Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Psychological and Physical Challenges of Preparing for and Taking a Large Exam

While browsing I found the below mentioned challenges which were faced by me and others whom I know, appearing in the exam with me. I have made some additions in them based upon my experience of level I and compiled them to share with you.

Studying for the exam is a major commitment and the preparation process will have a psychological effect on you. For me, the biggest difficulties were:
  1. Decreased time with friends and family
  2. Concern about having to take the level 1 exam again (fear of failure)
  3. Burnout

Decreased time with friends and family:
One result of perusing level 1 is that the time you spend with friends and family will decrease. You’ll find yourself declining social engagements, especially during the immediate period leading up to the exam. Your friends and family may stop inviting you to things, because they feel that you will just say no anyways. You may also feel guilty for neglecting to spend time with people you normally spend time with. 

Before you begin studying for the exam I recommend you personally tell your closest friends and family about your CFA time commitment, letting them know that you won’t be able to spend as much time with them, asking them for their support, and telling them that you apologize in advance for being less accessible. By doing this your friends and family know what to expect and you will feel more comfortable about your time spent away from them.
You can find a way to spend time with your friends by inviting them to your place to do something that is not time consuming. To save time, try doing things in or around your house. By inviting your friends over they will see that although you have little free time you are still making an effort to maintain the relationship.

Concern about having to take level 1 again:
Roughly 60% of people fail the exam which means that the average test taker is more likely to fail than pass. I say this not to discourage you, but to remind you that you will need persistence and determination to pass, and that some people take the level 1 exam twice before they pass, especially if they are new to finance. Taking level 1 multiple times is not bad or embarrassing, however, you should do everything in your power to pass the first time. Remember Life is all about choices, we make them and do not look back. Moreover we fall in order to learn how to stand up. Failing the exam gives an opportunity to learn from the exam environment and revisit the mistakes. Does that mean with the fear of failure one should stop putting in effort? Never. Strive for excellence, success will automatically be achieved.

If your retention becomes poor, your mind drifts while studying, and you don’t feel as motivated as you used to be you might be burnt out.There is no explanation why this happens when it does, but when you become burnt out make sure to recognize it early so you don’t go for two or three weeks without fixing the problem. To fix burnout take a two or three day break, doing relaxing activities that you enjoy. Treat yourself better and try avoiding people with pessimistic ideas. Stay away from media programs which develop in you frustration. Watching an episode of a funny season or a movie can help immensely in overcoming the burnout. You can manage your routine in a way that you take some time out of your daily routine and spend that time for yourself by saving your energy. Exercise helps in developing energies while watching television or doing any other activity which involves brain consumption reduces energy levels. 

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