Results for the level I and II 2018 CFA exams are coming up (August 14th) with the level III results out on August 28th. Results are emailed out with the title, “your CFA Exam Results” and many will be too afraid to open the email immediately.
Posts on the results and how to prepare range from the strictly informational to the frantic. I saw one post recently that suggested that the candidate visualize opening the email and seeing bad news! This was supposed to prepare you for the worst, which would leave anything else as a pleasant surprise. Being a realist is ok, but I think this is going a little too far. Whether you think you passed the exam or not, your results on the 14th are going to affect the rest of your day. Preparing for disappointment weeks in advance is just going to prolong the pain ahead of schedule and may not necessarily make the ultimate letdown any easier to accept.
I have a fairly relaxed personality and always had something of a zen outlook on exam results. I did what I could and the results will be what they are. Worrying about the outcome should have been done in the months leading up to the exam instead of slacking off or whatever else was done instead of studying. If nothing else, a failed exam gives you the chance to learn to deal with rejection.
An interesting poll on the LinkedIn candidates group asked what people would do if their results were less than favorable. Of the 52 respondents, 73% reported that they would review all the material in preparation for the next effort while just 14% said they would focus on only the hardest topics or just focus on practice problems. About a tenth of respondents said they would give up and not take the exam again.
Clearly the majority would restudy the entire curriculum in preparation for next year’s test. This would be my vote. Only focusing on the most difficult topics may seem like an acceptable answer if you already have a grasp on the rest of the curriculum, but how frustrating would it be to fail the exam again but this time in the topic areas that were largely ignored?
If it is any solace to those that fail the exam, the majority of candidates I have talked to report that the second attempt at a level is much easier and that they picked up some valuable knowledge missed during their first attempt.
Whatever the results are next month, we’ll be here to help you pass the next exam. Use the comment box below if you have any comments, suggestions or prep tips you would like to see.
Joseph Hogue, CFA