Written By Team CFI
By solving Practice Questions
You will find this written all over the internet and also, all your teachers will say the same – “Practice exams are the key”. And well, IT’S TRUE.
Don’t expect to pass the exams even if you have studied the whole CFA curriculum from the CFA institute books, and have not worked on enough practice questions. This is not your school or graduate college tests. The structure of questions, overall CFA exam and the way they are graded… is all such that you have to have hands on solving the CFA-type questions.
Solve problems from:
- In-between chapters [even those case study type examples from CFA material],
- End of chapters
- Mock exams [by CFA Institute, your CFA training institute and others online]
Solve at least five full exams. 1 exam equals 1 day CFA exams; morning plus afternoon session. Sit for three hours at a stretch, with timer.
By covering all LOS
The second important thing you need to do to pass the CFA exam in one attempt is notch up all Learning Outcome Statements (LOS) that CFA Institute provides. Yes, all are important. Some might have more content to study, some might be quick and easy, some might have a lot of weightage… but all are important.
Additionally, follow what the LOS instructs you to do. For example, if a LOS states that you should know to ‘calculate’ something. You should know to calculate it and not just know the concept. And if it wants you to ‘define’ something, just know the concept well. Don’t waste time knowing how to solve it.
The questions in the CFA Exam will be asked accordingly.
After completing a reading or a subject, go through the LOSs again and see if you can do or know what the statement says. Can you calculate? Can you define?
By getting accustomed to using the calculator
You would not like to accidentally press the wrong teeny-tiny buttons of the calculator and get the answer wrong. Or not know how to enter correct inputs.
Calculator practice is very crucial in preparation for CFA Exams.
CFA exams being time sensitive, especially the Level 1 exam, you should:
- Know which key is for what purpose
- Know which key is where
- Punch the keys quickly
…and many other tricks and necessary tips to work on the financial calculator.
By studying from the Institute books
Studying from the CFA Institute books itself, is the best thing you can do. However, the course of study is enormous. You need to give a lot of time.
Plan to study for CFA exams from the CFA Institute books if you can give – not less than six months- of study time. The more, the better. You also have to keep enough time reserved for revision and practice questions.
So, go through all the LOS, readings, etc. to know how much and what you have to study. Review all the material you are going to study from, before starting.
There are six volumes of books. E-book is also available. But, if you are going to study from institute books then better order hard copy. Again, it’s going to take a lot of your time and effort. So think before ordering.
Many candidates refer to Schweser books. And that’s good too. With less content to read, a lot of time is saved. You may get notes and study material from the coaching classes as well. Whatever you are studying from, make sure you know the concepts clearly.
By starting early and planning well
The early you start preparing for your CFA exam, the better. From the very beginning, never think that you have a lot of time left. You have a lot of course to complete as well. And thus, plan your study.
Plan your study –number of days and number of hours- for each subject in a way that you can understand the concepts well, don’t give importance to readings with low weightage, stick on to one subject for a very long time.
On your daily basis as well, start your day early.
Don’t gush at the last moment. Don’t keep stuff for later. Keep enough review-yourself time. Find and work on study techniques that works for you.