Not long ago, I’ve had the chance tofeature a promising new CFA prep provider: Bloomberg Exam Prep.
Being a late technology adopter myself (swearing by the good ol’ paper-and-pen approach), I was pleasantly surprised with their unique approach to online learning, rather than just placing video lessons and questions online. This doesn’t mean that video lessons aren’t a useful tool for learning at all, as it really depends on your personal learning style. I have always responded better with words on paper instead of videos and classroom settings, but I know tons of students out there who find the latter a more immersive learning experience. There’s no one size fits all learning method really, and we’re lucky that there are more choices out there now than 5 years ago to suit all preferences!
That said, there are 2 important facets to a solid CFA exams preparation: proper learning and doing tons of practice questions. In this article, I’ll be taking a deeper dive into Bloomberg’s CFA Level 1 Simulation Exams feature to see how that stacks up in terms of quality. I hope this is helpful to you all regardless as it is independent of your preferred study methods.
- For the Essentials Package at $599, 6 sets of mock paper (1 set = AM and PM paper with 120 questions each) are included.
- For its Premium Package at $999, 10 sets are included.
Given that we recommend doing 5-7 sets of practice papers from a variety of providers, I’d say the Essentials Package provides the best value at $599 and is more than sufficient for your preparation with the additional free mock exam paper from CFAI.
#2. Bloomberg’s Simulation Exams felt “equally difficult” to CFAI’s Mock
While there’s no scientific way to compare a question’s difficulty – this is purely based on my opinion and experience of doing thousands of CFA practice questions when embarking on my “CFA-in-18-months” journey years ago – I felt that Bloomberg’s mock paper questions does a decent representation of CFAI’s mock papers, difficulty-wise, with a good variety of subjective AND calculation-based questions across all topics. The answer choices provided are surprisingly good, as each of them point towards a potential interpretation of the question, making it sufficiently tricky and good quality in terms of practice papers for CFA preparation.
#3. An Exam Dashboard with Many Time Saving Features
a) Real exam style sessions
Each simulation exam is divided into morning and afternoon sessions (2 x 120 questions), with a 3 hour timer countdown that cannot be stopped once an exams starts. Once Part 1 (morning paper) is done, the screen moves to a 1 hour break session before the Part 2 starts, properly mimicking the whole exam process, which I thought was great if you need a little more discipline and a time keeper.
As with most online platforms, you’ll get instant scores for your Simulation Exam, topic analysis, time used per question once you’ve submitted the Part 2 (afternoon paper). I find this a super time saver, as my normal routine with a pen-and-paper approach is to spend a whole day doing a mock paper, and the next day checking and reviewing answers. On average, this ‘instant-score’ feature saved 20 minutes of my time.
c) Quick answers and explanations saved another 40 minutes of review time
What I’d love to see in future versions
Overall, I’m pleased to see that Bloomberg’s CFA prep has been delivered thoughtfully from both an online learning as well as question quality aspect, making it a well-rounded, reasonably priced alternative to current CFA candidates.
That said, I experienced some minor software glitches during the simulation exam period which affected the overall user experience. Granted, such things are probably expected from a newly launched product, and the Bloomberg team has been lightning-responsive and welcoming of such notifications, fixing them as soon as they can.
If I’d to nitpick, here are a couple of nice-to haves I’d have like to see, but I’d say these are non-core features at this stage which can be easily added on to their core product later on:
- Printable offline exams: This feature may be useful for candidates who prefer an offline, pen-and-paper experience. However, the time saving analytics and instant analytics aspects would have been lost, of course.
- Option to stop timer option for earlier simulation exams: What would have been useful for some new CFA candidates would be to have the option to do the first few simulation exams at their own pace, before moving on to time-based actual exam conditions. A gradual scaling up towards real exam condition may be helpful for some to boost confidence and get used to the pressure of this demanding finance qualification.
- Level 2 and Level 3: It’d be interesting to see Bloomberg’s take on Level 2 and Level 3 CFA preparations as well, as we all know these are a step-up in terms of difficulty compared to Level 1. This largely depends on how their Level 1 product launch goes of course, and I’ll keep you all posted if there are any updates on this front.
Over to you…
I’d love to get your thoughts on Bloomberg’s practice exams. You can easily try out half an exam (Baseline Assessment) through Bloomberg’s 2 week free trial. What do you think? Share your comments below!