An interesting observation from the recent CFAI survey for June 2013 candidates revealed that only 35% and 72% of you use CFA sample and mock papers respectively for exam preparation. When delved deeper, 30% and 49% of candidates said they didn’t do the sample and mock papers respectively due to lack of time.
The low uptake for CFA sample papers is perhaps understandable, as candidates are required to pay for it. However, CFA mock papers are free for candidates and made available nearer to exams. This is an invaluable source of free practice from CFAI itself that should not be ignored. We hope you’ve set up your own study plan, following it religiously to avoid the time management issue most candidates seem to have in their preparation.
At 300 Hours, we are big advocates of practicing when it comes to passing the CFA exams, so much so we suggest leaving 1 month prior to exams dedicated to doing practice papers with your last minute revision. Here are 3 lesser known things you should consider doing before this crucial final month (studying aside, of course!).
Many candidates mistake the last month as buffer for finishing off their first round revision of the CFA materials. That’s not the case. Ideally, you should dedicate the final month exclusively for doing practice papers, 4-6 sets seem to be the magic number.
Make sure you’ve got yourself 3 sets of practice exams to start with (check the Offers section for deals), as you will have a free mock paper from CFAI itself closer to date. We will alert you on that when the mock paper is available. As the final month comes, we would also do a round-up in the forum of the practice papers available for purchase just in case you need more.
#2. Consider taking 1 week off prior right before the exams
There are 8 weekend days in May. Assuming you work on full capacity, that realistically allows you to do 4 sets of practice papers (morning and afternoon sessions) on Saturdays, checking and revising on Sundays. There isn’t much room for emergencies or buffer there to meet the 4 practice papers minimum recommendation.
Hence, we do recommend taking a few days off before exam day (1 week if possible) as it gives you the focus and extra time to continuously plug the gap in your knowledge with your last round of revision, or take on more practice paper under exam conditions. You may want to ask for the leave earlier in advance to secure the days off from work. I’ve personally done this for all 3 levels of my exams and it has proved effective in nailing the last bits (especially FRA and Ethics).
#3. Prepare for logistics and lodging
If you need to travel and/or stay over at a hotel near a CFA test centre, it may make sense to look into booking these now to secure a place at cheaper rates. We’ve heard horror stories from candidates who had problems with travel on the day itself, given the awful traffic conditions and location of certain test centres.
Think about lunch preparations for the exam day too (though you don’t need to figure this out now, just put a reminder in your calendar a week before) – somehow all these conference centres where the CFA exams are held around the world don’t have adequate capacity to serve thousands of candidates in that short 1 hour lunch break. The last thing you want is to feel hungry and distracted for the afternoon paper – a packed lunch is always a good solution.
I hope your studies are going well, where you steadily cover good ground each week. Spare a little thought for the tips above to ensure you’re less flustered closer to the exams!