Notes of the CFA Charteholder

Dear colleagues,

I am writting couple of months after I received my charter, and wanted to say thank you to this forum members which helped me on various issues during my study time. It is the priceless source of perplexities and its solutions, questions and different opinions, and overall valued experience. I have never been a member of any forum before, and I promised to myself that if I succeed in becoming a CFA Charterholder, this is going to be my first forum, and in my first post I will tell my experience and insights, since the same thing helped me in comming here.

I finished the exams in four years, since on level three exam preparation I received the news that I will become a father, and that time I just closed the books and returned next year. In my country of origin there is a very small number of chartholders, so the knowledge gained in the program was very valuable, and the status in the country’s financial community after gaining the charter was improving quickly.

For me, getting here was everything but easy. The materials was generally unknown to me, but I had the will and blind determination to finish this. Maybe too blind, since I was surely a heavy burden for my wife, family and close friends for those years, having my mind set primarily on the exam. My mood was fluctuating from one study session or question set to another, and so was the patience of those around me. Now I believe that it was an unneccesary torture for them and for me, since the same goal can be achieved in a more “cool” fashion. Whatever this exam is, and it is a lot in professional and educational sense for an individual, it is not and it should not be everything in one’s life. You might end up hitting your target but missing the real point: the charter is there to generally improve your life, not to cannibalize other important aspects of it.

Here are some bulletpoints, which summarize my attitude towards the exam.

  • Start early. For me September was the month for ordering the books and as well as the start of studying season.
  • Choose and use the proper material. My choice was always the CFAI books. I used other sources for enriching questions database, but the CFAI books were the absolute core.
  • Use this forum for finding the answers to your questions not thorouglhy explained in the books. It helped me countless times, there are hundreds of persons coping with same dilemmas around the world, in this or in previous years.
  • Discipline. Have your daily quota set and fulfill it as you were a soldier. In the early morning, during the work break, late in the night, whenever it is possibile to find or to create the space for it. I was dragging my books almost everywhere in my briefcase, including business trips. Ten minutes of study is better than wasting a complete day.
  • After every session, test your knowledge on the end of reading and exam tests available, and writte the comments regarding your mistakes.
  • When approaching to the end, try to leave not less than three weeks for repating the hardest points from the questions you did not answer correctly, and reread the concepts. This is the time when this forum is also helpful.
  • In May, when you repaeat everything, go through Ethics once again on every level. It is unlikely that this is going to hurt your technical knowledge, au contraire. From my experience when looking into my exam scores, I strongly believe that the Ethics score on some levels was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” for the success on the exam.
  • Four days before the exam, try to choose three tests that resembles as closely as possible to the real tests. It should be the tests from the CFAI website, and the ones whose parts you might have seen before. Create the exam atmosphere in your mind and your room, use your watch and calculator and start to write in the same time and manner as you would on the exam. Use your break between sessions in the same manner. You will quickly see how you manage time and how do you cope with stress. This routine was something extremely valuable for me. It boosted my confidence before the exam, and on the exam itself I felt more like a home player than as a visitor.
  • Last day before the exam walk around and relax . In the afternoon, go throught the formulas, algorithms and numbers, but do not read much text nor read the concepts.
  • Have a good night sleep. Eat well, slience your telephone, and go to bed early. Try to think about more joyful things that night.
  • On the exam day, do a prayer in the silence time before the exam starts. You are already a determined and well prepared candidate.
  • After the exam, do not think about yourself or the exam anyomore, but use all of your remaining energy to make the life of your dear ones beautiful. As the days would pass, you will learn that you owe to others maybe more than to yourself for winning the trophy. If you make them happy and pass the exam it is the success. Passing the exam while compromising the relations with the closest persons is not a good trade for you, nor a fair one.

I wish you all happy New Year and success on the exams!