As the exam approaches, we hope you’re finishing up the last of your planned practice exams! How you actually perform on exam day, however, can also be affected by issues that could potentially be avoided.
We’ve listed the most important dos and don’ts for candidates to follow – pay attention, any one of them could mean the difference between a pass or a fail. Good luck!
1. Don’t eat poorly around CFA exam day.
On the days approaching the exam, play it safe. Everyone is used to different kinds of food, so make sure you know what is safe for you to eat and stick to it. You can also try eating more food that is proven to boost mental alertness and memory recall. And in general, stay away from overly spicy or oily foods, or booze of any kind. Save those for after the exam!
2. Do get enough rest and sleep.
The day before exam day, it will be more worth it to sleep on time instead of delaying to cram in a bit more. Really.
Get better at managing your sleep with our guides:
3. Don’t be late.
Our studies show that about 5% of candidates (that’s 1 out of 20 of you!) that actually show up on the day will still miss the start of the exam. Don’t let that be you.
Common reasons candidates are late include:
- Not packing all they need before actual exam day
- Underestimating traffic – know that in larger test centres, CFA exams create their own rush hour
- Arriving at the location on time, but not waiting at the actual doors until it’s too late
4. Don’t forget your exam checklist
Don’t go to a war and forget your rifle.
Forgetting your passport or exam ticket could be even worse – you can’t even borrow these.
Here is a list of what you need to bring to the exam. Make sure you tick every single one of them!
- Pencils – sharpened or mechanical
- Your calculator, two if you can manage it, in the (highly unlikely) case one runs out of battery
- Exam ticket
- International passport
- Small sharpener
- Ear plugs
For the full list and details on what to bring, read this article:
5. Don’t bring TOO many things to the exam
There usually is a room to put your things, but it will be very overcrowded and not secured. Keep your things safe in your car (if you drove), or bring a padlock that can go through all your backpack’s zips. If you have to leave it outside the exam hall, make sure it’s nothing you’d miss too badly.
Below is a list of items allowed into the exam hall:
6. Do bring your own lunch
The best way around this is to bring your own lunch. I always buy two prepacked sandwiches for exam day: one for my breakfast, and one to bring to the exam. Prepacked is important: they’re usually well packed enough to not be soggy by the time lunch time rolls around. If you try and pack them yourself, you may end up with a wet mess when you’re trying to eat it.
7. Don’t write on anything else other than your question papers
But do not write on anything else apart from the question and answer papers. Do not write on the exam ticket, passport, table, calculator, eraser, or yourself.
You may think this is being a bit paranoid, and you may be right. But if a proctor decides that you’re looking a bit fishy, you’re toast. They’ll write you up, and you most likely will get your exam invalidated, and maybe get a few years’ exam ban thrown in for good measure.
Don’t. Write. Where. You’re. Not. Supposed. To.
8. Don’t discuss questions after the CFA exam
Don’t do this, be it verbally after the exam, or (even worse) online. The CFA Institute monitors online activity closely before and after the exam, and if there is evidence of exam question discussions on social media or on forums, there will be a swift response.