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How to Pass the CAIA® Exam

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Tie It All Together: Effective CAIA® Exam Review Strategies

If you are a candidate enrolled in the CAIA® exam, time can get away from you. An effective review strategy can help. 

Preparation and Mock Exams

Ideally, the preparation phase of the journey should be finished about three months before your exam day, and the last three weeks before your exam day, at least, should be set aside for mock exams. Kaplan Schweser, for example, provides CAIA Level I mock exams and CAIA Level II mock exams.

CAIA mock exams are designed to simulate the actual CAIA exam format, difficulty, and length. It should be as close as you can get to sitting for the exam without actually being there. Because it mimics the pressure of exam day, the mock exam helps you develop familiarity with the testing conditions and gives you the confidence to go into exam day fully prepared. Taking a mock exam too early will not give you an appropriate understanding of how much information you’ll actually retain on exam day. If you take a mock exam too late, you won’t have ample time to improve your performance in identified areas of weakness.

Debriefing is a Critical CAIA Study Strategy

In the period after preparation is finished and before mock exams, your study strategy should be practicing questions and debriefing. For too many candidates, this means taking a quiz of 10 questions for 15 minutes, marking it, and moving on. Don’t make this mistake. When practicing questions, you should spend an average of 90 seconds answering the question. But you should spend significantly more time thoroughly debriefing it.

Start your debrief by making sure the questions you got right were correct for the right reasons. Guessing right on exam day is a bonus. Up until then, it’s just another question that you need to review. For all wrong answers and guesses that resulted in a correct answer, it is crucial to find the area of the curriculum that let you down. If it’s a missed calculation, find at least five examples of that type of calculation. 

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If it’s a narrative point, find the explanation in the curriculum and see if it’s an isolated fact, part of a list, or a piece of analysis on a calculation. Isolated facts need learning. Little and often is the best way. Five minutes a day, squeezed in while lining up for your lunchtime burrito, can make a huge difference.

A Better Understanding of How Answers Are Derived Leads to More Correct Answers

Taking this approach to question practice will result in a better understanding of how the answers were derived, and put you in a better position to answer similar questions going forward. If you’re using a QBank, then you’ve got thousands of questions to attempt to cover the whole syllabus. It’s a big ask to do that, but an effective use of the questions should ensure you cover the majority of every CAIA exam topic.

When deciding how much time to allocate to the different topics, each candidate will have strong and weak areas. Dedicate time to each area accordingly, but don’t lose sight of the syllabus weightings. For Level I, questions on Introduction to Alternative Investments and Professional Standards and Ethics weigh more than questions on Structured Products or Private Equity. For Level II, multiple-choice questions weigh more than constructed responses, except for two topics: Ethics, Regulation, and ESG and Current and Integrated Topics. These two topics are weighted at 10% each for constructed responses.

To conclude, set your aim on enhancing your understanding of all the topics through question practice and debrief. You will put yourself in a strong position to hit the mock exams in lay.

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Ready to gauge your readiness with a Mock Exam? Choose from Kaplan Schweser’s CAIA Online Mock Exam options now.

 

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Posted by Kaplan Schweser - May 11, 2021
CAIA candidate completing their Final Review for the exam.

The Best Way to Study for the CAIA® Exam

While everyone hears about the difficulty of the CAIA® exam, very few believe it until they experience it for themselves. Slightly more than half of those who take the exam pass it, which is a better average than the CFA® Program exam and the FRM® exam. However, neither level of the exam is exactly a walk in the park. Pass rates have been declining since the exam was first offered, and only 40% of those who register for the exam end up passing both levels. People who are studying for the CAIA exam are smart, driven, and want to pass just as much as you do. That means it is crucial that you have a study plan and adhere to it.

We asked over 100 of our former CAIA Program students, who now hold CAIA charters, what advice they have for candidates just getting started in their studies. We compiled some of their advice for this article to help you figure out the best way to study for the exam.

Get into a Study Routine Early

Many successful CAIA charterholders credit their study routine for their success in taking the CAIA exams. Not only do you need to study the material, but you also need to be able to apply what you learned to scenarios on the exam. This level of understanding and practical application takes time to develop. Therefore, you should get into a study routine early and stick to it.

We recommend following the Prepare > Practice > Perform® method of studying. In the prepare stage, you absorb information through reading and listening to lectures. In the practice stage, you start working through practice problems. In the perform stage, you simulate exam conditions to assess your level of readiness. As you develop your study plan, we typically advise spending:

  • 30–40% of your time preparing

  • 40–50% practicing

  • 20% performing

Are you thinking about taking the CAIA Exam? Download the free eBook, Before You Sit for the CAIA® Exam, for invaluable advice from successful CAIA professionals.

 

Successful charterholders note that practicing was critical to their success. Richard Chan, a former Kaplan student who has earned the CAIA charter says, “Be sure to work on as many practice questions as possible. The exam preparation journey is full of knowledge and insights. Try to treat it as a course, not merely a scramble for the passing grade.”

Focus on the Exam Topics and Weights

You should have a solid understanding of the CAIA Program curriculum and how each topic is weighted. The curriculum is updated every exam cycle, with Level I focusing on six core topics, while Level II focuses on nine. Exam weights vary by level and can change slightly from year to year, so it is good to be clear on what the weights are for the exam you are taking.

Level I Topic

Approximate Exam Weight

Professional Standards and Ethics

15-25%

Introduction to Alternative Investments

20-28%

Real Assets

11-17%

Private Equity

12-20%

Hedge Funds

11-17%

Structured Products

10-14%


Level II Topic

Multiple Choice

Constructed Response

Emerging Topics

0%

10%

Ethics, Regulation, and ESG

0%

10%

Models

8-12%

0-10%

Institutional Asset Owners and Investment Policies

8-12%

0-10%

Risk and Risk Management

8-12%

0-10%

Accessing Alternative Investments

8-12%

0-10%

Methods for Alternative Investing

8-12%

0-10%

Due Diligence and Selecting Strategies

8-12%

0-10%

Volatility and Complex Strategies

8-12%

0-10%


Apply Concepts to Real Situations

Some candidates rely too heavily on simply reading the curriculum and study products multiple times and neglect practice questions and mock exams. These candidates may understand the concepts, but they may not be able to recall their knowledge in an exam setting when a concept is tested in an unfamiliar format. 

Learn how to apply your knowledge to real-life scenarios: Memorizing vocabulary and concepts will not be enough to pass both levels of the CAIA exam. Each exam level tests your ability to apply what you know to situations you are likely to encounter when serving clients. So keep that in mind and try to think about how you might use the concepts you’re learning about.

Learn How to Take the Exam

Learning the material is critical, but so is learning how to take the exam. CAIA Mock exams help you practice taking the exam in realistic exam-like conditions in the last four weeks of studying. Because it mimics the pressure of exam day, the mock exam helps you develop familiarity with the testing conditions and gives you the confidence to go into exam day fully prepared.

By taking mock exams, you get a solid understanding of where the answer comes from, the calculations required, and what terms they are testing you on. You can fill in your knowledge gaps and get an idea of how you should pace yourself during the actual exam. Mock exams are not a substitute for practice questions or tests, and practice questions and tests are not a substitute for mock exams. Each has its own purpose and uniquely prescribed usage. To further confuse the issue, some exam prep providers market practice tests as mock exams. Do your research to ensure you’re getting the product you’re expecting when you purchase a mock exam.

The appropriate timing for a mock exam is typically a few weeks before you sit for the actual exam. Taking a mock exam too early will not give you an appropriate understanding of how much information you’ll actually retain on exam day. If you take a mock exam too late, you won’t have ample time to improve your performance in identified areas of weakness.

Looking for more guidance on how to prepare for the CAIA® exam? 

Our CAIA exam prep provides expert instruction, CAIA Program study materials, and more. Give yourself the best chance to prepare, practice, and perform on the CAIA exam.

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Posted by Kaplan Schweser - May 10, 2021
Candidate researching the best way to study for the CAIA Exam

What Is CAIA® Exam Computer-Based Testing Like?

The CAIA® exam is now computer-based and is administered by PearsonVue. So, what is CAIA exam computer-based training like? And what should you expect from a computer-based training (CBT) CAIA exam? This article answers these questions.

Scheduling Your CBT CAIA® Exam

Because there is an exam window rather than one set date, you’ll have to schedule your exam with CAIA Association, but when you take your exam, it will be through a PearsonVue venue. You can schedule your exam here. You will receive a confirmation email when completed.

Neither the CAIA Association nor PearsonVue can guarantee availability of appointments at any test center for any given exam or on a specific date. So, you should schedule appointments as early as possible because exam centers have limited capacity. Appointments are on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Begin your journey to becoming a successful CAIA® candidate! Download Your Free Copy of the CAIA® Fundamentals eBook.

Before Exam Day: Study Materials

Develop a rigorous study plan

A well-thought-out study plan is essential. The study plan should serve as a map through the entire curriculum and should incorporate classes, study notes, practice questions, mock exams, and final review to reinforce the learning process.

CAIA Study Package »

Study the entire curriculum

As we noted above, all topics are fair game for the exam. You must incorporate all topics into your study plan to ensure you are ready for every section of the exam, making sure to utilize practice questions. Practicing what you have learned is essential for knowledge retention and assessment. Do not underestimate the importance of this step in the learning process. Make your mistakes before the actual exam and understand your weaknesses.

Review content to eliminate weak areas

You will also need to build in time to review what you have learned and remediate areas of the curriculum that you have not fully mastered. You want to minimize surprises on exam day, so try your best to simulate the exam. Simulating the exam is also important. The pressure of exam day is a huge factor in your performance. Simulating exam conditions beforehand can reduce your stress during the actual exam and help you assess where additional study would be beneficial.

Attend a review course

Reading the curriculum once is generally not enough. You need to review what you have learned, ideally with an expert in the CAIA curriculum. Even concepts you understand need to be reviewed to ensure you retain the information for the exam. The CAIA exam isn’t an easy task, and it requires a significant commitment of your time and resources. Avoid these common mistakes and give yourself the best chance to succeed with proper planning, structure, and support.

Make Sure You Are Allowed In

Be sure to show up about 30 minutes early for your exam time. It is a good idea to map out where the testing center is and figure out how long it will take you to get there. If you arrive late, you will not be allowed to take the test. 

CAIA Association strongly encourages you to bring as few items as possible on exam day. You’ll be asked to leave whatever you have brought with you in a locker, storage bag, or area at the testing center and you’ll be able to collect it after the exam. 

You are allowed to have a printed confirmation on your desk during, along with an approved ID and calculator. Proctors and security personnel may ask to inspect your belongings at check-in to ensure that prohibited items are not carried into the testing room.

Taking the CBT CAIA Exam Tips

Keep difficult questions for the end

Many exam takers have observed that the last 10 or so questions were low-hanging fruit that can be solved quickly. This can be unfortunate for those who, because of lack of time, cannot manage to get that far and are forced to guess the answers. So it is always better to come back to the difficult questions later on and keep answering the ones you know quickly.

Be quick and alert

Although you might feel you have enough time for each question, keep one thing in mind: the questions are challenging, so you need to be alert and save time to solve the difficult ones.

Look for “easy pickers”

These are the questions that have quick solutions. Solving them first will help you save time for other questions and also increase your chances of clearing the sections.

Watch out for lengthy questions

These questions are filled with words, and they require you to take multiple steps to come to a solution. Decide whether you want it to take these at the beginning of the end.

Have Other Questions about CBT and the CAIA Exam?

Check out CAIA Association’s FAQ page to learn more about what you should expect going into the exam. You can also ensure you are prepared for the computer-based exam with Kaplan’s CAIA study materials. We have study options to suit all learning styles, so get started today.

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Posted by Kaplan Schweser - April 8, 2021
CAIA candidate taking the exam in CBT format.

CAIA® Exam Study Materials: Self-Prep vs. Guided Instruction

The CAIA® exam requires a significant commitment of your valuable time and your financial resources. So the first decision you have to make (after you decide to sign up for the CAIA exam and use the services of an exam prep provider like Kaplan Schweser) is how you are going to make it through 240+ hours of study over a period of 6 to 9 months and give yourself the best chance of success.

That means deciding whether you are going to utilize expert instruction, or go it alone, so to speak. So, let’s explore the main differences between self-study and guided instruction.

CAIA® Exam Preparation: Self-Study

Going at it alone, or self-study means you will prepare, practice, and perform without the help of an experienced instructor to guide you. You will:

  • Create your own 240-hour (or longer) study plan for the next 6 to 9 months

  • Read the curriculum, study notes, or both

  • Utilize practice questions in a question bank or other source

  • Take mock exams

  • Identify and remediate your weak areas

  • Develop a test-taking strategy that will give you the best chance of success …all on your own.

Considering the CAIA certification? Download this free ebook Before You Decide to Sit for the CAIA Exam for advice and tips from past exam takers.

Self-study takes a lot of motivation, persistence, patience, confidence, self-awareness, and some expertise in learning to do it on your own. Some people have what it takes to do it this way. They tend to be highly motivated self-starters who have the mettle to put in the hard work day after day and be successful on exam day.

So the first thing you have to do is take an honest, unflinching look at yourself and your own history of learning. Ask yourself the tough question, “Do I have what it takes to do this on my own?” Think back to your time in college or university. Could you have made it through and graduated without the help of teachers and mentors?

Were you ever successful in a class where the professor walked into the classroom the first day, dropped a big stack of books on your desk, said “the final is in 15 weeks…good luck,” and walked out of the room? For most people, this approach is likely not the answer. Instead, most CAIA candidates who want to pass the first time will need help from the experts.

CAIA Exam Preparation: Guided Instruction

For those who need guidance, Kaplan Schweser has a very long track record of helping candidates succeed on the CAIA exams. So what exactly does the additional investment (it is more expensive) do for you?

  • You get a CAIA expert to guide you through the curriculum and help you learn the material so you are fully prepared for exam day.

  • It will motivate you by giving you a structure to your studies, as well as a mentor who can pat you on the back when things are going great or keep you accountable when you need it.

  • You will get regular, expert feedback on your weak areas, suggestions for how to improve, and guidance on where to get more practice.

  • You’ll have a guide and mentor to ask for help with challenging material.

  • The class will provide focus to your study efforts and enable you to use your 240+ hours of study time in the most efficient and effective manner.

  • You’ll receive guidance on test-taking strategies to make the task of tackling hundreds of questions in 4 hours a bit less daunting.

So here is the decision you have to make: Do you save some money and rely on your inherent personal strengths of motivation, persistence, and learning expertise; or do you make the extra monetary investment in guided instruction? It’s up to you.

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If you have decided on self-study or guided instruction, check out Kaplan Schweser CAIA study materials to get started on your exam prep today.

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Posted by Kaplan Schweser - April 7, 2021
Two choices presented to CAIA candidates to prepare for the exam alone or with guided instruction.

How to Pass the CAIA® Level II Exam

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’ve already passed the Chartered Alternative Investment AnalystSM (CAIA®) Level I exam. So first things first…

Congratulations!

Now it’s time to set your sites on the Level II exam and earn the charter. Like the Level I exam, the CAIA Level II exam is offered twice each year, in March and September. Registration for Level II opens roughly five months before the exam window opens. Registering early will save you about $100 USD.

For each offering of the CAIA exam, CAIA Association® produces and publishes an updated Candidate Handbook to their website. In it, you’ll find a wide variety of valuable information for anyone preparing for either level of the exam.

Tip #1: Know What You’re Preparing for

Like Level I, there is a multiple-choice component to the CAIA Level II exam. But unlike Level I, there is also an essay-based portion. The Level II exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions that carry about 70% of the exam weight. The remaining 30% consists of three sets of constructed-response (essay) questions.

 

CAIA Level II Topics and Weights

CAIA Level II TopicMultiple Choice WeightConstructed Response Weight
Emerging Topics0%10%
Ethics, Regulation, and ESG0%10%
Models8-12%0-10%
Institutional Asset Owners and Investment Policies8-12%0-10%
Risk and Risk Management8-12%0-10%
Methods for Alternative Investing8-12%0-10%
Accessing Alternative Investments8-12%0-10%
Due Diligence and Selecting Strategies8-12%0-10%
Volatility and Complex Strategies8-12%0-10%

 

Tip #2: Get an Early Start on Studying

According to CAIA Association, feedback from candidates suggests that, on average, candidates spend about 200 hours preparing for Level II of the CAIA exam. Of course, you might require more or less preparation time depending on your individual circumstances. But no matter how you slice it, you’re not going to be successful on this exam without a significant investment of study time. Don’t take the commitment lightly. Start early to ensure you aren’t scrambling at the end to catch up.

Want to find out what you need to know for the CAIA exam? Download your free copy of the CAIA® Fundamentals eBook.

Tip #3: Use a Structured Study Plan

One area where candidates often struggle is simply determining where to start and how to make sure they allocate appropriate time to each topic. To overcome that, you need a study plan. You can try to use a calendar and map out which topics you’ll focus on each day. But it’s a daunting task, and probably an inefficient use of your time. If you’re utilizing a CAIA exam prep provider, you may have access to a study calendar tool that organizes the curriculum and materials, in the timeframe you have. That type of support can be priceless.

Tip #4: Prepare for Constructed Response

The constructed response questions on the CAIA level II exam have a purpose. They’re designed to go beyond testing your ability to pick the right answer from a series of options. They test your practical application of the knowledge you’ve gained to realistic scenarios. And because constructed response questions can deal with any of the topics tested on the exam, you have to ensure your mastery is as broad as it is deep.

In the CAIA Candidate Handbook, CAIA Association provides some insight regarding the constructed response questions. Each question has three to five parts with a respective, stated point value. Each part can usually be answered in one or two paragraphs. Because the CAIA exams are administered via computer, you will type your responses to the questions. Each constructed-response question will ask for a specific output, like a description, calculation, or argument. Make sure your answer is in the format the question is asking for. The good news—you will not be penalized for incorrect grammar and spelling.

To fully prepare for the constructed response portion of the exam, use a CAIA Level II exam prep provider that offers mock exams as part of the review package. Mock exams are designed to simulate exam conditions and build your comfort level prior to exam day.

Tip #5: Set Yourself Up for Success on Exam Day

This tip is inclusive of all those things candidates know they should do leading up to the exam, but sometimes forget to do when the realities and stresses of the exam are at hand. As the exam gets closer, do not abandon your study plan in favor of cramming at the last minute. You’ve put in the time and done the work. Conduct your final preparations and put the finishing touches on your review.

Get a good night’s sleep the night before, and don’t skip breakfast the morning of your exam. Figure out where the testing center is in advance of exam day, and know how long it will take you to get there. Leave early and plan to arrive early. You don’t want something like running late to frazzle you and work against all of the hard work you’ve put in.

Be confident in your preparation, and you will set yourself up for success on the CAIA Level II exam!

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Posted by Kaplan Schweser - January 8, 2021
Man studying so he can pass the CAIA Level II Exam

How to Pass the CAIA® Level I Exam

So, you’ve decided to earn the Chartered Alternative Investment AnalystSM designation. Congratulations on taking a big step toward a worthwhile career. The first hurdle you have to clear on the path toward earning your designation is to pass the CAIA Level I exam, which is given twice a year in March and September. The good news—there are no education prerequisites to take the exam, although you will be expected to have an understanding of finance concepts.

You can register for the exam as early as 5 months before the exam window at caia.org, which also offers a CAIA candidate handbook, study materials, calculator information, orientation sessions, policy review, and additional study programs offered by other prep providers.

Level I tests your ability to think under pressure almost as much as it tests your knowledge of alternative investment concepts and topics. That can surprise candidates who might not be familiar with this type of testing. But, if you follow these tips, you have a great chance of passing the CAIA exam with flying colors.

Tip #1: Familiarize Yourself With the CAIA® Exam Format

The CAIA exam format for both levels is 200 multiple-choice questions. The exam length is four hours. There are 100 questions in the first two hours, followed by a break, and then 100 more questions in the last two hours. There are seven topics, weighted as follows:

  • Professional Standards and Ethics: 15–25%
  • Introduction to Alternative Investments: 20–28%
  • Private Equity: 12-20%
  • Real Assets: 11–17%
  • Hedge Funds: 11–17%
  • Structured Products: 10–14%

The exam is computerized, and questions are served up in topic batches, although you won’t get all questions on one topic at once. Now that you know the format, you can see that you aren’t likely to pass the exam if you don’t pass those with weights over 15%. And, the topics you really want to nail are Professional Standards and Ethics and Introduction to Alternative Investments.

Are you taking the CAIA exams? Find out what you need to know. Download your free copy of CAIA® Fundamentals eBook.

Tip #2: Start Studying Early

The CAIA Association recommends that candidates spend 200 hours studying for the CAIA exam. So, you need to commit to starting to study as soon as you’ve registered for your exam and scheduled your appointment. Cramming in the last few weeks for the exam won’t work because you are going to be tested on your ability to read a question, analyze it, and apply concepts to it.

Although most exam takers occasionally run into questions that at first don’t appear to relate to anything they’ve studied, those who cram can be overwhelmed by them. The topics you’re being tested on require a type of knowledge that can only be gained over a structured, careful course of study—not last-minute, frantic reviews of core materials.

Tip #3: Don’t Try to Study for the CAIA® Exam All on Your Own

The CAIA exam pass rate for Level I in September 2021 was 51%. The pass rate for the CAIA exam compared to the CFA® exam is pretty high; however, it could probably be even higher if more people took advantage of study programs.

Although there are self-directed and motivated candidates who are able to pass the CAIA exam by studying on their own and taking a few practice exams online, most do not. To ensure you pass the CAIA exam, enroll in prep courses (either in class or online) and take as many practice exams as you can. You also need to keep up-to-date on information that is being published on your CAIA exam topics because the exam relies on that material. Plus, the curriculum changes frequently to keep up with industry changes.

Tip #4: Focus on Technique, Not Just Concepts

As you prepare, remember that exam technique is as important as attacking the underlying curriculum. So, you need to make sure you practice answering questions at a high speed. When you sit for the exam, you only have 72 seconds to answer a question before it’s time to move on. That’s just over a minute, and it isn’t easy. So, you should sit for plenty of mock exams and attempt to do 100 questions in two hours, 50 questions in an hour, or 25 questions in 30 minutes.

Your goal should be to get to the stage where, when you do your question practice, your score is hovering around the high-70s to 80 (the passing score for the exam varies by a few percentage points, but the CAIA Association says to think of it as 70). With those numbers, you can go into the exam feeling very confident. You know you’ve prepared enough. This enables you to spend the day before the exam reviewing your notes calmly, having a good meal, and going to bed early.

Tip #5: Don’t Panic on Exam Day

When you pass the CAIA exam, you become a representative for the CAIA Association…an ambassador of sorts. So, they want to know that you’re of sound character and good under pressure. Therefore, on exam day, they test your mettle along with your knowledge of the concepts. Don’t panic. Instead, tell yourself that panicking will spoil all the good work you put in. For example, you need to read questions carefully so that you don’t miss phrases like most likely or least likely, and panicking can cause you to misread the questions.

Here are a few tricks to keep the panic at bay. First, during your break between the two parts of the exam, rest your brain. Also, take the time they give you to read the exam instructions and sign disclosure agreements to take a deep breath and get in the zone. This will help you use a technique that is essential to passing the exam: the process of elimination. Quite often, it will seem like none of the answer choices are completely correct.

So, first, eliminate those that you know are the least correct. As you work your way through, you might see one answer that is likely correct 90% of the time, but you can think of a case where it would not apply. The temptation is to eliminate it too, but you shouldn’t. The fact that it will work most of the time means it is probably the right answer. When you’re in the zone, this will become second nature and the likelihood of passing the CAIA exam increases.

Increase the Likelihood You’ll Pass the Level I CAIA® Exam

Although passing the exam is ultimately up to you, you don’t have to prepare or study alone. Participating in classes (online or in-person), practice exams, and study groups increases the likelihood that you’ll pass the exam. Investing in CAIA exam prep is one of the best things you can do to make sure that you’re on to the next step…Level II.

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Posted by Kaplan Schweser - January 8, 2021
A photograph representing people who learned how to pass the CAIA Level 1 Exam

Level I CAIA® Exam Day Preparation Tips

If you’re preparing to sit for Level I of the CAIA® examination, you’re likely starting to feel a bit of anxiety. That’s completely normal. The best way to alleviate that anxiety is to prepare a game plan and know what to expect on and after the exam day. We’ve put together this list of five crucial tips to help you go into your exam feeling prepared for success. 

Don’t be surprised by the commute or avoid it altogether.

If you are going to take the exam in person, determine the route you will take to travel to the exam location in advance, and plan to get there early. Nothing can set you up for a bad exam worse than the frustration that comes from racing to arrive to the exam on time. Be aware of any traffic or road construction that might pose a problem at the time of day you will be traveling.

Know what to expect on the Level I CAIA® exam.

All topics will be covered on the exam, but not all individual Learning Objectives (LOs) can, or will, be covered. The guideline topic area weights for the current exam can be reviewed in CAIA Association’s most current Candidate Handbook.

The Level I CAIA examination will be 100% multiple choice. Keep in mind that CAIA Association will do its best to develop tricky answer choices intended to pull your attention away from the correct answer. Read each question and answer thoroughly, and answer each question carefully, before moving on.

Are you taking the CAIA exams? Find out what you need to know. Download your free copy of the CAIA® Fundamentals eBook.

Be ready to do some number crunching.

CAIA Association has stated that up to 30% of exam questions will require a calculation. Therefore, you need to be ready to calculate correct answers and provide interpretations for those answers. CAIA Association will not provide a formula list on the exam. At a minimum, make sure you know the formulas associated with LOs that use the command word “calculate.” Note, however, that equations presented in LOs without the “calculate” command word may also appear on the exam. Thus, we recommend being comfortable with all equations that appear in SchweserNotes.

Guess if you must.

Don’t leave a single question unanswered. Guessing is not a strategy that will help you solve the exam on its own. But you should attempt to answer every question, even if that means you have to guess on some. There are no points deducted for wrong answers. But a question left unanswered will get you a guaranteed zero points for that question.

Take the test!

There’s a chance you don’t feel fully prepared. Take the test anyway. You’ve already paid for the right to take the exam. You’ve invested at least some time into preparing for it. You might as well give it a shot to at least gain insight from the experience.

After completing the exam, each candidate will be sent an email stating their pass/fail status within about three weeks of the close of the testing window. You can also log into the CAIA Association website after the grading period to receive your results.

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Posted by Kaplan Schweser - December 14, 2020
A conceptual graphic warning to be prepared by using the Level I CAIA exam day preparation tips

Five Common Study Mistakes and Advice for CAIA® Exam Prep

Planning an efficient and effective study program is key to your success on the CAIA® exam. Equally important is avoiding common study mistakes and the resulting setbacks. You want to start on the right foot and stay on track throughout the exam season.

In the following, we present common study mistakes that we have observed over many years. We also provide some advice that we have seen help many candidates succeed. Hopefully the information will help you avoid pitfalls as you get ready for the CAIA exam.

Common CAIA Study Mistakes

Studying for the CAIA exams is not like studying for exams in school. Study mistakes are often based on a failure to realize this fact. Here are the five most common.

1. Beginning Too Late.

When it comes to the CAIA exam, time is not on your side. On average, you will need 200 hours of study to master the entire curriculum. Some candidates delay their study program or overestimate their ability to catch up when they deviate from their study plan. In both cases, the candidate is fighting an uphill battle to complete the study program. Start studying early to ensure you are able to get through the entire curriculum, practice what you have learned, and remediate deficiencies.

2. Failing to Follow a Structured Study Plan.

Many candidates don’t take the time to develop a structured study plan and instead shift from one task to another as time allows or as they remember to do things. This leads to ineffective study habits and an inability to know how prepared you are for the exam. You need to stay organized and understand your progress.

3. Only Reading and Rereading the Curriculum or Study Materials.

Some candidates rely too heavily on simply reading the curriculum and study products multiple times and neglect practice questions and mock exams. These candidates may understand the concepts, but they may not be able to recall their knowledge in an exam setting when a concept is tested in an unfamiliar format.

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4. Relying Solely on Practice Questions.

We have seen some candidates focus their study time on practice questions while neglecting to read the underlying material or attend classes to learn the fundamental concepts. These candidates may understand the specific questions they have seen, but they are often unable to apply the underlying concepts in different scenarios. Exam questions are unlikely to look exactly like what you encounter on a practice exam, so you need to understand the fundamental concepts in the curriculum.

5. Ignoring Weak Areas of the Curriculum.

Candidates sometimes have a tendency to minimize their weaknesses and instead focus on areas of the curriculum they find comfortable or more interesting. However, the exam will test all topics in the curriculum. You must study the entire curriculum and ensure you understand all the concepts that will be tested on the exam.

Study Advice

Follow these six tips, and you can avoid making all the common study mistakes.

1. Develop a rigorous study plan.

A well-thought-out study plan with a CAIA exam prep provider is essential. The study plan should serve as a map through the entire curriculum and should incorporate classes, study notes, practice questions, mock exams, and final review to reinforce the learning process.

2. Study the entire curriculum.

As we noted above, all topics are fair game for the exam. You must incorporate all topics into your study plan to ensure you are ready for every section of the exam.

3. Utilize practice questions.

Practicing what you have learned is essential for knowledge retention and assessment. Do not underestimate the importance of this step in the learning process. Make your mistakes before the actual exam and understand your weaknesses.

4. Review content to eliminate weak areas.

You will also need to build in time to review what you have learned and remediate areas of the curriculum that you have not fully mastered. You want to minimize surprises on exam day.

5. Simulate the exam.

Simulating the exam is also important. The pressure of exam day is a huge factor in your performance. Simulating exam conditions beforehand can reduce your stress during the actual exam and help you assess where additional study would be beneficial.

6. Attend a review course.

Reading the curriculum once is generally not enough. You need to review what you have learned, ideally in a CAIA OnDemand Review Workshop with an expert in the curriculum. Even concepts you understand need to be reviewed to ensure you retain the information for the exam.

The CAIA exam isn’t an easy task, and it requires a significant commitment of your time and resources. Avoid these common mistakes and give yourself the best chance to succeed with proper planning, structure, and support.

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Posted by Derek Burkett, CFA, FRM, CAIA - December 14, 2020
Woman holding head because of making one of the five common study mistakes on the CAIA exam

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