CFA exam prep: how to de-stress before the big day

The anxiety CFA candidates suffer in the lead up to the exam is legendary, but for anyone preparing to write, it’s crucial to find ways to de-stress before the big day.

Yoga and meditation can be great tools to bring you back to the present moment when you start to feel overwhelmed. A regular practice is even better, so you get continued benefits like better recall and productivity as a result of improved circulation and stamina.

Your mind will also recall information more easily when that information is presented in a consistent way. Creating – and sticking to – a daily routine can also help you remain focused. Plus, taking the time to plan out your day and scheduling downtime will help reduce stress because you’ll have clear goals. That means you’ll know if you’re making enough progress each day, and feel less guilty when you take time off.

All that work will be wasted, however, if you don’t give your body and mind time to regroup. Sleep is crucial during this kind of months-long cram session, and isn’t something you should sacrifice to get more done. Try to have a consistent bedtime and create an environment that’s conducive to sleep by blocking off artificial light and staying off your phone an hour or two before going to bed.

In your waking hours, keep your body going with the right fuel. Stay away from an all-caffeine diet, which will disrupt your sleep and increase anxiety levels. Instead, focus on foods that will keep you full and well-balanced. Think blueberries, avocado, fish and nuts or seeds.

It’s easy to get into fight or flight mode when faced with a high-pressure task like studying for the CFA exam. But exam prep is a marathon, not a sprint, and if you don’t take care of yourself along the way you’ll be in pretty rough shape by the time you reach the finish line.

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7 months ago