Last updated: September 18, 2018

How to Study for CFA® Exam with Success

CFA® exam / Study Plan / Control

CFA Study Plan: Control & Accountibility

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 CONTROL and you can learn all about it by reading this post. Off we go, then.

When something happens and we can do nothing about it, we often hear: It's no use crying over spilled milk. It 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 – growth mindset. Let’s call those with the fixed mindset the Fixers, and those with the growth mindset – the Growers. While the Fixers are all about their ingrained specialness and talent, the Growers believe in the ability to develop their character and skills.

That is why in the face of a setback, the Fixers would 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 with the thought about their talent or actually feel threatened by what happened. They wouldn’t think there is something they could do to prevent further spilling. Why? Because the Fixers are afraid of high effort and would gladly use the spilled milk as an excuse or to pin the blame.

But the Growers believe in growth and flowering, so to say. 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

How to Study for CFA Exam with Success

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 of the milk. The Growers – on the other hand – love to be in charge and oversee if they’re on the right track to have their milk drink.

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 because they think their talent is what makes them special and that having a 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 candidate is that as a Grower you will go to as much trouble as it takes just to help your talent, keep your exam prep un-messed, and pass your upcoming CFA exam. Whereas, if you’re a Fixer, you’ll need to be careful not to let your confidence do harm to 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 study plan is what you need to CONTROL your CFA exam 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 it on your own.

How to Make a Good CFA® Exam Study Plan

A good study plan is NOT a one-time project: do it, tick 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 live with you from week to week with:

your weekly goals
weekly study hours.

Think about it. Weekly goals and study hours is 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 FRA Readings This Week, it suddenly gets concrete and controllable. And easier to achieve.

Step by step you are consequently approaching your ultimate goal of a passed exam.

And this is what you would expect from a good study plan, right?

Best CFA Exam Study Strategy

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 a period of time and this is why it is synonymous with CONTROL. Because what good is one successful study day if it is followed by three study-failure days? How can you tell if you’re doing fine by taking a daily perspective? And if 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.

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 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 they could fully exploit their talent,
  • shows their weekly achievements so they could see their progress, or the risky lack of it,
  • proves they are also capable of some effort (and that effort does not harm their talent!).

So, such a growth study process based on WEEKLY CONTROL is great to 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! I don’t think I need to convince you to keep this in mind while preparing for your CFA exam if you’re a Fixer, do I?]

Un-Messing Your Messy CFA Exam Prep

With our free Study Planner, this is what you get: WEEKLY CONTROL of your personalized CFA exam calendar designed to lead you through your whole exam prep.

Your study schedule will be perfectly capable of living with you from week to week as you get your:

  • 1. weekly reading assignments,
  • 2. accountability, and
  • 3. flexibility.


Weekly reading assignments are your controllable goals divided into controllable study intervals. This is how you can pursue your ultimate Pass CFA Exam objective without losing focus and charge.


As far as accountability goes – you need the means to exercise your control. While using your study plan, you can hold yourself accountable:

on a daily basis – by marking your readings green for done & yellow for partially done over the week
>> to see you consequently achieve your small goals & fully exploit your talent

CFA prep: daily control

change the *done* status of your readings

on a weekly basis – by summing up your plans and their execution as the week ends on Sunday
>> to get feedback & see your real progress + to react if something goes wrong.

CFA exam prep: weekly control

click the 'Sum Up Current Week' button


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 ALL WEEKS view.

CFA exam prep: flexibility

click the 'Edit Current Week' button

But we also know it comes too easy to postpone, especially if there are no consequences. That is why 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 a BIT (or more than a bit) 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 were perhaps willing to take) by adding the overdue readings to your current study week as soon as possible .


  • 1. mark readings as done or partially done
    control your small goals over the week
  • 2. sum up your week: do it on Sunday
    hold yourself accountable as the week ends
  • 3. edit a week: add or remove readings
    get sound flexibility when needed

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 Study Plan

All you need to do now is to stay committed to your study schedule. The plan is good for you because it:

gives you control,
holds you accountable, and
develops your sound management skills.

Just mark your readings as 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.

So easy!



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 stay motivated and keep on going from week to week? In spite of setbacks, 8-hour work day, 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 .

Source (stickmen and stickwomen):