CFA: Mock Exam Strategy

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

CFA: Mock Exam Strategy

After candidates have gone through the CFA material, they are sometimes uncertain with regards to their approach towards mock exams. Some of the questions that candidates grapple with are:

· What does a mock exam mean?

· When to start with mock exams?

· How many mock exams to take?

· How to improve on one’s performance after each exam?

· What source should be used?

The aim of this article is to answer all these questions and ensure that a candidate is well prepared and confident before the exam. Rather than leaving things for the last minute, a candidate can significantly increase his/her chances of success by preparing in the right way.

Mock exams, How many?:

Mock exam means taking an exam under actual exam conditions. Therefore no distractions such as phone calls, messages, checking social media updates or eating during this time. Time yourself during each exam. The idea is to complete each exam well within 2hr 15mn and leave enough time for revision in the end. Obviously this will not happen in the first mock exam itself and that is why we recommend that a candidate should aim to take 4-5 mock exams prior to the actual exam.

When to start & How to improve?:

The first mock exam should be taken 4 weeks prior to the actual exam date. By this time candidates should have read the entire course material twice. The third revision will be done along with the mock exams. This exam would be a 2hr 15mn uninterrupted session. After the exam, check all your answers and make a list of the topics where performance was sub par. Do not worry much of the results as the aim is not to score more than 70% in the first attempt but to identify the weaknesses and improve on them. During the course of the remaining week, study those topic areas and master the concepts. There should be a gap of one week between each exam to ensure improvement in performance.


Schweser provides a separate book that consists only of mock exams. This is a good starting point. A candidate may schedule only 2-3 mock sessions from the exams provided in Schweser books. However, try to solve and understand all questions from other mock exams provided in Schweser (may not be time bound).

After taking Schweser exams, it is imperative that a candidate also undertakes a couple of mock exams provided by the CFA institute (they are available on CFA website). The format, i.e. presentation of questions in the mock exams provided by the CFA institute is very similar to the actual exam. So a candidate needs to get used this style of presentation, which is a bit different than those provided by Schweser. These particular sessions of mock exams provided by CFA Institute are more from a psychological aspect rather than conceptual. If someone is used to studying from the Schweser notes and has also taken Schweser mock exams, the candidate gets familiarized with a particular presentation style of questions. There are times when a candidate gets confused when a similar question is presented in a completely different format. Therefore to get used to the CFA exam format, practicing mock exams provided by the CFA institute is also important.


Start 4 weeks before the actual exam. One 2hr 15mn mock exam every week. These can be from Schweser notes. 7-10 days before the actual exam, give two mock exams provided by the CFA Institute of 2hr 15mn each. Take half hour break between two exams. A total of 4-5 mock exams should be the aim before the actual exam.

Please note that each candidate has a different style of studying. The above-mentioned strategy is just one style. You can modify it based on what works best for you.

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