CFA exam preparation – dealing with stress

Stress while dealing with CFA Exams - The Asif Khan BlogWith February coming close to an end the CFA candidates across all levels have only another 3 months for CFA exam preparation. This is usually the time when people start getting stressed. Depending on personality types this can both be positive or negative. I thought that it might be helpful if I gave a bit of general guidance during for this time.

1. Accept that stress is normal during CFA exam preparation: Whether you are a level 1, 2 or 3 candidate stress will definitely be there during preparation. It also would not matter whether you have just started the syllabus or finished it twice already. The CFA curriculum (mainly in level 2 and level 3) is so vast that it is bound to overwhelm people. While studying one topic you will surely feel that you forgot everything you read in the last chapter.

The reality is that this stress is quite normal and you need to accept it. Almost 90% or more candidates are going through the same thing to some extent or the other. Once you accept it, it becomes easier to handle.

 2. Modify your strategy appropriately: The next step is to analyze where you stand with regards to preparation. If you are following your targets then just keep doing that. If you are lagging behind make sure you put in some extra effort to catch up.

3. Do not give up: My last advice would be to not give up under any circumstances. You have already paid for the exam. So at least try your best even if you cannot pass. You will at least get some knowledge which you can use sometime or the other in your life.

Furthermore, the CFA exam can be quite puzzling at times. You might think that you are unable to remember or comprehend that material but usually it all comes together during the final two weeks before the exam when you are revising the material.

During my level 2 preparation I probably read Derivatives 3-4 times and still did not understand it. My AM session was horrible in the real exam and I was quite sure I would fail.

I ended up getting above 70 in nine topics and between 50 to 70 in one!!!

Photocredits: Freedigitalphotos/artur84

Asif Khan, CFA

Asif Khan is presently a Research Analyst (Financial Sector) for Exotix which is a frontier market focused investment bank. He has more than 6 years of work experience as equity analyst in both buy and sell side roles across Asian frontier markets. Asif is a CFA Charterholder and has a dual major in Finance & Economics from North South University.

4 thoughts on “CFA exam preparation – dealing with stress

  1. Hi Asif,
    I am following your blog and I am getting valuable insights.Thanks for the assistance.I would like to known Which topics are to attempted first in the CFA level 1 in order to save time,I am appearing for June 2016 L1. Do we have enough time to finish all the questions 120 in 150 minutes is my concern.Thanks well in advance and always we candidates are motivated by your support.

    1. Dear Arihant,

      Believe me you have plenty of time to have a superb preparation. I would recommend you not to focus or skip any parts but rather to master the whole syllabus. Start any book you find interesting and do the rest of them. In level 1, time is not a constraint at all as most people can finish with a lot of extra time in hand.

  2. Hi Mr. ASIF KHAN,
    I would like to know, is there any institution for advising to get registered and sit for the exam for the first time? Any there any required job experience or degree that I must have? How can I take first step to get enrolled.

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