Sacrificing Sleep To Study For The CFA

I’ve seen a few CFA candidates post their detailed studying plans on forums and blogs. I love the initiative. It makes them accountable, gives them structure, etc. That being said, there are a few things that I’ve seen and have to be critical about.

I’ve seen some candidates trying to study late at night and early in the morning several months before the exam, cutting out sleep out of their lives. There are many problems with such a method. First off, it’s important to keep in mind that your time spent studying the last few weeks is several times more effective than whatever you could learn now. Sure, it might make you feel better to spend 20-30 hours studying while working full time. But the problem is that very few people can remain effective for several months while sleeping 5-6 hours or even less. I know there are exceptions but I’d argue that most of us need a bit more.

It’s All About That Last Month

If oyu know that you will need to study extra hard in that final month, that it will be the determining factor in passing or failing the exam and that time spend studying then, especially in your last 2 weeks will be the critical part, then why in the world would you do something that will likely make you feel exhausted before even starting.

Personally, in all 3 levels, the last month before the exam was very intense, and I would say that there are very few months in my life where I’ve slept less. The only thing competing with that was the birth of my first kid:) So anyway, I personally tried to always prepare my CFA exams with one thing in mind.

“It’s All About That Last Month”

That means clearing my schedule and having an amazing plan for that last month is critical. But as important is starting the month feeling fresh both physically and mentally. It’s not possible (for me at least) to study at that level for 3-4 straight months.. So I focus on what I can do in those previous ones to make sure that I can be 100% effective.

What are your thoughts? Would you sacrifice sleep? If so, for how long and how much are able/willing to sacrifice?


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