With just three days left before the exam, you really don’t have a lot of time to review the entire curriculum. In fact, if you are studying more than 8-10 hours each of these last few days you are probably setting yourself up for burnout before the exam.
You can actually make these last couple of days a fairly relaxing break from the last few months of ‘round the clock studying. The trick is understanding the topics in which you have a real weakness and setting a goal that can get you the max points with the least study time.
If you’ve been taking mock exams and question banks, and I really hope that you have, then you should have a fairly good idea of where you stand in each topic. You also need to look back to the topic weights for your exam to get an idea of where you should be spending your time.
Ethics and Financial Reporting are must-know topics on the first exam, with equity/quant/fixed income a close second. Equity and Financial Reporting are your big money topics in the second exam, with the possible points from other topics varying widely. The third exam is all about the essays and you should be working the old exams provided by the Institute. If you have not mastered the ‘core’ topics within your exam yet, spend your time there.
Formulas or Concepts
A common question this late in the game is whether you should be focusing on conceptual material or just hitting the formulas.
Concepts are extremely important for the first exam, but unless you have a good idea of which topics you need to study then reading through pages of text might not be a good use of time. If you have a condensed study guide or a one-page summary sheet, you might want to review that for your conceptual material.
Formulas are quickly covered and a big part of all three exams. The last few days before the exam can be a great time to wrap up any formula work you need to do. Set a goal of learning 5-10 formulas that you have had trouble with over the last few months. Put practice problems on note cards and drill the cards until you can easily do the problem. Make sure you work the problems, don’t just look at the cards!
Go back through the formulas the next day to make sure you still remember but you shouldn’t have to relearn them. The whole process shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours and can be less stressful than trying to fit in 8 hours of studying.
Almost there! Just three days left! Stay strong, keep focused and will have no problem on Saturday.
‘til next time, happy studyin’
Joseph Hogue, CFA