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Revision Optimization

edited April 2013 in General CFA Topics
After @christine's lovely blog post on keeping calm and focusing on improving your test score, I felt obliged to share my revision methodology. This is more level I focused at level I candidates.

I'm sure every candidate has heard "do any many practice exams as possible" and in general do as many questions as possible. As the old adage goes, "practice makes perfect".

So now that you have finished going through the curriculum at least once, you are tackling a whole different animal called practice exams, a six hours exam. Just thinking of doing a full six hours exam simulation gave me shivers. So I've tried to break down the revision into manageable parts.

Start with a full session simulation (3 hours). It is enough just to do one session to assess the clarity of your understanding. When you are doing the first practice exam don't be too worried much about keeping time because take the extra time to write down your reasoning of how you reached your final answer. After that I broke down my revision into three components:

1. Topic Management : Go through every single question and check for two things: a) that you've gotten the right answer b) your reasoning was correct. After this narrow down which topics you are having trouble and preferably narrowing it down to the chapter that is being troublesome. Rank them by topic weight. Topics with the greater topic weight should be reviewed first.

2. Revision : It is impossible for a three hour exam to have covered six books of material. So go over the chapter you are having trouble with in it's entirety. It is possible that the question you got wrong is a symptom of a weak understanding of another interrelated topic. If you have been studying using a prep provider I'd suggest switching over to the CFAI material because you get a different perspective and that might just crystallize that particular topic for you and work through the EOC questions.

3. Practice : Do another practice exam but this time only with the sections you had trouble with and this time be strict with timing. Be confident in the material you understand and focus on the problematic topics. This allows you to review your answers before the long study session starts to wear on you. Because lets admit it a three hour exam is tiring and not the best use of your time.

After this start the process again and again until you are satisfied with the score you are achieving. When I was doing the a practice exam session I would only give myself two hours and forty-five minutes to compensate for exam day stress. And keep all the previous exams answers sheets you have down with the notes you made while you were doing the exam. If you have time after a week and half do the same exam over again and compare if you are making the same mistakes. I tended to make the same mistake over again. It really takes time to unlearn something and relearn it the right way.

Happy Studying!
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