This blog post gives you some quick study tips for successful exam prep.
Successful exam prep is when you can get enough study time to learn efficiently. To help you do that, here are 9 study tips on how to manage your study time and improve your study routine while preparing for your exam.
Needless to say, you cannot do without a good study plan. If you are a CFA candidate, you can benefit from our Study Planner APP.
Additionally, we hope you can find lots of guidance before your exam whether you’re a CFA candidate or not. The tips are meant for any kind of exam, be it the CFA exam or some other examination.
Good luck in outdoing yourself during your prep!
9 Study Tips for Successful Exam Prep
Here are 9 study tips to help you succeed in your exams.
To succeed in your exam, first you need to have productive exam prep.
The key principle for successful exam prep is efficient study time management. When you manage your study time, remember that it is not only about effective study sessions but also about ongoing motivation or the quality of your study time.
Follow these 9 study tips to get the best exam prep you can:
- CREATE YOUR STUDY SPACE
- SET OUT STUDY RULES
- ORGANIZE YOUR STUDY TIME
- MAKE STUDY SESSIONS HAPPEN
- USE POMODORO TECHNIQUE
- DO MOCKS & PRACTICE QUESTIONS
- AIM AT QUALITY STUDY TIME
- BE OBSERVANT & REACT
- GET SOME REST, NOURISH YOUR BODY
CREATE YOUR STUDY SPACE
To successfully study for your exam – you need your study space.
CREATE YOUR STUDY SPACE ‘cos when you get there:
- a. it gets harder to find a reason not to study,
- b. it puts your mind into the study mode more easily,
- c. it sends the message: Do not disturb, pls. I’m studying now.
ARRANGE YOUR STUDY SPACE to promote focus & inspiration but also to limit stress & distraction:
- a. make it quiet and pleasant (not too pleasant though – not to put you to sleep),
- b. keep it well-organized (get rid of all unnecessary things, keep all necessary things at hand),
- c. fill it with inspirational mottos, motivational quotes, photos, images (to foster the can-do spirit).
Click on the quote to print it out.Find more
SET OUT STUDY RULES
As we said, your study space should be quiet+organized+inspiring. One of the reasons why you should have your own study environment is that it sends the message: Do not disturb, pls. I’m studying now. When you get into your study space, all your household members should know that.
Actually, it would be brilliant if you gathered all together and set out some rules – the main one being that: when they find you in your study space – they leave you to study.
Also, draw up more specific rules, e.g.:
- my study hours are on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7-8 p.m.,
- on weekends, it’s: 9:30-11:30 a.m. on Saturdays + 4-6 p.m. on Sundays,
- there’s no listening to loud music then.
It is crucial that everybody understands the rules and agrees to obey them. To this end, you may want to explain why it is all so important to you, especially if you are making a deal with your kids or partner. Let’s not forget you will spend less time with them over the next several months owing to your exam prep. They may be sad… A good idea is to regularly spend some quality time together to show them you still care and nothing can change that!
Note that the rules you make are rules also set out for you .
ORGANIZE YOUR STUDY TIME
To make sure you study efficiently, create a study plan that you will thoroughly follow.
A good study plan not only schedules your study sessions but also urges you to study regularly. It’s best if your study sessions are scheduled weekly to help you hold yourself accountable. You should develop a habit of assessing your study achievements after each study week. This will show you if you’re doing fine with your prep or if you’re falling behind.
If you use our Study Planner, you’ll be able to track your progress each week. In fact, our Study Planner implements a study strategy that is based on 4 pillars: PLAN, STUDY, REVIEW, and ASSESS, which helps you develop 4 KEY ABILITIES most CFA candidates struggle with, namely:
- ability to plan,
- ability to execute,
- ability to focus, and
- ability to prioritize.
Click to print out this PDF with YOUR 4-step exam strategy.
After you set up your study plan and activate your account, you can develop your:
- ability to plan by responsibly editing your study weeks (use drag&drop during the week or the edition mode at the end of the week to edit your study schedule – there are benchmark study times given for you to manage your study time sensibly),
- ability to execute by doing the study lessons* scheduled for each week and marking them green for done and yellow for partially done (if you fall behind, your study sessions will be marked red for overdue!),
- ability to focus by using lots of to-the-point study materials* that are also great for review (you have your review sessions scheduled alongside your study lessons + you can use both STUDY & REVIEW sections of your study plan to study and review the specific areas of your study content),
- ability to prioritize by summing up your study achievements each week and watching your study progress (thanks to the weekly progress bar and Chance-to-Pass measure, you can see if you’re doing fine or if you’re falling behind – if you’re behind with studying, you need to re-assess your plans!).
* Study lessons and some to-the-point study materials such as videos, notes (printable e-books), formulas, and practice questions are available to level 1 and level 2 CFA candidates.
MAKE STUDY SESSIONS HAPPEN
Your study plan without execution is NO GOOD!
You need to do 2 things to make your planning effective:
- be concrete – plan exactly where, when & what you’re gonna study,
- visualize – imagine yourself exactly there & then studying that scheduled lesson.
Abstract plans bring no success.
This is why you must be concrete and visualize your plans to successfully arrange your study sessions. Such a concrete visualization becomes part of your day way before it actually happens. Hopefully, it helps you be in your study space when it’s time to study.
As soon as you do your scheduled lesson – don’t forget to change the *done* status of your lesson in your study plan. If you see your plan work, your motivation grows. And high motivation means better study results .
USE POMODORO TECHNIQUE
Sports champions often say they cannot think about the gold medal all the time if they really want to win. The key to success – they say – is focusing on everyday tasks and always doing your job the best you can.
Follow this advice and aim at small goals while preparing for your exam. So, focus on your weekly lessons and weekly study hours.
To pursue your weekly goals, you need to:
- (1) prioritize your weekly tasks,
- (2) arrange your daily study hours, and
- (3) sit down to study at the arranged time.
When you sit down to study, you may want to try the Pomodoro Technique to handle your study session. It serves great as a study technique: you study for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. Repeat this 25+5 study-break sequence all throughout your daily study session.
If you set up your study plan and activate your account, you’ll be able to use this technique in practice after you print out the e-books with study notes that we make available, especially to level 1 CFA candidates.
DO MOCKS & PRACTICE QUESTIONS
A common saying goes: Practice makes perfect.
And indeed the more you practice before your exam, the higher the chances of success on your exam day.
If you practice with exam-type questions each week of your study prep and do mocks before your exam, you are better prepared to take your exam because:
- you have put the theory to practice,
- you can better understand the theory because you solved many different practical problems,
- you can better remember the theoretical concepts thanks to practice,
- you are familiar with the exam format,
- you can switch to your exam mode more easily.
So, do many tests and mock exams to understand how the exam is structured and to grasp what the exam may look like. You can find lots of exam-type questions inside your study plan (both level 1 and level 2) to regularly practice when preparing for your CFA exam. The questions include explanations and can be arranged into practice tests thanks to our Test Generator APP.
AIM AT QUALITY STUDY TIME
While preparing for your exam, aim at mastery. If your goal will be to get the best prep you can, it will be easier for you to maintain your motivation and handle your setbacks or breakdowns.
Moreover, you will be more willing to add regular review sessions to your study schedule, which you definitely should. Not many students aim at regular revision but this is what makes the difference. When you review, you store the information which you studied in your long-term memory. Otherwise, it’s in your short-term memory and it is susceptible to forgetting.
If you wish to get quality study time, you need to factor in some time for revision. Our Study Planner schedules both study sessions and review sessions and both types of tasks get their benchmark times. The role of the benchmark times is both to motivate you to work hard and to let you know how much an average CFA candidate spends on studying each reading.
Make sure that you have as many quality study hours as possible because that’s when you study most efficiently!
Of course, when you study for weeks and months, you can think sometimes that you don’t feel like doing it anymore. It would be perfect if studying for big exams, such as the CFA exam, felt better. But since it doesn’t – why don’t you keep on doing what you do and do it to the best of your abilities?
BE OBSERVANT & REACT
The importance of self-assessment when preparing for your exam cannot be overstated.
For starters, if you continuously assess your study progress, you can quickly react if things start to go wrong.
Secondly, that things will start to fall apart at some point of your exam prep is certain. Some call it burnout. But it’s probably just natural – we can’t work at the peak of our abilities all the time. We have our setbacks or breakdowns because we lose motivation.
Nevertheless, you can’t let these setbacks or breakdowns last too long if you want to succeed. You need to control them and restore your motivation asap.
Nothing motivates better than little victories. That’s why you want to recognize all little successes you achieve over your exam preparation, such as done study lessons or completed review sessions. As you work hard during a week, see your benchmark study times go down and your Chance-to-Pass go up! And whenever you drop out – react!
There’s one more ability as important as self-assessment and this is the ability to move from failure to success. Because when your weekly summary shows a delay and a decrease in your Chance to Pass score – you must act to improve.
Surely, you’ll need to revalue your study routine. While it’s only natural you could make some mistakes when choosing your prep rules & tactics, you need to stay observant to constantly improve your studying process. On the other hand, if you see some rules & tactics work for you – keep them up.
GET SOME REST, NOURISH YOUR BODY
Remember that a good student is a relaxed student!
The ability to take a good rest is just as crucial as developing good study habits. When you rest – don’t think about your exam. Indulge your mind and body to get reinvigorated. Do something you like, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and have a good night’s sleep!
Study hard when it’s study time and relax if it’s time to relax.
Even if you suffered a delay in your study plan – try not to think about it in your leisure time. What’s the use of taking a rest if you’re blaming yourself for not doing well enough…
But remember to switch off your resting mode when it’s time to study. If you rest too much – no success is waiting for you!
There’s a one-to-one correlation between STUDYING & SUCCESS and NOT STUDYING & FAILURE.
Bear it in mind: if you fail to study – you give up on yourself!
One of the most important things while studying for an exam is to have a good study plan. Our STUDY PLANNER is currently available to CFA candidates, all 3 levels. You can get yourself a personalized study schedule with weekly deadlines, easy edition, study lessons listed for your CFA exam readings (levels 1 & 2), as well as many study tools to help you control your prep and be motivated to work hard. All this at the groundbreaking Pay-What-You-Can prices .