With just under 21 weeks left to the 2016 CFA exams, now is a great time to get started on your Level II CFA Program study plan. What? You don’t have a study plan?!?
Don’t worry, a smart study plan to pass the CFA exam doesn’t have to be a complicated or stressful plan. In fact, start now and follow the plan below and it could be a rather relaxed experience. With nearly five months left to study, you can dedicate each week to a study session and will still have time for topic reviews and those all-important mock exams.
Other candidates will tell you to wait a few weeks, that you’ve got plenty of time before you need to start your 2016 CFA study plan. Don’t believe them! Start now and be one of the candidates that pass the exams!
A Timeline for your Level II CFA Program Study Plan
The timeline for your 2016 CFA study plan is fairly simple. We want to cover each of the 18 study sessions each week over the next eighteen. Covering just one session per week gives you the time to really hit the material multiple times and commit it to memory. Remember, most people need to see something upwards of seven times for it to be committed to long-term memory.
Some Level II CFA Program study plans will suggest reading the study sessions out of order, whether mixing easy and difficult topics or some other method. I always just read the curriculum books in order but you can read in any order you choose. The order of the books does a good job of building up to the more difficult material so you have the knowledge to tackle more complex ideas when you get to them. Make sure you read the topic readings in order.
Every six weeks, you should take a 60-question exam on the sessions you’ve covered. This can be done by putting together end-of-chapter questions or more easily with a question bank of practice problems. This is going to help refresh the material and measure your mastery of the curriculum.
Cover each study session in a week and you’ll have nearly three weeks left over before the 2016 CFA exams. You’ll use this time to work mock exams to measure your overall retention and review the most important material. Taking one or two mock exams each week before the actual exams will help you prepare physically for the six-hour tests as well as guide your study plan for areas where you still need work.
How to Study for your Level II CFA Program Study Plan
The best study plan combines active and passive learning techniques in repetition. Passive learning involves activities like reading the curriculum or watching a video. It’s an easy way of studying but you don’t retain as much information as you do when you use active learning techniques like working practice problems and flash cards.
The best study plan always starts with reading the CFA curriculum. Resist the temptation to jump straight to condensed notes, they can’t offer all the material and you’ll end up missing some critical points.
After you’ve read through a study session, work the end-of-chapter problems to measure your retention level. Then review study notes on the section to reinforce the key points.
Use a test bank of questions to work another set of practice problems. These are the best resource you can use because they get you actively thinking about the material and mentally ready for the exams.
Review the study session one more time with brief Smart Summary cards of the material and work any difficult concepts on flash cards. You can buy pre-written flash cards but the most effective method is to write your own. You’ll remember more of what you write down yourself and will save money.
Do this cycle for each study session in your Level II CFA Program study plan, repeating it each week.
How long each study session takes will depend on how quickly you read and will vary on some of the more difficult topic areas. You will probably be able to read through Ethics relatively quickly but may need more time on derivatives and other topics. Do not rush through a study session and make sure you hit each step in the cycle.
This Level II CFA Program study plan won’t guarantee that you pass the exam in June but it will give you plenty of time to master the material. Covering each study session in multiple formats will help you commit it to memory and you should be able to recall everything on the exam.
‘til next time, happy studyin’
Joseph Hogue, CFA