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Understanding The CMA Exam Calculator Policy

A calculator is an indispensable tool and your most trusted friend in the CMA examinations. IMA allows the candidates to bring their own exam calculator while appearing for the examinations. They can take their personal calculators into the exam centres and use it for solving numerical problems in the exams.

Exam calculator Policy

Not every type of calculator can be taken to the Prometric Centers. IMA has aid down strict rules and regulations regarding the types of calculators that can be used in the exam centres. These policies that have been created to ensure that no candidate gets any unfair advantage by using a very advanced calculator, that others can not afford, or do not otherwise have access to.

The rules are:

  • The IMA calculator needs to be simple and has the basic six functions which are:
  1. Addition
  2. Subtraction
  3. Multiplication
  4. Division
  5. Square root; and
  6. Percentage
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The exam calculator must be a basic one that is not programmable, with exceptions of the financial calculators.

  • There should be no use of any kind of tape in the exam calculator by the candidate.
  • The IMA calculator that the candidate brings to the examination centres must be of small in size. There should be no noise in the calculator used. The exam calculator must be either battery powered or solar powered.
  • The candidate needs to ensure that the exam calculator that they bring in the centres must not have a permanent memory. The calculations done in the calculator must erase when the memory is cleared or when the IMA calculator is turned off. Thus the calculator must have a temporary memory.
  • While operating the exam calculators in the Prometric centres, the candidates are not allowed to bring the instruction manual for the calculators. They should understand and learn the functioning of the calculators that they are bringing before they appear for the examinations.

The detailed rules can be found in the CMA Handbook published by IMA.

Approved brands and models of exam calculators-:

There are certain recommended brands of financial exam calculators that the candidates are allowed to bring with them to the exam centres. These are:

  • Texas Instruments BA II Plus
  • Hewlett-Packard HP 12c
  • Hewlett-Packard HP 12c Platinum


Texas Instruments BA II Plus

The Texas Instruments BA II Plus IMA calculators have the basic characteristics that are required for the exams. When it comes to doing statistical and financial calculations, the Texas Instruments BA II Plus model works best for the candidates.

Advantages of using Texas Instruments BA II Plus as exam calculator:

  • It is highly affordable.
  • It is easy to use. The candidates do not need to use the instruction manual as the calculator is very user-friendly.
  • A large number of functions and the ease of calculating statistical data makes it a very handy tool for the candidates.

Disadvantages of using the Texas Instruments BA II Plus exam calculator are:

  • More keystrokes are required to achieve the similar tasks that other exam calculator may take.
  • As compared to the HP models, the keyboard is a little less sensitive in this IMA calculator. This might sometimes create problems when time is running out and you need to finish your calculations fast.

HP 12C and HP 12CP

The HP 12C and HP 12CP exam calculators two advanced calculators. Since January 1, 2013, candidates have the approval to use the HP 12c / HP 12C Platinum calculators for the exams. These are very popular among the finance professionals.


  • For frequently used calculations like Net Present Value, the candidates need to use few keystrokes.
  • The keypads of the exam calculator are very sturdy.
  • The size of the IMA calculator is 3”x 5”. This is a good size as the candidate can easily keep the calculator in his/her suit pocket.


  • The exam calculator is pretty expensive.
  • Both HP 12C and HP 12CP calculators are difficult to use. The reason for this is a technical problem in entering the formula in the calculator. The candidate needs to enter “=” every time before the numbers. This creates problems for the candidates.

It is advisable that you should buy any one of the above exam calculators well before the exam, so that you can prepare for the exams with it. You need to practice adequately using this calculator so that you know all the important functions thoroughly and do not have to look for the right keys to press in the exam calculator during the exams. This will help you to appear for the examinations in a stress-free way.

Also, do not forget to put fresh batteries into your exam calculator before the exams. This will prevent all chances of it suddenly failing during exam time.

Finally, if you are not comfortable with hi-tech calculators, then just go with the simple battery or solar powered calculators. Do not let technology become your obstacle for clearing the exams.