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The 2021 CFA® Exam Study Plan for Postponed Candidates

By: Kaplan Schweser
March 2, 2021
Kaplan Schweser - Woman on her laptop

CFA Institute made a number of changes to the schedule and format of the CFA® exams for 2021 after postponing the June 2020 exams and canceling more than 100 December 2020 exams worldwide due to conditions caused by the coronavirus. CFA Institute has added new windows for all three exams for 2021 and all three will also be computer-based. Whether you rescheduled a postponed exam or decided to sit for it in 2021, you might be wondering how to study, especially with CFA Institute making changes to the schedule regularly. This article provides tips for how to study for Levels I, II, and III for their respective windows.

Preparing for Level I in 2021

If you were taking the exam in December 2020, and you signed up for the May 2021 window, you have five months until the exam. Even if you register for the July or August windows, take these steps to stay on top of what you have already done in preparation for the postponed exam:

  • Use the additional time to address your weaknesses.
  • Complete all your practice and mock exams.
  • Review Kaplan Schweser Master Classes if you have not yet watched them.
  • The Kaplan Schweser 2021 mock exam has a simulator to match the look, feel, and functionality of the CBT exam.
  • If you don’t already have access to a class, Kaplan Schweser offers OnDemand classes so you can learn and review the material with an instructor.

Specific recommendations for the Level I 2021 windows are in the sections that follow.

March 2021

The March 2021 window is March 21–23, which is about three months from now. Use the time wisely to practice and perform:
  • Take a practice exam and use it as a diagnostic tool to aid review.
  • Use the SchweserPro QBank to test all subjects studied to date to aid retention. Take a test each week on all subject areas. Ensure you can score more than 70% on all subject areas.
  • Watch the Kaplan Schweser Master Class series if you have not done so already.
  • Rewatch the online classes for areas you identify as your weaker ones.
For your final review:
  • Factor in four practice exams.
  • CFA Institute’s mock exam is a must.
  • You will want to practice for the specific computer-based format of the 2021 exam; for example, it will be 75% the length of the paper test, and you will be provided with an erasable writing tablet to serve as scratch paper. The Kaplan Schweser mock exam simulator replicates the exam interface and format that you will see on exam day.
  • Read this article about last-minute preparations for the exam for more tips.

May 2021

The May exam window for Level I is May 18–24. If you haven’t registered yet, this is a good option for you because you have five months left to study. If you were preparing for the December 2020 exam, you could take a break during December and part of January or you can use the time wisely to catch up if you feel like you’re behind. These are our recommendations for preparing for this window:

  • Keep concepts and formulas fresh in your mind over the long term by making a stack of flashcards (preferably with just one formula or concept per card). By exam day, you’ll have the stack of cards memorized. We only recommend this strategy if the time to create flashcards does not lower the amount of time you spend on practice questions.
  • Use the SchweserPro QBank to test all subjects that you have studied to date to help with retention. Take a test each week on all subject areas. Ensure you can score more than 70% on all subject areas.
  • Take a practice exam and use it as a diagnostic tool to aid review focus before the final two months.
  • If you haven’t yet, watch the Kaplan Schweser Master Class series.
  • For the areas where you are weaker, rewatch the online classes.
  • Make sure you factor in two months for review. Use the Kaplan Schweser final prep plan for the final two months. The weeks prior to the exam should be spent focused on practice exams, mock exams, final review and memorization, and reviewing trouble spots.
For your final review:

  • Factor in four practice exams.
  • CFA Institute mock exam is a must.
  • You will want to practice for the specific computer-based format of the 2021 exam; for example, it will be 75% the length of the paper test, and you will be provided with an erasable writing tablet to serve as scratch paper. The Kaplan Schweser mock exam simulator replicates the exam interface and format that you will see on exam day.
  • Read this article about last-minute preparations for the exam for more tips.

July and August 2021

In December 2020, CFA Institute announced an additional July window for Level I, but they have yet to set the dates. The August window is August 24–30. You should be cautious about registering for the July and August windows if you began studying six months prior to the December 2020 date. July and August are quite a few months out from December 2020, and it might be difficult to retain what you have already studied.

However, if the July or August window is the one that suits you best, these recommendations can help:

  • Keep concepts and formulas fresh in your mind over the long term by making a stack of flashcards (preferably with just one formula or concept per card). By exam day, you’ll have the stack of cards memorized. We only recommend this strategy if the time to create flashcards does not lower the amount of time you spend on practice questions.
  • Take a break until March (six months before the exam window).
  • Use the SchweserPro QBank to test all subjects that you have studied to date to help with retention. Take a test each week on all subject areas.
  • Take a practice exam and use it as a diagnostic tool to aid review focus before the final two months.
  • If you haven’t yet, watch the Kaplan Schweser Master Class series.
  • Ensure you can score more than 70% on all subject areas using the SchweserPro QBank
  • For the areas where you are weaker, rewatch the online classes or reread those chapters.
  • Make sure you factor in two months for review. Use the Kaplan Schweser final prep plan for the final two months. The weeks prior to the exam should be spent focused on practice exams, mock exams, final review and memorization, and reviewing trouble spots.
For your final review:

  • Factor in four practice exams.
  • CFA Institute’s mock exam is a must.
  • You will want to practice for the specific computer-based format of the 2021 exam; for example, it will be 75% the length of the paper test, and you will be provided with an erasable writing tablet to serve as scratch paper. The Kaplan Schweser mock exam simulator replicates the exam interface and format that you will see on exam day.
  • Read this article about last-minute preparations for the exam for more tips.

November 2021

The November 2021 window is November 16–22. If you were scheduled to take the December 2020 Level I exam, this is almost a year out from your original test date and even further out from the time you started studying. Retaining what you already studied might be difficult. However, if this is your choice, here are our recommendations:

  • Keep concepts and formulas fresh in your mind over the long term by making a stack of flashcards (preferably with just one formula or concept per card). By exam day, you’ll have the stack of cards memorized. We only recommend this strategy if the time to create flashcards does not lower the amount of time you spend on practice questions.
  • Take a break until May (six months before the exam window).
  • Rewatch classes or view ones you missed.
  • Use the SchweserPro QBank to test all subjects that you have studied to date to help with retention. Take a test each week on all subject areas. Ensure you can score more than 70% on all subject areas.
  • Take a practice exam and use it as a diagnostic tool to aid review focus before the final two months.
  • If you haven’t yet, watch the Kaplan Schweser Master Class series.
  • For the areas where you are weaker, rewatch the online classes.
  • Make sure you factor in two months for review. Use the Kaplan Schweser final prep plan for the final two months. The weeks prior to the exam should be spent focused on practice exams, mock exams, final review and memorization, and reviewing trouble spots.
For your final review:

  • Factor in four practice exams.
  • CFA Institute’s mock exam is a must.
  • You will want to practice for the specific computer-based format of the 2021 exam; for example, it will be 75% the length of the paper test, and you will be provided with an erasable writing tablet to serve as scratch paper. The Kaplan Schweser mock exam simulator replicates the exam interface and format that you will see on exam day.
  • Read this article about last-minute preparations for the exam for more tips.

Preparing for Level II in 2021

If you were going to take Level II in December 2020 to make up for the June 2020 postponement, and you signed up for the May window, you have five months until the exam. Even if you register for the August or November (just announced) windows, take these steps to stay on top of what you have already done in preparation for the postponed exam:

  • Use the additional time to address your weaknesses.
  • Complete all your practice and mock exams.
  • Review Kaplan Schweser Master Classes if you have not yet watched them.
  • The Kaplan Schweser mock exam has an exam simulator to match the look and feel and functionality of the CBT exam.

Specific recommendations for the Level II 2021 windows are in the sections that follow.

May 2021

The May exam window for Level II is May 25–June 1. If you haven’t registered yet, this is a good option for you because you have five months left to study. If you were preparing for the December 2020 exam, you could take a break during December and part of January or you can use the time wisely to catch up if you feel like you’re behind. Here are some recommendations for preparing for this window:

  • Keep concepts and formulas fresh in your mind over the long term by making a stack of flashcards (preferably with just one formula or concept per card). By exam day, you’ll have the stack of cards memorized. We only recommend this strategy if the time to create flashcards does not lower the amount of time you spend on practice questions.
  • Use the SchweserPro QBank to test all subjects studied to date to aid retention. Take a test each week on all subject areas. Ensure you can score more than 70% on all subject areas.
  • Take a practice exam and use it as a diagnostic tool to aid review focus before the final two months.
  • If you haven’t yet, watch the Kaplan Schweser Master Class series.
  • Rewatch online classes for weaker areas.
  • Make sure you factor in two months for review. Use the Kaplan Schweser final prep plan for the final two months. The weeks prior to the exam should be spent focused on practice exams, mock exams, final review and memorization, and reviewing trouble spots.
For your final review:

  • At Level II, Kaplan Schweser offers four full-length practice exams, plus two full-length Mock exams. With the extended study time, we encourage you to plan around completing all six of these exams. As a benchmark, allocate a full weekend to completing and reviewing each of these six Kaplan exams.
  • CFA Institute’s mock exam is a must.
  • You will want to practice for the specific computer-based format of the 2021 exam; for example, it will be 75% the length of the paper test, and you will be provided with an erasable writing tablet to serve as scratch paper. The Kaplan Schweser mock exam simulator replicates the exam interface and format that you will see on exam day.

August 2021

The August 2021 window for Level II is August 31–September 4. You should be cautious about registering for the August window if you began studying six months prior to the December 2020 date. It might be difficult to retain what you have already studied. However, if the July or August window is the one that suits you best, these recommendations can help:

  • Keep concepts and formulas fresh in your mind over the long term by making a stack of flashcards (preferably with just one formula or concept per card). By exam day, you’ll have the stack of cards memorized. We only recommend this strategy if the time to create flashcards does not lower the amount of time you spend on practice questions.
  • Take a break until March (six months before the exam window).
  • Use the SchweserPro QBank to test all subjects that you have studied to date to help with retention. Take a test each week on all subject areas. Ensure you can score more than 70% on all subject areas.
  • Take a practice exam and use it as a diagnostic tool to aid review focus before the final two months.
  • If you haven’t yet, watch the Kaplan Schweser Master Class series.
  • For the areas where you are weaker, rewatch the online classes.
  • Make sure you factor in two months for review. Use the Kaplan Schweser final prep plan for the final two months. The weeks prior to the exam should be spent focused on practice exams, mock exams, final review and memorization, and reviewing trouble spots.
For your final review:

  • At Level II, Kaplan Schweser offers four full-length practice exams, plus two full-length Mock exams. With the extended study time, we encourage you to plan around completing all six of these exams. As a benchmark, allocate a full weekend to completing and reviewing each of these six Kaplan exams.
  • CFA Institute mock exam is a must.
  • You will want to practice for the specific format of the 2021 CBT; for example, it will be 75% the length of the paper test, and you will be provided with an erasable writing tablet to serve as scratch paper. The Kaplan Schweser mock exam simulator replicates the exam interface and format you will see on exam day.

November 2021

In December 2020, CFA Institute announced it was adding a November window for Level II and that the dates of the window would be coming soon. If you were scheduled to take the December 2020 Level II exam, this is almost a year out from the test date and even more from the time you started studying. Retaining what you already studied might be difficult. However, if this is the window that works best for you, here are our recommendations:

  • Keep concepts and formulas fresh in your mind over the long term by making a stack of flashcards (preferably with just one formula or concept per card). By exam day, you’ll have the stack of cards memorized.
  • Take a break until May (six months before the exam window).
  • Rewatch classes or view ones you missed.
  • Use the SchweserPro QBank to test all subjects that you have studied to date to help with retention. Take a test each week on all subject areas. Ensure you can score more than 70% on all subject areas.
  • Take a practice exam and use it as a diagnostic tool to aid review focus before the final two months.
  • If you haven’t yet, watch the Kaplan Schweser Master Class series.
  • For the areas where you are weaker, rewatch the online classes.
  • Make sure you factor in two months for review. Use the Kaplan Schweser final prep plan for the final two months. The weeks prior to the exam should be spent focused on practice exams, mock exams, final review and memorization, and reviewing trouble spots.
For your final review:

  • At Level II, Kaplan Schweser offers four full-length practice exams, plus two full-length Mock exams. With the extended study time, we encourage you to plan around completing all six of these exams. As a benchmark, allocate a full weekend to completing and reviewing each of these six Kaplan exams.
  • CFA Institute mock exam is a must.
  • You will want to practice for the specific format of the 2021 CBT; for example, it will be 75% the length of the paper test, and you will be provided with an erasable writing tablet to serve as scratch paper. The Kaplan Schweser mock exam simulator replicates the exam interface.

Preparing for Level III in 2021

If you were going to take the postponed June 2020 exam in December 2020, and you signed up for the May 2021 window, you have five months until the exam. Even if you register for the August (just announced) or November windows, take these steps to stay on top of what you have already done in preparation for the postponed exam:

  • Take a break.
  • Use the additional preparation time to fix weaknesses.
  • Practice the AM-style formats to time.
  • Ensure all practice exams and mock exams have been completed.

May 2021

The May window for Level III is May 25–June 1. If you were preparing for the December 2020 exam, you could take a break during December and part of January or you can use the time wisely to catch up if you feel like you’re behind. Here are some recommendations for preparing for this window:

  • Use the SchweserPro QBank to test all subjects studied to date to aid retention. Take a test each week on all subject areas. Ensure you can score more than 70% on all subject areas.
  • Review CFA Institute end-of-chapter questions.
  • Complete CFA Institute online item sets.
  • Take a practice exam and use it as a diagnostic tool to aid review focus before the final two months.
  • Practice answering the AM-style formats, typing short answers to time constraints using the Flashcards or LOS plus Key Concepts in the SchweserNotes.
  • Rewatch online classes for weaker areas.
  • Make sure you factor in two months for review. Use the Kaplan Schweser final prep plan for the final two months. The weeks prior to the exam should be spent focused on practice exams, mock exams, final review and memorization, and reviewing trouble spots.
For your final review:

  • Ensure you have two months to dedicate to the final review
  • Factor in seven full-length practice exams under exam-like conditions.
  • Keep it real, work within the time constraints, emulate the typed AM format, and practice all topics.
  • Focus on the core knowledge and ideas; it is not possible to learn everything.
  • CFA Institute mock exam is a must.
  • You will want to practice for the specific format of the 2021 CBT; the Kaplan Schweser mock exam simulator replicates the exam interface.
  • Look at the old CFA AM morning exams.

August 2021

In December 2020, CFA Institute announced an additional Level III window in August and that the dates were coming soon. If this is the best window for you and you register for it, you could take a break until February or March or you can use the time wisely to catch up if you feel like you’re behind. Here are some recommendations for preparing for this window:

  • Use the SchweserPro QBank to test all subjects studied to date to aid retention. Take a test each week on all subject areas. Ensure you can score more than 70% on all subject areas.
  • Review CFA Institute end-of-chapter questions.
  • Complete CFA Institute online item sets.
  • Take a practice exam and use it as a diagnostic tool to aid review focus before the final two months.
  • Practice answering the AM-style formats, typing short answers to time constraints using the Flashcards or LOS plus Key Concepts in the SchweserNotes.
  • Rewatch online classes for weaker areas.
  • Make sure you factor in two months for review. Use the Kaplan Schweser final prep plan for the final two months. The weeks prior to the exam should be spent focused on practice exams, mock exams, final review and memorization, and reviewing trouble spots.
For your final review:

  • Ensure you have two months to dedicate to the final review.
  • Factor in seven full-length practice exams under exam-like conditions.
  • Keep it real, work within the time constraints, emulate the typed AM format, and practice all topics.
  • Focus on the core knowledge and ideas; it is not possible to learn everything.
  • CFA Institute mock exam is a must.
  • You will want to practice for the specific format of the 2021 CBT; the Kaplan Schweser mock exam simulator replicates the exam interface.
  • Look at the old CFA AM morning exams.

November 2021

The November 2021 window for Level III is November 23–25. If you were scheduled to take the December 2020 Level II exam, this is almost a year out from the test date and even more from the time you started studying. Retaining what you already studied might be difficult. However, if this is the window that works best for you, here are our recommendations:

  • Take a break until April or May (five to six months out).
  • Use the SchweserPro QBank to test all subjects studied to date to aid retention. Take a test each week on all subject areas. Ensure you can score more than 70% on all subject areas.
  • Review CFA Institute end-of-chapter questions.
  • Complete CFA Institute online item sets.
  • Take a practice exam and use it as a diagnostic tool to aid review focus before the final two months.
  • Practice answering the AM-style formats, typing short answers to time constraints using the Flashcards or LOS plus Key Concepts in the SchweserNotes.
  • Rewatch online classes for weaker areas.
  • Make sure you factor in two months for review. Use the Kaplan Schweser final prep plan for the final two months. The weeks prior to the exam should be spent focused on practice exams, mock exams, final review and memorization, and reviewing trouble spots.
For your final review:

  • Ensure you have two months to dedicate to the final review.
  • Factor in seven full-length practice exams under exam-like conditions.
  • Keep it real, work within the time constraints, emulate the typed AM format, and practice all topics.
  • Focus on the core knowledge and ideas; it is not possible to learn everything.
  • CFA Institute mock exam is a must.
  • You will want to practice for the specific format of the 2021 CBT; the Kaplan Schweser mock exam simulator replicates the exam interface.
  • Look at the old CFA AM exams.

Final Tip for All Levels

It’s been months since the June 2020 exams were postponed to December 2020. If you’ve been studying for so long that you’re beginning to exhaust your Kaplan-Schweser content, another source of additional questions to work on can be found in the official CFA Institute curriculum books. At the end of each CFA Institute reading, you will generally find two dozen questions (totaling approximately 1,000 questions across the curriculum). While some of these questions can be idiosyncratic or excessively complex, they are worth doing if you have the time.

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