Countdown to exam timeIn the last few weeks before the CFA Exam, a lot of exam candidates inevitably start to freak out and panic.

Don’t — there’s still time to prepare. Here are some great CFA exam cram session study tips for Level I.

First, Don’t Freak Out

Did we tell you not to freak out, yet?

Seriously, just breathe. You have a few–albeit very short–weeks to get it in gear.  (Unless you’re reading this the week of the exam; then freak out.)

Now, Let’s Look at How the Level I Exam Is Structured

The CFA Level I Exam consists of two three-hour test blocks with 120 multiple-choice questions in each session. While the exact percentage isn’t known, anecdotal evidence suggests that scoring upwards of 67% on the exam will ensure a minimum passing grade.

Here is a breakdown of how the exam is weighted (compliments of our friends at 300hours.com):

Know the CFA exam weighting and better plan your CFA exam cram session.

Because the Candidate Body Of Knowledge (CBOK) evolves, topics and weights are likely to change. The above is current as of the publication of this article. View the latest version here.

Later in 2015, you’ll sadly have to learn some new Learning Outcome Statements (LOSs) while dropping or even “unlearning” some of the ideas you’re studying now.

No pressure … make this CFA exam cram session count.

Musts, Big Guys & Little Guys

OK, the big thing to take away from the above chart is that you must, must, MUST bone up hard on Ethics and Financial Reporting & Analysis (FRA). They make up 35% of the exam’s score and should be an essential part of your CFA exam cram session.

(Generally speaking, your score on FRA is the best predictor of whether or not will pass the CFA exam.)

Things To Know

  1. With 240 multiple-choice questions in 6 hours on the Level 1 CFA Exam, you have roughly 90 seconds per question. Pace and stamina are essential!
  2. This table outlines the most important topics and where you can get the “best bang for your buck” during your CFA exam cram session.CFA Exam Cram Session Guide
  3. Students who score >70% in the top six topics tend to pass the exam despite their performance in the other three areas.
  4. Ethics deserves special attention because:
    • Historically, it is the first topic examined–expect the first 18 questions for the both the morning and afternoon sessions to be on Ethics.
    • The core concepts (namely The Code & Standards) are examined at all three levels of the CFA Program.
    • If you’re on the brink of the Minimum Passing Score, a good showing on Ethics can put you over the top.

Then Plan Your CFA Exam Cram Sessions

Just like any study plan, your CFA exam cram session time should be planned out. In this case, you should structure your time to match the weight of your chosen areas of focus and the time you have available.

So, for example, you have three weeks until test day and you can devote roughly three hours a day to studying.

Including one day off per week for sanity, here’s how your 18-day CFA exam cram session timetable might break out:

MUSTS: Financial Reporting & Analysis – 12 hours / 4 days

MUSTS: Ethics – 3 hours / 1 day – preferably closer to Exam Day

MUSTS: Quantitative Analysis – 6 hours / 2 days

MUSTS: Debt – 6 hours / 2 days

BIG GUYS: Economics– 9 hours / 3 days

BIG GUYS: Equity – 6 hours / 2 days

LITTLE GUYS: Choose one – 3 hours / 1 day

Wait, that only adds up to 45 hours/15 days … using the remaining time to build in practice exams and bone up on your weak areas.

Need A Little Extra Help?

There are lots of last-minute study aids out there that you can buy, borrow or steal.

One of the most popular and effective cram session aids is our CFA Level 1 Practice Questions. With more than 4,000 practice questions and two mock exams that closely mirror those used by the CFA Institute, you’ll be able to run question drills (on your smartphone no less!) until you’re confident you know the material.

Best of all, our Test Bank is only $195. Not bad for peace of mind.

So, what are you waiting for? Start cramming!