CFA Mock exam are some of the most important practice you can do for the CFA exam. Whether it is a live exam or from an online service, the resource can help measure how you will do when the actual CFA exam comes around in June.
Third-party providers generally started offering their live CFA mock exam over the last couple of weeks, normally on a Saturday to mimic the actual exam experience.
One of the most frequent questions I get this time of year is how difficult are the CFA mock exam compared to the actual CFA exam and how do I use the resource for success?
How difficult are CFA Mock Exam?
I have talked to several candidates that have taken CFA mock exams this year, from FinQuiz and from other providers. It is difficult to compare the level of difficulty on mock exams with the actual exam because of difference in candidate opinions. Candidates I’ve talked to have generally found that the Level I CFA Program mock exam by most providers were more difficult than the actual exam. Candidates that took FinQuiz mock exams last year said the Level II mock exam seemed slightly easier than the actual exam but pretty close while candidates taking the Level II mock exam from other providers claimed that it seemed much easier than the actual exam.
CFA Practice Exam – My own experience
My own experience with mock exams, so many years ago, seems to echo the opinion I’ve heard from candidates. CFA Level 1 mock exams seem very difficult because it’s all very new. The actual exam seems more generalized across the curriculum and not particularly detailed. The CFA level 2 exam is extremely detailed and it may be difficult for third-party mock exam providers to mimic the same level of difficulty.
The CFA Institute includes one mock exam in the cost of your registration. The mock exam is designed to mimic the actual test in length and relative weights but may not be exactly like the June exam. For CFA level 1 and level 2 CFA candidates, the mock exam is composed of two three-hour sections. The level 3 CFA mock exam is just one three-hour section and does not include an essay section.
For CFA level 3 candidates, you can replicate the exam experience by taking the mock exam along with last year’s morning essay section or a combination of previous year’s essay questions.
CFA Practice Exam – Put out by CFA Institute
I’ve talked with a few candidates that have taken the CFA Institute mock exams this year and have heard similar comments as previous years. The CFA Practice Exam put out by the Institute seem to be fairly difficult, though we will not know how difficult relative to the actual exam until later. In the past, including the years that I took the exams, the mock exams by the CFA Institute seemed more difficult than the actual exam. If you did not score as well as you would have hoped on the mock exam, use it as motivation to study harder but do not get too discouraged. You may still have a very good chance at the June exam.
CFA Practice Exam – additional practice
The CFA Institute also makes short practice tests available. The tests are shorter than the mock exams and based on specific topics to help you focus your studying. You may not need them if you have access to the FinQuiz question bank, both are designed to be relatively close to the difficulty you’ll find on the actual exam.
How to Use the CFA Mock Exam
More important than the relative difficulty of mock exams is how you should use them in your study for the actual CFA exam.
CFA Practice Exam – First purpose
Mock exams serve two purposes for candidates. First, the obvious reason for mock exams is to test your mastery of the curriculum. The mock exams include questions from each topic area, forcing you to draw from memory the entire curriculum. Many candidates are surprised, having only ever studied topic-based questions, how little they remember when they quiz themselves on the whole curriculum at once.
CFA Practice Exam – Second purpose
The second purpose for mock exams is to mimic the exam setting and the endurance you’ll need on that first Saturday in June. If you do not take a mock exam, you may be surprised at how tired you get sitting for six-hours at an exam table. Taking the CFA exam takes mental and physical endurance and you really need to build up your stamina before the actual exam.
I recommend taking at least one CFA mock exam per week. If you do not have access to a mock exam, you can construct one through end-of-chapter or question bank problems. Take these tests at the beginning of your study week to see in which topics you are weakest and might need extra study throughout the week. Taking at least two six-hour CFA Practice Exam will also help you build up a little stamina ahead of the actual exam.
Again, don’t get discouraged if you do not score as well as you’d like on mock exams. CFA Mock Exam may not be a perfect match for the actual CFA exam. The important idea here is that you not neglect the need to sit for a mock exam, both to guide your studying and to test your endurance.
‘til next time, happy studyin’
Joseph Hogue, CFA
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Helpful post: 2019 CFA Exam changes – compared to 2018
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