CFA FAQ: 8 Questions Most CFA Candidates Will Ask

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By Christine

We receive a lot of mail from readers asking for advice for their own CFA preparations. While we try and reply to every one personally, it got me thinking about readers that may not have written in, but still have the same questions nonetheless. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could benefit as well?

So I thought I’d share eight of the most frequently asked questions by our readers to us, as well as our answers.  Hope they’ll be of help to you, and if you have any further questions, just pop them in the comments below!

Does the CFA Institute offer discounts?

“I’m currently in university, and the CFA registration fee is quite expensive for me. Does the program offer any discounts that I can take advantage of? Appreciate the help, thanks!”

Unfortunately there are no discounts given by the CFA Institute for CFA exam fees. Having said that, there are still some ways you can reduce the costs of the CFA exams for yourself:

CFA? Or MBA? Or FRM? Or something else?

“Hi Christine, love 300 Hours by the way, it’s been very helpful!

I’ve recently completed my degree and I’m looking at continuing my education while looking for a job. I’m considering the CFA charter, but I’m also looking at possibly an MBA or FRM. Basically looking to further boost my resume and upgrading myself! I’m currently still looking for a job – my ideal job would be in investment reporting, covering energy.

Which qualification would be the best fit for me?”

If you’re looking to focus on finance, the CFA program is a great option as you can continue on the program while you search for a job. Even after you’ve found one, you can still continue prepping and taking the exams – many candidates effectively balance their work and CFA studies.

The MBA is a different beast, really – although there are executive MBA programs which are part time, on the whole they require more time and money, but you get a more generalist boost to your CV. Although the CFA can still help you outside of finance, the MBA would be helpful if you’re possibly looking outside of finance in the future. The career and networking focus of most MBA programs are also great plus points.

If you’re interested in MBA programs, these articles can help:

How can I get help from 300 Hours?

“I’ve just signed up for CFA Level I, and I’m a bit overwhelmed at the moment! There’s so much to get through. Where do I start at 300 Hours for help?”

If you’re new to 300 Hours, The best place to start would be at our Guides section. We also regularly publish articles suited to the CFA studying cycle, so signing up to be a member (it’s free) and checking back often is a good idea!  If you need any specialised help, remember that you can always post a question in our Forum.

How can I pass all three exams as quickly as possible?

“I’ve just signed up for CFA Level I, and I really want to finish all three exams as soon as possible, with no failures. How do I go about achieving this, and what are your recommendations?

There are no guarantees. Everyone starts at a different level of knowledge, with different study plans, under different circumstances. There is no way we have a one-size-fits-all plan that will work for you to pass all 3 exams first time. 

However, we do have a few in our team that have done it before, and reading about their experiences might give you ideas on how to adapt their techniques for yourself. Sophie completed all three exams in the space of 18 months – you can read Sophie’s experience here:

There’s too much to remember at once. I can’t do it!

“The CFA curriculum is so vast. Even though I’ve completed studying the study notes, but I feel like I’ve forgotten complete sections of the curriculum. Some of the earlier sections seem completely foreign to me now even though I know I read them previously! Is this normal, and what do I do to address this?”

​Forgetting parts of the curriculum is not unusual, so don’t panic! Follow these tips:

  • Make sure when you complete practice exams that you really spend time understanding the questions you got wrong and weren’t sure about.
  • Read the topics that gave you trouble during the practice exam.

Do all of that before starting the next practice exam, and by the time you reach 5-7 practice exams you should have a better grasp of the entire curriculum. 

How do I balance work and my CFA studies?

“I’m currently in a pretty demanding job. My boss is really pushing the team hard at the moment, and I’m not getting much slack or sympathy to prep for the CFA exams. What should I do? Do you have a way to help me cope? Or should I write off the CFA exams for this year? :(“

If it helps, you’re definitely not alone. One of the best advantages to the CFA program is that you can study and take the exams while working, and plenty of candidates every year balance their CFA studies with demanding careers. 

Careful and strict time-management is key to successfully balancing your work and CFA studies. The two articles below will cover everything you need to know.

I’m stuck. I’m not making any progress no matter what I do!

“I know I’m supposed to be progressing soon to practice exams, but I just can’t seem to finish my studying! I keep getting stuck – rereading the same passages over and over without comprehending. Help!”

Staying on time with your study plan is quite important to make sure you get a good coverage of topic areas for your CFA exam. If you find yourself getting stuck a lot – where you don’t really comprehend what you’re reading – then perhaps lecture videos or review classes might be a good idea. 

If you’re really strapped for time and need to finish your studying soon, we have also written a guide to rush through your notes:

My practice exam scores are crap. Help!

“I’ve done my initial review and I’m now progressing to practice exams. However, my scores are horrible! I got a 57% on my first practice exam. Is this normal? Would I be able to bring this up to passing-standard?”

Low practice exam scores, especially if you’re just starting out, is completely normal. Based on our analysis, the average candidate improves 20-25 percentage points before their actual CFA exam day, and every additional practice exam improved scores by an average of 4%.

If you want more tips, you can get them from these articles:

We also have 100% free Practice Tests for all our readers for every CFA level. If you haven’t claimed your free Practice Test yet, make sure you do:

Hope these FAQs have helped you out. If you have any further questions, just pop them in the comments below and we’ll get right on it!
Zee Tan
Author: Zee Tan


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