Making the Most of Your Study Time
- Tips and strategies for using your time efficiently
One of the most common complaints among CFA candidates is the lack of time to prepare for the exam. AIMR suggests that a candidate spend roughly 250 hours preparing for the CFA exam. This may seem like an inordinate quantity of time, but by distributing study time over a number of months, you can fit in the necessary hours without feeling overburdened. The key is not only to schedule enough time, but also to use the time you've allotted efficiently.
Managing your time and setting goals
It's important to set long-term, intermediate, and short-term schedules and goals. Your long-term timetable should include a schedule of your fixed commitments: the activities or obligations you must meet every week. By defining what your fixed time commitments are, you can identify time that you have available for study and review. Then block out specific weeks to cover each subject area of the exam.
[WM] Mon - Friday 1.5 hours per day at home 9:30-11:30, day time: 0 - 2 hours
Sat - Sun 8 hours per day at home (10:00 - 14:00 OR 14:00-18:00 OR 20:00-24:00 select 2 slots)
per week: 20 hours, per month: 80 hours, 3 months: 240 hours
Goal: before my son come out to world(Jan-10-2009), I should finish the all the courses once.
Milestone A: when my son born (Due Jan-100-2009), finish all courses
milestone 1: Finish finance statement analysis
milestone 2: finish
Milestone B: Finish difficult topics (Due Feb-15-2009)
Milestone C: secondly go through(Feb-15 to Mar-30)
Milestone D: past paper test (Apr-1 to May 1)
Milestone E: review missing points and past paper test
Review the previous week's accomplishments and set goals for the coming week. For instance, you may decide to finish forty pages of portfolio management and sixty pages of ethics by Friday, and work on twenty financial statement problems over the weekend.
Set a daily study schedule. Each evening, or early in the morning, spend five minutes mapping out the day. A daily commitment to study will help you meet your long-range goal of passing the exam.
Don't overschedule. Overscheduling and the resulting feelings of discouragement are the biggest reasons why a schedule fails. It's important to set realistic goals that you can accomplish. Don't forget to leave time for relaxation and enjoyment. And, if you fall off your schedule once in a while, don't waste energy feeling guilty.
Making your study a habit
Humans are creatures of habit, so if you can set up conditions that make your CFA preparations a daily habit, you won't fall short of study time.
Claim a special place just for study at home. By allocating a special place, you will be able to get in the“zone”more easily with fewer distractions. Others will know that when you are working in your special study space, you should not be interrupted.
Study at the same time every day. Keeping a fixed study time will also make your CFA preparation a habit and help you to achieve your study goals.
Get in the habit of using "downtime". Many of us have shorter periods in the day when we are waiting or traveling. You might listen to your review tapes or study your review book during your commute, or bring your flashcards to work and review them during your lunch hour.
Improving your concentration
Setting aside all of the time in the world will not help you pass the exam unless you are able to concentrate well and make good use of your study time.
Identify your best time for studying. Everyone has high and low periods of attention and concentration. Study when you feel your mind is the freshest – use other times for more routine chores or relaxation.
Break up your study periods. Fifty to ninety minutes usually works the best. Then take ten to fifteen minutes to get up, stretch, and get a drink. If you set defined limits on your study time, it will be easier to keep focused.
Study difficult subjects first. It's easier to tackle the tougher subjects when you're fresh.
Don't start unfinished business just before you begin to study. Beginning a complicated task or a long conversation right before study time will only distract you from your preparation. Take a moment to clear your mind before you begin. Relaxing before you begin will also help alleviate any anxiety or tension you may feel about your preparation for the exam.