(Or The Final Countdown (you have to hum the tune as you read this)
By now you should have finished your first reading of the CFA curriculum. If you haven’t then get a move on, time is ticking away.
Make a plan for the critical phase that’s coming up: revision. There are lots of ways of planning your study time but the simplest technique is just to divide your days up into blocks of study time, say a 2.5 hour block in the evenings after work or three 2.5 hour blocks on weekend days. This may sound obvious but it’s crucial that your blocks are dedicated exclusively to study, do however, ensure that you give yourself time off in between your study blocks too.
You should aim to cover every single study session and reading which you can do effectively by a combination of reading, taking notes and answering questions. Topics that you found easy when you first studied them may now appear to be no more than a distant memory, so take time to revisit them. You may well ask yourself how it is that a topic you knew inside out five months ago now seems brand new. Don’t worry, it’s natural, just take some time to refresh your memory.
You really should have time off in the fortnight before the exam. An exceptionally generous employer may give you two weeks off, a very generous employer perhaps one, but if you get no study leave then try to take some holiday. It is amazing what can be achieved in a short space of time if you are dedicated. Carry on as before.
Focus on mock exams. These can be downloaded from CFA Institute.
Do not be tempted to ‘cram’ and study long into the night – a good night’s sleep is crucial to ensure all your preparation has been worthwhile. You will be amazed at just how much you have learned and absorbed once in the exam.
On exam day, aim to be at the exam centre by 8:00 a.m. at the latest, and be sure you bring the following:
At lunchtime eat lunch. Don’t discuss the exam with other candidates.
After the afternoon exam leave and forget about it all. No post mortem, no remonstrating with yourself over questions you could have answered better. Back to normal life.