Out of Time? Here’s How to Blitz Through the Rest of Your CFA Notes in One Week

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By Mike Chan

You should be done with your CFA curriculum one month before your actual exam date. Are you on track?

Finishing up your curriculum allows you to start to focus on taking the exam and practicing exam conditions. But if you haven’t managed to completely cover your notes yet, not to worry. There are ways of quickly wrapping up, and I’m going to go through them with you today.

However, it’s important to note that this is not a secret technique to magically save your ass irrespective of how much material you have left to cover. If you’ve not scheduled your time properly and have really gotten caught out with a lot of material unlearnt, your preparation isn’t going to be ideal no matter what.

However this guide will help you make the most of your week and cover your missing gaps the best you can, so that you can move on to practice exams as soon as possible. Are you ready? Let’s move!

Properly block off time

You need all the time you can get. Take time off work if you can for the week, and block off as much time for the week as possible. Chat to your family and/or significant others (again) and tell them you really need to concentrate this week, and will NOT be focusing on much else. Your other commitments can wait a week if needed.

Assess what you have to cover, and set checkpoints

Take 15 minutes, right at the start, to assess what you have left to cover. You can get an assessment of what the big topics are from CFA Institute, summarised in the table below:

Topic Area
Level I
Level II
Level III
Ethical and Professional Standards
Quantitative Methods
Financial Reporting and Analysis
Corporate Finance
Equity Investments
Fixed Income
Alternative Investments
Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning

Aim to hit big topics that you need help with (which will vary by candidate). Depending on how much material you have to cover, you may decide that you have to drop some of the smaller topics. I absolutely do not encourage this, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Set up daily check points. Aim to cover about 15% of what you have left every day, and set a definite point where you should be at the end of each day. This will be important as your week progresses.

Speed read, and move on when you get stuck

Speed-studying for the CFA exam is like spinning a web to cover a large hole. You can’t focus on covering one area really perfectly – the importance is making sure you have a basic coverage across everything before spending time in perfecting up.

A range of tips for this stage:

  • Make sure you address each LOS directly
  • Don’t get bogged down in detailed examples
  • Don’t get too frustrated if you don’t get a particular concept
  • If you’re stuck and not making much progress, don’t worry and just move on

Hit your checkpoints no matter what

You have to hit your checkpoints at the end of every day.

No. Matter. What.

Your checkpoints ensure that you’re keeping to your pace that will get you to the end of your material at the end of the week. If you’re not meeting your checkpoints, that means on average you’re either not going fast enough (speed up!), or you have way too much material to cover (in which case, do the best you can).

At the end of the week, move on to practice exams

The end result is to pass and exam, so you need to allocate a good amount of time to practicing. At the end of your defined week, congratulate yourself on what you’ve covered, and move on to practice exams.

Once you’ve covered a few practice exams, you may decide to go back and study areas you’ve not addressed yet. But make sure you start on practice exams as early as you can if you want a shot at passing.

If you’re serious about eventually obtaining your CFA charter, DO NOT consider sitting out on the exam

I’m not going to lie to you. If you have a ton of material left to cover with one month to go, your chances of passing are not good. But this absolutely does not justify being absent from the CFA exam day, especially if you’re a first-time candidate. Here’s why you should attend the exams no matter what you think your chances of passing are.

The experience of exam day is a valuable one – don’t miss out on it simply because you’re afraid you’re going to fail. The experience of CFA exam day today will help you tomorrow.

How are you doing at this stage?

If you have any worries, fears, questions, we’re here for you. Drop a comment in the box below or speak to us at the 300 Hours forum. I’ll see you on the other side!

Zee Tan
Author: Zee Tan


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