You have agreed that you can take up the CFA test challenge and become a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). Make sure you've been worrying about this because it's going to be a rough few years. There is no trick to passing the test, even though just 20 per cent of the individuals who take Level I make it to the end and earn their CFA ® licence.
To pass CFA level 1 in first attempt, you will need a coordinated and disciplined strategy. Starting with Level I, I'm here to guide you through it. Trust me; you don't want to dive in, as you want to have an idea of your overall learning plan.
Emphasis on Exam Weights and Result Statements for Learning
For CFA level 1 exams, you should have a solid understanding of the CFA Program curriculum and how each subject is weighted. Every exam cycle, the curriculum is revised, and all three levels of the exam concentrate on the same core topic areas. Exam weights differ by Level and can change slightly from year to year, so it's nice to be sure about what the weights are for the test you're taking.
The Learning Result Statements (LOS) and core principles are constructed from the CFA Institute's Candidate Body of Information. To help applicants find out what can be learned from each reading, they have planned study sessions and LOS. Be sure to build your study plan around these, as they will assist you to concentrate on the correct exam topics.
Using Actual Circumstances Principles
It's not enough just learning the content to pass the CFA test. You must be able to take the information and adapt it to practical circumstances. The majority of questions do not ask you to regurgitate memorised things. They ask you to apply problem-solving skills to problems you can find on the job and apply expertise.
Many CFA charter holders advise you to relate what you learn to the real world at all times.
Find out how to take an exam.
There's a distinction between learning the content and learning how to take the test. In the last four weeks of studying, make sure that you practise taking the exam in experimental virtual exam conditions. The CFA Institute will send you one mock test, and with exam preparation providers like Schweser, you can buy others. In over 120 locations worldwide or online, you can also do a 6-hour live mock exam offered by CFA societies. A multimedia tutorial will take you through each question and help you understand where the answer comes from, the calculations needed, and what terms they are testing you on is included in the society mock exams. This will help to fill in your gaps in information and give you an idea of how, during the actual exam, you can pace yourself.
Start Early Studying
You have approximately 300 hours to prepare for Level I in advance, so I recommend you start 5 to 6 months before your exam date. There's a lot of content, and underestimate if there's ever been one, so it's essential to keep pace with yourself. This will help stop you from burning out until the day of the exam comes. In addition to the CFA ® Institute syllabus, I also highly suggest that you use a CFA ® test prep course to help your self-study.
Make a Study Schedule
For any business-savvy person, the material for Level I is typically not difficult to understand. Still, the amount is significant-you can see a lot of your standard econ 101 material, but also a tonne of higher-level concepts weaved into this mix. Some test preparation guides would say 250, but roughly 313 hours is the total amount of time spent preparing for passing candidates. Never underestimate the time and effort that this exam takes to complete. If you've put in 280 hours of work already, what are 20 or 30 more in the grand scheme of things?!
Setting a strategy for CFA level 1 exam for yourself to tackle the content mountains ahead of you is a critical move in passing the CFA. If you are determined to follow your schedule and stop missing any scheduled sessions, then you have the self-discipline to pass Level I and the entire CFA ® exam eventually. I was thinking about it like I was the kid who had to watch the other kids play when I was doing homework inside. It wasn't fun, but I knew there was a purpose behind it all.
Don't Forget Ethics
A big mistake you might make after reading the curriculum is to neglect the portion of Ethics. This is a bad call as all three stages of the CFA ® test will be applied to the Ethics content. You should be able to grasp Level I ethics, so you will have a solid foundation set in place as you step on to the other levels.
It's rumoured that without passing Ethics, you can't pass the test. This is theoretically not valid because if you crush anything else, you might miss Ethics, but that's incredibly unlikely. BUT, if you are close to the minimum passing mark, your mark in Ethics will determine whether you pass or fail. "Whether you crash or burn will be decided by the" ethics change. If the CFA ® Institute programme is too dry for you, it is always a good idea to check out additional CFA ® test prep materials.
Practice examinations are the most significant aspect of the study schedule. Before the exam day, many would expect to review the material up to the correct but mostly skip the practice tests. This is a significant error and results in a ranking that is below-passing. Before the test, you should give yourself plenty of time (some say around a month) to take as many practise exams as you can. Before test day, a successful rule of thumb is to shoot for 6 practise tests.
The benefits of practise tests are to let you know if your study hours have paid off. Practice assessments define your limitations and strengths, telling you which areas require more training and which subjects you have mastered.
Keep an eye on the clock.
In Level I, there are 240 questions and a restricted amount of time. Level I is the most time-limited in terms of the number of questions to be answered, so there is always the possibility of not finishing. If this happens to you on the exam day, it is better than nothing at all to guess for the rest of the exam blindly. No penalty for guessing is in place.
Shoot for 70%, but never feel down if you're smaller.
The CFA ® Institute's Minimum Passing Score (MPS) will never be more excellent than 70%. This implies that 70 per cent-100 per cent is the highest score bracket for passing a particular subject, but you do not need to hit that in any subject to pass, as long as you can compensate for losses in another subject.
In your practice tests, you can strive for 70 per cent or better, so you can be assured on the test day that you are at least close to passing on the topics you are struggling with and achieving that amount in your more vital areas. Remember, 70% is equal to performance in the actual test, but below 70% does not necessarily mean failure.
Get ready for Day of the Exam.
You might forget to allow yourself time to prepare for the exam after months and months of studying. To avoid running into any surprises that might fluster you on test day, you may need to figure out the logistics of the exam day. Read up on what to carry on the day of the exam, and you might want to check where the test centre is going to be in advance. By losing your passport or any other administrative mistake, do not put your efforts in vain. Before taking the CFA ® Level I test, these specifics should be the least of your concerns. The best luck!
Goal 300 Research Hours For Level 1, At the Minimum
It is not hard to understand the material in CFA Level 1, but the difficulty lies in the sheer volume of the material, especially for those new to finance.
Some guides will tell you to set a target of 250 hours, but this won't be enough on average. A typical Level 1 candidate spent an average of 285-300 hours studying for Level 1 exams in previous CFA Institute applicant surveys.
In our experience, 300 hours is a decent amount of time for the Level 1 material to be adequately covered, and appropriate practice exams are done.
That said, as this differs across levels and context, 300 hours is possibly a minimum number. The message could not, however, be clearer-do not underestimate the test. So make it your target for 300 hours.