Best Review Strategies for Level I CFA exam

March quickly turns into May or September into November if you are appearing for the CFA® Program Level I exam in June or December. Losing precious hours over daylight savings or lack of an effective review strategy can prove to have a greater negative impact than perceived.

The preparation phase should be completed by the end of March and the last three weeks of May should be used for mock exams. Use April and the first weeks of May for question practice and debrief. This does not refer to taking a quiz, marking it, and moving on. It’s important to ensure you spend an average of 90 seconds per question and much more debriefing it.


Strategy to Debrief the CFA Program Exam Level I

You can start your debrief by ensuring that the questions you got right were because of your span of knowledge and not by chance. Strengthen your CFA course material for all the wrong and guessed answers by practicing at least 5 examples of each type of calculation. CFA Program Examiners are known for indirect and tricky questions, therefore practice repeatedly until you are able to perform the question backward (a popular CFA examiners’ trick).

If you were unable to remember lists related to a model or a theory, Tie facts together where you can, your brain is wired to remember stories. Cause and effect relations will stick a lot better than disorganized memorization.

On the other hand, if you are finding difficulty with calculation analysis, go back and find an example of the calculation or change the numbers with hypothetical numbers of your choice if required. For example, always having a simple balance sheet and income statement at hand to help with ratio analysis is a good choice. Put some numbers through your simple statements and calculate the result if you are unable to identify why the answer was an increase, decrease, or neither. This approach can be used when you need to conduct a detailed examination of the elements or structure of something, typically as a basis for discussion.


Understanding the process is key for correct answers

By taking a couple of extra minutes to understand how an answer is derived will ensure that you are able to answer similar questions in the near future as well.  When deciding the amount of time to dedicate to different topics, consider your strong/weak areas and the syllabus weightings. Economics, Derivatives, and Alternatives combined are worth less than Financial Reporting and Analysis. Spending weeks studying derivatives knowing that it’s worth only 5%, isn’t the smartest of choices.

All in all, Focus on improving your understanding of all the topics through question practice and debrief. This will put you in a strong position to hit the mock exams in lay.