Examination and designation updates for 2015

Starting in January 2015, CGMA candidates from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) will be required to pass the same, strategic case study exam to earn the CGMA designation. The exam will test competencies that employers require to build successful finance departments.

The goal is to test the candidate’s ability to apply knowledge and understanding to real-world scenarios. The exam will simulate a business context relating to one or more fictionalised organisations — based on a real business or industry. The exam will require candidates to provide, for example, a strategic analysis of options leading to recommendations, an associated risk analysis and formulation of a financial strategy.

The computer-based exam can be taken at more than 5,100 testing centres worldwide. The three-hour exam may have between three and six questions based on one comprehensive business case. While CIMA students and AICPA candidates eventually will take the same exam to earn the CGMA designation, they will take different paths to reach that point.

CIMA StudentsThe CIMA assessment methodology employs two distinct approaches: objective testing and case study examinations.

For CIMA students, this case study is the final of three in a series of nine objective tests and three case study exams.

The exams test knowledge of the content of the 2015 CIMA Professional Qualification Syllabus, which was updated following robust and comprehensive worldwide research. Revisions include new topic areas such as finance function transformation, sustainability, integrated reporting and Big Data.

To better reflect today’s workplace, the weightings of some existing subject areas have been adjusted. For example, content on costing, cost management and cost leadership has been reinforced. The context of risk and risk management has been increased, as well as featuring in all three levels of the syllabus.

The blend of the two approaches, with the integrated case study exam at the operational, management and strategic levels building upon the individual objective tests at the subject level, provides the optimum mix to allow the candidate every opportunity to demonstrate the required competencies. Technical competency and breadth of subject knowledge are primarily tested in the objective tests, while the case study exams develop higher-order skills (particularly application, analysis and evaluation) and require application of these within a simulated business context.

More information is available at

AICPA CandidatesFor CPAs with the requisite experience, passing the CGMA exam is the final step to obtain the designation, unless they sign up for the designation before 2015.

The exam tests a wide range of knowledge and skills, including research and analysis, how to present information and communication. Whereas the Uniform CPA Examination has multiple parts of objectively scored items such as multiple-choice questions and short cases, the CGMA exam requires candidates to respond to scenarios based on one business case.

Until the exam becomes a designation requirement, US CPAs who meet the experience criteria can qualify for the CGMA designation. But beginning in 2015, candidates must meet the experience criteria and pass the exam.

The criteria are:

  • Three years of financial or management accounting experience in business, industry or government; or
  • Two years of financial or management accounting experience, plus one year in public accounting; or
  • Three years of financial/management accounting experience on a consulting basis; or
  • Three years in a management accounting role focused on the management and operation of an accounting firm; or
  • Awarded a research-based doctorate degree in an accounting or related business field at an accredited academic institution, and has taught at least four college classes in an accounting or related business field at an accredited academic institution.

More details are available at, or

Click here to read the latest issue of CGMA Magazine.