Harness Your CFA Exam Anxiety

Harness Your CFA Exam Anxiety

Article by Mike Carmody, CFA, Lead Instructor on (Updated on ) in CFA Study Tips

Preparing for the CFA exam can be nerve-wracking, but is anxiety good or bad? Mike Carmody explains how nervousness can motivate you to study harder. Learn how to harness your emotions and relax to perform your best!

As I write this, the CFA® Level I and Level II exams are just a few short weeks away. If you're taking one of these exams, I'm sure you already knew that—and you might already be nervous.

There's not much time left to prepare. There are certainly some topics that could use your undivided attention. So is your anxiety good or bad?

You should be nervous about the CFA exam!

The CFA exam takes 6 hours and covers very difficult material. More than 50% of the people who take the exam will probably fail. Those factors make a great case for nervousness.

My advice is to harness that emotion. Let your nerves motivate you in your last few weeks of studying. Understanding that you might fail the exam can actually propel you to success.

CFA exam anxiety can be good (if it forces you into action).

However, if you're not careful, pre-exam anxiety can lead to paralysis. Don't let yourself become so consumed with the thought of taking the exam that you lose your will to study. That will not improve your odds.

If you worry too much, you can also start to lose sleep and spend idle time worrying instead of actually studying or accomplishing something productive. When you're tired, you're not at your best!

In addition, your anxiety before the exam can lead to anxiety on exam day. If you believe in advance you will be nervous during the exam, you will be nervous. This mindset won't help you retain needed information.

Take a deep breath.

You must relax to perform your best. So, during the next few days and weeks, take a deep breath and try to find calm. Realize you've spent countless hours preparing for the exam and you've done everything you need to do.

You are ready the take the test. You are ready to ace the test!

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