If you’re looking at going into a financial career, you’ve likely looked at all of the different exams that are out there for these types of jobs. When you finish a degree in any type of financial field, there will be several options for you to take, though most will require you to have some level of experience before you can take them.
We’re going to take a look at one of the financial exams you’ll want to consider the CFA exam. This exam, which is known as the Chartered Financial Analyst Exam, will help prepare you for a career in investment management. You’ll prove your skills in the field and show yourself to be a highly ethical individual to pass.
But this exam is not going to be easy. You’ll need to spend some time preparing and making sure that you go through the study materials. But we’re going to help you with that process. By the time we’re done here, you’ll have a much better understanding of just what it will take to not only pass your exam but be prepared for a career as well.
Is the CFA Exam Difficult?
The short answer is that this exam is definitely designed to be complicated. The goal is to make sure that only the most skilled professionals are able to pass the exam and go on to work in the field. That means you’re going to have to study and to do that you need a CFA level 1 study plan. And you will definitely need to treat preparing for the CFA exam like it’s a job for a while so you can make sure you know what you’re doing and what still needs to be done.
If you take the time to study correctly, you will likely still find that the CFA exam is difficult, but you probably won’t find it to be as challenging as others may have said. Instead, you’re going to be happier with your results, and you’ll feel a great deal more comfortable when you first sit down to take the exam. That’s also going to increase your chances of success when it comes to completing the test with a passing grade. You’ll have a harder time creating a CFA level 1 study plan 3 months or less, but you can make it if you give yourself enough time.
How Long Does It Take to Study for the CFA Exam?
It’s recommended that you study for at least 300 hours if you’re looking to take the CFA exam. This may seem like a lot, but keep in mind that this is generally spread out over a period of four to six months. Also, it’s important to note that this is per each level of the CFA exam.
There are three different levels to the CFA exam total, and each one should take you approximately four to six months and 300 or more hours to prepare for. If you are not spending this much time on the exam, you could find yourself in trouble when it comes time to sit down and actually take it.
The CFA is designed to be difficult, and if you study every day, you’ll be studying only about 1 ½ hours each day. This can definitely make it easier for you to get the time in, though some may still find it difficult. The best thing is to make sure you study every day. Whether you manage to get that full 1 ½ hours in each day or not is secondary to getting some studying in.
If you need to make up additional study time on certain days and study less on others, that will still help you add up to the right number of hours to give you a better chance of success. Just make sure that you don’t hold yourself only to that 300 hours. When it comes to the level two and level three exams, for example, you may need more. Also, if you don’t feel comfortable after spending 300 hours, then take more time to study.
Can You Study CFA on Your Own?
It is possible to study for the CFA on your own, but it’s going to take a great deal of work, and you will definitely need to be dedicated. You’ll also want to spend a lot of time on different types of resources such as practice quizzes, flashcards, notes, reading books, and more. Mixing up the methods you use will give you a better chance.
If you really want to improve your odds, however, you may want to look at some of the courses and programs that are available for CFA candidates. These programs are designed to highlight the areas that most students struggle with, and they are also designed to help you pass the exam on the first try. Though it’s not a guarantee with all programs, some will actually offer a guarantee that you will pass the first time you take the exam.
For those who want to have the best possible chance of success, it’s a good idea to look into several different methods of studying as well as a program or course that can help you through the material. This will give you the best chance and will help you feel a little more confident and comfortable when you walk into the room for your exam.
What is the Best Study Material for CFA Level 1?
If you want to give yourself the best chance of a CFA level 1 passing score, you want to start with the best CFA+ study materials. The first thing you will absolutely need is a few practice tests. These will help you prepare the best because they let you know where you’re knowledgeable and where you need some extra help. You want to make sure that you take a practice exam before you start studying and throughout the process to gauge your progress.
You’re also going to want flashcards. These could be paper flashcards that you make with index cards, or they could be on an app (there are plenty of them available). Either way, flashcards give you an easy way to study some of the questions that you’ll find on your exam. They’re also very easy to take with you wherever you go. That way, you can study while you’re traveling to and from work or school or even while you’re waiting between classes or in your downtime elsewhere.
Next, you’ll want to study the text. There is a book associated with this exam, and it takes a great deal of time in order to read it. You’ll need to go through each of the chapters carefully, and you’ll want to answer all of the end-of-chapter questions. In total, this is going to take you at least 300 hours because of the length of the book and the questions involved. Keep in mind that some sections are worth more on your exam than others.
How to Pass CFA Level 1 in First Attempt?
Passing the CFA on the first attempt is not easy. In fact, the overall pass rate for the last ten years has only been 42%. That means that most people are failing this exam the first time they attempt to take it. Now, the good thing is that you shouldn’t feel too hard on yourself if you don’t pass it the first time because it’s designed to be extremely difficult. But you’d rather be one of the 42% who passes, right?
If you want to pass the CFA level 1 on your first attempt, you need to start by setting aside enough time to study. Beginning in 2021 the level 1 exam will only be offered in February, May, August, and November. That means you need to plan your study time around one of those dates. And you definitely want to make sure you study at least the 300 hours and six months that are recommended.
The more time you give yourself to study, the better your chances of success are going to be. And if you make sure that you are studying the right things, you’re going to have an even better opportunity. There are 300 questions on the exam that are broken down into different subject areas, so you want to be sure you pay attention to the largest areas first and then work your way into the smaller ones.
The most crucial section you’ll find on the CFA is the Ethical and Professional Standards section, which comprises up to 20% of the final exam. Quantitative Methods, Corporate Finance, Equity Investments, Fixed Income and Economics, comprise up to 12%, while Financial Reporting and Analysis comprises up to 17%. Portfolio Management, Alternative Investments, and Derivatives comprise up to 8%.
You’ll want to spend plenty of time reading in each of these sections and especially in the ones that are higher point values. Then, you’ll want to make sure that you spend at least a month at the end of your study period going through review questions and practice tests as well as conducting practice sessions and perhaps even a simulated exam day.
7 Tips and Tricks to Study Effectively for the CFA Exam
Finally, let’s take a little closer look at some of the CFA level 1 tips and tricks that will help you succeed on your CFA exam. These tips are designed to make sure that you’re as prepared as possible and ready for what will likely be one of the most important exams of your life.
Set up a routine early.
You need to make sure that you have a routine for how you’re going to study so that you actually take the time to do it. If you don’t make a CFA level 1 study schedule and get into a routine, you’ll find yourself struggling to stick to the plan. Starting your study routine early on is another great way to go because you won’t fall into bad study habits first and have to work your way through them.
Know the most important sections.
There are several sections in the exam that take up 12% or more of your total exam weight. There are also several that are only worth 8%. You want to make sure that you are looking at the different weights and that you spend more time on the parts of the exam that will be worth more.
Use your knowledge in the workplace.
You are likely already working in some type of financial field, so make sure you’re applying the things that you learn whenever possible. This is likely the best option for how to learn CFA material. You may even want to think specifically about situations that you find yourself in and which aspects of your studying apply to those moments.
Practice taking an exam.
Get a practice exam, and make sure that you take it in the same way that you will need to take the actual exam. This will help you feel more confident on exam day, and it will make sure you know what to expect. That’s going to be a big part of preparing for what’s coming next.
Try different study methods.
There are plenty of other ways that you can study, and it’s a good idea to try out several of them. You don’t want to study in only one way because it makes how to memorize CFA material even harder. If you practice with notes, books, flashcards, and practice questions, you’re going to have an easier time keeping the material firmly in your head.
Don’t skimp on time.
Don’t try to cram all of your studying into a short period of time. There are people who will say they managed to pass after studying for only a couple of months or less than 100 hours, but that’s not a good standard to go by. Prepare to spend at least four months and 300 hours and then don’t be afraid to pay more.
Look into courses.
There are plenty of classes and study groups or programs out there that you will want to take a closer look at. These can help you focus on the right things and will make sure that you are fully prepared. They’ll also help you focus and make sure that you don’t forget to study.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Study for the CFA Exam
Studying for the CFA exam requires you to spend a great deal of time and put forth a lot of effort, but it is possible to do well. You can absolutely pass the CFA level 1 on your first try if you practice and if you follow the tips and ideas that we’ve discussed throughout this article. The key is to make sure that you don’t give up and that you don’t miss any of the critical information. The exam is designed to be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be impossible if you’re willing to work at it.