What to expect on CFA exam day

If you’re a nervous CFA candidate wondering what to expect on exam day, you may find some comfort in astronaut Chris Hadfield’s approach to space missions.

Hadfield is often asked how he overcomes his fear, given how many things can go wrong while rocketing into outer space.

His answer is that he isn’t scared because he trusts his training, which includes visualizing everything that may happen, and being prepared to handle it.

“People tend to think astronauts have the courage of a superhero – or maybe the emotional range of a robot,” he writes in his autobiography, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, “But in order to stay calm in a high-stress, high-stakes situation, all you really need is knowledge. Sure, you might still feel a little nervous or stressed or hyper-alert. But what you won’t feel is terrified.”

We can’t tell you what’s in the CFA exam itself, but we can take you through what to expect on CFA exam day and give you some expert tips to try to keep your stress levels down.

Let’s take a look at how the big day is going to go down:

When you arrive at your exam location, you’ll need to check in with your international travel passport as well as a copy of your admission ticket. The ticket needs to be printed on clean, unused paper and list the correct test center and exam date.

You should bring in as few belongings as possible, since there are strict rules about what you can bring into the exam room. There will be an area within the test centre where you can leave things like bags and mobile phones, but they will be gathered with everyone else’s.

You can start checking in before 8:00am, an hour before the exam starts, and line up to get into the testing room. While the exam starts at 9:00am doors close at 8:30am, when instructions are read. If you show up then, you will still be allowed into the exam, but only after the instructions, which won’t be repeated. If you arrive 30 minutes after the timed portion of the exam begins, you won’t be allowed to write.

A proctor will tell you when the exam officially begins and ends and you can’t, under any circumstances, open, read, or work on the exam before you’re told to.

Once you’re seated at your desk you’ll have to stay there until everyone is dismissed. You are allowed bathroom breaks within the testing area, but those breaks will count against your test time.

You need to use the correct pens and pencils to fill out the answer sheet and essay book. You can also do scratch work on the exam book, but once the end of the exam is called, you can’t write or erase anything.

You also need to bring an approved calculator, which will be inspected before the exam begins as well as throughout the exam. Texas Instruments BA II Plus (including BA II Plus Professional) and Hewlett Packard 12C (including the HP 12C Platinum, 12C Platinum 25th anniversary edition, 12C 30th anniversary edition, and HP 12C Prestige) are the only models allowed.

The CFA exam is split into two sessions: morning (9a to 12p) and afternoon (2p-5p), and you have to sit for both.

Once the morning session is over you should eat lunch since within an hour registration will begin for the afternoon session (at 1p).

You aren’t allowed to have any food or drink in the exam room, so you should make sure you have a nutritious lunch.

Just like in the morning, afternoon instructions will be read at 1:30pm, half an hour before the exam starts at 2:00pm.

Once you’re done, all that’s left to do is unwind and wait for your results.

Level I exam results are available within 60 days following your exam.

Stress-reducing Dos:

-Give yourself plenty of time to get to the exam location. Depending on where you write there could be big lines and limited parking, and the last thing you need is the added stress of thinking you’ll be late.

-Check out the site before test day if you can, so you have an idea of where to go and parking options.

-Wear comfortable clothes and layers, in case you get hot or cold. Pockets are also a good idea to hold your pencils and erasers.

-Make sure your ID isn’t expired

-Get there at least an hour before you’re scheduled to write so you have time to check in.

-Stay as close to the test site for lunch so you’re not late coming back, and bring your own food.

-Forget all about the morning session once it’s over – it’s done, and your focus should be on the afternoon ahead.

4 months ago