There’s no doubt that the CFA exams are difficult and even after dedicating long hours for preparation the chances of getting through is not assured. But, according to one in five candidates it can be done.

There is no secret way to success with the CFA exams but if you can organize, have a CFA Level 1 Study plan and work accordingly you just might make the cut. Having an organized CFA Level 1 Study plan is one of the key factors to succeed on all levels of the exams.Here’s what you need to do to make it on your first attempt:

Key 1: Prepare a well structured CFA Level 1 Study Plan

Get a head start

The CFA institute approximates a minimum of 250 hours of self study is required for each exam in order to pass. On average every candidate studied for an average of 308 hours to get through all level of exams. If you have six months you need to maintain at least 12 hours of study time per week. You are required to make most of the materials, thoroughly revise and constantly test yourself.

Preview the contents

After you register for each level you receive a set of courses that has been separated for 18 separate study periods. Make sure you are familiar with the content that has been provided so it is easier for you to study.

Design a convenient CFA Level 1 Study Plan

Take out your colorful highlighters and your fun sticky notes and prepare a schedule, you could also do this on excel. Schedule your study sessions in such a way that you still have a month left before the exams, making it easier for you to revise your work. Also try adding revision days to your schedule.

Make a list of topics that need to be revised

If you can maintain a list of topics you find difficult or often make mistakes in so you can individually focus on each of them. This should not affect your revision of other materials.

Key2: Work up a solid study plan

Focus on “Learning outcome statements” (LOS)

The CFA Institute defines LOS as “knowledge, skills and abilities that you should be able to relate after finishing reading all the material that are linked. To master each LOS, develop an outline and write down any important terms, definitions and formulas relating to each one. It’s easier to remember things once written down as you revise.

Make Flashcards

Flashcards are designed to specify to the point, this will make it easier for you to remember key points. Carry them around as they are a better option than carrying around all the CFA study materials.

Try memory technique

Mnemonic procedures, like for example taking the first letter from every word to form one word is a great technique. There are other tricks as well, such as catchy slogans. For example, “SiP a CoKe” can be used to remind you of option put-call parity: The prices of a Stock + the Put = those of the Call + the present value of the strike price. Also, don’t forget to take the significance of auditory memory cues into thought.

Sort your focus on quantitative and qualitative information

Whilst studying quantitative material working on problems is important. After thoroughly studying the concept and solving the questions then come back to the study material for better understanding. Read qualitative subjects, such as ethics or behavioral finance before working on any problems. Try engaging in the reading material as if you are enjoying an interesting novel. This will make scenario based questions enjoyable to read.

Practice as many questions as possible

Use the curriculum provided by the CFA Institute to show which problems you must work on. Widen your horizons and work on extra problems from other study materials.

Used a permitted calculator

Time is crucial when sitting for the CFA exams; if you familiarize yourself with the permitted calculator it will help you save time.

Keep yourself determined

After the long hard preparation think of the rewards and titles that will come along with it!

Maintain a well oriented lifestyle

Eat right, sleep on time and stay active. Studies have proved how much distress an unhealthy lifestyle can cause us. “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

Key3: Revision

Maintain your timings so you have time to revise

Even though you must be revising as you progress but you still need a solid month for revision of everything.

Test yourself

Make use of online assessments to be certain of your strong and weak points, this willc help you know what needs attention.

Pretend you’re in the exam hall

If you’re used to working on excel you might run into time management issues, so work like you would in the actual exam.

Do a Test Run

The Saturday before the exam, drive down to where you will be taking the test and check out the site. Determine where you will park and the quickest way to get from there to the exam room.

Devote time to yourself

Take a few days off and assess yourself, learn what you need to know with no interruptions. Take it one task at a time to keep from getting stressed.

Plan your exam day

Get plenty of rest the day before the exam, indulge yourself to a nice meal and just take it easy. Remember to pack all your necessary items like your pens, pencils, erasers, calculators etc.

The “Big day”

Get up as early as possible and treat yourself to a good breakfast. Try reviewing one last time, you can start from the easy concepts and work your way up. Try not to engage in conversations about the exam as if might hurt your confidence. Leave with plenty time to avoid any sort of delay.

The CFA is clearly no walk in the park, you need to put in a lot of work along with proper organization and planning, then only you can hope to succeed.