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.
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).
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.
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.
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:
- Ethics will be a prominent topic in all CFA levels, so best to start getting good at it.
- If you end up being right at the pass/fail border on the actual exam, your performance in Ethics will be the tie-breaker.
- It doesn’t have to be a ‘tough’ topic. Invest time in it (hint: practice questions!), and once you start getting good at it, you’ll have acquired a strong CFA-passing tool.
6. I’ve had a think about exam logistics
- Have I secured my exam ticket?
- Have I sorted out my transportation to the exam centre? Will I be needing accommodation?
- What am I doing for exam-day lunch?
- What should I bring into the exam hall?
- Have I started resting and eating well, so that I am in top physiological condition for the exam?
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.