Studying for the CFA® Program is no easy undertaking. Trying to add 300+ hours of study time and preparation to your already busy lifestyle seems like a nightmare for most of us. As such, it’s extremely important to be as efficient in your studies as it is to be thorough. This brings me to the topic of this post: Getting your formulas organized.
My philosophy to studying for the CFA® Program has always been simple: do as many practice questions as humanly possible.
Following this mantra, there are few things more frustrating while studying for an exam than coming across a question to which you can’t find the formula. For me this resulted in endless shuffling through my hand-written notes or leafing through pages and pages of the CFAI material in order to find the right section. My studies quickly started improving after I started adding formula cheatsheets to my study arsenal. Here are a few key takeaways that I have learned by using formula sheets:
1. Keep your formula sheets as specific as possible. Each section should have its own sheet so that you would never find the equation for bond market yield next to the one for net profit margin.
2. Ensure your notation is consistent. For example, there are certain concepts that are repeated in different units and should be written out in a similar (e.g. portfolio variance comes up both in the Quantitative Analysis as well as the Portfolio Management section). This will help you see patterns in formulas and give you a deeper understanding of the material, while cutting down the number of formulas you need to memorize.
3. Review the formulas consistently. Being able to recall formulas in an instant will help save you valuable minutes when it comes to exam time. The best way to stay on top of your formulas is to review your cheatsheets regularly (every few days), even if it’s only for a few minutes.
For those who are on the go a lot and don’t like to carry a heap of notes with you, You simply look up the formulas you will use, select them from the database and you can put together your very own formula sheets.