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01/02/2013

Ready...Set...Study! A Study Checklist for the June CFA Exams


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CFA Exam Prep

You’ve registered for the CFA® exam* and opened the box containing six curriculum books from CFA Institute. Now what?

Plan your attack using this checklist:

CALENDAR YOUR TIME

CFA Institute states that “Successful candidates report spending an average of 300 hours preparing for each exam.” With five months until the exam, that’s 60 hours a month – or approximately 14 hours a week. Studying for the exam is a part-time job and you need to dedicate time each week to studying. Commit to it by blocking time off in your calendar and treat that time as sacred, as an appointment that cannot be changed.

DETERMINE YOUR LEARNING STYLE

Now that you’ve blocked off time, HOW will you use that time? The answer depends on your learning style. Do you study better alone or in a group? Are you self motivated or do you need outside help to keep you on track? Do you learn best in a live review class or are you an online learner? Take some time to think these things through, decide early what your approach will be and then take the appropriate action.

If you study best alone, find a place to study where you won’t be distracted. Let friends and family know your schedule so they don’t interrupt. Make your schedule and stick to it.

Prefer peer support? Consider joining a study group. Meeting with candidates who have expertise in different areas allows you to build on each other’s strengths. See resources below for societies that offer study group registration.

Live review courses provide another way to attack the material. Meeting weekly keeps you on track, and allows you access to instructors who can answer your questions. You receive study notes and other material specifically created to help you prepare for the exam. You can also meet with other students during the week in a study group to reinforce the learning. Again, many local societies offer live review classes.

However, if you study best at 2:00 a.m., have a busy travel schedule, or don’t have access to a live course where you live, then the online option may be the best for you.

DECIDE ON YOUR STRATEGY: WHAT TO TACKLE FIRST

Study sessions don’t have to be studied in order. You can to start with ‘easy’ ones to build confidence and get you into a study rhythm. Or knock off the hardest ones first and get them out of the way. Once you’ve made that decision, block off time to read ALL of the source readings in the CFA Program curriculum. To take your studying to the next level, make time to write out the highlights for each reading in a note book. Check out this article to find out how and why to do this.

PLAN TIME TO REVIEW

Once you’ve read through a topic, block off time to reinforce what you’ve learned. Schedule time to work through formulas and practice questions to increase your understanding of the material.

PLAN TIME FOR THE FINAL REVIEW

You cannot cram for this exam. Dedicate the last four weeks for review and practice tests. However, do not schedule any major studying for the last two days before the exam. Use that time to relax and prepare mentally for your exam day marathon.

Candidate resources: Local CFA Societies

New York (NYSSA)    Study Groups     Review Courses
San Francisco               Study Groups     Review Courses
Los Angeles                   Study Groups     Review Courses

Find other societies

* If you haven’t registered for the exam yet, register online.

–Linda Lam

Linda Lam has worked with a candidate review program since 2000.


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