Every candidate needs an exam day preparation kit. This is a small folder of items you will need to take to the exam either as a requirement or that might help you through the day.
I highly recommend putting this kit together today, rather than waiting until the morning of the exam. Sleep on the night before the exam is often hard to come by and you may be tired in the morning. Putting your kit together the day before helps to avoid forgetting something.
- Admission Ticket (required) – This must be printed on clean, unused paper. Do not mark on your admission ticket, front or back! The information on your ticket must match the information on your passport. You will need your admission ticket for the morning and afternoon session, so do not lose it. I recommend printing out two copies, just in case.
- Calculator (required) – Either a Texas Instruments BA II Plus or HP 12C. Your calculator will be inspected prior to the start of the exam and must remain on your desk at all times. The proctors will be walking around during the test and checking that all allowable items remain on the desk and in full view. You may have the calculator cover, keystroke card, screwdriver and batteries. If your calculator is less than a year old, you will probably not need to change the battery. If it is more than three years old, you may want to bring batteries just in case.
- International Travel Passport (required) – A new requirement this year and I CAN GUARANTEE YOU that there will be candidates that show up without it and there will be candidates that spend much of the night before trying to find it. You must physically check your passport, just ‘knowing’ where it is sets you up for a frantic time of searching when it’s not where you thought. Also, physically check the expiration date, name, date of birth, passport number and country of issuance against information in the CFA Institute’s records.
- Pencils and Pens (required) – For levels I and II, you will only need pencils. Level III candidates will need both pencils and pens (blue or black ink is fine). I recommend taking more extras than you will possibly need. It is not too inconvenient to carry around three extra but it would be decidedly inconvenient if something were to happen and you had nothing with which to write. This will also avoid having to bring a pencil sharpener, though you may still want to bring one.
- Earplugs (optional) – I never needed these but have heard horror stories of industrial machinery outside and noisy proctors. If you are at all distracted by ambient noise, bring ear plugs. As with many of the optional items, it really isn’t that convenient to take them along.
- Wristwatch (optional) – Some candidates like to keep a close eye on the time. Do not let it distract you too much though.
- Aspirin, cough drops and tissues (optional) – You are going to be stressed the morning before the exam (as well as probably the week before) and this may play havoc with your immune system. Having some aspirin and tissues at hand is just a good idea. You do not need a splitting headache or cold to distract you from the test. This includes things like antacid, eye drops or anything else to delay any distractions until 5 pm. Be extremely careful taking any other medication (i.e. cold or flu) as it may make you drowsy or inhibit clear thinking.
- Coffee or energy drink (optional) – If you normally use some kind of caffeinated or energy pick-me-up in the mornings, do not neglect this on exam day. Without that accustomed boost, you may feel drowsy and not be able to concentrate. Some candidates bring gum or candy as well for a little sugar boost. Don’t drink or eat more than you are accustomed because you do not want to need to use the restroom or be too jittery.
There will be an area outside the testing room will you will have to leave personal belongings not allowed in the exam room. These are usually monitored but the Institute will not be responsible for any lost or stolen items.
Even if you are not accustomed to eating breakfast in the mornings, try to eat something healthy and sufficient to get you through the day. Nothing too greasy or fatty but enough to give you the needed energy.
Good Luck Candidates!
Joseph Hogue, CFA