If you study for the CFA exam and dream about success, first you need to have a successful CFA exam prep. A key to success during your CFA exam prep is accountability, which should be practiced weekly. Control your study plan by summing up your study achievements each week.
This is the first blog post of the series on efficient learning before your CFA exam. It focuses on how to study for the CFA exam by successfully following your study plan. It also addresses the concern that many candidates have, which is “OMG, MY PREP IS A MESS!”. To prevent that from happening, you need to have the means to control your preparation (which we give you).
Right from the start, I’d like to promise you one thing: You can have a CFA exam prep that is not a mess! An important prerequisite here is both CONTROL and ACCOUNTABILITY, and you can learn all about it by reading this post. Off we go, then.
„MY PREP IS A MESS”
When something happens and we can do nothing about it, we often hear: It's no use crying over spilled milk. This saying tells us not to worry and let it be. But while you cannot un-spill the spilled milk, you can certainly un-mess your messy CFA exam prep. So don’t fret – just do something about it!
Become your own CFA exam prep manager. Full-time. So that you don’t need to find consolation in the spilled-milk aphorism when you fail your CFA exam.
Your first task as a prep manager is to define yourself either as a Fixer or as a Grower – because you’ll want to think differently about your messy preparation depending on your profile.
Fixer vs Grower: Who Are You?
There are 2 ways to think about yourself and your abilities (and about the spilled milk ). One is called a fixed mindset and the other – a growth mindset. Let’s call those with the fixed mindset the Fixers, and those with the growth mindset – the Growers. While the Fixers are focused on their talents, the Growers believe in the ability to develop their character and skills.
And while there's nothing wrong with being a Fixer, it definitely comes with some challenges, e.g., as far as studying for exams goes. Growers simply cope better with adversities and difficulties.
That is why in the face of a setback, the Fixers would normally say "Oh, it’s too bad..." and – for the lack of an immediate solution – kind of accept that the milk spilled. They would either comfort themselves by saying "It’s not my fault. I can be the best all the same!" or feel threatened by what happened. It's not a natural thing for them to rack their brains about how to prevent the milk from spilling. Why? Because the Fixers believe in their talent and thus are said to avoid high effort (what if it doesn't pay off? what if the milk spills anyway?). Actually, they might use the spilled milk as an excuse or to pin the blame.
But the Growers believe in growth and development. They use setbacks to develop processes that can bring the desired success because they would rather drink that milk in the end than spill it.
Fixer VS Grower
Fixer VS Grower: Un-Mess Your Messy CFA Exam Prep: Don’t Let Your Milk Spill
The Fixers don’t like to take responsibility on their own and prefer if there’s someone to help them stay in charge. The Growers – on the other hand – love to be in charge and oversee if they’re on the right track.
You might have an impression that it is bad to be a Fixer. But some of us are – whether we want it or not (though we can try to change it). The reason why the Fixers are the way they are is usually that they think their talent is what makes them special and that having talent means you don’t need to work as hard as the others. The Growers do not consider talent and effort to be contradictory.
What it means for you as a CFA candidate is that as a Grower you will go to as much trouble as it takes just to help your talent, control your exam prep, and pass your upcoming CFA exam. Whereas, if you’re a Fixer, you’ll need to be careful not to let your confidence harm you. It’s best if you accept that some effort is simply necessary if you don’t want things to get messed up.
Whoever you are – Fixer or Grower – a personalized CFA exam study plan is what you need to CONTROL your prep. As a Fixer, you won’t be left by yourself but you’ll get some help with managing your preparation. As a Grower, you’ll get the means to control the prep on your own.
How to Make a GoodCFA Exam Study Plan
A good study plan is NOT a one-time project: do it, check it off your list, proceed to the next task.
When you want to make a good CFA exam study plan, you need to think of it as an ongoing process. Your study schedule needs to develop with you from week to week and you need to focus on:
- your weekly goals
- weekly study hours.
Think about it. Weekly goals and study hours are something you can control. If your goal is too big to achieve, like: Pass My CFA Exam, then you might be setting yourself up for failure. Because it is too abstract and beyond your control. But if your target is: 3 Equity Readings This Week, it suddenly gets concrete and controllable. And easier to achieve.
Step by step you are consequently approaching your ultimate goal of passing your CFA exam.
And this is what you would expect from a good study plan, right?
The Best CFA Exam Study Strategy
WEEKLY CONTROL – NO MORE MESS
OK, but why the best CFA exam prep strategy is to plan your studying on a WEEKLY basis? Not daily or monthly?
Seriously! Why weekly?
The weekly approach is the best because a week is neither too short nor too long and this is why it is synonymous with CONTROL. Because what good is one successful study day if it is followed by three failed study days? How can you tell if you’re doing fine by taking a daily perspective? And – on the contrary – when you think of a month, if study-wise it is a success – then perfect! But what if it’s a fiasco? How are you going to catch up? Will you still survive?
In fact, WEEKLY + CONTROL make up a growth study process that helps you develop your managing skills and identifies both successes and setbacks as you move along your preparation weeks. And that's what you need to pass your exam!
This study process is a natural choice for the Growers because it:
- keeps them focused on their weekly goals and they love challenges,
- gives them feedback and they profit from evaluation, even if it’s critical,
- allows them to take constructive actions and that’s what they do especially when they face a setback.
For the Fixers – on the other hand – it’s the right choice because it:
- helps them stay in charge as weeks go by so that they can fully use their talent,
- shows their weekly achievements so that they can see their progress or the risky lack of it,
- proves they are also capable of high effort (and that effort helps their talent!).
So, such a growth study process based on WEEKLY CONTROL is great for both the Fixers and the Growers. It simply gets the best out of you. It leads you towards your success step by step and puts you in charge (or helps you stay in charge if that’s what you need ).
SMALL NOTE FOR THE FIXERS: If you think you’re going to be fine thanks to your talent – even though you’re not making the progress you should be making – you are cheating yourself! That’s what the Fixers often do – they put on the cloak of their specialness and believe everything’s going to be alright. And when it’s not… well, they either blame it on others or start to think of themselves as the greatest losers ever! It need not be that way. I don’t think I need to convince you to remember that while preparing for your CFA exam if you’re a Fixer, do I?
Successful No-Mess CFA Exam Prep
With our CFA Exam Study Planner, you get exactly what you need – WEEKLY CONTROL of your personalized CFA exam schedule designed to lead you through your whole exam prep and towards success.
When you personalize your CFA exam study schedule, go to the PLAN view of your Study Planner and:
- adjust your EXAM DATE after you schedule (or re-schedule) your CFA exam,
- change the START DATE of your exam prep and the number of Final Review Weeks if needed (note though that the default number of weeks is our recommendation based on your overall exam prep duration),
- modify the topics sequence the way you like (to move the whole topics, simply use drag & drop in your Study Plan options),
- change your topics difficulty from medium to hard (to get your topic study time extended) or easy (to get your topic study time reduced),
- add holiday (no study) weeks when some unexpected things that keep you away from studying occur (if no longer needed, you can also remove them),
- increase/decrease your total study time by using the study time multiplier available in the advanced settings (a standard study plan assumes approx. 300 hours – use, e.g., the multiplier of 1.5 to get 450 hours or 0.66 to get 200 hours).
After you personalize your study schedule, it will be perfectly capable of developing with you from week to week as you get your:
- 1. weekly reading assignments,
- 2. accountability, and
- 3. flexibility.
1. WEEKLY READING ASSIGNMENTS
Weekly reading assignments are your controllable goals divided into controllable study intervals. This is how you can pursue your ultimate goal of passing your CFA exam without losing your focus.
Each week you get a list of readings to do.
When you study for your CFA exam, go to the STUDY view of your Study Planner and:
- use the left-hand menu to navigate between your weekly readings and lessons listed for each reading,
- watch videos, download PDF notes, do tests, and learn formulas that are included inside the lessons,
- check off the lessons when completed or star them, e.g., for revision (you can also check off and star the videos, formulas, etc.).
To control your prep weekly and hold yourself accountable:
- you’ve got your benchmark study times given for all readings,
- you can use the checks-and-stars system for the lessons listed for each reading,
- as you check off the lessons, the color of the reading changes (first to yellow for partially done and then to green for done),
- as the color of the readings changes, the weekly progress bar fills in and the weekly study time gets reduced,
- you are recommended to hit the SUM UP button to assess your study achievements after each week – if you fail to follow your plan, the overdue readings will become red as a warning!
How can you react to prevent bad things from happening to your exam prep?
That’s the role of flexibility understood as sound management, and not easy excuses. We know that no two weeks look the same and not always will you be able to devote the same amount of time to your studying. That is why you can postpone some readings if you know you won’t be able to do them over the current study week. You just need to use the edition mode or the DRAG & DROP feature available in the PLAN view of your Study Planner.
But we also know it comes too easy to postpone, especially if there are no consequences. That is why – as we said – all overdue readings are always marked red – so you can spot them at once when you open your study plan! The aim is to make you uncomfortable about your exam prep when your readings are not done! And to motivate you to take some constructive actions (& make more effort than you perhaps wanted to) by adding the overdue readings to your current study week as soon as possible .
CFA Exam Prep Control & Accountability
To sum up, while using your study plan, you can easily control your exam prep and hold yourself accountable:
- on a daily basis – by marking your readings green for done & yellow for partially done over the week
- (this is how you consequently achieve your small goals & fully use your talent)
- on a weekly basis – by clicking the SUM UP button to assess your study achievements and using the EDITION options to reschedule your study plan when needed
- (this is how you get feedback, see your real progress + learn to react if something goes wrong)
- 1. change readings to done or partially done
control your small goals over the week
- 2. sum up your week: best do it on Sunday
hold yourself accountable as the week ends
- 3. edit a week: add or remove readings
get sound flexibility when needed
- gives you control,
- holds you accountable, and
- develops your sound management skills.
change the *done* status of your readings
3 STOP-MESS ACTIONS
WEEKLY CONTROL is the best CFA exam study strategy because it gives you both systematic and flexible exam prep at the same time. Since all resources are out there, there is no reason to delay your STAY-IN-CONTROL preparation any longer:
Execute Your CFA Exam Study Plan
All you need to do now is to stay committed to your study schedule. The plan is good for you because it:
Just change your readings to done (or partially done), sum up your weekly study tasks every Sunday, and edit your current week study plan in a way that feeds both your needs and your goals.
Yep. It’s definitely great to have a study plan that prevents your CFA exam prep from being messy simply because it’s based on WEEKLY CONTROL. But how to be motivated every week? In spite of setbacks, 8-hour workday, and all other must-attend activities that are part of our lives?
You need both motivation-oriented and performance-related tools.
They are all inside your study plan. Let me tell you about them in my next post .
Our CFA Exam Study Planner is available to candidates of all levels at the groundbreaking Pay-What-You-Can prices. You decide how much you want to pay for our services. After you activate your account, you get unlimited access to our Study Planner 4.0 with study lessons inside, various level 1/level 2 study materials & tools, regular review sessions, and a holistic growth approach to your preparation.
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