CFA Level 1 Mock Exams – How Should I Use Them?

At AnalystPrep, our CFA mock exams mimic the actual exam regarding curriculum, difficulty level and time. We strive to give candidates an opportunity to test themselves under exam conditions and establish any weak spots or gaps in knowledge that they might have. Candidates who revise and write a mock exam have been found to do better on the final exam compared to those who revise but do not write a mock exam. This is because our mock exams shine a light on the areas you are already good at, as well as “grey areas” where you should devote more time studying.

It’s a marathon!

Mock exams help candidates to familiarize themselves with exam conditions. Chartered analysts have previously likened the studying process to a marathon, where to win, you have to establish a solid practice plan and stick to it. Exam stress is common among candidates, but if you get into the exam room having done a few mock exams, you’re likely to be more confident and relaxed. Our mock exams are designed to reflect the examiners’ current testing formula, in terms of topic weights, question structure, and length. Having established the importance of pre-exam practice, we now outline just how candidates should use the mock exams.

How to use mock exams to improve your score

Our mock exams are such that questions and answers come on separate sheets. We do this so as to mimic the real exam as much as possible. We advise candidates to print both questions and answers. After printing, you should pick a conducive environment in which to write the test. This could be a quiet room with good ventilation or just a cubicle that has a comfortable desk. Before starting the mock exam, ensure you have everything required including extra sheets of paper, a calculator and most importantly, a timer. Again, the aim here is to simulate actual exam conditions.

You should write down answers, in the same manner, you’d write them during the real exam. Avoid looking at the answer sheet until you’re done with all the questions. This is the only way to allow yourself to determine just how good you are at remembering the course work. You should write down the answers using a pencil so as to simplify corrections and adjustments. For calculations, ensure that you use only the models approved by the CFA Institute.

These are

1. Texas Instruments BA II plus/ BA II plus professional

2. Hewlet Packard 12C (including versions 12C platinum, platinum 25th anniversary edition and 12C prestige.)

One critical condition to observe when writing the mock exam is time. You should attempt all questions within 180 minutes. For a mock exam with 120 questions, this implies spending about 1.5 minutes on each question. The best performing candidates use mock exams to learn how to save time. There is no point in spending a large chunk of your time on a question that seems to present problems or one that appears unclear.

Don’t cheat yourself!

After the mock exam, a candidate should exercise prudence during marking. Do not award yourself unnecessary marks. This ensures that the score you attain represents an honest assessment of your preparedness. While we acknowledge the fact that the score you achieve in a mock exam isn’t an accurate predictor of your final score, it will give you a clue of just how much more is required to increase chances of passing.

It’s absolutely unnecessary to write a particular mock exam twice. The best strategy involves giving more attention to questions that you got wrong. Concentrate your efforts on understanding the answers to such questions. This is the only way to close any existing gaps in knowledge. We advise candidates to not only analyze the answers but also go back to bookwork and read again. Go through chapters that seem a little bit unclear. By doing so, you’re most likely to accumulate more extensive knowledge on a given topic, and you won’t have problems tackling similar but slightly tweaked questions.


“When is the right time to attempt a mock exam?” One might ask. The most appropriate time is about a month to the big day. However, for late practice, you could attempt one about two weeks to the exam. The secret is to ensure that you have enough time to deal with your weaknesses. At AnalystPrep, we offer candidates two mock exams. Attempt both! Do not worry too much in case you fail the first one. Just make sure you do an extensive revision before attempting the second one.

The CFA Institute also offers candidates a mock exam just before every exam session. It’s good to use it too. However, past candidates have acknowledged the fact that the material provided by the institute is not enough, and that’s where we come in. We’re here to provide you with quality additional content that will maximize your chances of success.

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