There’s just 13 weeks left to the December level 1 CFA exam and you should be starting your preparation if you haven’t started already. Two deadlines have passed for registration and only the final deadline remains to get your seat at the exam.
We just finished up our review of the Code & Standards topic area of the exam but I thought I would start us off again with a few words on getting ready for the December exam. Despite the roughly 50% of candidates that do not pass any given exam, preparing for the three exams can actually be relatively easy if you know the process.
That’s not to say that studying and passing the exam will be easy but that too many CFA candidates make it more stressful than it needs to be. Understand how the Level 1 CFA exam is tested and build yourself an outline for your study plan and you’ll find it much easier to make it through the exam.
How to Pass the December Level 1 CFA Exam
It’s been said that the Level 1 CFA exam is like a lake one-mile wide and an inch deep. It’s an appropriate analogy because the breadth of the material in the curriculum can seem endless, but you will not drown in the details.
In this first exam, the CFA Institute wants to introduce you to the world of asset management and analysis. They do not expect you to be a world-class analyst after reading the curriculum but to have a good base of understanding on the many topic areas and how they fit together.
Your job is to keep this in mind when studying for the December level 1 CFA exam. Make sure you have a good understanding of all the topics and can begin to see how many of the topics relate to each other. The sheer volume of material will seem overwhelming sometimes but the difficulty of the questions is ultimately not a problem.
How do you build this idea into your study plans for the December level 1 CFA exam? You need to make it through the curriculum multiple times. This will help commit it to memory and will make sure you get a broad understanding of everything. Do not spend so much time on details or any one topic area that you cannot make it through all the material.
Besides the official curriculum, a set of study notes makes this more easily achievable. FinQuiz Notes are designed to be used with the curriculum instead of substituting for it. This means they’re shorter than other study notes packages and can help you get the broader picture of the material more quickly. Read through a topic or study session one week then follow it up with a review of the study notes the next week for better absorption.
Getting to December: An Outline for Study Plans
- Registration ends for the 2015 December CFA exam on September 16th, register here
- Plan out your study schedule
- You’ll want to read through the curriculum at least once with time enough to review over the last month
- Plan on working at least the end-of-chapter questions for each reading and consider a question bank with additional item sets
- Plan on at one or two days a week with no studying so you do not get burned out on the curriculum
- Try scheduling the entire last week off from work and devoting it to a last-week review
- Keep to your study schedule at all costs! It’s only a few months and the odds are high that you’ll have to retake if you do not take this seriously.
- Check your passport right now! The information must match that provided on your CFA exam registration and the passport must not expire before the exam date. Still time to get it fixed if you check now.
- Admission tickets will be available several weeks before the exam. Check the information on your ticket as soon as you receive it.
- One week before the exam, gather all the materials that you’ll take to the exam in one spot. Better to have these ready than to be looking for them the night before the exam.
- Several days before the exam, check the route to the testing location (if possible) for detours or road work. Ask a local candidate to check the route or if there are typically traffic problems on Saturday mornings.
- Plan on arriving at the testing center several hours early. This will allow you any last-minute problems and still get you to the exam on time.
We’ll cover parts of the CFA exam prep outline over the next few months to make sure you stay on track for the exam. Try to work a little ahead of your study schedule just in case something comes up to set you back a little. Too many candidates work right at their schedule or a little behind and then get set way back on any minor hurdle. Stay ahead of schedule and go into the exam with the confidence that you WILL pass.
‘til next time, happy studyin’
Joseph Hogue, CFA