Tips and tricks for cracking the CFA program

This week, we are excited to promote another great article from our friends at

As a CFA Candidate you will spend couple of months each year for the next couple of years studying and preparing for the CFA exams. Exam results, showing that more than 60% of candidates fail, are certainly not a good motivation. Although we believe that there is not a single good strategy for passing the CFA exam, but various good approaches applicable to various people, we have summarized the most important tips and tricks that may help you pass the exams and accomplish the goal of becoming the CFA Charterholder.

Do first things first.

Prior to starting the preparation for CFA, make a study plan. Study plan and discipline in adhering to it is a must in case you wish to pass the exam. You can use tools like TimePrep to help you with strategy and time management and keep you on the track.

Get the best things first.

The second advice would be – start with the most interesting topics. If you like corporate finance more than Quantitative methods, start with Corporate finance. You will finish the first book sooner and this will motivate you for further successes.

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Write to memorize.

Take notes – although you may think this is redundant, it may be good for the review phase. Take notes in the books or separately, but try to build a system that will help you review the most important topics and calculating procedures.

Watch out – there are some rules!

Get used to infrastructure – exam questions type (multiple choice, item set & essay), calculator policy (only two types of calculators are permitted), and other rules and procedures. Sooner you get used to these, you will be more successful and calm on the exam.

Repetitio est mater studiorum.

It is hard to memorize so much and reproduce this knowledge in such a short time frame. It is hard to remember all the formulas and concepts. However, repetition can really help you master this amount of content. Focus on the practice problems during repetition. Besides knowledge you gain, this is something that prepares you the best for the exam.

Know your enemy.

Visit the testing centre a day (night) before the exam. Calculate how much time you need to reach the centre. Take into account possible morning rush hour (although the exams are organized on Saturdays and Sundays). Try to eliminate the unnecessary stress prior to the exam.

There is really no secret sauce for passing the exam. You have to learn and practice. However, learning from the experience of other candidates and members, and avoiding some obvious traps, may make you more successful candidate.

CFA® Level 1 Starter Kit

We also invite you to check out our latest CFA® Level 1 Starter Kit.

We created this CFA® Level 1 Starter Kit to help you better prepare for the upcoming CFA® exam.

CFA Level 1 - Starter Kit

We want to help you maximize your study efficiency and avoid the most common mistakes candidates make on the CFA ® Level 1 exam.

CFA ®Level 1 Starter Kit includes:

  • Top 100 Pitfalls (mistakes) to avoid on the CFA ® Level 1 exam (+50 pages PDF eBook)
  • Exam Strategies (9 pages PDF article)
  • Concentration Tips (9 page PDF article)
  • 3 study schedules : 16 weeks, 14 weeks and 10 weeks study plans (customizable in Excel)

By using the resources found in this Study Kit, you will be able to better focus on your studies knowing that you will have enough time to cover everything before the exam. You will also the learn the most frequent errors CFA® Level 1 Candidates make and how to avoid them on the exam day. Learn more.