Mock Exam Madness

Mock exam scores (the ones I have seen for various providers) are starting to come in and it looks like candidates are about as prepared as they have been in prior years. Difficulty varies on these, but it looks like candidates are coming in at around 60% overall.


What does this tell you? Not much actually. I have been a big proponent of taking mock exams as part of a guidance tool for your own studying. After taking a few exams, you can get a better sense for the topics in which you need more work. Consistently taking exams as part of your study routine can help to make sure you are not neglecting a topic or as a way to fine-tune your time. Comparing your score against the average scores for all candidates, just does not provide much new information.


We already know that no candidate with a score of 70% or above has ever failed the exam. Other than that, the Institute is pretty quiet on the issue. We also know the pass rates and trend for each of the exams, around 40% for the last five years or so. Knowing that candidates are averaging around 60% on mock exams really only tells us that the actual passing score will probably be somewhere between 61-69%, which we could have assumed anyway.


The mock exams are a great tool to test yourself in the testing environment. Unfortunately, many candidates choose to only complete one mock and then dwell on their score. If you do not understand how a sample size of one is not a good idea, you need to go back and check your quantitative methods. Scoring extremely well or poorly on one mock exam says little about your level of preparedness. Don’t neglect to study for the next month if you blew the mock away. Similarly, don’t get too discouraged if you did not do well. Take a few more mock exams and average out your scores by topic. This will show a better estimate of your understanding.


Mock exams are also a good idea because it forces candidates to do problems in multiple topics in one sitting. While doing topic specific practice problems after each reading is important, you need to do problems across different topics to better simulate the difficulty of the actual exam. The exam will require that you remember all topics in one sitting, so you should spend some of your study time practicing this.


You get one mock exam from the CFA Institute free as part of your registration. FinQuiz also has six full-length exams available. This, combined with the end-of-chapter and test bank questions should be enough to give you a good idea of where you stand come June 23rd.


Just 5 weeks left. Stop surfing the internet and get back to studying!
‘til next time, happy studyin’
Joseph Hogue, CFA


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