How to prepare for the CMA Intermediate exam in 2021?

Cost and Management Accountant (CMA) is considered to be one of the most promising and reputed accounting professions in India. As the name suggests, this profession relates to Cost and Management but at a broader level. The role and responsibilities of CMAs are even wider, as compared to any other finance professionals.

CMA professionals possess first-hand ideas in the field of managing finance and formulating strategies impacting the costing and profitability of the organisations.

To become a CMA, the candidate has to undergo three levels - 

1. CMA Foundation

2. CMA Intermediate

3. CMA Final

Today we will discuss about the second level of the CMA course - the CMA Intermediate level, and the related misconceptions and myths about the difficulty of this level, low passing rates etc. 

CMA aspirants should remember that these misconceptions might not be true. To qualify for this CMA level, you need to analyze your strengths and should have a good study plan. Also, dedication and consistency in preparation for this level are some of the indispensable ingredients that guarantee a sure-shot success.

In this article, we will discuss about some general and paper-specific strategies to clear this level.

General strategies

1. Analyze the paper pattern and understand the syllabus - Understanding the syllabus and previous year's paper patterns will give you the right direction to start your preparation. Also, focus on section-wise weightage within each paper and prioritise the preparation for those papers with the highest weightage first.

2. Prepare a study plan and stick to it - We have given a 100 days sample study plan for your reference below. You can modify it as per your requirement and comfort.

 ●  First 40 days - Preparation of papers of Group 1

 ●  Next 30 days - Preparation of papers of Group 2

 ●  Next 20 days - Revisions

 ●  Next 5 days - Mock tests

 ●  Last 5 days - Final revisions

3. No selective study - There is a change from topic-wise weightage to section-wise weightage in all the papers. So, make sure to cover all topics. Selective study of some chapters can take you to an area of uncertainty so, avoid it.

4. Study materials are the key pillars - Ignoring study materials provided by the Institute can be your worst mistake. So, avoid it and prepare from study materials. Also, Practice Test Papers (PTPs), Revisionary Test Papers (RTPs), Mock Test Papers (MTPs), Suggested Answers (SA) etc, are provided by the Institute. So, make sure you practice from them thoroughly.

5. Presentation and writing skills - In professional exams, presentation skills matter a lot. So, work on presentation skills of the answers that you have to write because it might fetch you some extra marks. Ensure that you practice on how to structure the answers and how to write crisp and to the point answers.

6. Prepare bullet points - At the time of revisions, prepare bullet points for each chapter. They can be really helpful for you to prepare for the exams and at the time of the final revisions.

Subject-specific strategies  

Paper 5 - Financial Accounting & Paper 12 - Company Accounts and Audit

 ●  Students should prepare and have a thorough knowledge on Accounting Standards and their applications.

 ●  Attend questions and answers for all sections.

 ●  All workings must form part of your answer. You must write/refer the working numbers in your solutions.

 ●  For Paper 12, students make a gross mistake by believing that it is a theoretical subject. The students need to understand the provisions of applicable laws, standards, processes, procedures. A practical application is only possible if the students are aware of the entire concept.

Paper 7- Direct Taxation & Paper 11- Indirect Taxation [practical problems/illustrations]

 ●  Students must have a thorough understanding of the provisions. 

 ●  Go through all the illustrations. Solve the Practice Test Papers as much as you can. 

 ●  Solving the Practical problems must be following the prescribed/applicable law. Make a habit of writing the provisions, while practicing. It will improve your writing and answer drafting skills. This habit will give you immense benefit during examinations.

 ●  Read the questions very carefully - The art of reading the provisions of the law will enhance your understanding and knowledge. Further, it will add value to your writing skills in the future too. 

 ●  As you are gearing up to grab the professional opportunities and responsibilities coming your way, it is imperative to get yourselves fully equipped and knowledgeable to meet the expectations of stakeholders.

Paper 8 - Cost Accounting and Financial Management & Paper 10 - Cost and Management Accountancy

 ●  Paper 8 contains the basics of cost accounting and generally accepted cost accounting principles and techniques. It depicts the basics of financial management.

 ●  Paper 10 is Cost and Management Accountancy. This paper is based on Generally Accepted Cost Accounting Principles and techniques therein.

 ●  Some notable points are:-

     (a) Cost items such as inputs, personnel, and overheads, are based on CAS (Cost Accounting Standards). The calculation is based on applicable standards.

     (b) Audit Report Rules, 2011 - to give an overview of the need, importance, and methods of maintaining cost records. Study the contents provided in the study materials thoroughly. Solve the Practice Test Papers. 

     (c) Equal emphasis should be given on both the sections of Paper 8 [Sec A - Cost Accounting & Sec-B - Financial Management]

Paper 9 - Operations Management and Strategic Management  

 ● This paper is a unique combination of Operations Management & Information systems. 

 ●  It is based on the effective application of basic operations research techniques like linear programming, assignment, transportation, queuing theory, simulation, inventory models. 

 ●  Since these are practical/mathematical-based applications, these would fetch you good marks.

For Paper 6, 7, 11,12 

 ●  Read the provisions thoroughly. Start writing them after your reading is over. Remember, the effectiveness of reading gets reflected when you start writing them. There is no need to write descriptively. You may write the main phrases/ major points. It will help you to make a better representation even during the examination.

 ●  Students must write the provisions correctly. Sometimes examples are better expressive than written statements. So, citing provisions with suitable examples of related case laws can make you stand out.

 ●  Mentioning correct sections/sub-sections is much appreciable, but it is always better to omit than commit a mistake. 

 ●  If you are unable to remember the exact section number, do not quote any other number. If you quote wrongly, it means you are writing a different law.

 ●  While writing descriptive answers, it is best to start by writing/highlighting the main points first, followed by a detailed description. The advantage of the above mentioned method is since you have mentioned all the points, at first, even if you fail to explain any of them, it will leave an impression on the examiner, based on those points, which are already detailed therein. 

 ●  During an examination, students should attempt those answers first that are best known to them.

If you dedicate your time and effort and follow the above mentioned guidelines properly, then be rest assured and you will qualify for the CMA Intermediate exam with flying colors!

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