Hey, does anyone have any technique of keeping yourself calm when writing the exam?
I am someone who becomes anxious easily. When I was doing my mock recently, there was some time that I had trouble calming down. This happened when I was at the quantitative section cuz there were some problems that I had no clue how to solve. Therefore I was frustrated and mad. When there was one question in the exam that seemed a bit tough at the first sight, it made me somehow nervous and pissed lol….These are the negative feelings I really want to avoid.
(Seriously, though, the best approach is to start with the material at which you are best and answer the questions that are easiest for you. You won’t waste time and you’ll start to feel more confident. Finish with the hardest questions in the areas in which you are the weakest, so that you don’t waste time on those and lose time on the ones you could have gotten if you’d had the time.)
Like S2000magician, start with the questions you can do and then go back to the head-scratchers after you’ve built up some confidence. For the head-scratchers, try to come up with the first 1-2 steps or considerations you need to solve the problem. It might get your mind to recall the remaining steps.
Don’t be afraid to put down your pen for a few seconds to close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. It’s remarkably calming and soothing.
Pharmaceuticals: seriously, if your doc has prescribed you with something for anxiety or to keep you on an even keel, make sure you take it exam day!
i never went to see a doc for anxiety…I don’t have problem sleeping!! It is not that bad just I tend to catastropize things a bit…but nope, i don’t want to think I have problems that worth seeing a doc. Nope Nope, I am healthy. Just need to focus on positive sides and stay a bit confident!
Try and avoid the teacher/student dichotomy. Consider yourself as a professional taking a remedial mandatory licensing test.
Practice concentrating. Can you read a book for 4 hours straight without your mind wandering? if not, how long does it take you to refocus? Try and improve your mental game.
There are a lot of formulas. If you ever get stuck and you know that the formula you can remember is the wrong one, plug the numbers in anyways. Hopefully it comes up as an answer, and you just improved your chances of getting the question right (save this for the end when you have spare time).
Value hard work intrinsically. Enjoy the process of writing a long exam and avoid thoughts of “trying to win”. Pro sports is bonafide proof that if you start thinking about the win rather than the process, well, you lose.
Look forward to questions you don’t know. Your mindset when approaching a difficult question is often the key to success. When you deep down hope you can’t find a solution, your brain has this uncanny way of solving the problem for you because it is released of mental blocks.
The hard part of course is to actually buy into these philosophies. Like almost all test takers, the results of the exam matter more than the material itself.
Here is the ultimate personal test: Would you rather for the rest of your financial career…
a) know 100% of the CFA material and fail the test and never get your designation?
b) know 50% of the CFA material and be a charterholder?
Although I didn’t particularly like law school, I found most of the academic material to be interesting. I studied the material as someone entering into a profession. There was a few classes where we were tested on minutiae and I couldn’t be bothered to learn it: my grades suffered tremendously because of that. When I entered practice, quite literally, your knowledge of case law attached to legislation became paramount (and the principles behind those decisions). Watching my Dean’s list classmates flounder because they had no entrenched understanding of foundational concepts was pretty hilarious.
Honestly, if you ever get to that point, you’ll never sweat an exam again.
I have always been good at taking tests, and I believe that that’s primarily a result of my attitude. When I sat for each of the three CFA exams, my view was, “If I know this stuff, I’m going to ace it: no worries. If I don’t know this stuff, I’m not going to learn it in the next three hours, so worrying’s useless.” I passed each exam the first time I took it (not that that makes me a better analyst than someone who failed once or more), and I’m sure that that was attributable more to attitude than skill. At least, I’m pretty sure. (Well, somewhat sure . . . maybe.)
If you hit a question about which you have absolutely no idea, skip to the next: there are lots of questions you’ll know. The key is to give yourself enough time to answer the questions you know, instead of wasting time on the questions you don’t. Remember: a point in Ethics is worth the same amount as a point in Quant, or a point in Econ, or a poing in FRA, or a point in Corp. Fin., or . . . . Get all of the points on the topics you know well – do that first to ensure that you have enough time – then do your best on the remainder. Again, remember: CFA Institute cannot tell the difference between a correct answer that you marked because you _ knew _ it was correct, and a correct answer you marked because you _ hoped _ it was correct. Leave no question unanswered.
Hey, thx for the comments above. They are appreciable cuz they go deeper than the simple fact that ‘’we are writing an exam in one month’’. I think attitude is important for no matter what in life.
I think I am just very young (mid-20s) so that I get impatient sometimes cuz I wanna get things done quickly. I don’t like my current job cuz ppl here do not recognize well my value and what I am capable of also, there are not enough opportunities for me to learn. The first person who actually recognizes my ability was someone got hired last October and she is leaving this place today. The fact that she is leaving make me feel reluctant to stay here any longer. I know passing the first exam is not a guarantee for me to get a finance job but I want to give it a try. Therefore I equate the fact that if ever I fail (well, shouldn’t fail) to the thought that I have to suffer in this company longer. Also, there is the expectation from someone close who wishes me to pass. They all add up as pressure.
Candidates tend to compare the mock exam result and the hours they have put into studies. I think it makes ppl (me) feel like the result is more important than the process. I still have part of Derivatives and Alternative investment to read. I want to finish these before May, which means I need to read 100 pages in 2 nights. Recently I seem having trouble concentrating cuz my mind is wandering.
I think the right now I need to change my attitude and mindset. I don’t want all those distractions!
As a quick/small piece of advice, I recommend using ear plugs during the exam. There’s going to be a bazillion people around you coughing, shuffling papers, typing calculators, and fidgeting. If you’re like me, this can raise your blood pressure fast.
From your penultimate post, it sounds like you are concentrating on the results more than the contents. So… consider this:
You don’t control results. You control your efforts. You don’t control the exam questions. You control your answers. So, don’t even worry about things you don’t control. They will be what they will be. Accept them as they come to you and do your best.
Specifically for the exam: every other candidate is facing the same questions and the grading is on a curve. Despite pretences to the contrary, none of us is going to ace 100% of the questions. Don’t tell anyone, but I know that you are better than the average candidate.
Relax buddy, just breathe and remember this exam is not your master.
I’ll be honest, I feel like there is a lot of help offered on this exam (both studying and actual test taking) from big Pharma. I actually witnessed two candidates last year standing by the water cooler last June pop some pills minutes before the exam was set to begin. I think it is an unfair/unethical advantage that they are giving themselves. That being said, I suppose nothing is off limits as long as you don’t get caught, right? Some people will do anything to get ahead.
Funny you mention this. My wife and I thought it would be a good idea to get a puppy 3 weeks ago. What an awful idea, the thing raises hell! Definitely doesn’t help my stress level leading up to this damn test.