There’s just two weeks before the December CFA exam and there’s finally some light at the end of the tunnel. For a lot of CFA Level 1 candidates, the intensity of studying for the CFA exams is something entirely different.
You’ve come a very long way but resist the temptation to glide easily to the test. Using your last week wisely can mean the difference between passing on to the second exam or having to repeat your efforts in June.
Your Last Week CFA Study Plan
Long-time readers of the blog will know I’m a big believer in an intensive study schedule the final week before the exam. Not only can making the CFA exam your job that last week score you a lot of points it can actually be a lot of fun as well.
Think I’m exaggerating that your last week studying for the CFA exam can be fun?
Take next week off from work and commit to an intense study schedule around the CFA curriculum. I always stayed home during the week but I know a lot of candidates that have traveled somewhere for the week as well. Staying in another city not only makes the week more enjoyable but it also gets you away from all the distractions you’ll face at home.
Plan on studying between 10 and 12 hours a day from Sunday through Thursday. This can still leave you plenty of time to relax and take in a few sites around town. I wouldn’t plan on traveling too far from home and your test site, only as far as you can drive in a few hours. That way, you can spend Friday getting back home and relaxing before Saturday’s exam.
If you do stay home for the last week before the CFA exam, try studying in a private location. Reserve a study room at the library and turn off your cellphone. You might want to disable internet browsing if you are studying the CFA curriculum or notes on a tablet, just so you aren’t tempted to waste time.
Set a strict schedule for each day’s studying. Try reviewing at least two study sessions and working as many practice problems as possible. Do at least one full-length practice exam at the beginning of the week to find your problem topics and where you might need to focus.
Make sure you formally limit non-CFA study activities in your schedule. It may seem like only a few minutes but those constant bathroom breaks, walks to stretch out, snack breaks and checking your email can really add up.
Your Last Week CFA Materials Checklist
I usually leave this last-minute CFA checklist for a separate post. I wanted to include it here to give you more time to work on this administration and logistics-type problems this week so you can focus only on studying next week.
Put together your exam-day preparation kit now so you won’t be scrambling to find things just before the Saturday exam. Get a clear plastic bag to hold everything and store it in a safe place where you will be able to find it.
- Passport identification
- Your printed admission ticket – I usually printed two just to be safe
- An approved calculator
- An extra calculator battery and a small screwdriver – if you want to avoid having to change out your calculator battery, just take an extra calculator instead
- At least three pencils
- An eraser and a pencil sharpener
- Ear plugs
The CFA Institute Program Policy page has all the resource links you need to confirm what you can take to the exam. You will need to visit the page to print out your admission ticket.
You should know where your exam center is located but check out the CFA Institute December Test Center Locations for any updates. If you do not live nearby, it is a good idea to talk to someone that lives near the exam site to ask if there is any road construction or other potential travel problems. If you live more than a few hours from the exam site, you may want to consider staying in a nearby hotel the night before to avoid any problems and get a good night’s rest.
The Institute has published a brief schedule of the CFA Exam Day with recommendations on when to arrive and what to expect. The policy on leaving the exam room after completing one of the sessions has been changed. You are no longer allowed to leave the room after you finish. Everyone will wait to be dismissed together. You are still allowed to leave briefly to go to the restroom but must return to the exam room.
Making sure you get to the exam center and have the right materials isn’t really complicated but there is always one or two candidates that forget something or arrive too late. Prepare your materials and CFA exam day schedule well in advance to take the stress out of these little things. Arriving at the testing location rested and ready will go a long way in giving you the confidence you need to pass the exam.
‘til next time, happy studyin’
Joseph Hogue, CFA