How to prepare for the CFA
Preparing for this exam is like preparing for a marathon. It is a long exam and most of the work is done before you even arrive at the exam center. You need to prepare yourself to give yourself the best opportunity to pass the exam.
After you run through the study material, I recommend you buy the Kaplan Schweser Secret Sauce for review. It touches on the majority of important subjects and helps to refresh your memory. I would shoot to be finished with the material a month in advance so that the final month can be used for practice problems and review.
I would also purchase an extra volume of practice tests from Kaplan Schweser. It gives you three more practice exams to work with. The more practice problems you do, the more acclimated you become with the types of questions. It is also another good way to review the material. CFA Institute also provides you with a practice exam that is available a few weeks before the exam. Since this is straight from the CFA Institute, I would use it as a final practice exam to take a couple weeks before the exam.
On the actual day of the exam, make sure you are well rested to last through the 6 hours of testing. You will have a 3 hour morning session followed by a 1 hour lunch break and then another 3 hour session. The night before, you should pack a lunch so you don’t have to go off and find somewhere to buy food. You should also pack the things you need. Keep in mind you can bring anything and put it in the separate room provided. It will not be locked so don’t bring anything valuable. Some things to bring include a watch, an extra calculator or batteries, ear plugs, pain killers, extra pencils, and a sweatshirt.
On the test day, I would recommend to wake up extra early and get to the test center a couple hours in advance of check in time. This is because it will give you time to sit down and relax. You can bring a small breakfast and review some topics from the Secret Sauce book or your notes. Arriving early makes sure you are not running in late or stressed over getting there on time. It helps you to relax and think clearly for the exam. Also, take a couple pain killers before just in case. The last thing you want is to get a heachache in the middle of the exam.
During the exam, develop a strategy that works best for you. You do each section of the exam in any order you want. For me, I find that the economics section and the ethics section are both heavy on the reading while the quantitative section has numerous calculations. The other sections also have calculations scattered throughout. Since there are so many formulas to remember for the quantitative section, I prefer to do that section first. Then I take a break from calculations to do the ethics and after, I’ll skip to another section that has more calculations. I’ll then return to the economics section. Essentially, you need to find an order of sections that works best for you. This is best done when you are doing practice tests.
Finally, it is very important to remember to keep pace. The last thing you want is to run out of time. I hope these tips have helped in your preparation. Good Luck!