Are You Ready for the CFA Exam? Find Out By Answering These Six Questions

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By Christine

Unlike Judge Dredd’s new recruit, hopefully your CFA exam day won’t be a ‘baptism by fire’.

But how would you know if you’re ready for the CFA exam? If you’re unsure, or are new to the exam, you can check to see if you’ve already addressed the 6 points we’ve outline in this post, to be more certain that you are indeed as ready as you can be.

But if you haven’t addressed them – that’s not a problem either. We’ve also included great advice at each point to help get you there. 

1. Ragged or not, I have gone through the entire CFA curriculum at least once

Whether you’re using the official CFA Institute materials or a third party provider, you’ll need to have finished going through your CFA curriculum. If time is an issue, you should aim to get a overall understanding of all topics rather than taking your time with some topics, and skipping entire sections completely

If some serious rush-studying is needed at this point for you to finish your reading, Mike has written a guide on how to complete your reading in one week, which may help you over the finish line. And you do need to hit it fast as the exam approaches.

2. I have gotten sufficient practice through mock exams AND analysed my weak points

Practice is one of the most important factors in determining whether candidates pass their CFA exam (if not the MOST important factor). 

In the chart above, you can see a clear correlation of practice exams completed and performance in the actual exam. In our research, we can also see that CFA candidates who went on to pass their exam completed at least one extra practice exam during their studies compared to candidates who didn’t pass. More secrets to the exam can also be found in our all-in-one guide, CFA Insights.

We recommend at least 4 practice exams (more is definitely preferable if you have the time and money to spend) to be done before the actual exam, including the CFA Institute official mock (which is free).  Another free practice source is our Practice Tests, which you can take online here.

If you need more practice exams, make sure you check out our Practice Exam Guide and our Offers Page to decide which ones are the best for your needs and budget.

3. I have managed to score consistently above 70% in mock exams

So if you’ve practiced, what score should you really be targeting? 

The pass rates for the CFA exams are historically around 40%. So on average you should be aiming to beat 60% of the population. In the personalised report you get with our free Practice Test, you can see where your score stands in relation to the sample, and draw your own conclusions on how ready you are.

But as a rough guide, you should be aiming to be scoring 70% or higher on your practice exams. 

If you’re still struggling to improve your scores, here’s our guide to learning from your practice exams and how to increase your scores.

4. I have checked to see if time management will be an issue

With a whopping 240 questions in Level I, 10 vignettes in Level II, and essays in Level III, time management can be a significant issue for CFA candidates. Knowing your average time taken on practice exams is also important

To help you out, we’ve got two great guides for you. We’ve written about how to adopt an approach on exam day that will ensure you don’t miss out on easy questions. Also, if you’re struggling with a question, we’ve got a guide on how to better your odds on getting the correct answer.

​5. I have made sure I’ve got a good grasp on Ethics

At this stage, it’ll also be a good idea to make sure you’re strong on Ethics. There are lots of good reasons to load up on Ethics, but here are a few important ones:

6. I’ve had a think about exam logistics

Spend a bit of time thinking about exam logistics issues like those above. Transportation and accommodation can get very busy on exam day, so best to get things booked early. If you can, make a dry-run trip to the exam centre before the actual exam day to get an idea of the place and where things are.


We all hope that you’re at a stage of exam preparation that you’re happy with. But if you do have any questions at all, just let us know.

Zee Tan
Author: Zee Tan


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