Did I learn enough from my mocks?

There have been enough advices/suggestions in the forum, sorry to add one more topic on the same.

But this has been my single biggest learning from failing band 10 in 2013 to pass this year - its around, how much I gain from taking a mock? Do I do enough post analysis to understand why I did something wrong and why I did something correct as well!!

I used to consistently score 72+ on Schweser mocks and 69+ on Finquiz mocks in 2014, which was the same as in 2013 and I got frustrated. I took enough mocks to know that this was the tend for sure. But I was not improving, I was stuck at 72+ all the time.

I had a frank discussion about this with my manager and a few friends - who had no clue what the CFA exam was. Then one of the friends asked me - do you take tests to just gauge where you stand or do you actually improve yourself in someway after an exam?

Alas, he was right - I was not learning enough from the mocks… I just took them as he said to Anchor to a score, but not learn from it… In 2014, I spent 3 hours on post exam analysis and here is what I did…

These were the issues I realized on analysis -

  1. There were questions which I was like 50-50 on selecting an answer. So on another day, I could easily select a different option (especially true for ethics or Individual PF management) and lose marks. But on this day, it could give me a false sense of security that I did very well on this topic.

  2. There were areas which I had absolutely no clue on how to approach a problem - Particularly in Economics and currency calculations for me…

  3. There were areas where I was just making pretty silly mistakes - eg: Effective Interest rate calculations

So this is how I approached the issues -

  1. I didnt award myself the points to those 50-50 questions and then calculated the scores. Sure enough I was hanging around the Band 10 region!!! I marked these questions for review one day before the exam day… Especially again in Ethics.

  2. Marked these in the CFAI book as to areas I need to read and do EOC again. Well almost entire CME for me starred, somehow never liked this topic.

  3. Again made a note of these mistakes to read them again before the day of the exam.

I kept doing this and my scores slowly moved up from lower sixties to lower 70s consistently and that again without awarding myself for those 50-50 questions. And I passed the exam pretty ok in the end - Ethics > 70, All of AM (except 1 which I still have no clue on what the question was) except one is either > 70 or btween 50 and 70. So I feel I did something quite correct there and thought this would help a few candidates atleast.

I really hope people taking mocks dont get anchored to the score they get and forgetting to take the learnings out of it. Good luck everyone!

Note - sorry for the long note and I am giving a big treat to my friend who came up and asked me this question which changed my perspective.

That is a very good post. Thanks for the advice. I didn’t take as many mocks as i should have.

@OP Are finquiz 2014 level 3 mock exams and question banks (I heard around 4k questions) good for practice (learning purpose basically)?

Thanks Sooraj - very good feedback.

I think for me (failing band 9 this year) I only looked at the model answers and tried to memorize these to the best of my knowledge, without referring back specifically to the LOS’s for more concrete answers.

Somehow I did better in the AM and worse off in the PM…

Juz4fun - The finquiz mocks imho are extremely tough and probably more tougher than the actual exams. I definitely practised with Finquiz mocks and found them good. But they do sometimes have a few errors, but for the price they are a complete buy in my opinion.

IMHO, finquiz is very good for your learning purpose…

Cheers folks, I am happy I am being helpful in some way or the other.

They key to passing the exam is to master every LOS or most of them. I personally did not pay attention to my score on mocks because no matter how hard I tried to simulate real exam conditions I just couldn’t. I’m sure I failed most of the mocks I did for all levels but I always ensured that for every question I got wrong I would go back to the book to understand the concept and LOS A few of my friends would look at the answer key and memorize them. That doesn’t help. In my opinion mocks are a great way to help you understand what your strengths and weaknesses are and also they’re great for teaching you how to approach a question but they are not necessarily a true representation of how you will score in the actual exam. i find that a lot of candidates get too anchored on mock exam scores which could lead to overconfidence if they did well on them or panic is they don’t do as well. Keep in mind that even on mock exams you can get lucky and get a question right without really knowing it. I found myself doing that. mocks should be used as a tool but the truth is that mastering the LOS’ is the key to success… In my opinion anyway…