how to start the CFA actual exam?

How should one start with the CFA exam? should you start with book 5 and than book 1, 4, quant, 2, and finally 3?

Since all questions are worth equal points… how should you actually start with the paper?

Should you go with all easier first? or just go as given?

It doesn’t matter much where you start. Perhaps with your weakest area, to give you more time there.

I encourage my candidates to start with their strongest area, and with the easiest questions. As each question is worth the same amount as every other, you’re trying to amass as many correct answers as possible; spend your time in the areas where you’ll get lots of correct answers, and save the areas where you’ll get few correct answers for the end, guessing there if you have to.

(If you follow this advice, please take half a second before answering each question to make certain that the number on the question you’re reading is the same as the number on the answer sheet where you’re marking the answer.)

thanks for the tip. My best part is book 4 and book 5. Worst is FRA

FRA’s a big portion of the Level I exam (and Level II as well), and it’s not deducible from a few basic principles. I’d start there if I were you; there’ll be a lot of memorizing.

Start with your weakest area, then go in order. Make sure you focus on the highest weighted areas - FRA, Ethics, QM, FI.

Also, as you work questions, get in the habit when you’re unsure of the correct answer of trying to at least eliminate one of the choices when possible. That way, if you have to guess, it increases your odds. Learning how to determine whether an aswer is out of bounds is a valuable skill. And S2000 has a great piece on his website on that topic:

He’s got a lot of other stuff on that site also - he’s the resident Yoda of analyst forum.

I’d rather start with my strongest areas, which are also those important: Etchis > FRA > Equity > Fixed Income > QM > CF > PM > AI > Econ > Der

I’d rather be fresh and concentrated with the first… Agree with s2000magician

I have mixed feelings in answering this. I only did the L1 exam once and passed but I think the downside to going in order is that you might struggle with a topic early on and feel discouraged. Since the test is a 2 x 3 hour endurance test, it is super important to keep your focus and motivation up. On the other hand side it is very easy to lose track of time. Going in order allows you to check up on your progress and time left till the end. And for me the biggest benefit is the fact that you will not forget to answer any question or mark them in wrong order on your answer sheet. Believe me - you would want to keep any distractions at a minimum!

I kicked it off with ethics, went smoothely through Quant, and got hammered in FRA (even though scoring above 75%). FRA in the AM session was the toughest of all. I had a hard time recovering from that mental low in the subsequent sections and noticed this in the scores. Would I have done it in any other way afterwards? Yes: I would have put another 50 hours in on FRA only. If it seems easy to you, most likely you missed something. Be prepared!

Good luck to everyone!

Based on ur reply, i would actually attend FRA right at the end, so at least i can finish other easy things first. Yes, I agree that FRA is toughest of all, yet all quaestions are worth equal points. So is my thinking right to do FRA at the end, and first start off with other easy questions. When i say easy questions first, i mean to complete 1 whole section in 1 go, and not each question seperately.

I think this approach would give me more time on FRA and keep me motivated.

What do you think?


its 26 questions; you’ll be mentally drained and worst of all may run out of time.

Arghh h - misread the question. My comment referred to how to start STUDYING for the exam – i.e. focus on the “big point” areas, and learn how to check the reasonableness of your answer.

When TAKING the exam, S2000’s advice is spot on (as usual) - go with your strengths first. I’d add that you should always put down an answer and keep moving. I

advise my students to “Code” their answers - If you are sure of the answer, put a * next to the number in the book. For those you aren’t sure about:

(1) If you can eliminate one of the three answers (let’s assume it’s "C) (see above on learning how to check whether an answer is reasonable), choose one of the remaining two and mark the question A/B

(2) if you can;t eliminate one of the choices, GUESS and code it NFC for “No F**KING Clue”.

Take a minute after your first pass through the exam (this will happen prettty fast if you keep moving) and count up how many you’re sure of. This will show you where you stand. Then go back and look at the “eliminate 1 group” if you have time after that, go back to the NFC ones. This way, you spend your time first on the ones you’re sure of, and then sequentially on the ones that you’re less sure of.

If you’ve got plenty of time, this method doesn;t hurt you. But if you’re time constrained, it ensures you spend your time where you’re most likely to get points, and you’re not spending the lst few minutes frantically guessing on questions that you would have been sure of if you did them first.

thank you everyone for puting a thought into it. Looks like everyone has a different strategy.

My problem so far is, I want to get done with Ethics first, as: if i dont have energy left at the end, i would have an impaired judgement if i chose to solve ethics at the end.

FRA is always dissapointing, but again its a big chunk in cfa. so suggesting this, i should do it second, after Ethics.

Economics should be of some concern… as it gets confusing at times.

Finally, Quant and book 4 could be interchangable. Although Book 4 is a bit easier than quant.

I was short on time for the AM session. Unknown set up, a couple of questions where I kept on calculatinglonger than I should have…ended up having at most 5 minutes at most to go through 2-3 questions.

If you are able to move at a good speed and have been able to finish the mocks on time, you should be good to pick and chose based on your strengths.

In any case: good luck to you!

thank you…