CPA, CMA (US) & ACCA – Exam Patterns & Flexibility

When it comes to pursuing a career in accounting and finance, professional certification is crucial. Among the various options available, the Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) are the most popular certifications. This blog post will compare the CPA, CMA, and ACCA exam patterns and flexibility.

Exam Pattern of CPA, CMA & ACCA

The CPA exam consists of four sections, each lasting four hours. It covers auditing and attestation, business environment and concepts, financial accounting and reporting, and regulation. The exam is computerised and administered in designated testing centres.

The CMA syllabus is divided into two parts, each consisting of a four-hour exam. Part one focuses on financial reporting, planning, performance, and control. Part two focuses on financial decision-making. The exam is also computerised and administered in designated testing centres.

The ACCA exam is divided into three levels- Applied Knowledge level, Applied Skills level & Strategic Professional level. The Applied Knowledge level has three modules – Business and Technology, Management Accounting and Financial Accounting. The Applied Skills level consists of six papers. They are Corporate and Business Law, Performance Management, Taxation, Financial Reporting, Audit and Assurance, and Financial Management.  The Strategic Professional level has two mandatory modules, Strategic Business Leader and Strategic Business Reporting. There are four optional papers at this level. You have to choose two out of them. They are Advanced Financial Management, Advanced Performance Management, Advanced Taxation and Advanced Audit and Assurance. The ACCA exam can be taken on a computer or paper-based format.


The CPA exam can only be taken in the United States and territories. However, candidates can schedule their exams on preferred dates and times during the designated testing windows.

The CMA exam can be taken at any Prometric testing centre worldwide. Candidates can choose their preferred testing centre and schedule their exam date and time.

The ACCA exam is computer-based and can be taken at any 400 exam centres worldwide. Additionally, candidates can take the exam in any order they prefer if they complete all the required papers.

Considering the exam pattern and flexibility, ACCA could be the better option. Let’s check why!

ACCA and its global recognition

One of the main advantages of ACCA qualification is its global recognition. ACCA certificate is recognised in over 180 countries, making it a highly respected and sought-after certification worldwide. Employers also highly value the certification, and ACCA members are known to command higher salaries than non-certified accountants.

ACCA and its exam structure

Another merit of ACCA is its comprehensive exam structure. The ACCA syllabus covers various topics, including financial management, taxation, audit and assurance, and business strategy. This breadth of knowledge gives ACCA members a well-rounded understanding of accounting and finance, making them highly competent professionals.

ACCA and its flexibility

Furthermore, the ACCA course is highly flexible, as discussed earlier. This flexibility allows candidates to tailor their study plan to their needs and preferences. If you choose a coaching centre like Elance, the best ACCA institute in Kerala, there is a good chance that you can complete ACCA course within two years. You can also complete the exam independently if you complete all the required papers within ten years.

On a last note, pursuing a professional certification in accounting and finance is essential for career growth and advancement. While the CMA course and CPA are highly respected certifications, the ACCA stands out for its global recognition, comprehensive exam structure, and flexibility. Ultimately, the certification choice depends on the individual’s career goals, preferences, and location.

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