|Author||Topic: CFA Institute Mock Exams are Available|
|The mock exams and topic-based practice tests are available from the CFA Institute. One mock exam is included in the price of registering for the test. The mock exam is a six-hour test in two parts and mimics the topic area weights of the actual exam. The practice tests are shorter than the actual exam and focus on specific topics. The Institute claims that the questions on both represent the approximate level of difficulty on the actual exams but I always felt they were slightly harder.
The semantics here always seemed a little confusing so let's get a couple of definitions out of the way. A mock exam is a six-hour, two-part test with the same number of questions and meant to replicate the experience of taking the actual CFA exam. A "practice" test or problems are normally considered to be a shorter group of questions than the actual exam. A mock exam does not necessarily have to be one formalized set of questions but can be constructed from a test bank or by selecting individual problems and doing them all in one sitting.
Regardless of what you call it, you absolutely must take a few mock exams before you go to the actual exam in June.
An overlooked benefit of practice problems and mock exams is as a stress reliever on the big day. Everyone is on edge when the proctors pass out test booklets for the exam but I have seen many candidates that appear close to a breakdown of Chernobyl-proportions. Being stressed out will not do you any good on the exam. In fact, the body reacts to stress by secreting hormones like glucocorticoids that impair the ability of the hippocampus to recall memories and diverts energy away from other important parts of the brain.
Do you think it might relieve a little of that stress knowing that you have completed multiple mock exams and have done well? Of course it would. Taking full-length mock exams helps not only by seeing your score across topic areas but also by seeing how your body reacts to a six-hour exam-athon.
Hopefully, you already have a few mock exams under your belt but it's not too late to start. I would recommend doing at least six-hour exams before the last week before the exam. At least a couple of these should be full six-hour exams but you can also do three-hour sets if time is hard to come by. Put your topic-level results in a spreadsheet and track the average and standard deviation of results. This will help build a confidence interval around your overall score and your score within each topic.
From there it is simply a matter of focusing your study plan to improve your performance in select topic areas while maintaining your score in others. As always, look to the released topic weights and make sure you are doing well where it counts most. I always tried going into the exam with an average of at least 80% or better in the core topics and 70% or better in all others.
Whether you just use the Institute's materials or a third-party provider's, you need to know where you stand before the exam. Do not underestimate the effect confidence and stress could have on your test performance. Knowing with confidence that you are doing well on most or all topic areas can be a big boost to your score on the D-day.
If you are not doing so well on your practice exams, don't get discouraged. Focus your study on the core topics; usually Ethics, FRA and Equity to make sure you get the most points possible. Do several practice exams and you should see your score improve.