5 Weird CFA Exam Habits & Rituals: Do You Have Any?

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When the exam approaches, do you have a ritual you go through before or during the exams?

Studies reliably show that the higher the stakes, the more rituals there are by students. And the stakes stack pretty high in the CFA exams.

Here are some of the rituals that CFA candidates have, including some of us at 300 Hours.

#1: The Equipment Hoarder
Some people must use the same stationery, or a LOT of stationery. There’s candidates every year that end up bringing a truckload of crap into their exams. Battalions of pencils, mounds of erasers, and a dozen calculators. Seriously, we’ve seen it all. Whatever you do, just make sure what you’re bringing is allowed to be brought into the exam hall

#2: Respect Thy Enemies
I have my own funny ritual – not strictly pre-exam, but throughout studying. I treat my books as holy relics. This means no stacking of other objects on them, carefully opening them to not spoil the spines, no scribbling, and definitely no leaving on the floor for them to get (heaven forbid) stepped on. I even always put them in my bag facing the right way up (i.e. never upside down).


#3: The Fashionistas
Some people must use the same clothes that they studied in. This usually means home clothes, or ‘lounge wear’ as they like to call it in the catalogues. You’ll see some real hobo-type fashion statements during exam days. I actually think this makes some sense, as you’d feel comfortable in them, and thus would perform better. Some people may also bring pillows, and one of us saw a guy wheel in his own ergonomic chair once.

So this one we’d recommend (maybe not the pillows or chair though). You can wear whatever you damn want in the exam, so you might as well get comfy.

#4: The Feverish All-Nighters
This is not a particularly weird ritual, but whatever you do, do not make cramming overnight your pre-exam ritual. I know it’s going to be a tall-ass order to sleep soundly through the night, but you’re going to need all the sleep you can get. You’d be better off taking some time to relax the day before, and going to bed early. Don’t pull an all-nighter.

#5: The Terminator
Finally, and most memorably, there is a pre-exam ritual anecdote originating on AnalystForum from about 2004 that goes like this:

I have a morning ritual that I go through before every big exam. I call it “The Terminator”. First, I crouch down in the shower in the classic “naked terminator traveling through time” pose. With my eyes closed I crouch there for a minute, visualizing either Arnold or the guy from the second movie (not the chick in the third one because that one sucked) and I start to hum the terminator theme. Then I slowly rise to a standing position and open my eyes. It helps me to proceed to the exam as an emotionless, cyborg badass. The only problem is if the shower curtain sticks to my terminator leg. It ruins the fantasy.

Pure gold. I’ll leave it to you whether you think this will help your exam performance or not. 

Do you have a pre-exam ritual that you always go through? Let us know below!

Zee Tan
Author: Zee Tan


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