Are You Ready for the June CFA Exam? Have You Started Yet?

There’s 16 Weeks left until the exam and I thought it would be a good time for a check-in. A recent post on the LinkedIn Group polled Level II candidates about how far through the curriculum they had studied. Results are:
56% below 20%
18% between 20-40%
7% between 40-60%
5% between 60-80%
11% between 80-100%
If you have been following our own 21-week plan, currently on study session six, you would be through about 27% of the curriculum. While the poll asked only Level II candidates, there’s really no reason to believe that Level I or III would be any different.
Two points jump out immediately looking at the results. One, that the majority of candidates are less than 20% through the curriculum and (two) that a tenth of candidates report being almost done. I wonder if those reporting in the 80-100% bracket are repeat takers, and so have been able to move more quickly through the material, or did they just start exceptionally early?
Of the 56% that are not yet through a fifth of the material, I wonder how many of these have not even started. Every year in March/April we see a ton of posts to the group asking if it is still too late to begin studying. Considering the 300 hours of studying it takes for the average candidate to pass any given level, waiting until February or later certainly does not help your chances.
I think the biggest danger here is that many candidates believe they will be able to pass by getting through the material one time. They remember back to their days in college where they could briefly study the chapter once and pass a weekly exam without a problem. The problem here is that you are being asked to remember a considerable amount of information for a much longer period. Someone reading through the corporate finance section once might find it difficult to remember anything when asked four months later and after studying through 17 other study sessions.
I remember once hearing that the brain needs to be exposed to something around seven times to convert it to long-term memory. To me that has always meant reading through study notes at least twice, making my own flash cards, working thousands of problems and completing at least six mock exams. No doubt many of you will be able to assimilate the information much quicker, but the fact remains that you need to give this curriculum more than a cursory review.
We’ve posted a couple of study plans in the past, based on more or less study time left to exam day. Now is a good time to take a question bank exam over the material you have studied to date. If you make less than 70% on the material, you may need to change up your plans to be able to review a couple more times. I would recommend doing this at least each month to check your progress.
We’ll cover study session six across the three exams next week.
‘til then, happy studyin’
Joseph Hogue, CFA

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