4 Powerful Tips for Passing the CFA Exam the First Time You Take It

The CFA designation is the most sought-after credential in the investing industry.

If you want to obtain the coveted CFA charter, you have to pass the challenging three-part exam. Obtaining this widely respected charter comes with several advantages, including pay and job prospects.

Historically, less than 50% of test takers pass the first two levels, while little over 50% complete the third level. To pass each level, the CFA Institute advises candidates to put in at least 300 hours of study time, which might be difficult for some candidates.

The following simple steps will help you prepare for your test and give you the extra push you need:

1 – Choose the Right CFA Study Materials

Having a variety of learning techniques will keep your attention sharp and make it simpler for you to retain the information. Join a preparation course that will offer you more reading material, activities, and practice exams rather than participating in a passive study.

Online learning tools are available that could greatly improve your learning and help you prepare for the CFA exam. They give you quizzes, study guides, videos, and questions. Their practice exams will give you a clearer understanding of what to expect. By taking practice exams, you can gain confidence so that the real exam won’t scare you.

Keep in mind that practice improves performance. Therefore mix the standard curriculum study notes with actual practice exams.

2 – Create a Study Schedule

CFA Institute advises studying at least 300 hours to pass the test. Level I candidates typically need 303 hours to study for the test. Therefore, you ought to design a productive study timetable.

Divide the 300 hours into more manageable study periods. Set aside a specific number of hours each week. For instance, assuming you had six months, you would need to study roughly 12 hours per week. This is manageable.

Consider your responsibilities and how much time you can set aside each day for learning. It is strongly advised that you get started as soon as possible. Your roadmap will be a study schedule. You won’t have to deal with the procrastination and nervousness most applicants frequently encounter if you follow it through.

3 – Don’t Leave Out Any Topics

Nobody anticipates you to be an expert on every facet of every subject. However, it is not a good strategy to skip Learning Outcome Statements (LOS), believing they won’t be tested. Cover all content, but pay special attention to the questions that will be tested.

The LOS and the most recent topic weights are available on the CFA Institute website. You may have noticed that some themes, like “Ethical and Professional Standards,” are mentioned more frequently than others, like “Portfolio Management.” Consequently, you can devote more effort to honing those subjects.

Remember that trying to predict what will or will not appear on the exam will not get you a pass. But a thorough understanding of all the material and extra attention to the subjects that come up most often will.

4 – Improve Your English Proficiency

Speaking and listening abilities are not necessary for the CFA exam. However, intermediate English writing and reading abilities are crucial. English can be difficult, even for a native speaker, due to its complex nature. 

Therefore, you must improve your English language proficiency in reading for all CFA levels and writing for level three. 

You can study with a greater understanding of the material by identifying the teaching strategies or learning preferences that are most effective for you. For instance, employ extra resources and approaches, like flashcards or questions with thorough explanations of all possible answers, rather than attempting to read a book from cover to cover.

Your last month should be dedicated to mock tests, a ton of practice questions, going over all of your errors, and concentrating on the subjects you feel you need to improve on. 

Redo all the questions you got wrong, make notes on anything you had trouble remembering, and review them several times. Think about taking a few weeks off work to commit fully, just as athletes do before a race. 


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