Don’t Go on Your Post-exam Vacation without Reading This!

Another CFA exam down and you’re a step closer to the end of an extremely tough road. Congratulations! Pass or fail, you are a stronger professional for the material you’ve studied and the time you’ve dedicated.
Right now, the CFA are probably the last three letters you want to worry about, but before you take that long post-exam vacation and start killing brain cells, there’s a couple of things you can do to make your life infinitely easier next year.
Remember the Alamo
Just as the hardship and sacrifice given by those at the Alamo became a rallying cry for later battles, the recent mental torture that is the CFA exam should be you’re rally cry for next year’s test.

  • Take a moment to reflect on your study schedule for this year’s exam. Did you start too late? Were you able to stick with it? Were there things beyond your control that got in the way? A phased start might be something to think about, starting with just five hours or so a week in November/December then ramping up to a full schedule in January. This will help you get started early but avoid burning out before exam day.
  • Remember, the average candidate spends around 300 hours studying for each exam. Don’t count on being able to study more than 15-20 hours per week unless you are a full-time student. Life gets in the way, plan accordingly.
  • Understand that the strategy for passing each level is different from the last. While the curriculum is similar, usually just more detailed in different places, the format of each exam is different and the core topic percentages change. Check out our previous posts for each exam level for specific suggestions:
  • http://www.finquiz.com/blog/2012/05/14/how-to-pass-the-cfa-level-i-exam/
  • http://www.finquiz.com/blog/2012/05/15/how-to-pass-the-cfa-level-ii-exam/
  • http://www.finquiz.com/blog/2012/05/15/how-to-pass-the-level-iii-cfa-exam/
  • Set your reminders. Setting an email reminder to be delivered when you want to start studying is a good way to make sure you start early and stay on track. I use http://www.memotome.com/ for quite a few different important dates, it’s free and simple to use.

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now!
Besides making sure that you don’t repeat the mistakes of the past, like waiting until March to start studying, there are also a few things you need to check so you don’t create all new problems.

  • Check your passport for expiration! Get this or any needed corrections taken care of before next year. The processing time may take up to six months so don’t delay.
  • If you are heading into Level 3, you will need a review by a local CFA charterholder to vouch for your work experience. If you do not know anyone at work or in your local society, this could be a problem so it wouldn’t hurt to start making the introductions.
  • Building the required experience for charterholder status is one of the biggest things that delay candidates. You need 48 months of professional work experience that fits the Institute’s guidelines for asset management and decision-making. If your employer allows it you may want to take on a few extra responsibilities at work or take on a few freelance projects if your current role doesn’t satisfy the requirements. A part-time position or freelance projects won’t get  you full credit but you might be able to get some months requirement filled.

Again, congratulations on making it through a process so difficult that many give up or neglect it completely. You’re due for a well-earned vacation.
‘til next time, congratulations!
Joseph Hogue, CFA

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