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Key Tips for the December Exam

By Arif Irfanullah, CFA

Posted on 01-12-16 at 12:44 pm

With the exam just around the corner, I want to share advice with Level I candidates, especially first time Level I exam takers. Please read the the advice given below carefully.

Before the exam day

Print your admission ticket and make sure the name matches exactly what you have on the passport.  If there is a discrepancy, inform CFA Institute as soon as possible. I know people who were sent back on exam day because the name on the exam ticket and the name on the passport did not match.

-Get a good night’s sleep before the exam.  A fresh mind is your biggest asset on exam day.

-On the last day carefully review facts and formulas. Go over your mistakes so you don’t repeat them on the exam.  Work hard but avoid stressful activity such as taking a brand new mock exam.

On the exam day

  1. Make sure you get to the exam center ahead of time. If you are late you’ll not be allowed to take the exam.
  2. Follow all instructions in letter and in spirit.
  3. Once you start the exam make sure you stay on schedule. For example, if you start Ethics at 9:00 AM, you should be done with this topic by 9:27 AM (preferably slightly before that) because it has 18 questions. Follow the strategy you defined while working through mock exams.
  4. Underline key terms like ‘most likely’, ‘least likely’, etc.
  5. Don’t get frazzled if you see something you don’t know/understand. Give it your best shot.  You only need to pick the best answer out of three. This can often be done without knowing every detail.
  6. Even if it appears on first glance that a question requires a lot of calculation, spend a few seconds thinking about whether there is a short method. As an example you might be asked to do a bond valuation and the three answer options represent a premium bond, a par bond and a discount bond. Based on the information provided you might be able to determine that the bond is a discount bond without doing any calculation.
  7. With some problems – especially those related to probability – you might get confused about what formula to use. In such cases simply jot down the possible formulas before you get too deep into the question. Then, based on the information provided, you can decide which formula to use.
  8. Do not get hung up on any question.  If a question is taking too much time simply bubble in what you think is the best answer, mark the question on the question paper, and move on. You can come back to such questions at the end if you have time.  If you are spending too much time on a question that is probably because you don’t know the concept very well.  It is much better to spend your time on questions that can solve more easily.
  9. Try to get done with the exam with at least 15 minutes to spare. During this time make sure you’ve not made any systematic errors… such putting answers for question 11 – 19 in the space for questions 110 – 119.  Also use this time to go over questions that you had issues with.  Often you can figure these questions out if you are not stressed about completing the exam.
  10. Stop writing and close the exam booklet when you are told to do so.  There have been people, who were disqualified because they were trying to bubble in answers after the time was over.

Good luck and best wishes,

Arif Irfanullah, CFA

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