Tips To Prepare For The CFA Exam To Ace In The First Go

All three Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam levels require serious dedication to a set study schedule. The average annual pass rate for CFA Level I over the past ten years has been 41 per cent, according to the CFA Institute. According to this statistic, only motivated candidates have a chance of passing the test, so be ready to make the necessary sacrifices and exert the necessary effort.

Your biggest investment in the CFA is your time, so you will have to spend it efficiently. While it is important to start as soon as possible, before you start, it is important to understand the exam schedule and pattern, how to make a strategic plan, how many hours to study and how IMS ProSchool can help you with all that!

Let’s jump right in!

CFA Exam Schedule and Pattern

The CFA Institute specifies the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) 2021 exam format. The CFA exam will be given in a computer-based test format at a number of locations. Previously, the exam was administered using a paper-based test. However, starting in 2021, the exam is administered using a computer-based test (CBT). The exam happens four times yearly in February, May, August, and November.

CFA level 1 exam schedule for both sessions

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused numerous changes to the CFA level 1 exam pattern, but the institute has not altered the curriculum or the weighting of the various topics. You can check the weighting of each topic here while schedule will be according to this:

Sitting Time Duration No. of Questions
Morning 2 hours, 15 minutes 90 Multiple choice questions
Afternoon 2 hours, 15 minutes 90 Multiple choice questions
Total 4.5 hours 180 Multiple choice questions

Let’s discuss the tips you can follow to ace the CFA exams on your first attempt.

Did you know, you get CFA Exam Pass Commitment when you enroll with IMS Proschool

10 Tips To Ace Your CFA Exams In The First Go

1. Practice a lot of questions & take at least 3 mock tests

Time management is essential because CFA exams are time-consuming (6 hours for each level). It’s one thing to take in information, but you’ll also want to put it into practice to improve your memory and ensure you’re comprehending the questions. Start with the CFA Institute’s books because they contain many practice questions and mock exams.

Find your weakest areas, then concentrate on reviewing those. Start taking the practice exams at least two months before the exam. Preparatory courses may offer even more practice questions.

2. Take feedback from your mentors on the mocks

Just taking the mocks won’t be enough. While you get the practice you need, getting feedback on it is also essential. Once you complete your mock test, share it with your mentors and note their feedback. They’ll point out your weak areas and how to improve them. They will also provide you with tips on how to make the subjects easier and clear your doubts.

These reviews from the mentors will make a huge difference in your preparation. With each feedback, you will start to notice an improvement in your preparation.

3. Become an expert on the BA2+ Calculator

Because your calculator has so many features that can help you save time on exam day, it is essential to understand how to use it effectively. No matter which calculator you use—we advise Texas Instruments BA II Plus on the CFA exam—be sure to spend some time learning its functions at the beginning of your studies. The calculator’s features will eventually come in handy when you are faced with questions that can only be answered by using them, so why not start by becoming familiar with them as soon as you begin your studies?

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4. Create A Study Plan 8 months prior to your exam

Most candidates spend at least six months studying for the CFA Level I Exam, and some prepare for up to nine months. This typically entails 300 hours or more of study. Make your study schedule at least 8 months in advance. By doing this, you’ll ensure that you have enough time to learn everything you need to know and that you have some wiggle room in case you need to reschedule any of your study sessions.

Whatever you do, start studying for the exam as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the last few weeks. According to research, those who cram frequently don’t remember as much and are more likely to perform poorly on tests.

5. Start linking your subjects so that it is easy for you to remember

You don’t need scientific research to know that understanding or remembering a subject that you hate is hard. It is much easier to remember details when the subject is to your liking. So one of the best tips is to like all the subjects. While some subjects can be hard or boring for you compared to others, try finding something to like about them.

As a backup, if you still hate it after trying your best, break the subjects into multiple small topics and study one at a time. This way, the hard part will feel small, and you’ll prepare for the subject well.

6. Revise smartly

Without frequent review, the information you learned at the start of your studies won’t stick. Make time aside each week for repetition for a number of hours. For instance, if you intend to study from Monday through Friday, you can use Saturday to review what you have already learned.

You can keep your knowledge current and cover every topic more than once by revising. You can highlight the material you had trouble understanding and then review it to make revision easier.

7. Avoid burnout with the 50/10 rule

Study fatigue, which causes lower levels of focus, can be challenging to control. With the help of the 50/10 Rule, you can stay on course. The 50/10 Rule: What is it? Take a 10-minute break for the 50 minutes you spend concentrating on your work or studying.

You can prevent burnout, reduce distractions, aid in information digestion, and increase productivity during designated work hours by scheduling 10-minute breaks every hour. This helps you study with better focus and keep your energy levels high all the time.

Also Read – 6 Important CFA Updates & Curriculum Changes Announced in 2023 

8. Don’t ignore the Ethics module

The exam gives a lot of weight to ethics (15%), which is frequently the only subject that candidates did not study in college, whether they majored in finance or economics. It is not a good idea to wait until a few days before the exam to read the ethics section, as is the custom for unsuccessful candidates. Instead, focus on the subject, memorising it after reading it several times if necessary. It’s a good idea to read about ethics as your first subject, but make sure you read it again before concentrating on practice tests.

The Ethics chapter can be a deal-breaker due to the “ethics adjustments” made by the CFA Institute. Candidates close to the MPS (minimum passing score) may be altered upwards or downwards depending on their ethical score.

9. Focus on concepts & calculations equally

The CFA does not have a preference for one of these. Both concepts and calculations are essential for passing the exam. You cannot prepare more for one and ignore the other. You need to balance both.

Some like the concepts more, while others like the calculations because they are easy. Whatever your case, make sure you prepare well for both parts.

10. Assess your Progress

This might be the game changer in your preparation. You need to maintain a detailed summary of your preparations. You can make daily, weekly and monthly goals to start with, and then mark everything done as you keep completing them. A diary entry of your studies will enable you to assess your progress easily.

You can also make future changes and add extra study hours to the subjects that take longer or need more practice. Assess your progress, plan accordingly to cover the whole syllabus and be well prepared for the exam. It also gives you a positive feeling of accomplishment when you keep finishing the small goals.

Also Read – Top Job profiles & 5 tips to get a job after passing CFA level 1

How IMS Proschool Is Helping Students With Their CFA Journey

Enrolling at a reputed academy is the best and most systematic way to prepare for the CFA Exam. They have years of experience and tested methods that will help you clear the exam in the first go.

IMS Proschool has one of the best CFA prep courses in India. They are leading NSDC-approved institutes and have faculty with 10+ years of guiding students and many of them are industry experts. The faculty helps students with tailored study plans which help them to complete the course in time with a generous amount of time left for revisions.

You get access to the 2000+ practise questions & 5 mock tests, module-wise study plans and 1-on-1 interactions with the mentors. Their course also focuses on skill development that is beneficial while finding jobs after clearing the exam.

IMS Proscool’s faculty-led training and personal attention to students make the CFA journey for students easier and shorter as well. Enrol today!


We hope this information will help you strengthen your study strategy for the CFA Level 1 exam. It’s crucial to pass the CFA Level 1 exam if you want to advance in your career. Although challenging, the CFA exam is not impossible to pass.

It’s a difficult test that needs perseverance and laser-like focus to pass. But once you do, it will be worthwhile because there are wonderful things in store for you after passing CFA Level 1! Passing the first level opens up many fantastic and well-paying positions in various businesses.