Six Myths About the CFA® Exam

a candidate learning about the common myths associated with the cfa exam

The CFA Exam can cause a great deal of worry and anxiety for CFA candidates. The stories that get told and retold are legion, but really—how many of them are real? Unfortunately, some of the things written online, especially in CFA-related social forums, are sometimes inaccurate. It is important to separate truth from fiction. Here we debunk six common CFA Exam myths.

1. “You don’t need to study as much as you think.”

Many people believe they can get away with studying less than the recommended 300 hours per level of the CFA Exam. You may know someone who says they only studied for a couple of weeks — and passed. Or maybe there was an online post that they cut their study time in half with some gimmick. That’s great for those people – that is, if it’s true. Do not be fooled. Studying less is not a good way to approach CFA Exam studies.

The CFA Institute recommends specific amounts of study time per Level for a reason. That’s because they work. On average, those who passed the Level 1 CFA Exam spent 303 hours studying. Set yourself up for success by setting the expectation that you will be spending around 303 hours for the CFA Level 1 Exam.

2. “The CFA Institute study materials are all you need to pass the exam.”

The study materials provided by the CFA Institute are extremely valuable to your CFA preparation. Do not ignore them. But are they the most dynamic, flexible, and thorough CFA preparation available? Probably not. That is why it is crucial to understand your own study needs and habits.

Supplemental aids, or a reputable CFA prep program, can offer you the benefit of more user-friendly and adaptable study tools that can enhance your retention and understanding. The CFA Institute’s study materials are excellent, and each Exam is created from the CFA curriculum. But restricting yourself to those materials alone doesn’t necessarily give you the best odds of passing the exam.

3. “If you’re using a CFA prep course, you don’t need the CFA Institute’s materials.”

While most CFA prep courses offer the majority of the relevant information you need to pass the CFA Exam, you can’t ignore the material published by the entity that creates the exam, even more so when you consider that the Exam will be based only on that information. Although a good CFA prep course can improve your odds on test day, the best way to maximize your chances is to use the CFA Institute’s study materials alongside your CFA prep course.

4. “I don’t think I’ll pass because I don’t have enough time to study.”

This myth could be the most pernicious of all. Time is what you make of it. There are a million things we can decide to give our time to. There are a million reasons—legitimate or otherwise—we can say to claim that we don’t have time. But the truth is that if we are dedicated to something, we make time for it. Does that mean the CFA Exam would have to be a priority? Yes. Would you have to make sacrifices to make the time for it? Yes. But where there is a will, there is a way.

If you want to be a CFA charterholder, you can be. You will have to put in the work, you will have to make sacrifices, and you will have to dedicate your time to it. But in the end, you can and will be successful.

5. “If there’s one topic I can skip, it’s Ethics.”

The Ethical and Professional Standards section of the CFA Exam is not easy. It may seem like it is not that big of a deal, but it is equally important as any other part of the CFA Exam. It is similarly challenging as any other part of the exam due to all the reading it requires. Ethics is essential for all levels of the CFA Exam. Don’t neglect it.

6. “I’ll study for it the same way all my friends are studying for it.”

Everyone studies differently. Everyone understands things in various ways and remembers things by different methods. Remember that this is not a one-size-fits-all process. How your colleagues studied for the CFA Exam may have been successful for them, but that doesn’t mean it will be for you. And your methods won’t necessarily work for the next person. Everyone’s CFA journey is different, so you must find the way that works best for you.

Whatever your study style looks like, UWorld Finance has the tools to equip you for success. Start your free trial or our Level 1 Learning Platform today.

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