Taking CMA exam as a non native speaker of English

Teaching CMA in a country where majority of the students are non-native English speakers and where a very large number of these students have had their earlier studies in languages other than English, I am very often ask the question, ‘’What difficulties will I face if English is not my native language’’? I have summed up the answer to this question in the following few points.

  1. There aren’t much of writing skills needed for the CMA exam.

    That is because 80% of the exam consists of Multiple Choice Questions and the remaining 20% is essay questions. In the essay question, you are mostly required to write your answer in very few words which could be in the form of bullet points. Even when you are not required to write in bullet points, generally a few sentences will be enough. You DO NOT have to write long essays in the CMA exam.

  2. You may take a little longer to pass your CMA exam.

    Think of it this way. If a native speaker takes six months to finish off the CMA, you might take nine months. In the past few years that I have been teaching the CMA qualification, I have seen candidates with very basic knowledge of English join the classes, improve their English while taking the classes and finally pass their exams.

  3. Consider CMA your ultimate business English course.

    Just like I stated above, I have observed several of my CMA students who were very average in English show extraordinary improvements just due to the process of studying for CMA. They did not take any additional business English course.

  4. The single biggest problem with non-native speakers and its solution.

    From my experience the single biggest problem that non-native speakers face is that they take a little bit longer to understand the questions as compared to a native speaker. That difference is not huge for each question. For each multiple choice question for example, a non-native speaker will take around 5 to 10 seconds extra. That adds up to between 10 and 15 minutes for the whole exam. Now, if you talk to people who could not complete their whole exam, they will tell you they needed an additional 10 or 15 minutes rather than 30 minutes. So this difference is quite substantial. How do you deal with this problem? Well, the simple answer is Practice, Practice, and Practice. The more your practice solving question, the faster you will become at both understanding the questions and finding their solutions.

  5. Some tips for non-native speakers.

    Below is a list of a few tips you will find helpful, especially if your English is not very good.

    1. If you do not know the exact meaning of a word, try to think of what its meaning could possibly be, considering the whole scenario. Most of the times you will guess the answer correctly. Trust me.
    2. If your native language is Arabic, make good use of IMA’s Glossary of words which has been translated and explained in Arabic. You can view or download the file from by clicking here.
    3. When selecting your trainer, make sure you choose a trainer who has good experience and technique rather than someone who can speak your language. Remember, your exam in in English and if you have difficulty understanding your trainer’s English, you will most definitely have trouble with the English in the exam also. A good way to assess a trainer is to wit with him/her for a few minutes, let them do the talking and also show you their own content such as lecture slides and study notes.