The Level I CFA® Program probably has the least ratio of students passing compared to other levels. While this might very well be a result of sheer of number of applicants, in no way should this be considered not a daunting task. It is not easy, is what we are trying to say. The sheer amount of material you have to get through, about 3000 pages across CFA textbooks and study material, the mission is not that simple. But, the thing is, it is manageable if planned accordingly.
Generally, it is believed that you require about 250-300 hours to pass the CFA Level 1 exam, but don’t worry if midway you feel that you’re taking much more. It is only natural to be slowed don initially while learning anything, and the topics are demanding.
However, you might realize that the learning curve gets steeper as you stumble ahead. Unfortunately, all of this also means that you cannot just set sail the last minute and ride the high tide. It requires a carefully planned, dedicated process of how to clear each topic, each paragraph and each sum to be specific.
The simple principles mentioned here, in this guide might help you effectively plan and study (and clear, you got this!) for the CFA Level I Exam.
CFA Level 1 Study Plan: How to Prepare for it?
Well, let’s just dive in, a little deeper into the important things you need to care about while making a study plan for the CFA Level I program.
This might be probably one of the crucial things you might want to take note of. Given the fact clearing CFA Examination is a mammoth task, slacking and even quitting is common. But if you somehow push through, the results can be both significant and amazing. In fact, after a point, you keep wondering how I even know all of this.
But here’s the thing. You cannot consider the task in its entirety. You should, nay must break tasks and topics accordingly set your daily routine. Remember, you don’t have to build the entire wall in one day, you just have to lay a brick as perfectly as possible every single day. This also points to another mistake students make. You should never go fast in the beginning, in fact go as slow as possible. This is because of two reasons.
First, your foundation gets super strong which can help you learn all the subsequent not so easy topics sooner. Secondly, if you exhaust yourself by going too fast in the beginning, by the time you reach the exam, you will notice a certain level of tiredness, a certain urge to slack because, well, you’re simply mentally tired. Therefore, it is always a good idea to push yourself in the last few months and compound your progress, instead of first few.
This entire process should be aided by vigilant tracking by you. You should keep analyzing, whether you are keeping up to your CFA study plan and whether in the long term, it is being as effective as thought it’d be in the beginning.
Remember, you have about 182 days to get through 3000 pages of CFA study material, and you need to keep a certain period of time to go over, revise and quiz yourself about older topics. The idea is to be self-aware and vigilant, with the entirety of your focus on the task ahead of you.
2. Revision and Repetition
According to several studies, the retention rate of humans after a certain period of time often falls, on average, in single digits. You certainly cannot have that.
Repetition is necessary for two reasons. Firstly, obviously, repetition is one of the major factors involved in memory retention, and it deserves a huge chunk of time along with actually understanding concepts. The second advantage, you might notice specially in CFA Level I Preparation, is that when you come back to simpler, beginning topics after studying their advanced applications, both the initial topic and the advanced topic become much more clearer, and you begin to see sort of a link connecting the whole book. This is useful, if not clearly indicated.
For effective retention, experts suggest that you should revisit a topic as soon as 3 days after learning it, and not later than a week. Next, you should touch upon the same subject after two weeks, and then after a month. You might realize, that with each repetition, not only your retention gets stronger, but the time taken grows shorter.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
A proven theory in the real world! Practice deserves a special consideration, even though you already sort of covered any topics. The thing is, the more time you spend with the problems, the more comfortable you get with the answers. Ideally, you should also set some time-bound limits to this activity, but don’t stress over it too much, at least not until final few months. See, here’s the thing, it is not about how well you can study, but how well you can answer.
Usually, the general consensus is that you start doing problems after you know an area as well. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As experts advise, there are two ways you can learn to swim, either practice in the kiddie pool, or dive in for a couple of days and see what happens. The latter is always faster.
So, as a candidate, practicing regularly like this will not only make you familiar with the complex topics, but it will also prepare you with unfamiliarity, a skill that you might find useful in the actual test. (Also, this is something that we found useful, when in doubt, just keep going.)
4. Follow the General Order, Emphasize on Ethics
You might have realized that we here encourage you to formulate your order of the topics, mainly because of difference in everyone’s ability. But if you don’t want to do that, know that the order prescribed by CFA curriculum was actually designed with a lot of thought put into it, so there is absolutely no reason why it should not be followed.
However, as a general rule, you might want to spend a little more time with ethics, especially in the beginning and really step on the peddle during the final reviews.
5. Reserve the Final Month for Mock Tests
It is advisable, by the time you get to the final month, you should have spent an enormous time on both learning and revision of CFA topics. Here’s where it all culminates.
As we mentioned earlier, the test not only tests your knowledge but your ability to answer the questions as well. In your CFA examination month, you should focus on the latter, and dedicate at least the 3 hours to simulate the exam sessions properly.
Here’s a set of CFA Practice Questions and CFA Quiz to brush up your basic skills.
CFA Level 1 Study Plan: A Final Take
When you’ve successfully completed all of this, and you walk out of the exam center, make sure you reward yourself, anything from a pat on the back to a trip somewhere. You’ve earned it!
So, this was our comprehensive and an effective guide for the CFA Level 1 Study Plan. Hope this will surely pave the way for your success in building a great financial career.
A well-crafted CFA Study Plan can open the doors towards building a strong and fruitful career in the financial stream. Any more ideas you wish to add here? Any queries you have about the CFA Certification, do let us know. Feel free to drop in the comments.