Top 7 Tips for CFA Exam Day
Enjoy these CFA exam day tips from our team and avoid common CFA candidate mistakes. Don't cram minutes before the exam, bring two calculators, and above all, arrive on time!
You’ve invested hundreds of hours (an estimated 300 hours total!) studying for your level of the CFA exam. Now, the exam is just a few days away. You feel like studying more, but you’re exhausted. You think you’ve done enough, but you want to do a few mock exams for good measure. You may be wondering what the best use of your time is.
In this blog post, the Salt Solutions team will share a few tips on what you should do a few days before and the day of the exam. This is by no means a rulebook. Take these as suggestions and tweak them to fit your lifestyle!
Feed your brain.
Ideally, you would eat well all the time, of course, but this is especially important in the week before your CFA exam. Your brain and body need all the nutrients they can get to stay awake, sharp, and focused. Blueberries, avocados, wild salmon, and nuts are popular brain foods that promote brain health.
Stay hydrated. No hangovers.
Most people know how important it is to drink plenty of water, but it's easy to forget. A big part of your brain is made up of water. Don’t starve your brain of water, because a dehydrated brain is forced to work harder. Stay far away from alcohol and sugary drinks—especially the night before the exam.
Get enough sleep—not only the night before.
We all know how hard it is to fall asleep the night before a big exam, no matter how hard we try. Relying on getting a full night’s sleep the eve of the exam is not a good strategy. This is why it is important to get fully rested 2 nights before. It will make the eve of the exam less stressful.
If your exam is early in the morning, it is a good idea to start sleeping and getting up early about a week before the exam. This is to recalibrate your body’s biological clock. If the exam day is the first day you wake up earlier than your body is used to in a long time, you brain would probably not be fully awake when you take the test and that could adversely affect your performance.
Get fully rested 2 nights before the CFA exam. It will make the eve of the exam less stressful.
Don’t worry too much. You've done all you can.
When you’re this close to the exam, all the days when you did study, or did not study, don't matter. There’s no point in beating yourself up for what you could have done differently. Your best bet at this point is to relax and get your mind in the right place for optimal performance on exam day. Your goal should just be to do the best you possibly can.
Along the same lines, refrain from using up too much mental energy working practice problems when you’re just a couple days away from the exam. You will be taxing your brain for a few hours straight on exam day. You’d want to make sure that it is in tip-top condition going into the exam.
Wake up with plenty of time to spare.
Give yourself enough time to take a hot shower, eat a good breakfast, and relax a little. If you’re driving, make sure you already know the way. If you’re taking public transportation, be aware of your departure and arrival times. In any case, make sure you allow plenty of time for the commute.
Frantically going over your flashcards will not help. It will bring unnecessary stress at a time when you should be the most relaxed.
Bring everything you need.
Before leaving, double check that you have everything you need. You might consider piling everything up the night before to ensure it's within each reach. We recommend the following necessities:
- Remember your photo ID and any other documents required for admission
- Make sure to bring at least two calculators in case the first one dies on you. You may bring the Texas Instruments BA II Plus (including BA II Plus Professional) or the Hewlett Packard 12C.
- Bring a light jacket in case the exam room or hall is cold. Ensuring you're comfortable will help you do better on the exam.
- If there are multiple sessions to your exam, bring food that travels well (such as a granola bar or apple) so you have something to snack on during the break in case you are hungry.
- You might also want to bring medical necessities (e.g., pain relievers if you're prone to headaches), a bottle for water, and some cash.
And finally, don’t cram minutes before the CFA exam.
Leave your flashcards or formula sheets at home. Cramming is most likely not going to give you better chances of passing. If you don’t know something minutes before the exam, frantically going over your flashcards will not help. It will bring unnecessary stress at a time when you should be the most relaxed.
All that is left is to do the best you can and ace that exam. Remember that once you pass an exam, you’ll be done with it for the rest of your life. Hopefully that’ll motivate you to push harder. Let us know if you have any questions about the CFA exam and good luck on the big day!