There are many common (and wrong) myths associated with the CFA exam multiple choice question format that CFA candidates still wrongly assume. We’ve covered tips on how to guess intelligently in the exams, and to our regular readers some of these will come as no surprise. But especially for those taking the exam in December, in this post we aim to bust more myths and clear the air for our readers about the CFA multiple choice question format before the upcoming exams.
MYTH 1: CFA exam multiple-choice questions aren’t that hard.
The CFA exams, however, is not one of these systems.
This makes CFA exam multiple-choice questions as tough and as confusing as multiple-choice questions can ever hope to be.
Time and time again, you will be surprised at how well-designed the distractors are, including high-quality third-party materials. Of course, you wouldn’t even know in the case of the real exam as you don’t get any answers back, just an approximation of your score and the pass/fail grade. So although it’s ‘just’ multiple-choice, it’s not going to be straightforward, or easy to answer.
Of course there are still ways to utilize logic to your advantage – for example, if you’re unsure about the right answer, you can start by eliminating distractors. If you know that A and C are definitely wrong, then the remaining (right) answer is B, et cetera, et cetera. But knowing A and C are wrong also requires knowledge about the topic, and the question has served its purpose.
Multiple-choice does not indicate simplicity and ease, and the CFA exams are the best examples to prove this.
MYTH 2: When answering MCQs, trust your first answer. If you change it, you’re likely changing it into a wrong answer.
The data across 33 separate studies indicate that there is absolutely nothing wrong with changing your initial answer. In these studies, the percentage of “right to wrong” changes is 20%, whereas the percentage of “wrong to right” changes is 58%, nearly triple.
Changing from “right to wrong” may be more painful and memorable (Von Restorff effect), but it is probably a good idea to change an answer after additional reflection indicates that a better choice could be made.
MYTH 3: If you’ve got absolutely no clue which answer to go for, always go with B (or A, or C).
If you’re stuck, always check to see if you can eliminate any of the distractors. Quite often even if you’re completely unfamiliar with the particular topic, you still can eliminate one of the questions (either by logic or knowledge about another topic), thus increasing your likelihood of being right to 50% instead of 33%.
Other mistakes to avoid include:
- Choosing an answer which material seems vaguely familiar to you
- Choosing the longest answer
If you’ve got more myths to contribute, or would like to ask a follow up question, just comment below! Meanwhile you may be interested in these other articles: