How to Find Time for the CFA Exam

Since our first child was born in August, I have repeatedly thought of how fortunate I was to have taken the CFA exams when I had a little more time. Sure, I was working a full-time job and married while studying for the three exams but at least I didn’t have to balance my CFA study plans with changing diapers.
Come June, time is what many candidates will say held them back from doing well on the exam. More specifically, the lack of study time in their busy schedule to prepare sufficiently.
Thinking about this and my own situation, I realized that it is just another excuse. Those with families wish for more help with the kids. Those with jobs envy the students. The student-candidates wish they didn’t have to juggle studying for the CFA and their other academics. There is never enough time.
That’s why, you have to MAKE time!
Taking a ‘no excuses’ look at my own schedule, I found plenty of time that I could rearrange and devote to studying for the exams.
I found that a few of the below were my best sources of ‘found’ time to study:

  • Flashcards are probably the best resource for finding extra time to study. Anytime you have a few minutes, you can run through a couple of topics. If you can stomach taking the bus or train to work, that can be a huge boost to your total prep time.
  • During my three years studying for the exam, I made a list of ‘essential’ tv shows (Simpsons!) and cut out all the other crap.
  • Encourage the rest of the family to take up activities or classes. This will give you an extra hour or two per week of alone time.

A lot of the exam prep is just finding the time and using it wisely. Practice problems are always going to be time well-spent and study guides are a good source of the important stuff. With the right level of commitment, you have to make it your second ‘job’ to study for the exams. Set a reasonable schedule and meet it every week.
It’s only three years and time sacrificed now will be rewarded.
Good luck. We’re almost half way through our 21-week study plan and will start study session 9 across the three exams next week. Let me know if you have any questions.
‘til next week, happy studyin’
Joseph Hogue, CFA

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