So you’re working a full-time job, trying to manage your personal life, and you just registered to sit for the Level I CFA exam in June. Juggling work, life, and the Level I CFA exam can cause significant anxiety and, well, exhaustion. Yes, preparing for the exam is challenging but manageable if you set yourself up for success. Below are some study tips to better position yourself to efficiently study for the CFA exam while balancing work and life.
1. Evaluate your current priorities and schedule
Planning is an essential step toward maximizing your efficiency, whether you’re studying, working, or climbing a mountain. Before you can plan, you have to understand where you’re currently dedicating your time. Take a look at where you spend most of your time. Are you working over 60 hours a week? What about the time spent with friends and family? Do you have kids, a spouse, or a demanding cat? Can their demands wait or be delegated to someone else? These are the kinds of questions you must ask yourself at the time evaluation stage. Once you’ve learned what hurdles are in your way, you can strategize ways to overcome them and set yourself up with a working game plan and study schedule.
2. Put priorities in order
Maybe you really shouldn’t scroll through your social media accounts for 2 hours every day. Perhaps the latest episode of a binge-worthy show is less crucial than the Level 1 CFA exam. The key is to find more time by deciding which activities are less significant and replacing them with activities that will get you closer to achieving your goals. Don’t skip this step because it’s critical to evaluate your priorities to see if they are helping you reach your goals of becoming a CFA charterholder.
3. Create a study schedule
Without a study schedule, it’s much easier to make mistakes and get distracted. Accounting for your time is extremely useful as you sit down to sketch out your plan. Once you have a study schedule, you can stop worrying about what to do next, thus saving precious brainpower for learning and retaining. Remember to add life events and daily tasks to your study schedule as well. A study schedule is a great way to put a framework around your everyday life. So, set aside enough time to create a plan that will genuinely work for you.
4. Be flexible
When mapping out your study schedule, be aware that you’ll need to account for some flexibility. No matter how well you plan, something always happens that you didn’t anticipate. Perhaps you’re studying one afternoon, and your computer crashes. Or maybe you have to work late and aren’t able to study at your standard time. Don’t give up on your schedule if it doesn’t work perfectly; your schedule should be flexible enough to allow for unexpected events. Likewise, if you’ve already accounted for every moment of your day, you might need to reprioritize some activities. It’s also essential to take the time to regroup and recoup each day.
5. Ask for help
If you’re having a difficult time focusing on your studies or finding time to study, perhaps it’s time to lean on your support system. If you’ve created a study schedule and prioritized studying for the exam but still aren’t able to focus, reach out to friends and family for help. Talk to others about what you’re going through; share with them how critical passing the CFA exams is for you and your career. Set expectations with those close to you, so they understand how crucial it is to receive their dedicated support during this busy time.
No matter how challenging it gets, remember to stay focused on the end goal – passing the CFA exams and becoming a CFA charterholder. Evaluate where your time is going, then create and revise your study schedule as needed. Remain flexible, but ask for support when needed.
Whether or not we write them down, we tend to set goals for ourselves daily. Why? Because we want to become better versions of ourselves through personal and professional growth. While it’s not always easy to work towards your goals along your life’s journey, in the end, it’s almost always worth it, especially when the outcome is a better version of you. We hope you’ll use these study tips to help you succeed in the Level 1 CFA exam.
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