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How To Prepare For the CFA Level I Exam

Study, Study, Study, then Take CFA Curriculum Mock Exams!


Mixed race woman studying on laptop
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If you’re a financial analyst preparing to sit for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification exam for the first time, you’re sitting for Level I. After obtaining the CFA credential, you’ll have the benefit of CFA Institute membership. The CFA Institute has professional international standing as one of the most rigorous professional financial education programs in the world.

As a CFA, you’ll have access to greater resources to advance your career. To gain membership to the CFA Institute, you must pass the CFA Level I. Passing the CFA Level II and Level III gains the new charter holder with full membership to the CFA Institute. According to Business Week in May 2010, those students passing the Level I examination dropped to 2005 levels: only about 34 percent of the students sitting for Level I passed the exam in 2009!

The stakes are high, so a careful review of the CFA curriculum makes a difference for most students.

To sit for the CFA Level I exam, the student must enter the CFA program offered by the CFA Institute. The course is offered to college graduates with career experience. The ability to follow a self-study plan is necessary to prepare for the CFA Level I test. The study materials include the body of knowledge anticipated by the Level I exam.

Many students pay for expensive exam preparation materials, but the CFA Institute offers mock examinations on the CFA Institute site. The questions are formatted similarly to real exam questions. A student hoping to pass the CFA Level I can familiarize herself with the time needed to complete the Level I exam and the kinds of questions likely to present from the test question pool.

If you can’t answer a really challenging question with your CFA curriculum materials, search for the answer online. Back up your understanding of the material with a review of CFA curriculum study materials.

Make sure to prep well so that the week before the test is less likely to test your confidence. Get a good night’s sleep before the test. Take a leisurely bath before turning in if this relaxes you. Then, make sure to eat a healthy breakfast in the morning. Your mother was right about one thing: a growling tummy on the day of the test will divert your attention!

If you've studied the CFA curriculum for the past several months and you're getting passing scores on the CFA mock tests, think positively.

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