CFA designation / FAQ / What Is the CFA Exam and How to Go About It?

CFA designation / FAQ / Chapter 3


CFA FAQ

CHAPTER 3: What Is the CFA Exam and How to Go About It?


When I registered for my CFA level 1 exam, I knew that before I actually pass my CFA exam there must be at least two more registrations: for CFA level 2 and level 3 exams. But I wanted to know more than that, so I explored the internet in search of relevant information.

Every level turned out to have its own characteristics.

Level 1 exam is held every June and December, while for levels 2 and 3 only June is available. CFA level 1 covers broad material whose knowledge and comprehension are of key importance. The major topic area is investment tools. CFA level 2 pays great attention to asset valuation and data analysis, while CFA level 3 puts emphasis on portfolio management and wealth planning and requires candidates to write essays.

LEVEL I

LEVEL II

LEVEL III

INVESTMENT TOOLS

ASSET
VALUATION

PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT

KNOWLEDGE
AND
COMPREHENSION

APPLICATION
AND
ANALYSIS

EVALUATION
AND
SYNTHESIS

source: https://www.cfainstitute.org/programs/cfaprogram/Documents/cfa_charter_factsheet.pdf

As it later turned out, what was common to all the 3 levels was how the exam day looked.

Every time I took my exam, I had to sit for the morning and afternoon session, 3 hours each. Every time I had to obey the strict CFA exam policies regulating the test day. And for every exam I took, I felt a bit of excitement. I just couldn’t help it.

Despite the difference in the learning focus of every exam level, what made each exam similar to the previous one was also the preparation period.

CFA exam prep is something you need to take seriously. I learned that when I failed my first CFA level 2 exam. Confident that I passed my CFA level 1 with flying colors, I thought that if this time I study just for a month or two I will cope with the level 2 test quickly and be registering for my CFA level 3 already next year.

Not so quickly, as it turned out.

There are still 10 topics to cover before CFA level 2 exam and if you deal with them based on the bulky CFA Curriculum, you need much more time than a month or two. I also think that the CFA Institute mock exam included in the exam cost was definitely too little for me to get ready for the real exam experience.

So, when I had to retake my CFA level 2 exam, I took as much time as I needed to prepare myself.

I also used reliable additional study materials I found online, just as I did before my level 1 exam.

I decided to plan my CFA exam prep in detail and I did my best to stick to the plan.

It worked.

I passed my level 2 test and was soon able to face the final challenge. What I know now is that every time I studied for my exam I needed to be as thorough as possible but I also needed to think differently as for the contents I was to learn and skills I was to acquire for each level.

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