We’ve all heard the saying, “Old habits die hard.” For most of us, that saying is pretty accurate. However, another saying is equally true: “The only constant is change.” So, when faced with circumstances that compel you to choose between clinging to an old habit versus embracing change—like studying for the CFA exams with printed materials rather than migrating to online CFA materials—how can we navigate changing old habits when it’s such a difficult proposition? Well, the good news is that hard doesn’t mean impossible. This article will offer five ways to help you transition from print to online CFA study materials.
1. Have an Open Mind
As human beings, most of our achievements begin in our minds. Before we can comfortably take on new challenges or adopt new behaviors, we must first be open and willing to push ourselves to try new things. When faced with getting out of our comfort zones or deviating from everyday routines, the sooner we accept the new reality, the easier it will become to make the transition. Besides, you never truly know what you’re capable of until you try.
So, when it comes to changing your study habits from print to online CFA study materials, have an open mind, and you just might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
2. Adopt a Growth Mindset
One of the most effective ways to be flexible and adaptable to change is having a growth mindset. Individuals with a growth mindset are open-minded, believing that their potential isn’t limited to their talents but can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and input from others. As a result, such individuals are willing to get out of their comfort zone to improve or, as the term suggests, grow, including changing old study habits and adopting new ways to learn.
On the other hand, some individuals believe that their success depends on their natural talents, innate gifts, or longstanding habits. This way of thinking is known as having a fixed mindset. These concepts apply to transitioning from print to digital materials when studying for the CFA Exam because they affect your outlook on the transition and, ultimately, your experience.
If you have a growth mindset, you will embrace this change as a learning opportunity to acquire a new skill or improve your ability to understand and remember information using a new study method. Conversely, if you have a fixed mindset, you might attribute your success in previous exams to your test-taking ability or a particular study habit, eg, preparing using printed materials. Therefore, you would probably be reluctant to switch to preparing for the CFA exam using online CFA study materials.
3. Ease Your Way In
If you’re accustomed to studying for the CFA Exam with textbooks and are concerned about switching to online materials, start by trying something that is pressure-free, like reading an ebook to get familiar with how similar the experience can be to reading a print version. If you enjoyed that experience, you would begin to dispel any misconceptions you might have about reading and retaining material you read online versus in print.
Easing your way into the online prep world with ebooks is a foolproof way to familiarize yourself with practicing for a high-stakes exam using online materials. Once you realize that online can be just as effective, if not more so than what you’re used to, you will feel less apprehensive about employing it going forward.
4. Keep the End Goal in Mind
Ultimately, your goal is to earn your CFA Charter and, to do that, you must pass the CFA Exam. As of 2021, the CFA Exam is now a computer-based test, so it would behoove you to get familiar with the exam’s online interface. The best way to do that is by preparing for the exam using the same tools, and in the same (simulated) environment you will encounter on test day.
When you prepare using online materials, you are equipping yourself with the confidence to succeed on test day because you will have practiced in the same online format in which the exam will be administered. Moreover, online exam interfaces allow you to do practice questions, which is a form of active learning, scientifically proven to be one of the most effective study methods to learn and retain information in the long term.
5. Take Mock Exams
As the name suggests, mock exams are a simulated experience designed to test your knowledge under the same conditions as the actual exams they emulate. As you transition your study habits from print to digital, mock exams will be your best friend. Use the mock exams the CFA Institute provides you when you register for the CFA Level 1 Exam, preferably in tandem with mock exams by a trusted third-party CFA prep provider.
Because human beings are such creatures of habit, change can be understandably challenging. However, with an open mind, the right (growth) mindset, long-term perspective, and preparing for the CFA Exam in the same computer-based format as you will encounter on test day, you can confidently transition from a print to an online strategy.
We wish you the best of luck on your CFA Journey!
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