University scores in top five nationally on accounting exam

The university scored in the top five in the nation in the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam in 2018, becoming one of just four schools to achieve a 90 percent pass rate or better.

The CMA exam is a globally offered test for people who work in corporate accounting and nonprofit accounting. Those who take the exam are typically involved in financial reporting, cost accounting and financial management.

The global pass rate for the CMA is 50 percent, according to the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA).

“I think that the students leave USI with a really good grounding in the accounting concepts and application that is necessary to successfully complete the CMA,” Accounting Instructor Jeanette Maier-Lytle said.

Maier-Lytle said the accounting curriculum prepares students for the exam so they don’t have to do much outside of coursework to prepare.

“Looking at the content material that is in (the exam) and knowing the curriculum content material that we offer here at USI, it’s a really good match,” she said. “I feel like we cover the majority of the content that the CMA exam has on it.”

Maier-Lytle said although faculty help as much as they can to prepare students for the exam, it is up to the students to put in the work to succeed.

“I think the fact that our students are high achievers and they have really good character and a desire to be successful,” she said. “They are hard workers.”

The three primary exams in accounting are the CMA exam, the Certified Public Accountant exam and the Certified Internal Auditor exam. The CPA is for people who do auditing tax and consulting and the CIA is for people who go into internal auditing.

The two-part CMA exam costs $864 for students who have an undergraduate degree in accounting.

The pass rates in 2016 were less than 40 percent in part one and less than 60 percent in part two.

USI has two tracks for accounting students to help them prepare for the exams.

The financial accounting track is for the CPA and has 12 credit hours of courses that cover content on the exam. The management accounting track is for the CMA and also has 12 credit hours that cover content that would appear on the exam.

“That has been unique across the country as far as having these tracks,” College of Business Interim Dean Brian McGuire said. “It’s becoming more common.”

McGuire said the department periodically reviews the curriculum and will adjust it whenever the industry or the exam changes.

“We looked at our curriculum, looked at what was being covered on the exams, and while I don’t want to say that we taught to the exams, I think the fact that we’ve tried to configure our curriculum to help our students be successful has been one reason for their success,” he said.

McGuire said the accounting curriculum changed in the fall. He said the exam will change next year to focus more on technology and analytics.

“We are trying to move from more memorization to more application of knowledge, so to a higher level of reasoning, and I think that’s true not only with the main certifications but also as far as what employers are expecting,” he said. “Accounting, like any profession, you want to make sure what you are teaching is relevant, so we try to go back and periodically review our curriculum.”