CFA® Exam Survival Guide Part 1: Definitions and learning from your mistakes

Sometimes the most valuable advice can come from people who have been through the challenges you are currently going through. The benefit of their hindsight can be a powerful advantage!

As CFA® Programme Leader at BPP, I’d like to share a few insights from the cohorts of students who recently studied on our course. A few days after the exam we ask everyone what advice they would give to future candidates, and there are some very clear themes.

CFA® Exam Question practice

The most common piece of advice from our students is the need to do lots of question practice. One student of ours expressed it very well: “Questions, questions and more questions! And to revisit the questions you got wrong a few days later.”

“Questions, questions and more questions! And to revisit the questions you got wrong a few days later.”

There is an important point here – questions are essential for checking your knowledge, but it is equally important to review them, learn from them, and follow up by returning to the questions you got wrong after a few days.

When I was studying towards my CFA® exams, I kept a little notebook entitled “things I get wrong in questions.” So I captured the points that were causing me problems. Like a to-do list, I would only tick things off in my notebook when I was consistently getting those questions right.

This has the advantage of efficiency – your studies are funnelling down towards the things you are getting wrong rather than simply reinforcing the things you are already getting right.

Learn standard CFA® definitions for easy marks

“Learn the easier definitional material – it’s easy marks and it could be the difference between success and failure.”

It is always surprising how many marks in the CFA® exams come from knowing terminology and definitions. So don’t underestimate the value of learning those key terms.

Our BPP question banks have questions that dig into all the corners of the syllabus, so by doing these questions and following up as discussed above, you can make sure you are fully armed for anything the examiners throw at you.

Over the next few weeks I will share further insights into how to best prepare yourself for the CFA® examinations so look out for future blog posts. If you’d like to know more about BPP and CFA you can read all about our programme on the BPP website.

Do you agree with the tips provided here, or have revision tips of your own to share? Why not post them in the comments below?

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