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04/28/2014

Four Ways to Prep for CFA Exam Day


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CFA Exam Prep

By now, you should have completed the first pass-through of the entire curriculum, as well as prepared your own study notes and/or flashcards. Now it’s time to practice exam day survival skills.

Even if you’ve committed everything to memory, it doesn’t mean you are prepared to take the exam. The six-hour exam is grueling. Three hours in the morning, a cruel two-hour lunch break, and then back to another three hours round in the afternoon. This is no walk in the park. You need to prepare physically and mentally for that day.

 

DO AS MANY PROBLEMS AND QUESTIONS AS YOU CAN.

Be smart about it; don’t spend hours online going through question after question in a test bank. While that approach can be helpful, it doesn’t prepare you for what you’ll face on exam day. Instead, focus on these two suggestions:

Go offline.  You won’t be tested online, so don’t get used to an online environment. Instead, answer questions the “old-fashioned” way, on paper, with a pencil and calculator as your only tools.

Do as many full-length exams as you can.  You won’t be tested in small time increments, so don’t spend an hour here and an hour there going through problems. Instead, set aside one day a week to take a full-length exam in as realistic a setting as possible. Time yourself, tell family and friends not to disturb you and unplug from all distractions. Oh, and no food or drinks allowed during the three-hour test segments!

BECOME BEST FRIENDS WITH YOUR CALCULATOR.

Make sure you are using one of the two approved calculators and then eat, sleep, and breathe with it. Knowing how to use your calculator fluently can save you precious time on the exam and may just give you the edge to pass.

GET PLENTY OF SLEEP, EXERCISE, AND HEALTHY FOOD.

Pay attention to what you are eating and drinking. As tempting as sweets and snack foods can be, empty calories are not your friend. Stick to a healthy diet, and avoid caffeine and alcohol. Take First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s move” message to heart by making time to exercise each day. And, don’t skimp on sleep. To survive exam day, your mind and body will need to be in top performance shape.

REWARD YOURSELF.

Don’t lose faith - you’re almost there. Stay motivated by giving yourself little rewards along the way; have lunch with a friend, download some new tunes, eat a favorite dessert - as long as it isn’t every day. And while you’re at it, plan your ultimate reward. What are you going to do for yourself after the exam is over?

Don’t let months of studying be derailed because you weren’t ready for exam day!

–Linda Lam

Linda Lam is the program manager of the CFA Review Program offered by the University of San Francisco.

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