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CFA Report: Recent Exam Results

Posted on August 20, 2018 8:36 am;

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The CFA Institute has recently changed the way it reports a candidate’s exam performance. The CFA® exam results’ new format gives abundant information concerning the overall performance, performance compared to the minimum passing score, performance compared to other candidates, and performance by a specific topic. Such breakdown can be a highly important tool in organizing your studies across your journey, that if used properly.

Minimum Passing Score
One thing that is very clear in reporting is the minimum passing score. If your score is above the set minimum passing score, then you’re on to the next level of your CFA journey or you’ve finally passed it successfully!
However, if your score is not above the minimum passing score, then read along to know how to plan your next step.

The Confidence Interval
The top end of this interval represents the great expectations you had upon finishing your exam, which you have envisioned due to some tangible factors that happened on the day of your exam. The bottom end, however, represents your low expectations.
If the top end of the confidence interval is below the minimum passing score, then we highly recommend you re-examine your studying approach. Usually, the time commitment is the detected issue that most candidates discover a little too late.
Another mistake candidates don’t appreciate earlier in the exam preparation phase is lack of practice. Reading the material is great and all, yet practicing questions are just as vital. Settling for a week or two of practice will backfire on exam day. So, if you have set your study session duration, half of it should be also set for question practice, from the first day of studying until the very end, knowing that you should dedicate the last month solely for mock exams.

In Centiles
The CFA institute’s report discussed the 90th and 10th percentiles where only 10% of the CFA candidates have scored higher than the 90th percentile whereas 90% of the candidates have scored better than the 10th percentile.

We’ve Broken It Down for You
In the CFA exam, there’s no minimum passing score per topic where the mark for each is measured according to the standard 70% which is a score that represents an adequate level of topic mastery.
Here’s a breakdown for a theoretical Level I candidate who almost passed the exam. Let’s say he has done well in his FRA, which needs a lot of preparation by Level I and II candidates and exceeded 70%. However, derivatives have fell way below the level of decent mastery. As important and the FRA is, it is very important not to dedicate too much of attention to your studies for it at the expense of other equally or little less important areas. A candidate must be aware that poor performance in a number of the somehow smaller topics, Level I’s derivatives and alternative investments, for instance, can add up to take you to a narrow fail despite your mastery of the larger topics.

Often, such a result may be due to two reasons:
• The candidate has dedicated a too long time to master 100% of bigger areas.
• The candidate hasn’t made it to the end of the given exam preparation syllabus.

The best way to address this issue in your next attempt is to dedicate enough time for practice exams. Your last 5 or 6 weeks should include plenty of debriefs and practice exams, along with “short review sessions learning factual areas”.

What About Level III?
Level III morning exam is a written paper where candidates usually find these essay questions more difficult than the Level II item set approach. The afternoon item set performance showed a more than adequate mastery of the topics, however, an essay paper that is below average could get the total grade below the minimum passing score.
It’s not easy to measure how well was your performance on the written question since there are often multiple acceptable responses. It’s vital to understand how your answers are graded. For instance, if you were asked for 3 points, the first 3 will get credit. Don’t attempt to bombard the grader with an extra 5 points because it won’t help for it will only blow your time allocation.

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