15 Things We Love to Hate About the CFA Exams

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By Christine

The entire CFA exam process is quite a unique experience. It is challenging, long, but ultimately rewarding. 

But sometimes it is frustrating. God, really frustrating.

Sparked from a discussion on people using CFA as a noun (“I have a CFA”), we got to discussing the tiny things about taking the CFA exam that really bug them.

I’m sure you can think of dozens too. Studying, practice exams, the actual exams…tons of opportunities for resentment. Loads of fun to think and list them out.

The top 15 from the team are listed below. You’d bound to have run across them before, and we’d love to get more from you in the comments below. Enjoy!

15 Things We Love to Hate About the CFA Exams

#1: Blocking Facebook and Youtube, disconnecting your games console, losing contact with friends, and still managing to procrastinate.

#2: That you lose your weekends for half the year, and sometimes have to take time off as well from your vacation days.

#3: The models on the cover of your study notes. They start off looking attractive, cheerful and positive, and you spend the next few months getting to completely resent everything about them.

#4: That when you think you’ve finished your studying, then take your first exam, then realizing that there are many questions that you haven’t a clue what they’re on about. At all.

#5: That you sometimes can remember everything about a particular concept except the actual answer to the question.

#6: The moment when you first score a practice exam and realized you got 40%, or something equally depressing.

#7: That your wrongly calculated answer will always also be magically included in the multiple-choice question.

#8: That your calculator just spouts different answers even though you swore you’ve done the exact same calculation. 3 times.

#9: The shit you can supposedly get away with, and still can be considered to not have violated Ethics. And in another hypothetical situation, proceed to violate Ethics and not have a clue why. (on a related note, make sure you check out our 3 Must-Know Tips to Nailing Ethics!)

#10: People around you that keep saying “Oh, I’m sure you’ll pass.


Comic from the Oatmeal (oatmeal.com)

#11: The evolution of your personal hygiene and appearance. Hair and clothes permanently smelling like coffee, sense of dressing turns Neanderthal, and eyebags the size of Nicaragua.

#12: That you start having relationship problems due to your lack of attention to it.

#13: That between exam sessions, you have to queue for 30 minutes to spend a ludicrous amount of money to buy crappy food that you wouldn’t in normal circumstances ever touch with a 10-foot pole.

#14: Worrying about, and then actually having to tell people that you failed.

#15: That you start feeling annoyed when people say ‘a CFA’ and you start correcting them. For the rest of your life.

We’re sure you have many, many more from your personal experience. Add yours in the comments below!


6 thoughts on “15 Things We Love to Hate About the CFA Exams”

  1. #8, oh god yes, all the time! I actually had a dream where I was trying to solve some TVM problem, and the 12C kept giving me increasingly absurd answers. It was displaying letters and symbols and then started making some horrible grinding noise. That should probably be #16: being unable to escape the CFA even in your sleep.

  2. When people ask you about your weekend plans or say something like: “Hey its Friday! How bad can it be?”


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