Top Tips for passing CFA Level III

29 / 09 / 2014
Category: Blog

The Level III CFA exam can be the most intimidating for some because of the dreaded “essay questions”. We hope these useful tips will help in your preparation for the final hurdle.

1.    General format

The morning session of the CFA III exam has a maximum score of 180 points and will include 10-15 essay questions with as many as 7-8 separate questions within each.

The afternoon section of the exam will be similar to the level II CFA exam with ten item sets, each with six questions.


2.    Keep at it!

You have come so far. Now only one exam stands between you and freedom! Stay focused now,  and see it through till the bitter end to ensure you won’t have to do it all over again next year.


3.    Familiarise yourself with the “essay question” format

The description “essay” question is a little confusing, I prefer to call them free-style questions. You will not be given multiple choice answers. However, you are not expected to write essays. Short, concise sentences, or even bullet points, are usually sufficient. Don’t waffle. The space you are given for your answer is not reflective of how long your answer should be, so don’t worry about leaving some white space.


4.    You will not be marked for Grammar or Style of English

Do make sure your hand writing is legible though.


5.    Use the CFA curriculum

If time allows, read as much as you can. Especially for Level III some of the concepts are much better understood through the curriculum, so do not solely rely on third-party providers.

Use all End of chapter questions and worked examples.


6.    Practice, practice, practice

In the CFA level 3 curriculum, readings are much shorter (and there are less of them) but practice problems are extensive. Make sure you allocate enough time for practice problems.


7.    Get used to the timing

Many candidates find the morning session very time-pressured. Make sure you practice sufficient essay style questions at home, and time yourself doing so! Only that way will you get a feel for how much time you have available.

The worked solutions given in a lot of the example questions are often very comprehensive and more than what would be expected of you in the exam.


8.    Final Preparation

Use the past papers available on the CFA website as mock exam practice. This is the best indication you can get of what to expect on exam day.


9.    Expect to be caught out in the exam

Don’t panic when this happens. You cannot be expected to know every single bit mentioned in the curriculum and occasionally they like to ask very specific questions on a very small part of the curriculum. Give it your best shot and move on.


10.  Filter out irrelevant information

They like to throw more at you than what you need to solve the problem at hand. Especially for the IPS questions, they include a lot of unnecessary information or hide some important information. You must be able to efficiently sort through long pieces of text and extract the pieces of information you need.


11.  Make sure you know where to write your answer

This comes mainly with practice. For the morning session, you may be given templates to write your answers in, which usually appear on a separate page, not where it states the original question. If you write in the wrong space, your answer will not be graded.


12.  Always show your calculations

Never simply state the answer, but always show your workings. Often there is partial credit available, so if you make a mistake along the way, you can still get some of the marks.


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