On August 4th, 2020, the governing body for the CFA® Program exam announced that the 2021 exams would be moving to computer-based testing (CBT) for all three levels. This change allows for a variety of benefits, like social distancing, more testing locations, and more certainty around planning for your exam. For example, in the past, there were 192 testing locations globally, but with computer-based testing, that number jumps to over 400. Additionally, the Level I computer-based exam will be offered four times a year and the Level II and Level III ones will be offered two times a year.
The exam format will have a few alterations that are worth noting, as they will impact your exam day experience, especially if you’ve taken a paper-based CFA Program exam in the past.
With this switch to computer-based CFA Program exam testing, you can expect exam day to look a little different than it did before. Read on to get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about how the new exam day will look.
The move to computer-based testing is a way to help ensure the safety of all exam candidates by allowing for smaller test groups in more locations around the world.
For more information, check out CFA Institute’s computer-based testing updates.
1) All about Recall
The CFA Institute notes that the exam questions are based on the Learning Outcome Statements at the beginning of each reading, so recall of key terms, formulas, and concepts is crucial.
2) Get to Know Your Study Style
How do you like to study? Do you do better alone, with a partner, or in a group? Is it easier to study on the computer, or do you need to mark up something to remember it? The best thing you can do is experiment and discover your study style to ensure you have the best chance at success.
3) Don’t Ignore Ethics
Don’t rush through ethics because it may be trickier than you think. Stop and give it the time it deserves.
For more exam tips check out CFAI’s Level I Quick Start Guide.
1) Get to Know the Lingo
Practice, study, and read because the more comfortable you are with the format of the vignettes, the better your chances of success. Make use of the Learning Ecosystem that comes with your registration to highlight key words and phrases.
2) Be Prepared to Apply this Knowledge More Deeply
In this exam, you must analyze situations and provide calculations based on the knowledge you have accumulated. Thus, be sure to use the practice quizzes, mock exams, and other resources available to you in the Learning Ecosystem to gauge your exam readiness.
3) Become Efficient with Vignettes
When it comes to these questions, work backward. By that, we mean you should look at the questions before you read each vignette so you’ll have an idea of the subject matter and questions that will be covered.
For more exam tips check out CFAI’s Level II Quick Start Guide.
1) Understand the Format of Essay Questions
There are two types of essay questions on the CFA Program exam: the constructed responses (word-based) and calculation-based responses. To do your best on these questions, frame your study and focus around these formats.
2) Show Your Calculation Methods
For the calculation-based questions, make sure you show how you arrived at your answer because, even if you make a simple math error, you may get points for successfully completing part of the calculation.
3) Provide Exactly what is Asked for (and no more)
There’s no extra credit for producing a lot of words, and long-winded writing can potentially hurt your score. So answer as succinctly and to the point as you can, making use of bullet points and other formats to layout your answer.
For more exam tips check out CFAI’s Level III Quick Start Guide.
Learn more about the recent CFA exam schedule changes by checking out the Exam Dates and Schedule.