Level I of the CFA exam is the first step towards receiving your CFA designation. In the level I exam, you’ll be tested in 10 topic areas. The combination of a variety of topics, along with exam anxiety, is the reason why many candidates fail. In fact, the pass rate is around 43%. That 43% includes the candidates that have sat for the exam. Some candidates register and then give up at the last minute because they don’t feel prepared. Meaning that the realistic pass rate is even lower.
This statistic can serve as motivation to take advantage of all means and prepare fully for the exam. Passing the level I exam won’t seem impossible if you know the best tips and tricks to enhance your learning. For that reason, take into consideration the following tips that will help you pass level I and get closer to that prestigious financial certification.
1. Create a Study Plan
CFA Institute recommends that you dedicate at least 300 hours of studying to pass the exam. On average, level I candidates need 303 hours to prepare for the exam. Based on that information, you should create an effective study plan.
Break down those 300 hours to shorter study times. Dedicate each week to a certain number of hours. For example, if you have six months that would be around 12 hours a week. Completely manageable.
Consider your obligations and how much time you can dedicate daily to studying. It is highly recommendable that you start as early as possible. That’s why you should have a study plan. A study plan will be your guide. If you stick to it, you won’t have to deal with procrastination and anxiety that candidates often experience.
2. Be Disciplined
In order for you to respect the study plan, you have to be disciplined. That’s easier said than done, you probably think. What will keep you focused on your schedule is a defined goal. Remind yourself daily why you need to pass that exam. Think about how it will backtrack you if you move it to the next date.
Disciplined self-study is the key component of passing this exam. Establishing discipline for the first exam might be the hardest. However, if you create a routine for yourself, studying will become a natural part of your day.
3. Form a Study Group
Having someone to motivate you when your willpower starts to decrease could be a huge asset. That’s why you should form a study group and meet regularly. The consistency will help you stick to your study schedules as you won’t want to fall behind the group.
Johnathan Dixon, a financial analyst and technical writer at SupremeDissertations and TrustMyPaper, recommends group studying. “Studying with other candidates will provide you with more than just support. You’ll be able to ask questions and get explanations from others. Together you can master all topics and share study tips,” said Johnathan.
4. Don’t Leave Out the Topics
No one expects you to perfectly know every inch of every topic. However, skipping Learning Outcome Statements (LOS) that you think they won’t ask isn’t a plausible tactic. Cover all material but put extra focus on the most tested questions.
On the CFA Institute’s website, you can find the LOS and the latest topic weights. You might notice that some topics such as “Ethical and Professional Standards” are more frequent than “Portfolio Management,” for example. Therefore, you can spend more time on perfecting those topics.
Just keep in mind that guessing what will be on the exam and what won’t, isn’t going to assure you the pass. Studying diligently and covering all material with extra focus on the most frequent topics will.
5. Revise, Revise, Revise
The material you have covered at the beginning of your studying won’t stick for six months without revision. Single out several hours a week to dedicate to repetition. For example, if you plan to study from Monday to Friday, Saturday can be the day for reviewing the material you have already learned.
The revision will ensure that you keep all knowledge fresh and that you cover every topic more than once. To make the revision easier, you can mark the parts that you had a hard time learning and revise them first.
“You have to be consistent to master the material. If you keep making the same mistakes, go back to those concepts until you gain a complete comprehension of them,” advises Adrina Ray, a CFA tutor and financial writer at BestEssaysEducation.
6. Take a Preparation Course and Practice Exams
The dynamic of different learning methods will keep your focus at a high level and help you memorize the material easier. Rather than engaging yourself in passive learning, take a preparation course that will provide you with additional material, exercises, and repetition tests.
You can find online preparation platforms that could be a great enhancement to your learning. For example, the CFA Program preparation platform offered by AnalystPrep. They provide you with questions, study notes, video lessons, and quizzes. Their mock exams will help you get a better idea of what awaits you. Build confidence through mock exams, and the real one won’t intimidate you.
Remember that practice makes it perfect, which is why you should combine the typical reading the curriculum and study notes with concrete practice tests.
7. Read Financial Journals
Connecting test questions with real-world situations is a great way of retaining information. Keep up-to-date with financial journals such as the Financial Times, Economist, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, etc. that will inform you of news and trends in the finance world.
Reading these journals and newspapers might lead you to reference pieces that will make some aspects of your exam more understandable. Learning by heart won’t help your mind keep that information long-term. But supporting theory with real examples and making logical conclusions will.
The above-mentioned tips can help you understand what the crucial aspects of effective preparation for the CFA exam are. Based on that, you can organize your studying and keep your motivation at a high level. Keep in mind that the foundation of passing the Level I CFA exam is your determination and dedication.
This article was written by Kristin Savage. Kristin nourishes, sparks, and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in finance and marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Besides working as a freelance writer at GrabMyEssay and ClassyEssay, she also does some editing work at TopEssayWriting and BestEssaysEducation. In her free time, Kristin likes to travel and explore new countries around the world.