPA exam came last October 3, 4, 10 and 11. In God’s grace, I passed the CPA exam and earned the 20th place. That gave me a boost to be more eager to study for the upcoming CMA exam. Then the CMA exam came last October 28 and 29. The 2-part exam was nerve-wracking. It was grimly challenging. But luckily with the support of Insights, my professors, family, relatives, friends and the one to whom I promised to do my best, I also passed both parts of the CMA exam. In a matter of weeks, I am now both a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Management Accountant (CMA). This only proves that the difficult CPA journey takes time and the impossible CPA-CMA journey takes a little longer. If you want it, believe you can. Claim it and it’s all yours.

To CPA and CMA dreamers, always have your “Can Pass Attitude” and “Can Master Attitude” with you. But remember that as much as it is important to focus on your goal, forgetting to enjoy the journey offsets the feel of success. Remember that what make you strong are those things that happen to you on the way. What made you the person you are now is the journey itself. You’ve grown not only because you battled with an aim, not only for you to win, but also because you tried battling and winning even after failing and falling countless of times. You see, it is never easy to start. You become fretful, unsettled and anxious. Beginnings give you worries and for an instance, endings make you sad, but do remember it is the “in betweens’ that give you extreme emotions you never ought to forget.


About the author:  Aljes O. Reyes is a magna cum laude graduate from Bicol University with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Accountancy. He garnered the 20th highest score from among 13,317 CPA candidates who took the CPA examination last October, 2015. He scored 440 in CMA Part 1 and 430 in CMA Part 2 exams, with just under 12 days preparation. Aljes is currently an audit associate in a Big 4 auditing firm based in Makati.

Becoming a CMA: A God-given Opportunity, A God-led Journey

Grad - Stephanie SolomonSince I started as an accountancy student, I only imagined myself preparing for and passing the Certified Public Accountant Licensure Examination (CPALE) in 2015. Never in my dreams would I imagine passing another certification in that very same year.

I first heard about “CMA” in March 2014 when Insights Financial Review invited our school, University of Baguio, to join the first CMA Quiz Bowl. I joined the competition to have a head start because I anticipated that there will be a second CMA Quiz Bowl. I did not expect that I will win. I told myself that I can still join next year. I was not supposed to get any award but Insights created a “Special Award” category for fourth year participants and I was one of the two who were awarded. It was a blessing and a challenge for me. In September 2014, Insights sponsored another CMA Quiz Bowl during our R1 and CAR Regional Mid-Year Convention. With more than a hundred participants, the competition was really tough. I was about to pass my test paper when I realized that I transferred the wrong answer on one of the questions. I instantly changed it while hoping that erasures will not be invalidated. The night after the test, the good news came out. I got first place with a one-point difference to the second placer. Truly, God’s ways in executing his plans are amazing. That one point brought me to the Nationals, where I placed second, entitling me to a Scholarship Package. I was supposed to pay 50% of the Certification Exam Fee but Sir Angel was really generous for waiving it. It was an all gain, no loss situation for me. I grabbed the opportunity and marked my calendar for the October 2015 testing window.

So with a free ticket to take the CMA exams, where lies the challenge? The challenge was actually the fact that I was about to take two examinations, the CPALE and the CMA Exams, in the same year (2015) and in the same month (October). At first, there were no apparent problems because I was able to study the topics that I scheduled for the day. However, the demand by each examination for study time began to escalate. It was in July that I was starting to mess up my task plans. That dilemma of what to prioritize continued until August. I really felt sorry for not being able to submit my answers to all the CMA test drills that Insights sent to me. I only had one month for the CPALE and less than two months for the CMA exams when I devised and wagered on this very risky plan. I prayed to God and asked for His mighty guidance thinking that whatever happens, it will be His will. So there is nothing to worry because the Lord’s will is the best. With this in mind, I focused first on the CPALE while devoting extra study time for Management Services and Auditing Theory, the overlapping subjects for both of the exams. I took the CPALE roughly two weeks before my CMA exams.  The result came out and I got fifth place. I was really happy, I wanted to jump. It was then that I realized I was only wearing one shoe. I needed one other, the CMA title.

Whilst almost everyone was already celebrating after passing the board exam, I was conducting my own “CMA pre-week session”, just a sugar-coated term for cramming. I asked Sir Angel for test drills especially for Part 2 because it covers those topics that were not emphasized in the undergrad as well as in the CPA review. It was an unimaginable two- week adrenaline rush for the CMA title.

On the day of the CMA Exam Part 1, I was really feeling the butterflies rumbling inside my stomach. But just like what I always do when I am nervous, I told myself that the exam was not up against me only. It was up against everyone who became my teacher, all my reviewers, my friends, my parents and God. “I AM GOING TO WIN THIS FIGHT.” So with a calmer mind, I took and finished Part 1 that day. With a more stable heartbeat, I completed Part 2 on the next day.

The exam was technical, time-pressured and concept-based. The examinee had to undergo a series of identity inspection, had to use the normal six-function electronic calculator and had to take the exam on a computer. It probably took me almost a year to get accustomed to the normal calculator because I was used to the scientific one. I also have had troubles on operating a computer before so that just added to my nervousness that time. For both examinations, the examinee has to answer 100 Multiple Choice Questions in three hours and two essay problems with five to six subset questions each in an hour. Even with four hours, I was only able to go back to the items I was not really sure of but not the entire test.  On the other hand, though the questions were not the hardest that I encountered, I think they were the most comprehensive. They test your knowledge on the concepts. It was at this point that I realized my preparation for the CMA exams did not start when I accepted the scholarship offer but it did already start that moment I showed learning interest in my very first Management subject.

Days after the CMA Exam, I started feeling anxious so I kept myself busy to forget that the exam results would be out in a few weeks (December 11 or 12). I prayed each day for God to give it to me. And in the morning of the 11th, I received the other shoe to complete the pair. Instead of jumping, I found myself doing nothing but smiling. I closed my eyes and silently whispered, “Salamat, salamat.” I did not immediately open my eyes, I liked the feeling that I was feeling that time—relief. That after all this time, I can finally say “Tapos na.” So with all my heart, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this success. To Sir Angel, his family and Insights Financial Review for becoming God’s primary instrument in helping me grab the CMA title. To my classmates, teachers and reviewers for the lifetime learnings. To my parents and my sister for their very long patience, never-ending support and unconditional love. And to God for everything that I have now and for the person that I am now.

To CMA aspirants, grab opportunities as early as possible. Create a game plan. Make it precise, but also make it flexible. Follow your heart in making decisions. Always be grateful to those who help you. Most importantly, pray for His will for it is what is best for you.


About the Author:  Stephanie Solomon is a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy graduate at the University of Baguio. She placed fifth in the October 2015 CPA licensure examination, and captured remarkable scores in her 2-Part CMA examination, also in Oct. 2015. She is currently working as an Audit Associate at SyCip, Gorres, Velayo & Co., CPAs.