When I listen to discussions between other CFA candidates, I’m often surprised to hear questions about the number of hours that someone plans to study or the number of practice questions or exams necessary to pass the exam. It’s not always about numbers despite everything that we might think or hope for. The reality is that a number of subjective factors have a great influence on your end result. I think one of the most important aspects is finding the right area to do your studying. Sometimes, studying 4-5 hours in the right place at the right time will help you more than studying 10-15 hours in a less favorable location.
What You Are Looking For
–Quiet & Calm: You want to avoid studying at home if the sound of the television will disturb your peace
–No disturbances: It is critical to be almost “unreachable”. An emergency phone call might happen but 99% of these days, there should be no such contacts. Studying at a library might be a good idea but it won’t be as great if you have many friends there who keep bugging you.
–No distractions: Times have changed and it’s now a major challenge to stay focused. Why? Because with Smart phones and laptops, you are always one minute away from a quick web search or Facebook chat. The problem of course is that the one minute distraction can easily become a 10 or 15 minute distraction. We are all different but for me, staying far from the internet was key.
–Close to home/work/school: You do not want to spend too much time getting to where you are going. Sure, you might be studying during the transit but the time is not as efficiently used.
More Than One Location
I think it’s important to have more than one studying location. Why? Because in those days where you are studying 10 or 12 straight hours (towards the end), you might need to change locations during the day simply to change your environment and become more productive again. Also, you will find over time that one location fits more on certain days or certain moods. For example, I would study in a library when I was feeling great and awake but would avoid it if I felt tired (the silence would make me sleepy). I think we are all different and only you will know which environment or location fits your current mood.
It will be different for every individual but here are a few possibilities:
-Walking outside (I would go walking while learning formulas/material by heart)
-Work office (week nights or weekends)