Bringing Our Partnership With You to Life

by Mike Carmody, Lead Instructor

3 Key Salt Solutions Features To Keep CFA Candidates Moving

The first words you see when you visit the Salt Solutions website are Your partner in preparation. To our team, this phrase is more than just a nice tagline. It summarizes our approach to preparing our users for their Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) exams.

When a user purchases a Salt Solutions subscription, they get more than our study materials. Our users purchase a partnership that includes our guidance, expertise, and firsthand knowledge of the exams.

As charterholders ourselves, we know how daunting the CFA journey can be. Just like our users, we have sweated through that process, and we want to help them prepare in the most efficient, effective way.

Our approach comes to life in a practical way through 3 key features of our platform, including CheckPoints, our intuitive scheduler; Solutions, our in-depth assignment content; and finally, through our utilization of the assessment tools on the CFA Institute Learning Ecosystem.

1. CheckPoints

CheckPoints is Salt Solutions' points-based scheduling system. Each week, CheckPoints assigns the user a weekly goal of points to earn, aiming toward a global total of 50,000 CheckPoints.

This scheduler might seem new to users who expect a prescriptive journey through the curriculum. Instead, we focus on earning points and completing tasks to empower autonomous preparation. Users decide when and what to study on their own.

CheckPoints is also unique in the way it merges two important criteria:

  • Time Invested: First, we give users an idea of exactly how much time they will need to accomplish a task. Each piece of content includes a time estimate that encompasses both time to watch or read, as well as time to comprehend or apply.
  • Importance to the Exam: Our content team has analyzed what's most important to the exam and weighted each task with CheckPoints based on that analysis. For example, a five-minute video that's crucial to the exam may reward the user with more points than a 10-minute reading that's less important.

Using CheckPoints, we guide users to where they should focus their time in a way that's almost invisible. This works well if the user arrives on our platform shortly before their exam with little time to study. We let them know where to go first by how we've assigned points.

Every Monday at 3 a.m., in the user's timezone, CheckPoints resets their weekly goals according to their accomplishments and time remaining to exam day. All their remaining points, from a total of 50,000, are distributed across the weeks remaining.

If users go above and beyond their goal one week, CheckPoints gives them fewer points per week to study. If they have earned less, CheckPoints asks more of them. Either way, CheckPoints gives users a good benchmark for their performance and the motivation to keep moving.

We created this system in synchronicity between our content team, our development team, and our designers, and we believe it's the first of its kind in the CFA field.

2. Solutions

When our users answer an assignment question, we want them to know more than whether they were right or wrong. We also want the user to know how to reach the answer on their own, so they do more than memorize the answer and internalize the underlying process.

Each of the 1,600 assignment questions for CFA Level I includes Solutions content that fulfills this purpose. These Solutions walk the user through the process for finding the answer, and every single question gets a written Solution.

As with CheckPoints, our guidance directs the user to what's most important—in this case with additional content. The toughest, most important concepts get even more detailed video Solutions, featuring step-by-step narratives, infographics, animations, and more.

Many CFA preparation platforms provide solutions. What makes our Solutions unique is their exceptional quality. We have our own production studio and quality control the entire process, from scriptwriting and filming, to editing, to presentation creation, to closed captioning. Every step of the way, we supervise the creation of these videos to ensure they're top-notch.

There's also a discussion forum attached to each assignment question, in which users have direct access to our content creators. If a discussion forum fills up with questions, we know we need to either bulk up the written Solution or create a video Solution to better serve our users' needs.

3. CFA Institute Learning Ecosystem

Finally, let's talk about how our platform utilizes the assessment tools on the CFA Institute Learning Ecosystem.

Occasionally, our users—especially those accustomed to other learning tools—ask, "Where are the practice quizzes and mock exams on Salt Solutions?" When we built this platform, we intentionally excluded practice quizzes and mock exams.

Many users take quizzes over and over. That is not the best way to prepare for the CFA exams. We recommend this approach instead:

  1. First, users should wait until the last few weeks before their exam for assessment. We recommend spending at least 30 days on assessments and reviews. Learning comes first, then assessment.
  2. Second, we recommend users assess their knowledge on the CFA Institute Learning Ecosystem, which is available at no additional cost after you register to take the exam for a particular sitting.

The CFA Institute creates the exams and, if our users can pass their assessments, they are more likely to pass the exam itself. In fact, using the free assessment tools on the Learning Ecosystem introduces candidates to how the Institute phrases and structures questions. Candidates might even answer questions similar to those they will ultimately see on the exam.

Testing your knowledge in a new environment, such as the Learning Ecosystem, is also key to success on the CFA exams. We compare this practice to putting a data science theory to work. If you were a data scientist, you wouldn't test your model on the dataset used to create the model. You would test it on other datasets, to ensure it holds up.

The same rule applies to testing CFA knowledge. The more you apply your learning in different settings, the more you can rest assured your understanding is solid. This approach is the one we recommend based on years of preparing candidates to succeed.

All feedback welcome

As you can see, we have put a lot of time and thought into creating an incredible learning experience for our users. Let me or the team know if you have any feedback or questions.