Alums Pass CFA Level 1 Exam

Alums Pass CFA Level 1 Exam

February 12, 2020

Congratulations to School of Business alums Drake Raftery (’19), Ben Wingo (’19), and Danny Alter (’19) who all recently found out that they passed the CFA Level 1 Exam!  This is a great accomplishment as the national pass rate was 42%.  These alums are employed with Principal Financial Group, Boeing, and RubinBrown, respectively. Drake, Ben, and Danny have graciously shared information about the process and their tips below.

Process for CFA Level 1 Examination:

  1. Sign up on the CFA Institute’s website.
  2. Sign up with a study provider to help simplify material and decrease material breadth.  We were recommended to use Schweser’s Essential package by Truman Patterson, a Truman State alumnus.  We felt like this study package was efficient and helpful.
  3. CFA examinations cost around $2,000 per level.  This number can fluctuate up or down depending on registration timing and the amount of study materials purchased.
  4. Prepare a study plan that works for you.  Everyone’s schedule is different and no plan fits all.  The CFA Institute recommends 6 months/300 hours of studying.  Keep this in mind when building a study plan.
  5. While studying, incorporate practice questions by oscillating them with reading, reviewing, and video watching.
  6. Finish the curriculum with 4-6 weeks before the exam.  Take this time to review and start on mock exams.
  7. Rest the day before the test.
  8. Everyone is anxious, nervous, and stressed the day before and the day of the exam.  Prepare for this.
  9. On test day, arrive at the test center early.  If you have any admittance issues, this will provide a margin of safety.
  10. Make sure to read all test day instructions.  Bringing the wrong items or forgetting a mandatory item will only add unneeded stress.
  11. The test consists of two 3-hour sections.  Each section consists of 120 multiple-choice questions.  There is about an hour break between tests for lunch. There are 3 answer choices for each multiple-choice question.

Tips for CFA Level 1 Examination:

  1. Pay attention in Dr. Mun’s and Dr. Lin’s classes.  They will set you up for success!
  2. Sign up earlier rather than later.  The early registration fee is about half the price of the late registration fee.  (Early Registration: $650; Standard Registration: $930; Late Registration: $1,380)
  3. Most companies will reimburse for exam expenses if you pass.  Don’t let the costs of the test scare you away.
  4. Order the physical study materials.  Working all day on a computer and then studying on a computer is a lot of screen time.
  5. If time permits, include rest days in your study plan.
  6. Stay consistent with your study plan.
  7. When life happens and it takes longer than you “scheduled” to complete a section, don’t freak out.  Put in the extra hours to get back on track.
  8. If you study before work or right after work in your workspace, you will not be hit with “after-work fatigue” as hard.  This is key to midweek efficiency while working full-time.
  9. Utilize weekends to your advantage.  These will be your most productive days.
  10. Quality is better than quantity.  Three very strong study hours on a Saturday are better than a whole day of not fully focusing.  Take breaks to ensure that you are 100% focused on the material.
  11. While studying, PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY.  It only serves as a distraction and you will end up getting lost in social media for far longer than you had hoped.
  12. If you do not understand a topic well, continue to work on it and review it as you move along through the curriculum.  Don’t be afraid to take a quiz from old sections.  Studying the harder topics repeatedly will help with retention.
  13. Find a study group for questions and camaraderie.
  14. Don’t focus on your strengths, focus on your weaknesses.
  15. Take as many mock exams as possible and simulate the test day experience for each.  This will make test day more comfortable and help to relieve unwanted stress.
  16. Mocks are a key to success, do not neglect them.
  17. If you don’t get the mock score you want, it is easy to rush into the next mock exam to try and do better.  Take time before going onto the next mock exam.  Studying missed questions and related topics thoroughly is the best way to improve scores.
  18. On exam day the first 10 minutes will be frantic, and you will feel like you don’t know anything.  Planning for this will help the nervousness.  When the exam starts, take a deep breath and try to calm yourself before you begin.
  19. Plan your test day lunch ahead of time.  You don’t want to be running around downtown Minneapolis looking for a Jimmy Johns.
  20. Bring an extra calculator and extra pencils/erasers.  It’s better to be prepared for the worst than to encounter the worst midway through the exam.  Proctors will not provide sympathy if your calculator stops working.
  21. If you are clueless on a question, try to eliminate one option and then guess 50/50.


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