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The Ultimate Last-Minute Guide For Your CFA Practice Exam

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In the last week before the CFA Exam, a lot of exam candidates inevitably start to freak out and panic.

Don’t — there’s still time to prepare. Here are some great CFA exam cram session study tips.

First, Don’t Freak Out

Did we tell you not to freak out, yet?

Seriously, just breathe. You have a –albeit very short–week to get it in gear.  (Unless you’re reading this a day before the ex
What should you do? What areas to focus on if I don’t have enough time? How do I increase my chances of passing the exam? And before you ask another question or tear your hair out – read on.

We put ourselves in your position and imagined what we could do (with a calmer state of mind) in such a situation. Using the 80/20 rule, we list best methods to control and minimize the damage, maximizing your chances with the time you have left.

Cramming isn’t advisable. But if you have no choice, our CFA Grand Cram Plan should be the way to go.

1. The Level I Cram Plan

Format:  2 x 120 MCQ at 3 hours each

TOPIC FOCUS

  1. Ethics (15%) – because it’s a must.
  2. FRA (20%) – Invest in this huge topic as it only gets ‘worse’ in Level II.
  3. Then you have some choices to make for the remaining topics:

Large Topics (42%)

  • Quants (12%)
  • Economics (10%)
  • Equity (10%) &
  • Fixed Income (10%)

Little Topics (23%)

  • Derivatives (5%)
  • Corp Finance (7%)
  • Portfolio Mgmt (7%) &
  • Alt Inv (4%)

3 options to choose from:

(a) Complete all the Large Topics; or

(b) 3 Large Topics + 1 Little Topic; or

(c) 2 Large Topics + all Little Topics

Choose them based on objective assessment of your strengths in each topic. Once decided, just focus on reviewing those topics and completing CFA practice exam questions, basically do a condensed version of the 5-step game plan.

2. THE LEVEL II CRAM PLAN

Format: 

2 x 10 item-sets at 3 hours each

Each item-set has 6 questions relating to the mini case

TOPIC FOCUS

In Level II it’s notoriously difficult to focus on a few topics as many of them are interrelated, and as you can see from above, it comes in ranges.

  1. Ethics (10-15%) – because it’s a must, and you just need to learn one or two new concepts and the rest is similar to Level I. Easy way to cover some ground.
  2. Equity Investments (15-25%) – It’s a topic so large that you can’t ignore.
  3. FRA (15-20%) – Invest in this huge topic as it only gets ‘worse’ in Level II.
  4. Fixed Income (10-20%) – CFA Institute has upweighted Fixed Income recently – make sure you get enough focus here.
  5. The rest: You’ll need to pick two or three more topics from the rest (all 5-15%) each. Choose your strong suit.

Once decided, just focus on reviewing those topics and get an additional CFA practice exam to try, basically do a condensed version of the 5 step game plan. No magic bullets, I’m afraid.

3. The Level III Cram Plan

Format: 

1 x 10 Item Sets paper, 3 hours long

1 x Essay paper, 3 hours long

TOPIC FOCUS

For this level, the topic concentration works in your favor, but knowing that nearly all of Level III candidates perform worse in essay questions may discourage you at first. But hey, our mission here (given the lack of time), is to maximize your chances of passing, and become a CFA charter holder – so my strategy would be to focus on acing the item set paper. Here’s a game plan:

  1. Ethics (10-15%) – because it’s a must, and they largely build on what you’ve learned in Level I-II. Easy way to cover some ground.
  2. Portfolio Management (40-55%) – If there’s one topic you need to cover (and only have time for) in Level III, focus on the varieties of Portfolio Management.
  3. Fixed Income (10-20%) – I’m afraid you can’t escape from this asset class here.
  4. The rest: Review them only if you have time or are sure you can’t do more on the three topics above.

To ace the item-set paper, you’d need to do tons of the CFA practice exam. Check what’s available on our Offers section, make sure you complete your CFA mock, so do supplement these with end-of-chapter questions from the curriculum as well.

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