How to Manage Your Time Effectively During CFA Exam Preparation?


Preparing for all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) exam requires a serious commitment, discipline, and an organized approach toward following a structured CFA study plan. The August 2022 quarter examinations revealed that the passing rates for the CFA level 1 stood at 37%, while for the CFA level 2, it was 40%, and for the CFA level 3, it reached 48%.
These statistics indicate that only the most dedicated candidates can pass the CFA exams. Your biggest worry will be time management during these professional certificate examinations. As per the CFA institute, successful candidates spend around 323 hours in preparation. Preparing for the CFA exam can be demanding, especially during a day job.

CFA Exam Tips for Effective Preparation

Proper planning and help from a top prep provider like the NorthStar Academy (NSA) can help in time management during the CFA exam and understanding the CFA course details. 
Here are some CFA exam tips to help you manage your time effectively during CFA exam preparation -
  1. Stay Informed about the CFA Course Details
Before we start talking about preparing for the CFA exams, it is important to know about all the topics covered in the CFA course syllabus and their weightage in the exams.
SubjectsLevel 1 WeightageLevel 2 WeightageLevel 3 Weightage
Quantitative Methods 8-12% 5-10%0%
Economics 8-12%5-10%5-10%
Financial Statement Analysis13-17%10-15%0%
Corporate Finance 8-12%5-10%0%
Equity Investments 10-12%10-15%10-15%
Fixed Income 10-12%10-15%15-20%
Derivatives 5-8%5-10%5-10%
Alternative Investments5-8%5-10%5-10%
Portfolio Management and Wealth Planning 5-8%10-15%35-40%
Ethical & Professional Standards15-20%10-15%10-15%
By having the proper details of the weightage of different CFA subjects, you can curate a strategy leading to better time management during the CFA exam. 
  1. Develop a Well-Structured CFA Study Plan
Start by developing a CFA study plan as soon as possible. Develop the CFA study plan six months before the actual exams and stick to it. Outline your daily and weekly study goals, allocating specific time slots for each subject. Consider the CFA course duration and break down the CFA course syllabus into manageable sections for better coverage.
As a CFA exam preparation guide to preparing the CFA study plan, use the earlier given estimate of 323 hours as a target. Try to target at least 323+ hours of study time in your complete CFA study plan.
  1. Stick to Your CFA Study Plan
Next thing to do after creating your CFA study plan is to follow it religiously. A certain degree of dedication and discipline is required to crack the CFA examination. Leave a minimum of 4 weeks at the end for revision & review, longer if possible.
  1. Don't Waste Time
Prioritize time management during CFA exam preparation. Start your preparations as early as possible. Be mindful of effectively managing your time while studying for the CFA exam. Allocate more study hours to challenging topics and sections with higher exam weightage.
  1. Get Comfortable With Your Calculator
Subjects such as Quantitative Methods and Portfolio Management will require you to be quick with your calculations, or you may end up wasting too much time on such questions.
  1. Attend CFA Coaching Classes
Consider joining CFA coaching classes to receive professional guidance and instruction from experienced tutors. Knowing the CFA course details of the top prep provider like NorthStar Academy is better to clear the exams efficiently. In addition, these prep classes can provide valuable insights, study materials, and strategies for effective time management during the CFA exam.
  1. Practice Your Concepts with Question Banks & Mock Tests 
Absorbing information is one thing; retaining that knowledge is another. After completing each concept or topic, follow it up with a related questions bank. It may help you to retain all the concepts. As the exam date approaches, incorporate time for mock exams into your CFA study plan. Taking full-length practice exams under timed conditions will help you familiarize yourself with the concerned exam format, manage your time effectively, and identify areas where you need improvement.
  1. Take Care of Your Well-being
Last but not least, maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout your CFA exam preparation. Get sufficient sleep, eat well, and engage in regular physical activity. Taking care of your physical & mental well-being improves focus and concentration levels.
CFA exam preparation can be overwhelming. If you feel overwhelmed, do not hesitate to take little breaks to rest and recharge. Breaks can help prevent burnout and improve focus when you return to studying.


Q1. Which is harder, CFA or CA?

Both CA (Chartered Accountancy) and CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) are highly respected professional qualifications in finance. However, they are quiet from one another and can not be compared. The main focus of CA is accounting, whereas the main focus of CFA is financial analysis. However, the popular opinion is that the CA exams are usually harder to clear for most candidates than the CFA examination.

Q2. Can I prepare myself for the CFA?

Although a little difficult, it is surely possible to prepare for the CFA exam on your own. You only need time, discipline, and a proper CFA study plan. CFA Institute does provide study material for the exam. In addition, you can easily find a CFA Exam Preparation guide online.

Q3. What is the minimum score for the CFA Levels 1 & 2?

The Board of Governors will determine the MPS and whether each candidate is within the passing range or not. However, you will have a good chance of success by scoring anywhere between 70% to 73%.

Q4. Does CFA include negative marking?

No, CFA exams don't include negative markings. You will not receive any deduction for incorrect responses. So, be sure to attempt all the questions.

Q5. Can I use a calculator during the CFA exam?

For CFA exams, you are allowed to use two types of calculators - 1. BA II Plus calculator and 2. the HP 12C calculator. You must also be quick with your calculator to complete the exam in the given time.

Q6. What is the passing percentage in CFA?

The minimum score for the exam usually changes from year to year based on the current year's weighted scoring. It is because the Board of Governors will determine the MPS each year. However, the Minimum Passing Score or MPS set by the CFA Institute will never exceed 70%. Thus, you should try to score at least 70% marks in your CFA exams.


Remember, everyone's study habits and preferences may differ, so you may need to adjust the CFA study plan & exam tips according to your own needs and learning style. The Chartered Financial Analyst (or CFA) is a globally recognized qualification, and it is no easy feat to accomplish. Consistency, dedication, and effective time management will greatly contribute to your success in the CFA exam. Moreover, choosing the best mentorship and coaching guidance from the NorthStar Academy will immensely help every candidate. You get highly organized study material, well-rounded prep strategies, and world-class mentors like M. Irfat Sir to pass nearly all professional financial certification exams in one go.
If you are serious about beating the CFA examination, then we highly recommend checking out our Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) course of NSA. 
Contact us to get much-needed clarity on the course and kick-start your career with all the efficiency you need.
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