In the recent weeks we’ve been getting queries from candidates that have signed up in the last minute.
These candidates mostly have been worrying about one thing: do I have enough time to study and pass since I’ve just registered?
Well, although here we recommend that you start earlier, for Level I, even if you started right now, you should be able to pull it off. Assuming you get your game face on and get it on starting right now.
#1 – Be aware how much time you have left and plan accordingly.
The December exam starts in early December each year. This means that as of today, you have a little over 2 months left, or about 9-10 weeks. This is a squeeze if you’re just starting, but certainly not impossible. Being aware of the time left ensures you plan to include a good amount of time each remaining day to study.
#2 – Aim to finish reading the material once through with about 4 weeks left.
So if you’ve just signed up and starting to revise, in all honesty, at this point you have no time to dick around. Aim for one study book a week. The timing is important.
Make sure you finish your material with some time left over.
#3 – Do your end of chapter (EOC) questions.
The end-of-chapter exams are not the same format as the exam. They are more straightforward and designed to reinforce the knowledge you just digested. However, they are invaluable and you should do your best to go through them at the end of each chapter. This will help you ground the knowledge and better retain your material. The CFA Institute end-of-chapters are recommended over other third-party versions.
#4 – Practice the practice exams.
After you’ve finished your material once through (i.e. 4 weeks to go), keep doing practice exams. If you’ve gotten third party material you’d have access to a few, including 1 free downloadable from CFA Institute. Aim to do about 2 per week, plus checking answers thoroughly and reviewing notes that you are less clear about.
#5 – Know the exam format.
The exams consist of 120 questions per 3 hour session – with two sessions in the AM and PM that totals 240 questions over 6 hours.
That’s 1.5 minutes per question. Not a whole lot of time – speed is key, so you need to practice this.
At first, don’t worry about the timing. Take the practice exams to get used to the question format. After a while you will be able to blitz through questions at a faster and faster rate. As the exam approaches, then check your timing to see how you’re doing time-wise. Plan out a good time-check system if there seem to be a risk that you may run out of time.
#6 – Do even more practice exams.
If you finish your practice exams with still time to go, you have 2 choices – either get extra practice exams or alternatively redo your practice exams. I would recommend some fresh practice exams, but also redo some practice exams towards the last week to boost confidence. We have plenty of offers always going on on our Offers page so check back often if you need extra material.
#7 – Don’t get complacent, but don’t lose your sh*t either.
Finally, if you’ve stuck to the plan, KNOW that you should be ok.
The important point with CFA prep is not to relax and start to take it easy, but also remember not to panic. Candidates most commonly tend to underestimate the exam. But if you go all the way to the other end and freak out, that’s no good either. The exam is absolutely doable.
#8 – Know what to do approaching the exam.
As this may be your first time in the CFA exam process, it is important that you know what the process is like. For the last week, read these posts:
- 3 Tasks You Should Perform Before The Final Month of CFA Exams
- 8 Items to Check Off Before Entering the CFA Exams
- 3 Reasons for Extreme Strictness during the CFA Exams
- Taking the Exam? Please Don’t Do This
- The Ultimate List of What To Bring to the CFA Exam
#9 – If you pass, what about Level II?
As we’ve touched on before, Dec Level I is sometimes not the issue, but rather the Level II that will come 4 months or so after your Dec Level I results. If you’re planning to take Level II immediately, you may want to consider starting your studies straight after Level I, before the Level I results come out.
#10 – Get all the help you can.
Make sure you read through the Level I Commandments as well – all the key points on how to face the Level I exam are there. If you have additional questions, there’s always people to ask that would be willing to help.
If you’ve got a specific problem, you can get free help simply by posting your question in the Forum!
Good luck preparing for Level I! Let us know what your plan is in the comments below, and we’ll answer if we have any additional advice to add to your plan.