Thoughts on guessing strategies?

Ive been thinking about guessing strategies for questions that I am clueless on. Obviously I dont want to guess more than I have to but Id like to have a good plan if it comes down to it. Im finding that eliminating an answer before guessing is no better than randomly guessing but that could be related to my suspicion that Schweser includes a lot of tricky situations so you learn from the mistake before it counts.

Right now my plan is to skip if I dont know and count letters at the end. Ill just put the least commonly used answer as my guess for all that I skipped. Assuming there is an equal amt of each letter, Ill tend to do slightly better than guessing rate with this strategy if Ive been generally correct. The cost would be guessing less accurately if Ive done poorly. My thought is that if Ive done poorly on the things I think I know, I probably wont be passing no matter how well I guess. What are your thoughts on the issue?

That’s a bad strategy. I’d suggest this:

Do the obviously wrong calculation. Often this obviously wrong calculation will be one of the 3 answers. Now you’ve eliminated it. 50% chance instead of 33%. And if its a theory question, pick the 1 you know is NOT the answer.

Im finding that if an answer seems obviously wrong, I either understand the concept well enough to find a reasonable answer, or I dont fully understand what is being asked and I may as well be guessing. Your strategy is great for the former but I find myself frequently walking into traps for the latter. When I do the CFAI mock Ill make a note for each method and see how it works out.

Does anyone know the CFA Institute has acknowledged an equal distribution of choices on the exam? I forgot to note this in the OP but If I do leave it to a 1/3 guess, Im wondering about an even distribution of choices vs the all-in strategy I mentioned in my first post.

First, you try to eliminate at least 1 wrong choice.

If you’re totally deadlocked and have no clue, I would pick an answer choice less frequently used around that question.

If in total doubt, and the answers are scattered, pick B. B is the new choice C. funny enough, CFAI on their website actually has a article on how the rumor is that picking C when you have no clue is a good strategy.

But it can’t be worse. Do you see why?

So you might as well go with trying to eliminate answers you think are wrong.

You must do what you feel is right, of course…

i leave all the ones i am not sure about to the end and go down the line “randomly guessing” the hope is that i have a chance to score higher than the 33% EV…

i hit the RAND buttom on my calculator and depending on the range

0-3 A

4-6 B

7-9 C

You guys run into questions often where you have no idea where to start or what concept/principle to apply?


Sometimes, I have no idea how to do a problem (i.e. an Indirect Method problem but I don’t remember what categories count in the CFFO). But I know that depreciation needs to be added back in at the end. So I find the 2 answers that differ by the amount of depreciation and select the higher one.

A (bad) example would be a question that shows a bunch of performance info and then asks which portfolio roy’s safety first ratio would establish as the best choice.

If it was test day and I managed to not pay attention to that specific topic I would have limited options on how to solve the problem provided there was irrelevant data mixed with the essential pieces.

Im realizing now that Ive been overestimating the expectations for the exam. I had been saving my 4 full runs (schweserx3 and CFAI mock) for next week but I flipped through the schweser ones more carefully today and they look to be much more basic than the EoCs in the CFAI and schweser material.

Do mocks asap to expose areas you need to improve and then brush up on those areas!

Saving those practice tests and the mock is risky business, IMHO, as they are the true test of where you stand. Perhaps you happened across a few questions that were especially easy while flipping through, but I assure you that Schweser concept checkers do not compare. Take them ASAP so you have time to tighten things up. I feel the difficulty of questions goes: Schweser concept checkers


That is hilarious!

Ill take one later today just to double check but I misspoke a bit above. My target on EoCs has been 100% while Im just trying to beat 70% on the mock. A 100% target on EoCs puts more emphasis on ambiguous and petty BS that I had previously skimmed through. I didnt realize how many questions my finance undergrad would cover (we hit many of the major topics without all the emphasis on petty details). I wasnt anticipating any padding from straight forwards questions.