Is There A Magic Pill For the CFA Exam?

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 an increase in effectiveness, so you can stretch the days and hours you have on your hands. Let’s look at the latter here, shall we.

The big question is:

Where can we take shortcuts in CFA exam preparation?


It is absolutely important that you read all the required reading for the exam. This is provided for you conveniently by CFA Institute with your signing up for the exam for each level. You should definitely look into ways to speed up your reading process. A speed reading technique is detailed here in another post (How To Read Faster In Your CFA Exam Preparation), so you should read it if you’re not familiar with speed reading.

You should also have a study plan that outlines how much reading you have to get done per study session. Take the amount of days in your study period minus your review period (30 days works quite well) and divide the total of reading pages of the curriculum by that number. You end up with a number of pages that you must complete, otherwise you fall behind. Strictly adhere to your study plan.

What has helped me quite well to gain time was to skip all the exercises in the books and revisit them in my review phase. I know, this is not recommended, but it will save you a tremendous amount of time. Then solve all of the exercise block in maximum seven to ten days during your review period.

Use it or lose it: Practice for the CFA exam


Once you have read the material, you have to practice it. Most people recommend solving the Schweser QBank, but this takes a lot of time and is incomplete, as you may have found out already. you can’t possibly solve all the questions in the QBank, so you will miss out inadvertently on some learning objectives (LOs) if you use this as your learning tool. I have not found a suitable tool yet that will really help you practice very fast and efficiently, so I made my own. It’s called the Financial Analyst CFA Study Notes. The unique thing about is that it covers all the most important LOs with one question each that will answer and summarize the LO for you. I believe it’s a very useful new kind of study solution, one that will save you a lot of time (and money)!

The last step of your exam preparation should be practice exams. Make sure you really stick to the timing you will encounter in the exam. I write another article about exam strategy that may come in handy here: CFA Exam Strategy: Go For Speed.

With these tools I believe you can speed up your CFA exam preparation and lengthen the time available to you. It’s obviously always better to start earlier, but in some cases (mine included), this is just not possible. I wish you a speedy and effective study experience!