The CFA Exam is high stakes, testing a CFA candidate’s knowledge of many different finance topics, and Level 1 has earned the reputation of being extremely challenging. Historic pass rates have hovered around 43%.
Candidates taking the CFA exam are educated, intelligent, and highly motivated but many struggle to pass the Level 1 test, resulting in lost time and money. This low pass rate underscores the importance of creating an effective learning strategy. Studies show that the best way to learn and retain information is through actively engaging with the relevant material.
What is Active Learning?
An active-learning approach to studying enables candidates to master concepts by participating in their learning, rather than passively receiving information in “sit and get,” lecture-based scenarios. Some examples of this approach include role-playing, case studies, think-pair-share, peer instruction, group projects, debates, and demonstrations.
Why Use Active Learning?
A Harvard study focused on active learning suggests that students learn more when taking an active role in their education than through utilizing passive strategies such as traditional lectures. This study used standard lecture methods taught by an experienced instructor for the first eleven weeks of a fifteen-week class. In the twelfth week, half the class was assigned to a classroom involved in active learning, while the other half continued with lectures.
Those groups were then switched in subsequent class meetings. Both groups continued to learn identical class content, either through active engagement or lectures. Following each class, students were surveyed on their perceptions of learning and quizzed over the material. The study showed that students perceived the lectures as more effective but learned more from the active-learning methods.
Active learning is often uncomfortable, and it is more difficult because it requires working through topics instead of listening and note-taking as someone else explains the information. Students usually prefer traditional lectures and even feel that they are learning more that way. Still, learning outcomes are improved when students engage through such techniques as group interaction and problem-solving activities.
Benefits of Active Learning
Active engagement in preparing for the CFA Exam is the best way to master the critical material, resulting in the following benefits:
- Reinforcement: Important material is reinforced through participative activities. You learn better by doing, so hands-on, active participation is the most effective means of strengthening understanding.
- Feedback: Active participation in the learning process provides you with immediate and frequent feedback.
- Processing: Thinking and talking about the material enables you to process and internalize the information more effectively. This is critical, as the CFA Exam will require you to use problem-solving skills and apply the knowledge.
- Connections: Student motivation increases by creating more personal connections to the material through active engagement. This will help with the exam, as you must know how to apply the knowledge to realistic situations.
- Collaboration: You can practice critical skills, such as collaboration, through group work and paired activities.
- Interaction: A sense of community grows through interactions as you connect with other students and actively engage in learning together through problem-solving and the completion of group tasks.
Passing the CFA exam is a valuable component in your career trajectory. Don’t waste time or money by taking it without adequate preparation. For the best active-learning CFA prep course available, visit UWorld Finance today.
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