By: Morgan International Staff Writers
Let me start by saying that nothing in this article is meant to encourage you to not do a sufficient amount of preparation and entering the CFA exam with the requisite knowledge to pass with flying colours. Yet, like with all exams, however much we prepare, there may be questions that have us stuck. Each candidate will have a different approach to exam technique – whether that be tackling them incrementally, or leaving those ones until the end. Regardless of approach, if there are 10% you are unsure of, it is still better to give them a go, or else you are already reducing your potential score by 10%. We have pulled together 5 top tips to help you ‘intelligently guess’ or deduce the answer – or at least give you more of a fighting chance of scoring some points.
1) Use deduction for multiple choice questions
Look out for answers that absolutely can’t be correct. Work through a process of deduction and if you manage to get down to two potentially correct answers – then you now have a 50/50 chance of scoring points. Don’t panic - try and progress logically through the potential answers.
2) The answer to one question may help answer another
In CFA Level II and III there is a vignette format where 6 questions are about the same passage of text. Sometimes an answer or answers to some of the questions may assist you to deduce what part of the syllabus is being tested as there tends to be a theme within the vignette. Unfortunately, all questions in CFA Level I are independent of each other – so this tip will not help you on that exam (sorry).
3) Stick to the course material
If you feel stuck, you may have some knowledge tucked away from another course that you think might help. Our experience is that it won’t. Whilst this may seem opposed to educational spirit – it is important to stick to CFA definitions and content.
4) Don’t argue
You may be struggling to answer a question because you feel it is worded poorly or you think that it is very difficult to interpret. Or perhaps the question makes no sense whatsoever in your opinion. Do not spend your time answering the question with your perspective on the inadequacies of the question. We assure you that it won’t secure you any points, or ‘brownie points’ with the exam marker.
5) Use your common sense
When all else fails, use your common sense and your gut feel. Have some faith in yourself. You should have done a number of practice papers by this point which hopefully has given you a good feel for the exam structure and typical answers to typical questions.
Nobody said the CFA exams would be easy. However the key to success is to work calmly and methodically. You are unlikely to feel certain you know the answer to all of the questions and it is advisable to accept that and have methods and tips in your mind to help you cope.