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CFA Exam Preparation Success

The Level I CFA exam is held in June and December each year, while Levels II and III are offered only once a year: in June.

Completing the CFA Program exams can take you as little as a year and a half if you take your Level I in December, Level II in June the following year, and Level III in June the year after. But on average, it takes about four years to earn a CFA charter. This is because considerable amount of preparation is required before taking the actual exams, even if you are proficient in finance.

Most successful candidates spend a substantial amount of time reading up on the material and solving practice problems. You should set a schedule that you’re comfortable with and that fits your personal and work demands.

The CFA Institute recommends to devote 10-15 hours per week for 18 weeks to studying for each of the exams. You can use the final four to six weeks before the exam to review what you’ve learned and take online sample exams.

Following this plan will give you the minimum 250 hours of preparation that the CFA Institute believes you need to get ready. It may take you even longer if you have not had exposure to some of the topic areas in your previous education and career.

Following through with such a long and intense self-study curriculum requires strong discipline and consistency. It may be hard to do it on your own. Being enrolled in a structured study program with a professional prep firm can greatly increase your chances of sticking to your study schedule and completing your tasks on time. The instructor will also give you homework after each session, helping you structure the time that you spend studying on your own.

Most CFA candidates work full-time while being enrolled in the CFA program. They find the time to study by getting up early each morning, staying up late at night, or dedicating most of their weekends to studying. CFA Institute estimates that if you work full-time, you’ll probably spend about six months preparing for each exam.

It’s important to first figure out if you are disciplined enough to undertake the studying on your own, or if you will require the services of a professional prep firm. Then decide how much time and how many hours you can commit to studying during your week. Make sure to take into account events and holidays that may interfere with your schedule.

CFA Institute usually opens the registration window about 11 months before each exam, so that should give you enough time to study and ensure that you get that six months of preparation. And remember that beginning with the June 2008 exams, CFA Institute includes the curriculum with your registration so you can begin studying right away.

Article contributed by Novus Learning. Checkout the CFA Level I Exam class offered by Novus Learning.

Categories: CFA®
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