Study Techniques for CFA Exam

Photo via Flickr by Marvin Kuo

The CFA exam is very near and candidates are glued to their books studying hard for the exam. I don’t know of anyone who is cool about not passing the exam and saying that they can always have another attempt at it. I thought this would be an appropriate time to write about time-tested study techniques for CFA exam preparation. Let’s review these techniques.


When we start studying, most of us have the problem of a wavering mind and difficulty in focusing.  Meditation can help solve this problem. Done at regular intervals, it can help improve focus and your capacity to memorize. It’s not necessary that you a long time meditating. Even short 5-10 minute meditations in between your study sessions can also vastly improve your productivity. Some studies show that meditation can directly impact your test scores.

Maintain a Planned Pace of Studying

The pace at which you study is important. Say you started studying six months before the exam it’s important that you complete first review of all topics in the first three months. These three months also should be appropriately spread across all topics. What you essentially need to avoid is spending too much time on some topics and too little on others.

Don’t Skip Topics

It may still be okay to skip a topic or two in Level 1 exam, but not for Level 2 and Level 3 exam. Item set questions in level 2 revolve around a mix of many topics and you may get stuck if you aren’t familiar with a concept.

Attempt CFA Practice Exams

Taking practice exams is a very important part of preparing for the CFA exam. Once the exam is near say about 60 days away, you should start planning to take practice exams regularly. This has many benefits. One, you get really closely familiar with the exam format, speed, and focus areas. Second, you get to know your weak areas and you can go back and review those sections spending more time on them than others. You will also learn how to effectively manage time in the exam hall. My suggestion is to plan for atleast 6-8 practice tests.

Use the Exam Calculator

In all your study and practice rounds, use only the CFA approved calculator that you plan to carry to the exam center. You need to be very absolutely comfortable with it.

The Push

Like all good things in life, the success with CFA exams also comes with that little extra push every day. Remember that a little push today can turn into a big life tomorrow.

Do tell us any other study techniques you use for CFA exam.

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