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CFA Exam Pattern – Updates

February 8, 2010
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If you plan to appear for the CFA exam , here are some important things you must know as you chalk out your plan, gather study resources and get on with it:

  • The curriculum for CFA exam has changed
  • CFAI has introduced some modification regarding the Exam style and formatting convention
  • Accounting rules and the financial environment have changed and
  • CFA-2009 exam onwards, the MCQs will have three answer choices instead of four

The curriculum changes each year to meet the dynamic nature and complexity of the global investment profession. CFA Institute, through the oversight of the Educational Advisory Committee (EAC), regularly conducts a practice analysis survey of investment professionals around the world to determine the knowledge, skills, and competencies that are relevant to the profession. The results of the practice analysis define the Global Body of Investment Knowledge (GBIK) and the CFA Program Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK).

The last change with respect to number answer choices could have significant impact on the way the candidates attempt and score in the exam. Here's CFA Institute's rationale behind this change:

"Research and our own experience indicate that the fourth answer option on multiple choice and item set exams is unnecessary to assess a candidate's knowledge and skills. Three answer choices are sufficient and effective in discriminating between those candidates that possess the knowledge and skills and those that do not. As a result, we are changing the format of the multiple-choice and item set questions on CFA exams from four answer options to three."

So, would it become easier to crack the exam, now that the candidates have fewer answer choices to consider? Well, not really. The key thing to note here is that although candidates need to carefully manage their time to perform well on CFA exams, the CFA exams are not merely a test of time management skills. You need to have a certain level of mastery of the knowledge and skills to get through.

The probability of successful guessing on any single MCQ will increase. However, the probability that a candidate would be able to guess correctly enough times to pass the exam is very small. This is true irrespective of whether there are two, three, four or more choices. It is also at least theoretically possible that a candidate with enough knowledge and skills to achieve a reasonably high score might achieve a higher score through successful guessing on just a few questions. It is important to note that there is not a fixed score that candidates need to achieve to pass a CFA exam.

Standard setters evaluate the difficulty of each exam in making their minimum pass score recommendation. Keep this in mind as you gear up the preparation for the exam and remember - "Work Hard At Working Smart".


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