7 New Year’s Resolutions for June 2013 CFA Candidates

Only 20 weeks are left for June CFA exam. For many of you, it would be the first time to write such an exam while for others (L2 and L3 candidates), it would be an exam with a different pattern which would check little different skills that those are checked in the L1 exam. Some of you would be rewriting your levels again by improving on the mistakes committed during the last attempt. What should you do so that you don’t have to get tensed at the later stages and feel quite comfortable with your preparation during the exam? We are going to discuss that only in this article. What all resolutions you should keep to clear the exam with ease!!

Make a schedule: It is always better to have a schedule. Just go through the entire syllabus once and prepare a personal schedule for yourself depending upon your strengths and weaknesses. Make sure that you complete the entire curriculum at least four weeks before the exam. Without any schedule, you might not be able to track your progress and might finish the course late than the scheduled time, creating pressure for yourself. You can also keep on checking your progress at least twice in a month and you might have to change the schedule in between because of certain unexpected events. It’s always better to have a plan than no plan at all.

Don’t procrastinate: You must not procrastinate. You have already procrastinated enough. Time has come to start the preparation otherwise it could be too late. This is not an engineering exam where you could study at the last moment and come out with flying colors from the examination hall as you would be knowing all the expected questions. The exam pattern is entirely different. It’s like 10 exams on a single day which make it one of the toughest exam to crack. Even if you have a super IQ and you are studying in an IVY league college, you need to prepare well for the exam. You just can’t take chances. I have seen many brilliant guys with super IQs fail in the examination due to lack of preparation as they left too much to be covered for the last few days before the examination. Australian Cricket Team which won Cricket World Cups from 1999 to 2007 was not built in a day. Steve Waugh had talked about how they built the Champion team in his autobiography. As the title of his autobiography says “Out of my comfort zone”, you also need to get out of your comfort zone and keep progressing with each passing day.

Don’t fall sick: It is very necessary to remain healthy for next 20 weeks of preparation. Our efficiencies decrease a lot when we fall sick. If we fail to make a schedule and leave many things for the later stage. It can happen that you fall ill at a later stage due to more exertion and which can be fatal for your chances to pass the exam. Remaining healthy is very easy and very tough at the same time. We always try to keep the people we like happy. But we generally neglect ourselves. It is very important to have a proper diet and to exercise regularly. You can even boost your IQ by exercising. Having a lot of liquid intake will also help in remaining fit and proper functioning of the mind.

Remain honest with yourself: It is very very important to remain honest with yourself rather than living in delusions. We always feel very highly about ourselves. It’s a normal human tendency. Let’s take a general scenario. You prepared a schedule according to which you need to finish one subject in next 10 days. Rather than reading some part each day, you leave everything for last 2-3 days and then study long hours on those days to catch up. It makes you feel confident and you fall into a trap. You think that you can always do like this and slowly this becomes a habit. As John Lenon said: “Life is what happens to you while you‘re busy making other plans.” You never know what lies in the future. You cannot control everything. You can’t play like Djokovic (like he played in 2012) forever. There is a quite high probability that you will not be able to cover the course as scheduled and thus not only bringing your confidence down but also ruining your chances to correct the mistakes. If you fall once in that trap then think why did you fail rather that thinking that this is just an aberration. Be honest with you. It’s okay to impress others with your lies but you should not lie to yourself and prepare accordingly.

Don’t go for shortcuts: Don’t go for shortcuts. You cannot sow today and reap tomorrow and it is very well explained by Parag Parikh in this lecture. It can happen that you might pass the exam by certain shortcut techniques but then the certification won’t add much value. Remember that you have chosen this certification for learning. You might be able to clear the L1 exam by shortcuts but it would be really difficult to clear L2 and L3 exams without proper understanding. Try to understand each and every concept. Imbibe every learning. If you don’t understand the concepts and just read the curriculum and try solving questions from some shortcut formulas, it can happen that at the later stage you forget many things and it would be very painful at the later stage for your mind to retain everything.

Practice, Practice, Practice: Practice doesn’t make perfect.Practice reduces the imperfection. Practice as many questions as possible. Never leave questions for the later period as that period never comes. This is very important for L3 candidates. They have written exam as well. Most of the people have trouble finishing the exam who don’t have enough practice before the exam and people do tend to procrastinate the written part. Just don’t think that you would take leave in last month and then practice everything. Practice the problems after studying the subjects so that you could know where do you stand and can modify your plan accordingly.

Reduce your online presence time: This is the most important thing to do. When we are sitting in front of a computer/laptop, it creates dopamine in our body. We feel like that we have done what we could do and have given our best shots. But nothing is farther from the truth. There is a lot of time wastage on the internet. Many guys just keep on refreshing their email ids and Facebook accounts and just get tired because of that. You can save a considerable amount of time by limiting your online presence. You can devote this additional time for studies or to write an article on the subject which you just finished. that would seal all the concepts in your mind. Making your own notes is the best way to retain the stuff. On an average checking email and going through Facebook account wastes 20-30 minutes and once you start arguing over some topic or replying to emails it can take hours. Limit the frequency to check your accounts. If you are checking it 10-15 times, try reducing it to 1-2 times a day. That would save hell lot of time.

With the above mentioned 7 resolutions, you can make a really good progress and the progress is always cumulative. Once you start doing it as a routine, you will soon notice that your efficiency has started improving and you can devote your time to other interesting things as well. We wish you luck and Godspeed for your preparations.


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A blog of the NYU Colloquium on Market Institutions and the Leipzig Colloquium on the Market Order

Fundoo Professor

Thoughts of a teacher & practitioner of value investing and behavioral economics

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