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CFA Program Study Planning

Three different exams that each cover a substantial amount of content make up the CFA program. To be successful come exam day, we recommend candidates outline a strategy to be as prepared as possible. The following are some helpful suggestions.

Establish a Study Routine

A structured study routine can make all the difference. Not only do you need to study the material, but you need to be able to apply the learned material come exam time. Thus, it is important to have a study routine that incorporates both learning and practicing.

A significant amount of time needs to be dedicated to the practice component. This includes practice questions as part of the curriculum and additional ad hoc practice quizzes. Further, time spent taking mock exams to simulate the actual scenario will be greatly beneficial.

As a general rule of thumb, we recommend study time be divided as follows:

  • 40% Learning
  • 60% Quiz & Mock Exam Practice

Start Early

The CFA institute recommends at least 300 hours of study to prepare for the exam. The amount of time available to study per week - balancing work, family and social life - will give candidates a fair idea of how far ahead of the exam they should begin their studies. For instance, if approximately 15 hours per week of study can be put in on a consistent basis, then 5 months should be budgeted. Although this may sound like more than ample time to prepare, remember there is lots of material to cover, and it doesn’t budget for falling behind on some days or weeks. It’s also important not to cram everything into the last few months before the exam. So an earlier start can be just as important as a commitment to regular study.

Study Planning

Practice, Practice, Practice

The key to passing any level of the CFA program is to commit to taking lots of practice questions. Not only will the questions improve your knowledge about a particular topic, it will also increase confidence come exam day. The more questions you practice, the more familiar you become with applying your technical knowledge.

Our study platform integrates practice elements throughout, so you get plenty of exposure. This includes:

  • Practice sets at the end of each learning module
  • Customized ad-hoc practice quizzes which can be taken at any time
  • Mock exams which simulate the exam day scenario

Mock Scenario

The CFA Institute suggest that unsuccessful candidates often leave too many questions unanswered. By taking mock exams, and simulating the exam day environment prepares you to pace yourself properly and finish the test on time.

During your final four weeks of preparation, make sure you practice taking the test under actual exam conditions. The best way to do this is by taking ‘mock-exam’ which are meant to best simulate what you will experience on exam day. Our included mock exams are full length exams that include pace time tracking, and are functionally and visually similar to the actual exam.

Ethics for the Win

Many have a challenging time with ethics as the topical questions can be more opinion based rather than quantifiable. However, it shouldn't be overlooked as it represents a meaningful weight on the exam for each level.

Ethics Exam Weight
Level I 15 - 20%
Level II 10 - 15%
Level III 10 - 15%

Further, the CFA Institute places additional importance on the topic of ethics during the grading process. By way of an ‘ethics adjustment factor’, candidates may be pushed above or below the minimum pass score, depending on the specific performance in ethics. If for instance, the candidate is a borderline fail, but scores strongly in ethics, the adjustment may result in a pass. And conversely, a poor showing in ethics, may drag the overall grade below the minimum pass score, resulting in a fail.

To achieve the best outcome, we recommend practicing as many ethical questions as possible and to review the material closer to the exam date to keep it fresh in memory.

Rest Ready

For the last several days leading up to the exam, excessive cramming and late nights should be avoided. Doing so runs the risk of becoming mentally exhausted on exam day, which will lead to mistakes. Instead, focus on rest, taking a break from the books and getting exercise. The heavy lifting is done, and now it is time to be fresh as possible for the exam.