If you’re new to the CFA exams, hopefully by now you’re aware of how important mastering Ethics is to your CFA studies. In this follow-up post to the importance of Ethics, here are 3 steps to ensure you are on the right path to nailing the Ethics section in the exam.
1. Decide on your approach.
For Ethics, nothing beats the CFA curriculum. If you only have the attention span (& concentration) to read only one chapter in the CFA curriculum, read Ethics. There are various practice questions found at the end of these readings as well - these make for good practice.
Study notes are pretty good as well - the main providers such as Schweser cover Ethics adequately. There is some value to the conciseness and summary style offered by third-party providers as it makes it easier to digest (although from a conceptual standpoint, you should try working from CFA Institute material).
2. Be thorough. Know your case studies.
Ethics case-studies are chapters in the CFA Institute & study providers material where an extensive fictional scenario is explored and dissected from an Ethics perspective. In these case studies, a scenario set in a professional / industry-related setting is often depicted, and one or several protagonists’ thoughts, decisions and actions are explained.
Work through the case-study chapters in detail and observe how the various standards are explored through the situations. Actual exam questions in Level I are short and highly simplified versions of these case studies, but in Levels II and III don’t be surprised if you are hit by 3 pages of Ethics case-study material before you’re given your first question.
3. Practice being Ethical.
Answering Ethics questions requires a certain degree of familiarity with the question format as well as the source material - a combination of knowing what keywords to watch out for, anticipating common traps and weeding out irrelevant information.
Concepts will not be tested individually, instead, as the CFA levels progress, more and more concepts will be blended into the questions (which will be longer and longer with the item-set format in Levels II and III). Practicing loads of questions beforehand will reduce any surprises in the actual exam.
usj2 is a CFA charterholder and has dabbled in financial services, advertising and technology. When he’s not messing about with those, he writes on various aspects of the CFA qualification at 300 Hours.