This weekend saw a record number of 250,000 CFA candidates sitting the exam around the world. This is a whopping 11% increase compared to the previous year. If you are one of those candidates who just sat their CFA exam, I am sure a lot will be going through your head at the moment. After hours spent reading through study notes and solving questions, today was the big day and whilst you eagerly wait for your results I am sure that you cannot help but ask yourself one crucial question – have I passed?
Post exam I think candidates can be divided into three distinct categories. The first ones are those who think they absolutely nailed it. To these candidates if their confidence is legitimate and it was a genuinely good exam, I would like to congratulate them for their success without jinxing them. The ones in the second category are ones who just walked out of a dreadful exam and are fairly confident that they will be resitting in the following year and to these candidates my message is “don’t give up, learn from today’s mistakes and keep trying, perseverance will pay off in the future”. The last category which I was always part of and I think most candidates come under, are the ones who are somewhere in between the pass and fail mark. This post is mainly aimed at them.
At this stage, people in this category will be debating whether they should start revising for the next level (if they are level 1or 2 candidates) or keep studying for the exam that they just took. My advice for those people is to leave your books on the side and unplug yourself from the CFA exam for the next couple of months. For level 1 and level 2 you will get your exam results on 6th August, for level 3 instead you will have to wait until 20th August. If you really cannot resist the urge to study for the CFA exam, I recommend some light reading but don’t try to keep your pre-exam study schedule otherwise you will risk burning out before your next exam. When I was studying for the CFA exam myself, I kept getting told that exam preparation is like a marathon. I observed that candidates who revise at a steady pace and are able to maintain a healthy balance between their studies and a life outside their studies are the ones who are most likely to succeed. You should wait for your exam results to have all the required information to formulate your next study plan. If you did put in all the hours of preparation but cannot help thinking about how difficult today’s exam was, chances are other candidates found it hard as well. Remember the averaging passing score that CFAI sets is based on the difficulty of the exam; if you think you answered relatively well on a pretty tough exam I’d say that your chances of passing are good. If instead you dropped careless points on a relatively easy exam, chances are that other candidates will have done better, putting you below the average passing score.
Regardless of today’s outcome my final words of advice are to take a step back and to appreciate the journey rather than the result. Think of how much more knowledgable you are in the field of investment management and think of the people you met throughout your studies. Your future should not be defined by the outcome of this single exam, rather it will be defined by how you react when you are faced with tough challenges and occasional failures. Don’t give up and keep persevering in your journey.