4 Reasons Why People Fail the CFA® exams

Whether you’re preparing to sit for the CFA® exam for the first time, or you’re planning to retake the level, it is critical to consider the aspects that could lead to a futile result.

Understanding the foremost and broadly recognized reasons for coming up short in the Level I CFA® exam will guide you in creating an effective learning journey. Here are four reasons that candidates often portray prior or during their CFA® exam, and some guidance, so that you improve your chances of success.


1. Failing to meet expectations on exam day

Being able to tame one’s nerves will be important on the exam day. The main thing a candidate can do to battle them is to have a strong exam prep session. The better set up you are, the fewer chances to be influenced by nerves.

A few students will be unable to finish the CFA® exam due to the lack of time. If this is likely to be an issue for you in the exam, take a decision to separate the exam into sets of 10 questions and give yourself a 15-minute time restrict for each. Appropriate exam strategy includes recognizing the more tedious inquiries and abandoning them for the end. The risk of not doing this is, you get distracted trying to solve one question beyond the limit which could lead you to miss out on the simpler questions.

2. Overthinking chosen answers

If you are scoring about 70% on mock exams and can recreate this in the real exam, you are much-ensured for success. What’s more, ensure you adhere to your study technique. Do not begin scrutinizing your answers if you are apprehensive about the exam. Usually, 70% of the time, your first answer to a question will be the right answer. Keep in mind, when candidates begin altering their answers, it could create a trail of wrong answers due to overthinking. Our recommendation would be that unless you are 100% sure that you have committed an error, never show signs of change in your answer.

The Learning Outcome Statements (LOS) are based on the Candidate Body of Knowledge, created by CFA Institute and highlight what the candidate is expected to know from each topic. Therefore, embed this into your study plan, as they will enable you to center around the critical points for the exam.

3. Poor Ethics Score

CFA Institute will survey the applicants’ Ethics score before choosing whether to pass them to the following level. If you have a high band (10 or 9) and a poor Ethics score, this might be your reason for failing. Hence, it’s advisable to study ethics during the months prior to the exam for better retention. Practice a maximum number of ethics questions from CFA Institute’s content to be well prepared.

4. Exhausting your mind prior to the exam day

There is a genuine risk that candidates can over-study the day preceding the exam. The threat is that an exhausting day before the exam, combined with a poor night’s rest, gives you the result of feeling rationally drained right before the exam – tired applicants commit errors.

Ensure that you are at your psychological best for the exam. We suggest you utilize the day preceding the exam to re-read a portion of the lengthier topics of the educational modules, including Ethics. Try not to take mock exams, which can mentally deplete you. Candidates hardly ever sleep well right before the exam, therefore ensure that you get a chance to go to bed early.

Now that you have an insight into the prospective pitfalls, you’ll be in a better position to make a decision.