Good CFA CandidateNot everyone is destined to earn a CFA® designation. Before you tackle the CFA Exam, you need to take an honest assessment of your abilities and career goals. Can you really hack it?

It turns out that many of the attributes that make for a good CFA candidate are the same ones that make for a good leader.

They Can Make A Plan

If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, you’ve undoubtedly run into many a co-worker who attempts to “wing it” all the time. If you’re a make-it-up-as-you-go personality, chances aren’t you aren’t a good CFA candidate (and likely not the best leader).

A good CFA candidate has a good plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated. All it needs to include clear objectives based on your work and life commitments.

Like a good leader, you also need to know when to ask for help – or follow “best practices”, which is another way of saying following what others have successfully used.  A great example of this is using our CFA Exam Planner tool. It does the work for you.

They Are Realistic

It’s not just enough to have a plan, even if it’s one that’s been shown to work for others. A good CFA candidate, like a good leader, is realistic and understands what is truly possible.

When preparing for the CFA exam, the key to create a plan that fits your situation as is realistically based on your commitments and your circumstances. Can you really fit 20 or more hours of studying into your full week of work, family commitments and other responsibilities?

They Put Promises Into Action

A good CFA candidate follows through on their plan. This is where most people come up short.

If you can’t actually make the time you need to study the 2-3 hours you’ve planned for, then your plan isn’t realistic—and chances are you’ll fail the exam.

Are you constantly procrastinating or putting off work? Making excuses? Maybe you’re not a good CFA candidate then.

They Demand & Demonstrate Progress

This one is essential for success—in business and on the CFA Exam.

To show progress, you need to keep meticulous track of your performance, in this case, your practice exams and mock essays. Be sure you test yourself under timed, exam-like conditions. Record your scores and analyze them by topic area to make sure you know your strengths and weaknesses.  (Our CFA Review Course does the data-crunching for you.)

Your initial scores will likely be abysmal. Don’t worry (yet): You have to start somewhere.

Keep going and ensure that you demonstrate improvement as you move through your action plan.

They Adapt (Without Panicking) 

Is your plan not working? Are you not progressing quickly enough? Are you running out of time?

Just like a good leader, a good CFA candidate knows when to change—or scrap—a plan. Like at the beginning of your CFA journey, this requires an honest personal assessment.

What can you realistically change?

What resources are available to you?

Will it make a difference?

If you possess the right mix of self-awareness, insight, drive, and commitment, you might make a good CFA candidate.