Mock Exams are only “somewhat” representative

As you know, I consider Mock exams to be a major part of any CFA preparation. It is probably second only to the Qbank although contrary to the Qbank, I don’t think you could realistically pass the CFA exams with only mock exams. It might be possible, but given the choice, I’d go with the Qbank. I always find it interesting to see how much weight everyone gives to their mock exam results. Don’t get me wrong, results do matter.

But Your Mock Exam score Is Not That Representative. Why?

Take the case of Schweser, a company that publishes a large amount of CFA material every year including several mock exams. The intention is to make these the best possible preparation for your actual exam as possible. If I take the example of one section: derivatives. Even if everyone knows that the exam will test you on options, mock exams will not necessarily do so. Why? Because they do not want candidates to do option questions in every mock exam. It would be repetitive and it would also not help candidates go through the entire material. That makes sense in an “overall” program as Schweser expects you to do all of their mock exams. In such a way, having option questions in a third of those with FRA’s, Interest Rate Swaps and Swaptions being in the others makes a lot of sense. This is done for all sections of the exam. Because of that, looking your grade for one single mock exam makes little sense. Making sense of your average score through all of the exams does help a lot though.

As You Do More Mock Exams, Your Average Becomes More “Meaningful”

I would encourage you to do all of the mock exams you have (between 10 and 20 hopefully) and to look for trends rather than at an individual score. I would thus say that no matter what result you might get, there is no reason to get over-excited or depressed, it is just one mock exam and is not very significant if you’re trying to judge your progress and readiness for the exam.

Are The CFA Institute Mock Exams “More Representative”?

I do think that they generally are. The format is a lot more similar to what you will actually be facing and since CFAI does not provide many mock exams, they tend to stay more “middle of the road” in the sections making it more representative of what you can expect.


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