5 Tips to Help You Pass the CFA Exam

Advancing your career in the finance industry is often achieved through certifications, and one of the most difficult to achieve comes in the form of the CFA. Becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst means accessing better jobs, higher earnings, and a level of prestige many finance professionals are apt to acquire. If you’re considering sitting for the CFA Exam, it’s important to know what you’re up against.

1. Understand The Exam Itself

The CFA exam is facilitated by the CFA Institute. The test is based on the Candidate Body of Knowledge, more commonly known by its moniker CBOK. This curriculum spans a wide array of topics, and requires analysis of a multitude of themes. Thanks to the wide breadth of information covered, the CFA exam can be extremely difficult to pass. There are three levels that must be sat individually. The first exam is centered on ethical and professional standards. It covers a plethora of topics regarding comprehension and basic knowledge. The second portion of the exam involves complex analysis in regards to situational circumstances and revolves around valuing assets. The last level of the exam is designed to test comprehensively on topics from the first two test portions.

2. Purchase Prep Courses

While the CFA Institute does provide study resources, most candidates find they must purchase other materials in order to have the best chance of success. Often this investment is more than worth the payoff. The fewer times you need to retake the test before passing, the quicker you’re able to earn more money or pursue better employment opportunities. The best CFA prep courses will provide you with a multitude of materials, including handbooks, guides, and most importantly sample exams. You can never prepare yourself enough for the trials of the CFA exam.

3. Start Early

Don’t expect to sit for the exam a month after signing up. Keep in mind that Level I is only administered in June and December, and Levels II and III are only administered in June of each year. The CFA Institute recommends that test takers give themselves at least six months of study time before sitting for any one portion, and you’ll find this time spent brushing up on the CBOK is essential for success. Consider joining study groups and working with other test taking candidates to best improve your chances. Those who’ve taken the test before will likely provide invaluable advice, and working with others to improve upon your weaker areas can be an effective study strategy. Check out online CFA forums and speak with likeminded individuals about the test. You never know what words of wisdom you’ll receive.

4. Take Sample Exams

Take as many of these mock tests as possible. This is the best way to prepare for the types of questions you’ll face during the real exam and help you practice under timed deadlines. Whether you find yourself an expert at test taking or know that you tend to struggle under the pressure, it’s important to dedicate plenty of study time to this tactic. As you take these mock exams, note the areas in which you’re struggling and dedicate more time to brushing up on these topics.

Passing the CFA exam can be a challenging endeavor, but those who succeed in receiving their certification are rewarded with great earnings and plenty of opportunity for advancement. If you’re looking for ways to catapult your career and expand your professional horizons, keep these CFA exam tips in your arsenal and make the most of your first, second, or third attempt.


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