As CAMICB Board of Commissioners Chair, Drew Mulhare, CMCA, AMS, LSM, PCAM, said in a letter to CMCA credential holders in May, “ The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has impacted our businesses, our communities, our educational institutions, our families – every aspect of our lives – each of us has been faced with the challenge of defining new ways to work, interact with our colleagues, protect and serve our client communities, and keep our families safe and connected. I believe we are all realizing that our futures will, in many ways, be shaped by meeting the challenges of the present. And the stories of perseverance, courage, commitment, and compassion that are emerging all around us are powerful and heartening.”
More than eight months later, those words continue to ring true.
Also during this time, hundreds of CMCA exam candidates felt the weight of the pandemic through a different lens that meant preparing, studying, and taking the CMCA examination under extraordinary circumstances.
CAMICB caught up with a few CMCAs who recently took and passed the CMCA exam during the COVID-19 pandemic. They generously shared their experiences during this time: how they prepared for the exam in the pandemic environment, the experience of actually sitting for the exam amid pandemic restrictions, and the advice or tips they would offer current candidates who are studying and preparing to take the exam.
While many missed the opportunity to study at libraries or with colleagues at coffee shops, each of the new CMCAs we spoke with navigated a new normal to earn their CMCA credential.
Cathy Baldwin, CMCA, Owner of Baldwin Management Resources on the resources she found most useful in preparing for the exam:
“For starters, the M100 text book was a great resource. However, I wanted more detail on Risk Management & Governance, so I took an M200 level class to supplement my knowledge. In addition, the CMCA practice exam was an excellent way to determine my areas of weakness. Finally, the CMCA exam Quizlet was also a useful resource.”
Cathy also recommends, “scheduling to sit for the exam well in advance, as changing conditions during the pandemic may cause a delay. Then, I suggest allowing one hour a day, five days a week, for several months to get ready. When testing, be sure to take your time and read and re-read the test questions.”
Bruce Hill, CMCA, Community Manager for Elite Management Professionals, AAMC made the most of the extra unplanned study time:
“I was prepared to take the exam and felt I was ready in early March. As things went into lockdown around the country, I searched for a testing site near me and they were all closed for the foreseeable future. At that time, I was only 5 months into my job, though I come from years in Real Estate and Property Management. It turns out the additional months waiting for test centers to reopen enabled me to study more, and allowed my portfolio to grow. I was able to dig deeper into the different types of communities – so the extra study time was beneficial to me – both academically and applying the concepts in real life scenarios.”
“The CMCA Practice Exams were a huge help in switching from the test questions in the preparation/study guide to what the actual test questions would look like. I’d recommend the practice exams to anyone who is preparing to take the exam. I spent $40 for the pair of tests, and took one in March, then I saved the next for the week before my exam so it was fresh in my mind. It worked out very well!”
Wade O’Hara, CMCA, Association Manager, Classic Property Management AAMC echoes Bruce’s sentiment on the practice exams:
“The practice exams were very informative. They familiarize you with the wording and language as the exam uses similar phrasing. You have a year after registering to take the exam, so make sure you’re ready – there is no need to rush in unprepared.”
Marla Elkon, CMCA, Community Manager, Clagett Management WV VA, LLC found herself as busy as ever during this time:
“I’ve been just as busy during the pandemic between taking on new house projects and balancing the needs of my kids. I really had to make time for myself. I would carve out very specific blocks of study time and my husband and kids were terrific and supportive. For me, the key was using multiple resources to prepare including the M100 textbook, the CMCA study guide, the CMCA Exam Prep E-Learning course modules, and the CMCA practice exam – twice online and once written! I also reviewed the Community Association Management Best Practice Reports and the CMCA Exam Quizlet was excellent – it was a different way to keep the material current and fresh in my mind. The variety of resources each had different approaches and angles, which was helpful.”
CAMICB has recently added a brand new resource for exam candidates – the CMCA Exam Preparation E-Learning course. The course is a free on-demand resource designed to strengthen test strategies and prepare candidates for the CMCA exam. It offers constructive test taking tips, examines the composition of exam questions, offers study tips, and provides an interactive self-assessment tool to help candidates develop a study plan specific to their needs. To learn more and get started – go to: https://www.camicb.org/Pages/CMCA-Online-Learning.aspx
As Cathy, Bruce, Wade and Marla have demonstrated – along with hundreds of other exam candidates who recently earned their CMCA credential – there are a variety of tools and resources available to help candidates properly and successfully prepare for the CMCA exam even in the midst of a global pandemic. This latest cadre of CMCAs have passed a rigorous exam, demonstrating they have a proven and solid understanding of the many diverse business operations involved in being a community association manager. Despite an extremely challenging environment, they’ve earned this internationally-recognized credential that serves as the cornerstone of their career as a professional community association manager.