CFA® Exam Preparation

Understanding Your Learning Style

Congratulations! You’ve decided to take on arguably the most challenging finance certification on the planet. Before you take a deep dive into the study marathon that is CFA® exam prep, deciding how to get started, how to set up your long-term study plan, and what learning approach to take is imperative to your success.

The fact is that human beings are unique. While we have so much in common, we do many things differently, including how we learn. What works best for one might not work for another. The academic community has designated four distinct learning styles (though there are others). While many people may fall into more than one category, understanding the characteristics associated with each learning style can optimize your studying experience.

Learn More About Each Learning Style

The primary learning styles are:

VARK model representing Visual learners

You'll know how your brain best processes information by exploring your preferred learning style. Thus, you will give yourself the best chance of studying for the CFA exam effectively and efficiently. Let’s review the learning styles in-depth to help you identify your preferred learning style.

1. Visual Learning Style

Visual learners need to see things to learn. They learn best when they envision relationships and ideas. Maps, diagrams, pictures, and charts can work well for visual learners. Other methods that work for visual learners are videos, webinars, or seeing in-person demonstrations. Visual learners are often attracted to vivid spoken language and colorful imagery. Many people are visual learners, and this style is commonly accommodated in educational institutions.

As a visual learner, you enjoy designs, patterns, shapes, and diagrams that convey information. You are attracted to rich imagery, colors, and stories that explain and break down complex concepts. You like to see what you’re learning and often close your eyes to remember.

When using UWorld CFA prep, we recommend focusing on our vivid illustrations for each explanation, our ReadyDecks (pre-filled flashcards), our SimpleSheets (for easy access to formulas), and digital highlighting throughout our question banks (QBanks).

2. Auditory Learning Style

Auditory learners retain information best through their sense of hearing. They favor listening to facts rather than seeing them or reading them in a textbook. This learner best understands concepts when explained out loud in an interesting, engaging manner. Some auditory learners speak and read slowly, while others find sitting still for long periods challenging. When studying, auditory learners like to focus on audiobooks for learning more complex concepts. They may also retain information better if they talk with someone else about the material.

As an auditory learner, you prefer to hear information. You learn best from lectures, group discussions, or studying with a friend to discuss complex concepts. You sometimes find yourself talking out loud while attempting to grasp challenging ideas. Oh, and you greatly benefit from using mnemonics as a memory tool.

When using our UWorld CFA QBanks and flashcards, we recommend you read the questions and answers aloud to increase reading comprehension, sharpen your skills, and challenge your use of intonation. We recommend you focus on our “things to remember” after each question and provide hints for further comprehension.

Man pointing over his left shoulder
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3. Kinesthetic Learning Style

People with a kinesthetic learning style learn best by touching and manipulating materials. They learn by doing exercises and may get restless if required to sit still for long periods. These types of people learn to perform best when they can solve problems or participate in hands-on activities. Learning tactics that work best for kinesthetic learners often combine visual and auditory methods, creating multi-sensory activities.

As a kinesthetic learner, you learn by touching and doing. You understand and remember things through physical movement. You are a hands-on learner who prefers to touch, move, build, or draw what you learn, and you tend to learn better when some type of physical activity is involved.

Kinesthetic learners will benefit immensely by utilizing UWorld CFA because our learning philosophy and platform are based on the active-learning approach. Students learn more when actively participating and engaging in the learning process. With our active-learning approach to instruction, the student participates or interacts with the learning process instead of passively taking in the information.

Active learning stimulates the activation of cognitive and sensory networks in the brain, which aids in the processing and storing of new information. When actively engaging with content, the brain is given more time to connect new and old data and correct earlier misunderstandings. For more on the merits of active learning, check out our blog article: Benefits of Active Learning for CFA® Candidates.

Kinesthetic learners will benefit from our robust QBanks by leveraging their comprehensive explanations that explain the correct answer and why the other answers are incorrect. Another great tool is our smart flashcards with spaced repetition, an interface that will repeat complex concepts at definitive intervals for optimized memory retention. Your superior retention and recall on test day will give you a competitive edge and optimize your chances of passing the CFA exam the first time.

4. Reading and Writing Learning Style

People who learn best through reading and writing are comfortable with, and passionate about, the written word. They prefer to learn information by reading and can condense and rephrase written information well. This traditional learning style is favored in many upper-level academic institutions.

As a reading and writing learner, you learn best when interacting with text and consuming information displayed as words. You’re a fantastic note-taker, have a collection of highlighters, and are addicted to Wikipedia. You prefer to test yourself by taking quizzes and lots of them.

UWorld CFA meets the needs of your learning style with award-winning rationales for all answer options and step-by-step problem-solving guidance. We also recommend using our SmartCard flashcards, digital MyNotebook, and multi-color highlighting tools to complement your learning style.

SimpleSheets are your easy access to Level 1 formulas!

Image of SimpleSheets on tablet
Graph from SimpleSheets portraying the efficient frontier
Graph from SimpleSheets showcasing probability distribution

Take the Learning Style Quiz

Ultimately, it’s all about what works best for YOU! At UWorld Finance, we understand that each CFA candidate is unique in learning, processing, and retaining information. That’s why our CFA exam preparation tools are designed to work for all learning styles. The questionnaire below will identify your preferred learning style. While we encourage candidates to use all of our resources, understanding your learning preferences can help you optimize your CFA exam preparation.

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