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How to Prepare Better If You Have to Take the CFA Exam Again

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How to Prepare Better If You Have to Take the CFA Exam Again

It has happened to the best of CFA candidates: The passing score for the CFA exam has been missed by an inch. While this is annoying, please don’t lose heart. You are given a second chance to master the study material and remember it even better for future levels. Get up on your feet again after the initial depression and start preparing for the exam again. But how to do this best? The following post is a collection of the three most important ideas and tips that I emailed to test takers in the past when they asked me this...

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What To Do After The CFA Exam

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What To Do After The CFA Exam

If you just took one of the CFA exams, you must be feeling tremendous relief that it’s over (for now). Unless you sat for level 3, there may be a nagging feeling in your mind that the next level is just around the corner and the ordeal with working through the syllabus and practice exams will soon start anew. First of all, congrats for taking the exam. I keep my fingers crossed for you that you passed! It’s definitely time to celebrate after the exam, but make sure you don’t kill too many brain cells in the process: In my...

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Why You Should Use The Original CFA Books For Your Exam Preparation

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Why You Should Use The Original CFA Books For Your Exam Preparation

All the time in forums and Facebook groups about CFA exam preparation the question about third party learning material arises: Which is the best? Is it worth to spend X on this or that product? Has anybody used QBank? Who can share Secret Sauce with me?   My answer to all these posts is always the same: Don’t use any of these products, really master the original CFA books and the questions in them that you received for free with your registration. This will save you a lot of time and money. I will explain exactly, why.   When I...

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There Are No Shortcuts to the CFA Exam

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There Are No Shortcuts to the CFA Exam

When studying for the CFA exam, everybody wonders whether there wouldn’t be a faster, more efficient way to prepare other than slowly reading through the required study material and painfully learning learning objective by learning objective. The phone books we receive with our exam registration from CFA Institute are not exactly encouraging, nor is the recommendation to spend at least 250 hours per level in preparation for the exam. Unfortunately, there really is not much you can do to take shortcuts in your learning process. Certainly,...

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What To Expect On CFA Exam Day

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What To Expect On CFA Exam Day

When I was enrolled for CFA Level 1, I had no idea what to expect on CFA exam day. I had studied intensively for the past six months and felt somewhat confident with the material and the exam structure, but the one unknown variable was the exam conditions. In this article I describe how I experienced the exam conditions and the setting of the exam center.

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The Three Things I Wish I Had Done Differently in my CFA Exam Preparation

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The Three Things I Wish I Had Done Differently in my CFA Exam Preparation

When I took the CFA exams between 2009 and 2011 I was overwhelmed with each and every one of them like most candidates. The sheer amount of reading and practice questions, next to a demanding work schedule seemed almost too much at times, to the point where the well-meaning postcards that I had received from CFA institute along with the study material that stated “Coffee is a food group” seemed not so funny anymore.   I was lucky enough to pass each level at the first attempt, but the price for it was quite high. In those...

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How to Stay Motivated for the CFA Exam

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How to Stay Motivated for the CFA Exam

Motivation is a very individual subject, but still, there are some tips and tricks to stay motivated when studying for the CFA exam (or any other exam, for that matter). The CFA can be especially tough because most of us study all by ourselves. It’s much easier in university to stay in the groove when you have classmates and fellow students to interact with and solve and discuss problemsets with periodically. As most of us attempt the CFA after our university studies, we’re often not used to cramming anymore, so we have a tough...

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Active Recall: How To Retain Information For The CFA Exam Like A Genius

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Active Recall: How To Retain Information For The CFA Exam Like A Genius

When I first looked at the material required for the CFA exam, I asked myself: “How will I ever remember all of this at the exam?” I am sure you have at some stage in your CFA exam preparation faced a similar question. It it tough to remember all the important concepts for the exam, but it can be done as the growing number of CFA charter holders each year proves. Passing the CFA exam is by no means rocket science, and you must not be a genius to master the curriculum. Using simple techniques and a little self discipline, you will...

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Which Is The Best Calculator For The CFA Exam?

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Which Is The Best Calculator For The CFA Exam?

Choosing the best calculator for the CFA exam is a personal choice, but having the right calculator can save you a lot of time during the exam. I will outline in this article how I used the Texas Instruments BA II Plus Professional during the exam with success. This is also the calculator I recommend for the exam if you don’t already own another model of the allowed calculators. CFA Institute allows the following models at the exam: Texas Instruments BA II Plus (including BA II Plus Professional). The BA II Plus cost approximately $28...

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Do You Need Expensive Study Material For the CFA Exam?

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Do You Need Expensive Study Material For the CFA Exam?

We all received a big box with the CFA curriculum from CFA Institute with our registration for the exam for each level. The books in itself are intimidating, partly because they look like a pile of phone books, and because they seem very densely packed with information that needs to be mastered for the exam. When I saw these books for the first time in level 1, I asked myself: “How am I ever going to get through all these in time?” That’s exactly where providers of third-party study material come to our attention when we...

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How To Study Ethics Effectively For the CFA Exam

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How To Study Ethics Effectively For the CFA Exam

Ethics is a tough topic on any level in the CFA curriculum. The Standards of Professional Conduct are not to be confused with common sense as there are many special cases relating to finance that require much deeper knowledge. To add a little spice to the mix, CFA Institute also puts forward the Code of Ethics that complements the Standards of Professional Conduct. When you study Ethics for the CFA Exam you must know your way around the  seven CFA Standards of Conduct and the Code of Ethics. To distinguish the two, remember the...

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Will the CFA Designation Help You Get a Job in Finance?

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Will the CFA Designation Help You Get a Job in Finance?

I often see questions about whether becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst by getting the CFA designation is worth it: In terms of a career boost for professionals already in finance, and also for those interested in getting a job in the industry. You may be studying in university for a degree and wonder if you should do the CFA on the side. Or perhaps you are looking for a career change altogether and hope to get a foot in the door.   Intelligence, experience, commitment   When employers hire, they look for the following three most...

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Tapping into the CFA Network for Fun and Profit

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Tapping into the CFA Network for Fun and Profit

I received my CFA charter just recently and felt just as proud as all CFA charter holders do. I had finally acquired the knowledge of the inner circle of finance professionals, but one other thing actually turned out to be just as important: Being part of CFA Institute as a member with access to an international network. Granted, for most candidates what counts is only the designation itself. The benefit is obvious: To get ahead in our career and acquire the professional designation that signals your boss that we’re worthy of a...

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The CFA Designation: Necessity or Vanity?

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The CFA Designation: Necessity or Vanity?

The CFA certification is often called the “Gold Standard” for investment professionals. Many of us are enrolled to sit for the exam, or at least plan to do so soon in hopes of advancing our careers. The CFA program is extremely demanding, moreso than any other professional designation: An estimated minimum of 250 hours study time per level, which amounts to a whopping 750 hours minimum for all three levels. I must have studied close to 1,000 hours, which equals a masters degree, until the coveted CFA charter was finally mine. So...

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Is There A Magic Pill For the CFA Exam?

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Is There A Magic Pill For the CFA Exam?

Let’s be honest: The preparation for the CFA exam is not a walk in the park, not a piece of cake, not easy as pie… you get the point. If there was a proven (legal) shortcut to passing the exam, would you take it? In my experience, the magic bullet with any exam preparation is time. If you have enough time on your hands, even the most daunting subject becomes manageable because you can break it down into small chunks that you can study bit by bit. To get more time for your exam preparation you can either start earlier or look for...

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CFA Exam Preparations In A Hurry

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CFA Exam Preparations In A Hurry

I often see questions about the right timing to prepare successfully for the CFA exam. There are many approaches: In the best of worlds, six months or more would be ideal. This way, you will have enough time to properly read all the required materials in your spare time, check everything with the Financial Analyst CFA Study Notes, and finally practice and prepare for the exam with sample exams or a class. But what happens if all you have left to prepare is only one month? It’s not ideal, but it can be done.  If you’re so strapped...

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CFA Exam Strategy: Go For Speed

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CFA Exam Strategy: Go For Speed

I hope everything is going well in your preparations to take the CFA exam either this summer or winter! Both your preparation at home as well as the timing during the exam is essential to score well, and it’s unfortunately too easy to waste precious time reading through exam questions again and again. You can easily spend 10 minutes per question this way, which will ruin your exam performance and add a lot of unnecessary stress. This happened to me when I prepared, and I will share with you a strategy to increase your speed when you write...

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How To Read Faster In Your CFA Exam Preparation

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How To Read Faster In Your CFA Exam Preparation

There is never enough time to study for the CFA exam (or for any other exam, for that matter). When a little less than on month is left until the big day of the exam, we all wish we had started earlier. I for one greatly underestimated the commitment to become a Chartered Financial Analyst a great deal. When I took CFA exam level 1, I should have started at least two months earlier to be able to study at a somewhat comfortable pace. Luckily, I was able to make up for lost time with a speed reading technique that I am sure you can benefit from...

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How To Master The CFA Exam In 10 Steps

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How To Master The CFA Exam In 10 Steps

How to Succeed at the CFA Exam in 10 Steps: Start preparing early, and finish early. I recommend you start reading the original reading materials at least 6 months before the exam. You should utilize the original CFA study books, as they are very well structured. Most third party learning providers will omit certain parts of the curriculum or treat some areas very superficially.   If anything, focus on Ethics and Quantitative Methods early. Even if you do not understand everything at the first read, you should at least use the CFA books for...

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