According to the good people at Merriam-Webster, many of you have an addiction. You have, “a compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance.”
The addiction…social media and web browsing.
While it may not be as devastating as an addiction to narcotics or lead to financial ruin like an addiction to gambling, the compulsion to surf the internet can also have huge consequences for your preparation of the CFA exams.
Candidates love to talk about the exams. They talk about which level is most difficult and why. They ponder the minimum passing score and trends in the pass rate. I have even seen forum posts on the best beverage to drink while studying.
The real problem is that these activities are done with the guise of productivity. Yes, you need to understand the topic weights on the exams. Yes, there are some great tips and tricks out there on how to approach the CFA exams. The problem is that candidates too easily use the web as a subtle form of procrastination and an excuse to get out of actual studying. How many hours have you spent ‘researching’ how the tests are conducted, how to approach each topic area, the earliest one should start studying, or a myriad of other questions about the exams?
Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are not alone. The average U.S. internet user spends 32 hours per month online and total time connected from sea to shining sea was measured at 121 billion minutes in July 2012. That’s 230,060 years spent online by internet users in one month alone. Americans spend approximately 19% of this time on email and 22% of it across the social networks.
I have to be careful here. Your internet addiction is what brought you to the blog and I want you to come back regularly to listen to my ramblings. But I also want you to pass the exams and I have seen too many candidates sabotage themselves by spending too much time on the forums and not enough time actually studying.
CFA Exam – Everything in Moderation
As with most habits, the first step is understanding the behavior and approaching it with moderation. There is some great advice out there and it can make your life incredibly easier come the first Saturday of June. You need to know the general process involved and the idiosyncracies within each exam, but you also need to know when to get off the forums and get to work studying.
Give yourself an hour or two every week to answer questions about the exams. You might take a little more during the first couple of weeks to familiarize yourself with a new level and you might take less time toward the end after you’ve learned what you need. The important point is to understand how much time you are spending and to make sure it does not come at the expense of studying.
- If you have a specific question about the exams, especially while studying the curriculum, do not stop studying. Write the question down and address it later, after studying.
- When looking for the answer to a specific question, try searching for the question using the forum’s search bar rather than making a new post. This will help answer the question quickly and will not bring you back to the post every time someone leaves a reply.
- Find a couple of good sites (I hope this blog will be one) that you visit once or twice a week to see if there are any updates. Finding a new site can be helpful but don’t spend too much time surfing the web for new places to visit.
Would love to hear your own checklist to kick the habit.
‘til next week, happy studyin’
Joseph Hogue, CFA