Well, congratulations to you! You’ve made the decision to sit for the CFA exams. This will require a lot of your time, dedication and attention. Be prepared to be socially lost for the next few months because these exams are extremely difficult. You need to have a structured study schedule in order to efficiently utilize the time you have.
According to the CFA Institute successful candidates on average report that they spent approximately 300 hours preparing for the CFA exam in total. The required preparation time can be greater for those with a poor background in the subject matter and less for those who have a strong background in the subjects that the CFA curriculum covers.
As a plan to follow, let’s use this study plan of 300 hours:
The CFA Level I exam covers 10 topics, 18 study sessions, and 60 readings. Each subject carries a different weight in the exam. A good way to manage your study time is by allocating study time based on each topic’s weight. Follow the CFA notes for better understanding.
On average it is best to utilize the first 4 months for reading and the last one month for practice. You should practice at least 1 CFA mock exam every during the last month. Once you practice a CFA mock exam you will become familiar with the exam pattern.
Utilize your days off and weekends very efficiently, add extra study hours for those days, study the CFA notes on every weekend. Do not forget—the more you practice, the higher your chances of being successful on the exam.
End of chapter questions
Make it a point to always solve end of chapter questions and also record your progress, this will help you track how far you’ve come. Just like a CFA mock exam end-of-chapter questions will give you an overview of what areas are tested on the exam, so you can be more focused on these areas. Additionally, these questions will reveal the weaker areas that you must focus on to improve.
The last four weeks
CFA exams are held on the first Saturday of June (all levels) and the first Saturday of December (only Level I). Taking these dates into account, allow yourself four weeks earlier to the exam date to review questions and have practice sessions, also thoroughly revise the CFA notes. During this period, you should practice more intensively than in previous periods. The CFA Institute will give you one CFA mock exam. It’s recommended that you set aside at least one day to simulate exam conditions at home with the mock test: a three-hour morning session, two hours of break and a three-hour afternoon session. The CFA mock exam will help you to be well-prepared for the exam physiologically.
It would also be worthwhile to take a two to four-week study leave or annual leave for the final phase of your preparation.
Summing up, the key ti passing your CFA level 1 exams is to study for at least 300 hours with a well structured exam study plan and proper time management.