Each year, roughly 250,000 candidates appear for the CFA exams around the world in an attempt to claim what is widely considered the “gold standard” within the investment community, the CFA charter.
It is no surprise that the intense difficulty of the CFA exams leads to the majority of the candidates failing at least once. It is, without a doubt, a highly disappointing and disheartening place to be in. However, it is important to see the bigger picture and not lose perspective when attempting to gain a qualification as coveted as the CFA. On the brighter side, candidates gain experience and can appear for their next attempt with a higher level of confidence.
The recently held CFA exams in November 2021 have shown a consistent trend across all three levels, alarmingly low pass rates. While the Covid-19 pandemic may be considered as a contributing factor to this phenomenon, it is important to focus on what are the ideal next steps one must take to ensure that they achieve success in the next attempt.
Better prepared for next attempt
The average CFA candidate spends about four years before gaining the charter, which shows that most fail at least one exam on their journey. While it may lead one to believe that 300 hours of study have been wasted, it is important to remember that a significant part of the preparation for the next attempt has already been completed leading the thought of “wastage” to turn into “investment”.
Can you attempt again?
Candidates are allowed to appear for each level of the CMA exam a maximum of six times, a policy that was instituted in 2021. Also beginning with the 2021 exams, candidates can take an exam up to two times per calendar year but cannot take the exam in windows that are consecutive or less than 6 months apart.
Plan your next attempt
The first step to deciding when to retake the exam is to assess your previous exam preparation experience. How many hours did you spend preparing? Did you consistently stick to a structured study plan? Are there other study materials that could help you pass your next exam? Examine how you will approach exam prep differently going forward, reflect on your own personal/professional goals, and consider the various exam window options offered by CFA Institute to determine when to retake the CFA exam.
In general, we recommend retaking the exam as soon as possible, especially if you can do so in the same calendar year. Registering for the next possible exam is best for the following reasons:
- Momentum is on your side. Even if you have been taking a break since your last exam, all of the effort you put into preparing for it is relatively fresh.
- The longer you wait to retake the exam, the higher the likelihood that you will forget the material that you have already learned.
It is particularly important to retake the exam in the same calendar year, if at all possible, since CFA Institute changes the CFA curriculum on an annual basis. Retaking the exam before these annual updates will give you a higher probability of passing because you will be more familiar with the curriculum being tested.
Studying for the next attempt
Regardless of which exam you decide to sign up for, we have some recommendations for approaching the next exam attempt:
- Carefully review your exam results and use them as a diagnostic tool to help guide your studies on the next attempt.
- Organize your study plan to focus on weak areas first. Your study plan should be weighted heavily toward practicing the material using the SchweserPro QBank and end-of-chapter questions in the CFA curriculum.
- After doing additional practice, if you are still performing poorly, revisit the CFA SchweserNotes and OnDemand class videos to relearn the concepts with which you are struggling.
Continue this process until one month prior to the exam and then focus on a well-structured final review process.
For final review, focus heavily on practicing what you have learned, but with the CFA Schweser Mock Exams rather than the SchweserPro QBank. After completing a mock exam, thoroughly review the answer explanations for the questions you answered incorrectly. Make certain you understand the logic behind the correct answer. Also, be sure to use the OnDemand Review videos to sharpen your exam strategy and ensure you retain information for the exam.
Finally, get help through our InstructorLink tool if you are still struggling with the material. We want you to succeed on the CFA exams and are always ready to help. If you are looking to enroll in CFA course in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or anywhere in the Middle East, contact Kaplan Professional to know how we can help you!