What started as a joke became one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
It all started when CMA began to be offered to higher ups in our college. It seemed pretty normal at first, getting another certification aside from becoming a CPA. Personally, I did not pay much attention as I always had other things in mind. However, hearing news that someone from our college received an award and will be awarded in the United States caught my attention. I immediately thought what if I could also get a chance to receive an award. It would have been nice to go to a new place. Then, the rest of college life happened and this was buried in my “what ifs”.
During my undergraduate years, I always said that I enjoyed Economics and Financial Management more than Accounting itself. I really devoted effort in understanding these topics which were not really a focus in the accountancy curriculum. I also found management accounting subjects enjoyable not only because of the topics but because of the international references we use which contains real corporate applications. I’m the kind of guy who reads the stories in small boxes. This was something fresh compared to recurring problems in financial accounting or other topics.
When an offer for us to take CMA after our CPA licensure examination was given to us, I was hesitant at first. First of all, it was expensive, even if it was on a “Pass-now, Pay-later” scheme. Second, the review would only start right after the last day of the CPALE. However, it was said that global top performers will be awarded in San Diego for this year. I think that line pushed me to register, while jokingly saying #RoadtoSanDiego.
At that point I did not realize it would soon come true.
I took comprehensive examinations in preparation for CMA in the middle of my CPALE review without much preparation. I remember even going out the night before those examinations. It was not that easy taking the exams with topics you have not given much focus for the CPALE. However, I did find this enjoyable, mainly because I get to assess knowledge not from short-term memory but from embedded or stock knowledge. It is a “You will know it when you feel it” kind of thing. This really helped me trust my instincts and practice critical thinking.
The CPALE review came like a breeze and so did the examination. It was a tiring run, and now I just realized I have another two weeks of review for another set of examinations. What pushed me to continue the run was that I may not correct my shortcomings from the CPALE, but I can make sure it won’t happen in the CMA. In addition to this, the results of the CPALE was released the night before my CMA Part 1 exam, which really pushed me to translate my excitement to motivation for the CMA.
Adding to the motivation was the Wiley online learning reference available to us which really augmented my mastery of the topics. Listening and taking notes did contribute to learning, but when you are given a limited amount of time, for me it is best to get ahead of the review sessions and just focus on the parts you need to master. I did my best to maximize time by finishing the Wiley Gold online study material provided during review and finish more questions through its simulated examinations. In this short span of time, I was surprised with the amount of questions I finished answering, and I maintained this routine for the next week.
The essay part was new and challenging, but I did not let it become a challenge. By the time you are reading this, you might realize that I talk or write a lot. I had to deal with it through limited time. I did not memorize anything, but I did browse through the entire CMA review textbook before taking both parts. I managed to finish it within the day by focusing on things I still have not mastered, and quickly skimming over those I already know. During the actual essay part, all I did was express myself and let my mind direct the answers.
Looking back, I realized that I wouldn’t have made it through without the effort to retain somehow topics learned years ago. I credited this to my approach to focus on concepts during the undergraduate years, even if I have not answered many problems. I did not excel much in my scores back then but I know that I could retain my knowledge on these topics, and that surely helped me in taking the CMA exam.
Passing CMA is just the beginning of my journey, as I explore the professional world and enrich my knowledge with actual experience. My CMA journey is neither the best path nor the only path to take, but I did learn something from this: the next time you would want something, you can really get it, but first, you’ve got to earn it!
About the author:
Marc graduated magna cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Accountancy. He earned his CPA License in October 2018, obtaining the fourth highest score of 90.33%. He also took the two-part CMA Examination during the October 2018 window and was awarded the Priscilla S. Payne Outstanding Student Performance Award, by obtaining the highest score among CMA takers in the student category. He is currently working as an external auditor in one of the Big Four accounting firms.