Why ‘300 Hours’? Cause We’re Hardcore

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What does the CFA examinations and 300 hours have in common?

If you’re the typical candidate, you probably have at least a vague idea what that number means. But for the atypical candidate, and those not too familiar with the preparation process, enter Exhibit 1 listed on the CFA Institute website:

“Successful candidates report spending an average of 300 hours preparing for each exam. Your preparation time will vary based on your prior education and experience.”


In fact, the CFA Institute conducted a survey of candidates taking the exam in June 2011 and found that on average candidates spend an average of 302 hours preparing. 

Interestingly all results were further broken down:

  • Candidates who passed the exam: 313 hours
  • Candidates who did not pass the exam: 292 hours

However, deducing that 300 hours is therefore the magic number to which all must strive to is obviously nonsense. But I like ‘300 hours’ – indicates a certain level of achievement and attainment. Like the Green Beret. So if you’re taking the CFA exams, welcome to the 300 Hours club.

But let’s think for a minute what really is 300 hours (or at least 900 hours for the full CFA qualification). 

In 300 hours, you can:

  • Start and complete 30-35 video games
  • Write a novel
  • Work out 6 times a week for a year
  • Get a flying license

And that’s just for one level in the CFA exams. This is a huge commitment. In the coming weeks I will cover topics comparing CFA to other qualifications and what the CFA designation enables you to explore in your career. This will aid you in deciding if the CFA is indeed the right path for you.

Are you ready to take the plunge? Check out my Resources section to make sure you maximize your pass rate.

Zee Tan
Author: Zee Tan

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