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

pass cfa examIt 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 question.

cfa exam results

Missed the passing grade by an inch? Don't lose heart, get up on your feet and prepare again!


  1. Analyze your test results, but don’t neglect the topics where you excelled. Make sure you find the holes in your previous exam preparation by looking at your test scores. However, don’t focus on those areas too narrowly. You should really know your way around the entire syllabus, instead of being really good at some of the topics and neglecting others. It’s still better to know the most important points about each topic on the surface than not knowing anything about some of the topics.

  3. Focus only on the original CFA books and make summaries. That’s right, loose the Schweser and other third party prep material and read the original books again. If you have made summaries already of these books, then update them with the information that you find lacking. These summaries are essential for both the review stage of your preparation as well as brushing up on previous levels once you advance to level 2 and 3. Remember: There are no shortcuts to the CFA exam.

  5. Solve all the practice questions in the original books. This can’t be stressed enough, the lure of QBank is just too big. Each and every question in the CFA exam is in some form or another a derivation of the questions in the CFA books, and not something out of the QBank. So if you really, thoroughly understand these questions, then you will pass the exam. Attempt them again and again, perhaps make a separate “question book” with just the questions at the end of each chapter (either electronically or hardware by copying them and making a binder). Once you solved them a few times you will notice that there are certain question types that you have to master, which is the point where you really begin to understand the underlying concepts. I would argue that it’s much more helpful to really solve these questions than reading and reviewing the material over and over again. Also see: Why you should use the original books when preparing for the CFA exam.


OK, that’s it already. If you really focus on these point I am sure you increase your chances of passing the exam the next time around dramatically. Let me know how it goes in your CFA exam preparation! I wish you all the best.