How to Pass the CFA Exam in Six Weeks

With just six weeks left to the exam, candidates are asking themselves if they have studied enough and what their chances are at passing the exam. For those that have followed our 21-week study plan, you should be starting the last few study sessions and tracking your progress through practice problems.
There are many candidates who have just recently started working through the curriculum and are wondering if six weeks is enough time. The short answer is probably not unless you are able to completely devote yourself to the exam over that period. Remember, the average candidate spends about 300 hours studying for each exam. Even if you are particularly bright, and not just overconfident and can get by on 250 hours, that is still more than 40 hours a week.
Even candidates that have been studying over the last several months may want to re-evaluate their progress. Our study plan has covered to study sessions 14 in the exams but this is still just the first time through the material. Candidates retesting material seen in the first couple of study sessions may find that they have forgotten some of the important concepts.
This is why you may want to change things up for this last six weeks and incorporate a few other resources. You’ll still need to finish the curriculum to the last study session, but you need to revisit the concepts in earlier study sessions through practice problems, flash cards and study notes.
The resources below are some of my favorite for quick review and being able to get the most important parts of the curriculum in the most condensed form:

  • Study guides are still going to be your ‘core’ resource. Hopefully, you don’t need to re-read all the material but you should try to get through your problem areas again.
  • Flash cards! I’ve covered these in a previous post. This is one of the most useful resources at this point because you can carry them around easily and focus on specific questions/formulas.
  • Topic area summaries are worth the cost for their portability. Not quite as useful for formulas (practice is best) but you can easily review a summary page a few times a day and get core concepts down.
  • I would be spending the majority of time on practice problems and mock exams. Don’t just grade your answers but study the guideline answer for those you got wrong. I cannot think of a better way of focusing in on the stuff you don’t know yet.

For the most efficient use of your study time, I would start doing at least one mock exam or practice test each week. Sit down with a question bank of practice problems in the approximate weights from the exam and complete two, three-hour sessions. For each topic area, you need to be aiming for at least 70% but you’ll want to score higher in the core areas like ethics, financial statements, and equity analysis. Knowing approximately how well you are doing in each topic area will help you to allocate your study time over the next week.
Of course, the last week before the exam is still the ‘superman’ week. You might want to consider taking the entire week off from work and planning an intensive review of the material. We’ll cover how to plan the last week in a coming post. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.
‘til next week, happy studyin’
Joseph Hogue, CFA

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