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.

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