8 Items to Check Off Before Entering the CFA Exams

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By Zee

Everything except the syllabus material, that is.

Hopefully you’re as well prepared as you’re ever going to be. You’ve done all you can, now let’s focus on getting the exam over with.

And you should remember to have everything you need for the exams – an astonishing amount of candidates forget their calculators every year (by far the most frequent issue). Passports are even worse – since you can’t borrow one! Not to worry, we’ve done all the legwork, and everything you need to get checked off before your big day is here.

#1: Exam logistics, and your list of things to bring to the exam.
Location of the exams, transportation, what to bring, what you can’t bring. Make sure all the logistics are worked out – you don’t want to suddenly realize you’ve forgotten your calculator or exam slip on the day itself. Here is the definitive list of things we recommend you have with you – for more details check this post out for our complete list of things you should be bringing.

Things to bring into exam hall
You can put most of this in a plastic baggie and just take everything in it when you’re marching into the hall (as proctors will not allow bags of any kind).

  1. Wooden pencils – sharpened (required). 
  2. Small sharpener (optional). 
  3. Eraser (required). 
  4. TWO identical calculators (required). 
  5. Exam ticket (required). 
  6. International passport (required). 
  7. Watch (optional). 
  8. Jacket (kind of required). 
  9. Bottle of water (optional). 
  10. Ear plugs (optional). 
Leave these in your backpack:

  1. Some cash. 
  2. Caffeine dose. 
  3. Food. 
  4. Your mobile phone, switched off

#2: Carry out your pre-exam rituals.
Many CFA candidates have pre-exam rituals – you’ve studied all you can, and since now things are left a bit up to fate, it’s normal to get a little superstitious. Here are some of the weirder rituals we’ve heard about

#3: Maybe cram a little bit.
Cramming is generally ill-advised, but there will always be certain parts where you still don’t seem to quite get, despite all your efforts. Gather these parts of the material and assess how can you reasonably tackle questions on these parts by mindless memorisation. I’m generally very focused on understanding the true concepts behind the material. But in the last week, if maximizing passing chances is the goal, now’s the time to cut your losses and just memorise.

#4: Resist studying late or long hours. 
Keeping awake with caffeine will come to haunt you on exam day. You’re guaranteed to regret pulling an all-nighter, as the subsequent crash in the morning affected exam day too much for it to be worth it. Don’t do it.

#5: Start waking up on time. 
Instead of all-nighters, do the opposite and give your body the sleep it needs, at the time it needs it. If you’ve been doing late hours and waking up late in the morning, this week is the time to reverse that pattern. If exam day is the first day you’ve woken up early in a long time, you’re not going to be as sharp as you should be.

#6: Take a day off to relax. 
This does not mean hardcore partying, but instead take the time to de-stress as much as you can. If you can’t bring yourself to take a whole day off, take half a day off – preferably the second part of the day, that way you won’t be worrying about the topics you will be covering after you’re done relaxing.

#7: Don’t eat iffy food.
Please, please, please do not eat anything that has a risk of coming back to give you any trouble on exam day. Oily foods, exceptionally spicy foods, anything you’re not used to eating. Don’t do it – you sure as heck don’t want to be running for the loo during the exam, or worse, when there’s a mile-long queue.

#8: Don’t give up or overthink things.
Much, MUCH easier said than done, but there’s no point in pondering what are your chances in the exam. Just keep your head down and focus on maximizing your chances. 

To each and every one of you reading this, every team member at 300 Hours has passed me their good luck wishes to you. If you’re feeling nervous you can always have a rant in the comments below – go on, we can take it! 🙂

Zee Tan
Author: Zee Tan


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