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CFA Level 1 Exam

We all have different reasons to pursue CFA. Some do it as the most relatable post graduate choice, some because of the love for finance, some for an upgrade in their resume and some for a desired job switch. According to these reasons, we set different timelines for completing CFA too.

We come across candidates who intend to complete CFA exam as soon as possible so as to move ahead to their next milestone. From 2021, the frequency of CFA exams has increased. Many see this as an opportunity to crack it within 18 months and take the charter home. They chalk out a plan

Sounds perfect right? Plus it is in tandem with the rules of the CFA institute, of having a minimum 6 months gap between attempts. But we call it an optimistic plan. Let’s know why.

No charter holder can deny that while attempting the CFA exam, the difficulty level increases with every consecutive level. The depth of concepts and their applicability escalate. Hence the most ideal gap between two CFA levels is at least 8-10 months. It ensures success and reduces the chances of disappointment. As quoted by world renowned speaker Mike Vance “Slowing down is sometimes the best way to speed up.”

According to us the idealistic plan is,

But slow down by how much? We also come across people deferring their attempts in order to parallel achieve other agendas on their checklist. But is this ideal too? We say no. The most ideal way to become a CFA is to attempt all 3 levels in succession with an appropriate gap. Why do we say so?

  • CFA Level 2 studies are a buildup on CFA level 1 and so is CFA level 3 on CFA level 2. Thus shorter gaps save a lot of time of revising the topics as they are fresh in the minds of the candidates.
  • Focusing all the energy in one course lets you learn and absorb the most out of it.
  • Shorter gaps speed up the timeline in achieving your career goals as well. 
  • Candidates may lose momentum and motivation if they take a too long a break between exam levels.​

That is why we recommend completing all 3 levels of CFA exam in succession, with an ideal gap of 8-10 months for maximum success.

But what about the times when we want to achieve more than one thing, and the timelines for the two clashes? While preparing for CFA you may want to take a break to attempt GMAT or CAT, or any other course which completes your qualification basket.

Certain courses come with a restriction regarding taking attempts and completing the course too. For example, one has to attempt FRM level 2 exam within 4 years of attempting FRM level 1 exam. Failing to do so one must re-register and start with level 1 all over again!

In such a scenario one may take advantage of the flexibility available in CFA exam and defer their attempts to comply with the restrictions of such courses.

But sometimes situations arise in our lives which divert us from the most ideal course of action. Hurdles like work pressure, career switch, other commitments hogging the time of your CFA preparations, derail you from your ideal preparation timeline. In such a scenario help, dedication and perseverance can only make you meet with success. CFA exam is a long journey and the most rewarding one. Taking it right can enhance the experience and benefit one gain from it. What’s your plan? Fast or slow? Continuous or deferred? Ideal or optimistic?


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