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Taking the CFA exam in December? You need to know this

CFA exam December

Time is running out. If you’re taking the CFA Level I exam this Saturday, you’re probably freaking out and getting no sleep or cruising through your final mock exams. Either way, it won’t be long. Soon, you will be free.

Until then, there are a few things you could benefit from taking on board. CFA-exam-world is alive with gossip, some apocryphal, some not. December exam takers should heed the following…

1. It IS ok to wear a jumper into the exam that has words or numbers printed on it

There are suggestions that you can’t wear clothing with printed words and numbers into the CFA exam rooms. The CFA Institute assures us this is not the case: the official guidelines say nothing about clothing whatsoever; you can theoretically wear a hoody with the formula for the future value of money printed on it if you wish, just so long as you’re also not carrying a weapon (although this is clearly not advisable and may be sanctioned on the day).

2. The best thing you can do is to leave your belongings in a car. If not, your stuff will be left in a room while you sit the exam

You can’t take bags into the CFA exams. Nor can you take phones.

This can cause problems. If you can’t take your bag or phone into the six hours of exams, what do you do with them?

The CFA Institute tells us you can keep your bag in a, “designated area for people to leave some of their possessions before going into the exam (manned by a security guard).” However, some exam takers are understandably worried by this: what if fellow members of the tribe are after your iPhone? Equally, there are complaints about a rush for the guarded room at the end of the first exam, with the result that you may not have time for lunch.

There is, obviously, a solution. And this is to leave your possessions in a car parked very close to the exam room. By all accounts this is the hot tip, especially in December when you’re likely to be wearing your expensive winter’s coat. Whatever you do, don’t take your phone into the exam with you: doing so will mean immediate disqualification, and some centres operate a metal detector as you go in.

3. There’s no benefit to taking the exam in December. Nor is there any disadvantage

The CFA’s historic exam pass rates suggest there was once a disadvantage to taking the exam in December: in 2009 and 2010 the pass rate was substantially higher in June. In 2013, however, the pass rate was substantially higher in December – and it was marginally higher in 2014 and 2015.

Steve Horan, the CFA’s head of credentialing says this is no big deal and that the differences are, “well within the bounds of statistical variation,” and, “natural randomness.”

Taking the exam in December is therefore not a strategy. Nor is taking the exam in June. Take it whenever.

4. There is nothing to be gained from taking CFA I in December and seguing straight into CFA II in June 

Assuming you actually pass CFA I this weekend, you might think you’re on a roll and that you should maintain your momentum by going straight for level II in June.

This is fine, if you’re happy to keep killing your self with studying. However, people who’ve taken CFA Level II straight after CFA Level I say it’s exhausting and that there’s almost no overlap between the two exams. Unless you’re a workaholic or a masochistic, it makes sense to have a bit of a rest. There’s always 2019.

5. If the name on your passport doesn’t almost exactly match the name on your admission ticket, you’re in trouble

If you’re called Susan and your admission ticket says Sue, you won’t be allowed in.

You can see the CFA’s guidelines here. “Names must match,” says Horan. And i they don’t? Bad luck.


Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com
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Photo credit: Old Pine by PokemonaDeChroma is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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