5 Tips to pass the upcoming CFA® exam

Achieving the CFA charter is not only an essential part of starting your journey towards a successful career but also shows employers your level of commitment and mental discipline. You are required to invest over 300+ hours to study for the program as the knowledge you gain throughout the exam preparation is crucial to make profitable financial decisions.

While some candidates might find the exams easier than the rest, there isn’t a guaranteed way to ensure that a candidate will pass the CFA exam. Although there are many techniques that you may use to strengthen your exam knowledge, certain methods, in particular, can increase the chances of success. Some of those methods are mentioned below:

1. Make the most out of your study resources

After thoroughly learning the CFA Program curriculum, it’s time to test your knowledge through a mock exam. Mock exams not only help you assess your level of understanding but will also help you identify your weak points. Being well versed with the structure and the type of questions in advance will help you prepare and practice successfully. Mock exams are highly recommended by the CFA Institute as they help psychologically prepare you for the exam day.

One method that has proven to be effective is the Prepare > Practice > Perform technique. In the preparation phase, you learn the content through reading and attending training sessions while practice includes recollecting the material and identifying gaps in your learning so that you can perform well during your mock exams. Ensure that you spend 30 – 40% of your time during the preparation stage, 40 – 50% practicing and 20% performing.

2. Study in long intervals

The CFA Institute continually emphasizes the need to prepare at least six months in advance for the upcoming exam. Hence, Candidates are required to study for an average of 300 to 400 hours per exam. If you plan on appearing for the June exam, then you must start studying from January onwards and prepare for the December exam by early June.  Candidates are prone to get confused during the month prior to the exam which is why the longer your preparation phase, the higher your chances of success.

3. Give the CFA Program priority during your day to day tasks

The majority of the CFA candidates are working professionals or university students, therefore being able to balance and prioritize your commitments is essential.  You can prevent being overwhelmed through careful planning. Create a daily, weekly and monthly reading plan and ensure that if your goal is to read for 5 hours a day but couldn’t study on one day, you still end you completing 35 hours for the week.

It’s equally important to prioritize time for relaxation as overexerting your brain can do more harm than benefit. Prevent having a burnout by including a couple of free weekends and fun activities in between.

4. Refresh frequently

One chapter studied and excelled at thoroughly in the beginning, doesn’t guarantee that it will be well remembered before the exam. You need to consistently review the CFA® Program curriculum at least once a month if you have studied it well before. Spend a couple of hours every week reviewing and learning the CFA material until you are through with it. Do some training questions and, on the off chance that you commit any errors, dive into those topics again until you are assured of the content clarity.

5. Cover an ample amount of the material

Don’t get into the game of speculation regarding which topic won’t be crucial and won’t appear in the CFA® exam. At the least, this could lead to leaving the chapter for the end and not being able to study well for it. At most, it could lead to complete ignorance of the CFA topic. Each CFA topic exists for a reason and this is a fair game, therefore predictability and patterns can’t be relied on.

6. Save the last month for self – evaluation

During the last month before the CFA® exam, start to take CFA mock exams in realistic settings such as with actual time limits and difficulty. Take the exam without any prior CFA revision to evaluate how much you remember and then after CFA revision to evaluate how much you have improved and need to re-study. Failures need to be analyzed based on whether it was an issue due to lack of understanding or merely false application of one’s knowledge. Monitor the scores and identify the trend, two weeks prior to the CFA® exam, you must be able to score more than 70% consistently.

7. Lastly, take time out for relaxation

Create plans with your friends and take frequent breaks so that your mind and body have enough time to refresh and focus. Although, ensure that they aren’t time-consuming activities such as binge-watching a show. Balance is key!