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05/21/2015

CFA Exam Taking Tips


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June is near and CFA candidates all over the world are counting down the days until exam day. All of us at NYSSA wish the best of luck, strong composure, and laser focus to those members of the NYSSA community who took our weekly or condensed review courses, problem solving or essay writing workshops, bootcamps and mock exams!

Because luck is not always enough, here are some easy to remember exam-taking strategy tips from our Lead CFA instructor, O. Nathan Ronen, CFA for you to internalize before exam day:

Level I

  • Observe the 45-seconds per question rule. In other words, don’t spend more than 45 seconds on any one question on your first pass. This means 45 seconds to read and analyze the question, perform any necessary calculations, select your answer, and mark it on the answer sheet. In the exam booklet, mark the questions you need to revisit. Observing the 45-second rule will keep you focused and prevent from you running out of time, missing easy questions at the end.
  • Make sure you don’t overthink the question and look for tricks. Once you’re in that mode, you will likely select not the right answer, but the next best choice.
  • Don’t over-study any one particular area in the curriculum. The section on which you spent inordinate amounts of time may not even show up on the exam. Study the material evenly.

Level II

  • Observe the 1-1/2-minutes per question rule. In other words, don’t spend more than 90 seconds on any one question on your first pass. This means 90 seconds to read and analyze the question, perform any necessary calculations, select your answer, and mark it on the answer sheet. In the exam booklet, mark the questions you need to revisit. Observing the 90-second rule will keep you focused and prevent from you running out of time, missing easy questions at the end.
  • Make sure you don’t overthink the question and look for tricks. Once you’re in that mode, you will likely select not the right answer, but the next best choice.
  • Don’t over-study any one particular area in the curriculum. The section on which you spent inordinate amounts of time may not even show up on the exam. Study the material evenly. 

Level III

  • Make sure you address all parts of an essay question. For example, two advantages and two disadvantages of pure bond indexing versus enhanced indexing means you need to offer eight distinct arguments. 
  • Read, digest and answer each essay question in no more than 75% of the time allocated to it. This will generate the time you need to revisit and tackle the questions you find most difficult at the end. Bag the easy points first.
  • Let the point value of each question guide the length of your answer. For example, the answer to an 8-point question should never be the same length as the answer to a 4-point question. 

Knock ‘em dead!

O. Nathan Ronen, CFA, is the lead CFA instructor at NYSSA and has helped over 20,000 candidates pass the CFA exams. He has been teaching CFA Levels I, II, and III for 19 years.

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CFA® EXAM PREP

CFA® Level I 4-Day Boot Camp
Midtown

Thursday November 12, 2015
Instructor: O. Nathan Ronen, CFA

CFA® Level II Weekly Review - Session A Monday
Midtown

Monday January 11, 2016
Instructor: O. Nathan Ronen, CFA

CFA® Level III Weekly Review - Session A Wednesday
Midtown

Wednesday January 13, 2016
Instructor: O. Nathan Ronen, CFA

CFA® Level III Weekly Review - Session B Thursday
Thursday January 21, 2016
Instructor: O. Nathan Ronen, CFA

CFA® Level II Weekly Review - Session B Tuesday
Thursday January 26, 2016
Instructor: O. Nathan Ronen, CFA