What to do if my midway December CFA exam study results are horrible?

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One of the most common threads on various CFA candidate community forums like 300 hours and Analyst forum in these periods, 2 months before the exam is based on our title. People usually start preparing their December CFA exam somewhere in July, August, sometimes September. After going through a few volumes, where they have studied with full concentration and did their end of chapter problems, the time comes to test the knowledge through some practice problems database like Schweser QBank. Unfortunately, those December CFA exam study results don’t always turn out positive. Then the depression arrives.

It is completely normal that you don’t get it good the first time you solve a bigger number of practice problems. Firstly, most of the curriculum is still fresh and didn’t fit in yet in the back part of your head. Secondly, there are a lot of candidates that put pressure on themselves as though the December CFA exam is right at their doorstep. Then they perform bad, and feel even worse after that. Candidates who score in between 50-60% after they read some volumes, or even the whole curriculum, feel they should quit the December CFA exam preparation and start preparing for June. That is wrong.

It is completely normal that you don’t have the scores as high in early October. Look at it this way – if you had by now already 70-80% on all topics, then there would be no point in studying the next 2 months, right? So do not stress out, this is a phase in a preparation period that is completely normal. The majority of candidates experience it sooner or later, so don’t feel bummed out when you experience it.

There are a few things worth repeating, when considering the exam:

  1. Practice problems are the best way to prepare for the exam. If you go through at least 1000 practice problems, you will feel much more confident and familiar with the way it looks on the exam, so you won’t have such a big problem as if you solved 200 practice problems for example. That doesn’t mean there aren’t people who passed the exam without solving one practice problem, but something that works for only a small segment of candidates shouldn’t be your guide.
  2. Manage your time. By now you should already have found out that having a weekly study routine (as recommended by the CFA Institute) is the most effective way of preparing. In these times most of the candidates start to reschedule, compensate time, add or deduct hours from the routine… try not to do that. Stick to the routine as much as you can, if your time model guarantees you’ll make it on time. Evading the routine is the way to ruin your preparation. Of course, if your job does not allow it, you will have to manage.
  3. Get known with your practice problems database. For example, Schweser QBank has different difficulties of questions – make sure that from the start you solve all the problems, not just the easy ones.
  4. Multiple choice question format is what will meet you on your December CFA exam. For level 2 it is item set question format, but you can deal with that later.
  5. There is enough time. Do not panic, even if you have just read one or two volumes, preparing the December CFA exam is doable. It requires a lot of time, good time management and learning strategy choices, but in the end it will pay off.

Mostly that’s it – keep your head up, push hard until your December CFA exam, follow your weekly study routines and everything will pay off once you start considering June CFA Level 2 exam.

Good luck!

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